You’re probably thinking: How can you tell if a child is recounting a past life memory or if they have a creative imagination? Is it fantasy or an actual memory?
It’s a common question, says Tucker, but the key is to determine whether the child’s statements are actually verifiable. “What the child describes, does it match somebody who lived and died in the past?” he asks. “The child has to recall the right details that would allow tracing, typically names of either people or places; otherwise, it’s extremely difficult.”
That said, he does hear a bunch of “weak cases,” in which the child is either unable to provide details or he’s unable to trace them back to someone who has, in fact, lived and died. But when he does come across a verifiable case, the details are astounding. Of course, he must also make sure the child hadn’t gotten that information through some sort of ordinary means, like through the TV or overhearing conversations among adults.
“There’s a well-known case where a child who remembered being a World War II pilot, which was 50-plus years ago,” he explains. (The aforementioned case of James Leininger.) “We can be pretty certain that child didn’t hear about this random person, and yet they have a lot of memories.”