Several young children have recently claimed that they were there at the World Trade Centre on September 11th 2001, when terrorists rammed two passenger planes into the two tallest buildings in New York City. How can that be?
When Rachel Nolan’s son, Thomas, was 3 years old, he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. He replied, “I don’t just want to be a firefighter. I have always been and already am a firefighter.”
This surprised and confused his family, but Thomas then went on to say, “I used to get up in the morning, go to work, and in the evenings I would come home and take off my fire proximity suit.”
Strange. Thomas also mentioned having to use an axe to check if there was fire behind the walls, and having to flee if the site was too dangerous. Though perplexed by the level of detail in his answers, Rachel figured Thomas’s ramblings were just the product of a child’s imagination. Just fantasy. However, when Thomas saw a picture of the World Trade Centre in a magazine, he said:
“The bad men burnt these buildings, and people had to jump, and I couldn’t help. There were people waiting for firefighters, waiting for me, but I could not get there to help them.”
Thomas also gave details of the model of the trucks used by the firefighters in New York that day, a Ford Johnson R8. Rachel concluded that her son was recalling a past life, that he was the reincarnation of a firefighter who died on 9/11.
In a 2016 documentary entitled The Ghost Inside My Child, a woman named Molly said that her son, Cade, started having nightmares when he was 3 years old. He would wake up screaming about falling, the Statue of Liberty, and his leg being broken off. He started creating drawings of two tall skyscrapers with a man falling off them.
Molly believed he was describing 9/11. Cade was obsessed with talking about death, but always assured his mother that “we don’t die”. He also said that he had chosen her, and that he was older than she was.
Talk about creepy. Could Cade be another victim of 9/11, reborn in a new body? Might he even be the mysterious ‘Falling Man’, who has never been identified?
Another mother, Lucia, has claimed that her 4-year-old is the reincarnation of someone who worked in the Twin Towers. She said that when her son was shown a photo of the towers, he was able to identify the window of the office where he worked. He also said that he felt the building fall. Most disturbingly, he said, “Mum, I’m still buried there.”
Whether you believe any of this depends on whether you believe in reincarnation. To believe in that, you have to believe we have souls or spirits, i.e. that there is a supernatural, invisible entity floating about inside us that endures after our bodies and brains die. Modern science does not support this, nor does it support reincarnation, as there is no known mechanism that would enable a personality to survive death and travel to another body.
Scientists explain reincarnation stories as false memories and cognitive bias, infused by one’s own belief system or basic fears or other psychological factors. It’s even easier for that to happen to an impressionable child. Rachel Nolan became convinced that her son was a reincarnated fireman because there were no firemen in her family, and no one who could have given Thomas the details he relayed about the attacks and aftermath. But the world is full of information about 9/11. Thomas and the other kids might’ve read something, seen something on the news, heard their parents/family friends talking about the tragedy… and transformed those details into a narrative.
At the same time, the human brain is a complex organ, and our dreams and memories are still not fully understood. There is still a lot we don’t know about how the mind works. At the beginning of last year, I wrote a blog about extra-sensory perception, a la a ‘sixth sense’, and some of the premonition stories I found really made me wonder about the power and nature of the mind.
The scientific community is divided on this point, i.e. whether the mind is a bunch of neurons firing or… something else. But physical health and mental health are considered and treated differently, which surely means that the body and mind are two separate things — right?
And if the mind is a thing in itself, one that 21st-century science and technology cannot yet detect, is it possible that the mind can travel beyond the body… and into another?
Next week: a Jimmy Savile-shaped conspiracy at the heart of the BBC