"In Jenny Cockell's case, one of the biggest worries there is that she pretty much did all of her own research," he said.
The professor doesn't believe Cockell is lying, just that she may be deluded into the belief that snippets of information floating through her mind are from a past life. What compounds a delusion, French said, is the desire to believe.
"There's a phenomenon called confirmation bias," he told me. "We find it much easier to believe in things -- we don't need the evidence to be that great -- if we really, really want to believe in them in the first place."
And why would anyone want to believe?
"Like any other form of belief in life after death, it actually helps us to cope with the idea of dying," French offered as a possible explanation.
Dying isn't so scary if we know we're going to come back, if we know we're going to see our loved ones again in another life.
I don't want to believe in reincarnation. Or am I just scared of marrying the murderous Mazie once again?