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                         UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM
                         New facts and hot stats from the social
                         sciences

                         By Richard Morin

                         Sunday, January 11, 1998; Page C05


                         Get a (Past) Life -- While You Can

                         Some people believe they've lived many times
                         before. Sadly, however, it's probably
                         impossible for all of us to have had several or
                         even just one past life. There simply aren't
                         enough past lives to go around, claims
                         geologist David Nobes of the University of
                         Canterbury in New Zealand.

                         There are more than 5.7 billion people alive
                         right now. Using available data, including the
                         population growth rate over time, Nobes
                         concluded that "the number of people currently
                         alive is greater than, or will soon be greater
                         than, the total number of previously viable
                         human beings."

                         Nobes also warns that "the deficit is made more
                         severe if, as has been suggested, some people
                         selfishly have had more than one past life," he
                         reported in the Annals of Improbable Research,
                         a magazine dedicated to "cogno-intellectuals"
                         that celebrates the silly side of serious
                         science.

                         One possible explanation: Perhaps "several
                         people share each of the [past] lives," Nobes
                         said.

                         You can reach The Unconventional Wiz at:
                         morinr@clark.net

                           Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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