Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Is absence of evidence, evidence of absence? The case for and against Michael D. Newton

Recently I stumbled upon a critical one-star review of Michael Newton's books at, which referenced a fairly detailed analysis/rebuttal of one of Newton's case studies. After sorting out the various criticisms, one overarching issue remained:  Who, in fact, is Michael D. Newton, PhD?  Is he a "real" doctor?  What are his qualifications?  Where did he obtain his degree?  Michael Newton is the well-known author of two major studies of hypnotically retrieved past-life accounts, "Journey Of Souls" and "Destiny Of Souls."

As I've written before, I think it's important that writers accurately represent their credentials, particularly if they expect to be taken seriously... We have enough laughing stocks in this field already.

So I've been on a quest. I found a forum or two where this very issue was raised--no one can find any proof that Dr. Newton obtained a "real" (i.e., from an accredited university, ideally not one of those for-profit outfits) Doctor of Philosophy degree--which is not the same thing as a medical degree.  I'll settle for PhD--that's hard enough to get.  I scoured all the available sources online and came up empty also.  But I did not find evidence of fabrication--only lack of documentation online.

Per Georgina Cannon, past life researcher, Michael Newton was a practicing "counselling psychologist/hypnotherapist" in the 1960s, continuing to work through the '80s and '90s in California, I think. He retired from active practice over ten years ago. The foreword to one of his later books, "Life Between Lives" (a discussion of his hypnotherapy practice) was written by Arthur E. Roffey, who *does* seem to be a real doctor (MD at that) who is currently certified and practicing.

Those who expect Google to pull up the full academic credentials of someone who retired from active practice in the last century are displaying a shallow understanding of the meaning of "online," I think. The Internet is probably the worst source for anything authoritative, detailed, and accurate about things that really matter (this humble blog included). The 'Net just doesn't work that way--it gives out only what has been put into it. You have to go to primary sources--real books in real libraries.

Now, the fact that we don't know where he graduated *suggests* that he might have gotten a phony degree from a diploma mill. But "real" doctors seem to vouch for his work, so I don't know.

My suspicion is that his PhD may be in a subject other than psychology. Anyone remember Dr. Ruth (Westheimer)?  Her doctorate is actually an Ed.D. degree in education, not psychology. The requirements for becoming a "master hypnotherapist" may simply be taking a few courses and paying a fee. When someone represents himself as a PhD who is a "master hypnotherapist," we assume that he is a psychologist, but he may actually be a Medieval Lit expert fluent in Anglo Saxon. (Which would be fairly cool, in and of itself, not to mention a good person to have over for a beer.)

No comments:

Post a Comment