A Reincarnation Scenario - What do you do? *

This is a bit of an odd one but bear with me. Anyway, there you are doing a bit of gardening in the back yard (yes I know you don’t have a garden, or a back yard, just run with it) when you notice a fox is standing nearby, watching you. Being a friendly, animal-loving sort (yes, I know you don’t like animals, just run with it) you start talking to it, quickly getting the oddest feeling that it understands exactly what you’re saying and that its trying to communicate back. Using a bit of trial and error and mutual confusion on both sides you manage to set up a means of communication, it turns out the fox has been trying to find a safe means of making contact with a human for some time, and you’re the first friendly person its felt confident enough to ‘come out’ to.

Turns out the fox claims that he is really a man who was killed in a car crash a couple of years ago and has been reincarnated in his current form. He has all of the memories of his previous life but they are naturally enough confusing and hard to interpret for him as he currently is, but he has made contact to let the world know that reincarnation is real and he is living proof of that.

So where do you go from here? Do you keep it quiet, do you let the world know? How would the world react? How would you even go about telling people or proving it to the, rightly, sceptical?

How would you react if it wasn’t you Dave the Fox made contact with but you’ve heard his story from an apparently legit news source?

What about Dave the Fox himself, he needs to be really careful, after all he’s not human and has no legal protection at all. There are plenty of people for whom reincarnation wouldn’t fit in with their worldviews and wouldn’t want his story to get out.

  • Otherwise known as ‘Dave’s Back and He’s Looking Foxy!’

First devise some real tests to prove he has the memories and smarts of a human, then Randi’s Million here I come.

That’s actually a point, I never considered that he’d be as smart as a human (which is partly why he’s so confused by the memories of his previous life), would a fox with memories of being human even be able to interpret them or know what to do with them?

Perhaps reincarnation really does happen all the time but the animals don’t have the smarts to do anything with their memories of the past lives? :wink:

I would be worried I’m only feeding this fox’s delusions. He may be crazy. Crazy like everyone who believes they are reincarnated.

A fox that is able to communicate at a human level is interesting enough.
If we’re considering reincarnation then I think demonic possession should be on the table. So he’s going to have to not be a jerk, even if that’s what he was in his previous life.

If the fox is willing, I am. I start by bringing in some of my smarter friends, and see if it works for them. (Always test for “Am I deluded?” in the presence of very unusual events.)

Then I find a college professor who’s willing to waste an afternoon – “Look, I’ll buy you lunch!” – and see what he thinks.

If it all works for him – I turn the problem over to him! It’s now his scenario to explore!

For some reason that made me laugh, thanks. :smiley:

Though it should be fairly easy to determine if he’s just crazy, depending on the clarity of his memories his previous life/existence should be verifiable.

For example if he told you his human name, address, date of birth and death, details of the vehicle he was in, what happened in the accident etc then it should be possible to check those out. Of course the problem comes later when other people say that you told the fox that information and he’s just reciting it.

Taking him to meet his human family would probably be just too weird for words, how would you even start that conversation?

I like your first suggestion but if you weren’t careful things could quickly slip out of control, Dave is trusting you to do the right thing after all.

I’m a little surprised at your second suggestion, usually the first thing people think of in these scenarios is, ‘How do I make money out of this?’, you could become quite famous and potentially rich if you worked in partnership with Dave to introduce him to the world.

I think one of the first moves after verifying that he’s the real deal (as Aquadementia suggests a ‘talking’ fox would be interesting enough leaving aside the reincarnation aspect) would be try to get him some sort of legal protection, kind of acting as his legal guardian I suppose.

Yeah, but that means I’d have to become a media [rude noun.] I’d have to be a publicity hawk, a one-man-marketing show, an entrepreneur. I’d have to be on TV a lot, and do a lot of press conferences, etc. ad nauseam. Not my cuppa! Much happier finding someone else competent and shovel the whole mess into their laps.

(I don’t mind working for a living, but I am not competent to shill for a living.)

Actually under normal circumstances I’d agree with you but in this scenario you’re really just facilitating Dave and I think it’d be kind of fun.

He’s the star of the show, publicity whore that he is… :wink:

That and I’d worry that if I didn’t look after him he’d just disappear into a lab somewhere, or the nearest dumpster (and not looking for food).

There have been previous SDMB opinion threads on this idea, and I seem to be in the minority, having faith that a miraculous and unique occurrence would not be “taken up” and disappeared. (Like, if I got superpowers, or if an Angel came to walk upon the earth, etc.) Possibly I’m just a dam’ fool, but I have faith in our government and non-governmental institutions. (Not least because they’re often in very hearty disagreement with each other!)

So, by my way of thinking, the best I can do to protect Dave the Fox is to get him under the care of some large institution. They’ll hold off all the competing institutions!

There are others who would suggest we go on the road as a “ventriloquist act,” and that Dave would be best protected by everyone’s disbelief in him! The “Mr. Ed” or “Francis the Talking Mule” effect.

This is where you lost me. If it were a female Fox named Megan, then maybe you’d have something.

While in general I agree with you its one thing to have a miraculous event happen to a human and another for it to happen to an animal, unfortunately there are plenty of questionable experiments being carried out on animals in facilities all over the world at this very moment.

I’d worry about what sort of experimentation they might decide to do on him after they have learnt all that they can by other means.

There are plenty of people who think reincarnation is just flat out impossible (I think its extremely unlikely myself) so to them Dave is just a particularly smart fox and wouldn’t even have the qualms they might have if they thought he was, or used to be, a person.

Whew! I would hope they wouldn’t kill the chicken that lays golden eggs! I’d hope they’d have the decency to wait until he dies to perform a dissection.

Besides, with MRI and other tools, they can get pretty much all the information that a dissection would offer, without killing him. Ditto for DNA sequencing: you only need a cheeck swab of a tiny bit of blood.

The OP assumed that Dave can actually talk…and that will go a long way toward establishing a presumption of personhood. When someone – even a fox! – says, “Yo! Dummy! I am a person!” it’s hard to ignore. A far uglier situation might be where he can only make gestures. Much easier for people to shrug off. But talking, and talking intelligently and responsively – beyond what a Mynah can pull off – would really tilt the deal for all but the hardest of skeptics.

Actually I didn’t mean in the OP that he could physically talk, just that he could communicate:

“Using a bit of trial and error and mutual confusion on both sides you manage to set up a means of communication”

I meant that they came up with something like giving him childrens alphabetical building blocks which he could spell words out with, he can mostly understand human speech but not actually talk. And again he’s filtering it through the limitations of an animals brain which why its confusing for both parties.

As you say it makes it much easier to think of him as ‘just an animal’ if he can’t talk.

I would hope you’re right re the testing, I suppose it all depends on how humane and ethical the people are who are studying him.

Edited for spelling: I wonder if he could type on a keyboard with paws? That might be a way to communicate.

Naturally the story would be covered by Fox News.

Just being able to nod for yes, and shake his head for no, would go a long, long way. Things would get off to a slow start…but catch up remarkably quickly.

I suppose you could make a largish ouija board for him to spell things out…

Ultimately, it’s the same thing, as he unambiguously communicates ideas that no fox is supposed to be capable of expressing. “The Catholic Church says that God is composed of…how many persons?” Fox thumps the ground with his paw three times.

I mentioned this to a friend at dinner, and he says to contact the James Randi Foundation and claim their prize. Good move! (And I just searched to see if it had been mentioned: yep, Lanzy on post #2. Great minds think alike!)

Need to be careful with the paw tapping thing though or you could be accused of the ‘Clever Hans’ effect:

But I agree it wouldn’t take long to prove he’s the real deal, a lot of people probably wouldn’t be willing to give him the chance though, so I suppose you’re probably correct regarding the need for indepth open-minded scientific study.

I’d run in the house, as I do each time an animal talks to me in the garden, and I’d tell my husband to come outside and listen to this talking fox.

He’d sigh but follow me out to where Foxy is standing and I’d point and say, “See.”

And then the fox wouldn’t do anything . We’d stand there staring at each other while I’d try to coax the fox to talk. After a few minutes it would run into the bushes and disappear.

My husband would look at me, shake his head and go back in the house.

Nothing new. Same as what happens when I tell him that the car is making a funny noise.

Crazy like a…

No, I can’t do it. I can’t.

That’s one of the rules I’d lay down to the fox, in advance. No “Michigan J. Frog” tricks, or I’ll sell him to a hunt club in Lincolnshire.

I’d taxidermy his head, and use his pelt to line some boots for my wife.

Dave picked the wrong mother-fucker to talk to. Just ask Gary the Coyote. (true story!)