08-babyborntalkingdescribesheaven - 9 Baby Born Talking...

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9 Baby Born Talking— Describes Heaven On May 21, 1985, a periodical called the Sun ran these intriguing headlines: John Wayne Liked to Play with Dolls Prince Charles' Blood Is Sold for $10,000 by Dishonest Docs Family Haunted by Ghost of Turkey They Ate for Christmas BABY BORN TALKING—DESCRIBES HEAVEN Incredible proof of reincarnation The last headline caught my eye—it seemed like the ultimate demon- stration that language is innate. According to the article, Life in heaven is grand, a baby told an astounded obstetrical team seconds after birth. Tiny Naomi Montefusco literally came into the world singing the praises of God's firmament. The miracle so shocked the delivery room team, one nurse ran screaming down the hall. "Heaven is a beautiful place, so warm and so serene," Naomi said. "Why did you bring me here?" Among the witnesses was mother Theresa Montefusco, 18, who delivered the child under local anesthetic . . . "I distinctly heard her describe heaven as a place where no one has to work, eat, worry about clothing, or do 262
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Baby Born Talking—Describes Heaven 263 anything but sing God's praises. I tried to get off the delivery table to kneel down and pray, but the nurses wouldn't let me." Scientists, of course, cannot take such reports at face value; any important finding must be replicated. A replication of the Corsican miracle, this time from Taranto, Italy, occurred on October 31, 1989, when the Sun (a strong believer in recycling) ran the headline "BABY BORN TALKING—DESCRIBES HEAVEN. Infant's words prove reincarnation exists." A related discovery was reported on May 29, 1990: "BABY SPEAKS AND SAYS: I'M THE REINCARNATION OF NATALIE WOOD." Then, on September 29, 1992, a second replication, reported in the same words as the original. And on June 8, 1993, the clincher: "AMAZING 2-HEADED BABY IS PROOF OF REINCARNATION. ONE HEAD SPEAKS ENGLISH—THE OTHER ANCIENT LATIN." Why do stories like Naomi's occur only in fiction, never in fact? Most children do not begin to talk until they are a year old, do not combine words until they are one and a half, and do not converse in fluent grammatical sentences until they are two or three. What is going on in those years? Should we ask why it takes children so long? Or is a three-year-old's ability to describe earth as miraculous as a newborn's ability to describe heaven? All infants come into the world with linguistic skills. We know this because of the ingenious experimental technique (discussed in Chapter 3) in which a baby is presented with one signal over and over to the point of boredom, and then the signal is changed; if the baby perks up, he or she must be able to tell the difference. Since ears don't move the way eyes do, the psychologists Peter Eimas and Peter Jusczyk devised a different way to see what a one-month-old finds interesting. They put a switch inside a rubber nipple and hooked up the switch to a tape recorder, so that when the baby sucked, the tape played. As the tape droned on with
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08-babyborntalkingdescribesheaven - 9 Baby Born Talking...

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