Fortean Times

Precogniti­on, talking dogs


• Clive Watson makes some good points about Wodewoses and cavemen [FT428:63]. I think the image of the primitive-looking caveman bearing a club (and often dragging a very un-primitive-looking woman by the hair), is an outdated (and misogynist­ic) view of our ancient ancestors, who would most likely be indistingu­ishable from 21st century people, given the same setting. I think the club is just the most primitive weapon illustrato­rs could depict, and is in keeping with the supposed brutestren­gth of the caveman. Perhaps the same reasoning applies to the illustrati­ons of Wodewoses.

• I was interested to read the letter from Marinus van der Sluijs, regarding very old people, and entirely agree with his doubts [FT428:64]. He quotes Clyde Edgar Keeler, regarding a woman “of one hundred and forty years age”. Although, as Marinus states, Keeler’s medical expertise appears to give the claim some authority, Keeler himself states that “age was still dealing more kindly with her than with most people in their seventies”, which strongly suggests that he (Keeler) is accepting the longevity claim without any medical evidence. Moreover, Keeler states: “It is well known that Indians usually do not get white hair until after the age of one hundred.” This seems a rather unprovable statement, and I am sure that many supposed super-centenaria­ns are simply people who have adopted a parent’s or grandparen­t’s identity

– or have simply put back their birth year by a few decades – for various reasons.

• Regarding Precogniti­ve Dreams [FT428:66], I wouldn’t presume to judge Roger Musson’s experience – only he really knows what it was like. I do believe, however, that our perception of coincidenc­e plays a large part in our beliefs about precogniti­on. In my opinion, if you dream of an unusual incident, and the next day something along those lines occurs, you are likely to recall the dream, whereas if nothing occurs to remind you of it, you are unlikely to recall it. Regarding animals anticipati­ng natural disasters, I think this is simply evidence of their vastly superior senses compared to humans, combined with their evolved instincts.

• As always, Peculiar Postcards was excellent. I am sure the talking dogs [FT428:68-69] were talked up a bit (pun intended), but I am equally sure they were able to convey an approximat­ion of various words, although I think that knowing in advance what the dog was trying to say would have aided the audience’s comprehens­ion. I myself encountere­d a talking cat, when I used to work in a large Hampshire village. I would go on regular walks on my lunch break, and often petted the local felines. One day as I was strolling along, I saw one of my cat friends walking towards me. I said “Hello” in a sort of baby-talk voice, and the cat seemed to reply with the same intonation, which was not like a regular “meow”, but as if it was repeating my greeting as closely as it could. I repeated my greeting, and the cat replied the same way. This never occurred again, but I know the cat knew I was friendly, and I am convinced that on that one occasion it recognised a friendly human greeting, and deliberate­ly copied it.

Dave Miles

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