Speaking of urban legends in the Third World…

A young Indian boy is claiming to be the reincarnation of an American scientist. According to the article linked below, he speaks mostly gibberish with a few "scientific" words mixed in. Proof enough for me! I especially like the next-to-last paragraph of the article. [Thanks to the reader who submitted this story]

Indian boy claims to be reincarnation of American scientist

Folklore/Tall Tales Identity/Imposters Mass Delusion Religion

Posted on Tue Jul 17, 2007

More content from the Hoax Museum:


Funny how he doesn't say which American scientist he is the reincarnation of. Or maybe the newspaper didn't think that was important.
Posted by Captain Al  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Tue Jul 17, 2007  at  05:39 AM
"Funny how he doesn't say which American scientist he is the reincarnation of."

Judging from the 'science' he came up with on the video clip, I think it's Dr. Seuss.
Posted by David B.  on  Tue Jul 17, 2007  at  06:52 AM
umm... "Third World"? That's very Paul Harvey of you, CMG... It's my bet that the educational system in India kicks the US's ass, but you'd know that if you didn't live in the "First World", or is that the "Second World"? Hell, let's just call it "Land of a Thousand Prejudices". As Paul Harvey would say: "It's not one world", but hey, he's a bigoted propagandist, so what the hell does he know.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Jul 17, 2007  at  10:03 AM
He'll probably be a "scientist" in the tradition of Richard Hoagland or Gary Schwartz.

Maybe he's the reincarnation of Charles Fort?
Posted by JoeDaJuggler  in  St. Louis, MO  on  Tue Jul 17, 2007  at  12:03 PM
"It's my bet that the educational system in India kicks the US's ass."

India is a class driven society. For those in the higher class I'd assume you're right, the educational system probably beats the system in the US. However, for the majority of those living in India, I'd guess there is little or no educational system.

The fact that there is a growing educated class for a few, does not change the fact that India is still a third world country. The vast majority of people there still live in absolute poverty.
Posted by Ima Fish  on  Tue Jul 17, 2007  at  03:55 PM
Thats not so unbelievable at all!

Why just the other day I was telling my husband that I'm actually an incarnation of a crazy Indian boy! tongue wink
Posted by Jean  in  SJNB Canada  on  Tue Jul 17, 2007  at  04:42 PM
Hairy, are you familiar with the origin of the phrases "First World" "Second World" and "Third World"? The phrases were designed in the 50's to reflect the economic/political status of the world of the time. The First World countries were those that were long established and primarily capitalist/democratic. The Second World countries that were normally long established but primarily socialist/dictatorships. And the Third World countries were those that were primarily just coming out from colonialism and were a mix of democratic/dictatorships and capitalist/socialist with no clear majority to either side of each pair. Third World countries also had a per capita income significantly less than the First World countries. With some few changes, the catagories still are valid for describing the status of a country and how well its people are doing. It isn't completely accurate nor is it a great predictor but it does still serve a useful purpose as a shorthand descriptor. As long as you remember that it, like any descriptor, isn't complete.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Tue Jul 17, 2007  at  06:44 PM
No. I was/am not familiar with the origins of the 1st/2nd/3rd world terms, but I do know that, right or wrong, the connotative definitions assigned to the terms are somewhat derisive, when applied to 3rd worlders by 1st worlders. Maybe it's just my personal perception, but I've long viewed it as a term that has outgrown itself in modern times. And yes, it IS one world, IMHO. I'm sure CMG meant nothing by it, but it still stings when used as an epithet, or suggestion that because a country is less developed, it will stay that way. Both India and China are growing steadily, and may someday regard the US as stagnant and rife with poverty. A rising tide lifts all boats, is my hope
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Jul 17, 2007  at  07:37 PM
Looking at the title of the thread, I can se nothing in the use of the term "Third World" that could be an epithet, nor anything that implied that CMG believes that India will always remain poor or undeveloped. If you inferred such Hairy, that might be a sign of your own bias.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Tue Jul 17, 2007  at  08:02 PM
Well, yes, my reaction does reflect my own bias toward not using the term, and my bias toward not understanding its use in the hoax context. I'm certainly within my rights to object to the term, and as I stated, I'm sure that CMG meant no disrespect, but I do object to its use. I have seen it used as a term of derision in other applications, so I've grown uncomfortable with its general use. No Hairy Thought Police, just personal preference, to which I'm entitled, as is CMG. I'm just trying to think globally, with all the give-and-take that entails. It's all good
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Jul 17, 2007  at  11:17 PM
Actually, I was thinking more that since you think of the term as derogatory you project that anyone else using the term must therefore mean it is such terms.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Wed Jul 18, 2007  at  12:39 AM
For reasons I won't bore you with now, I once had to look up the definition and origin of the terms "First World, Third World," etc. (it's very rare to hear a country referred to as "Second World" except in very specialized contexts).

I found that there are at least two very commonly used divisions of the earth into three "Worlds":

First World: The United States with its allies, dependencies, protectorates, and countries otherwise in its "sphere of influence."
Second World: The Soviet Union (and in some systems, China) with its allies, "satellites," and countries otherwise in its "sphere of influence."
Third World: The "non-aligned" and/or neutral countries, whose politics are not completely dominated by either of the "Superpowers." Third World countries are often, but not always, poor countries with largely agrarian economies. By this definition, Switzerland and Sweden would be Third World Countries.

Obviously, this political division comes from the Cold War era and so is rather dated now.

First World: Highly industrialized and post-industrial countries with high Gross Domestic Product and a relatively high material standard of living for the majorities of their populations. Switzerland and Sweden are clearly in the First World under this scheme.
Second World: Countries with middling national wealth and income. Often refers to countries undergoing rapid industrial development, also called "developing" countries.
Third World: The poorest and least industrially developed countries, typically with mainly agrarian economies.

This scheme fails to take into account that some countries have high average incomes but not much industrialization, deriving most of their exchange income from extraction and sales of natural resources such as minerals or petroleum.

A "Fourth World" has also occasionally been posited, referring to countries so desperately poor, corrupt, and generally devastated that they don't seem to have much hope of recovery in the foreseeable future.

The economic division into three "Worlds" has sometimes been extended to refer to different classes or races within one country, or worldwide but without regard to the countries where people reside.

These terms are used much less now than they were in the 1960s and 70s, because alignment of the world's powers is not nearly as clear now as it seemed then.

Some writers have used the term "Two-Thirds World," in order to make the point that very poor people whose countries don't have much international clout are actually two thirds of the world, while the relatively rich and priviledged people are only one third.

So is India in the Third World? It depends both on which definition you use, and on which Indians you mean (the well-off minority, or the hungry majority).
Posted by Big Gary  in  Muleshoe, Texas  on  Wed Jul 18, 2007  at  04:19 AM
"I'm sure CMG meant nothing by it, but it still stings when used as an epithet, or suggestion that because a country is less developed, it will stay that way."

"I can se nothing in the use of the term "Third World" that could be an epithet, nor anything that implied that CMG believes that India will always remain poor or undeveloped."

Boy, you just never know what postings (or portions thereof) will set people off. I used "Third World" in the sense I believe it is commonly used: to describe a country which is generally underdeveloped and which has a population which is typically poor.

Trust me, no insult was intended by my use of that term, nor do I think that it DOES constitute an insult.

Actually, given that a lot of formerly American jobs are being outsourced to India, it's entirely possible that their economy will eventually surpass ours (although the caste system kind of mitigates against that, I'd say).
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Jul 18, 2007  at  05:13 AM
Reincarnation is just another bullsh*t false believe conceived by religious leaders to help them control their pack.
Posted by William  on  Wed Jul 18, 2007  at  07:23 AM
William, setting aside from your prejudgice (if possible), reincarnation has its origins in the natural cycle of the Earth. Humans noticed that plants go through a "birth, life, death, birth" cycle (spring, summer, fall, winter, spring) and decided that it applied to creatures as well, except over a longer period. There is some, not very credible, evidence to support this. And I say not very credible since there are thousands of reincarnations of various famous people but rare reincarnations of ordinary people. However, not every case has been disproved, in part because we do not know enough about the past era in question to prove or disprove some of the statments made, especially by those few who claim to be ori=dinary people reincarnated.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Wed Jul 18, 2007  at  02:52 PM
I thought the phrase 3rd World came from Europe & parts of Asia- the Old World; The Americas - The New World; etc. Of course much of the Third World is in the other two, like parts of Asia & Central/South America. & where do Westernised countries like Australia & New Zealand fit into this worldview?
Posted by Dale Irwin  in  Waiheke Island, New Zealand  on  Wed Jul 18, 2007  at  10:53 PM
OK, I hereby propose a new division of the world into three parts, based on the proportionate share of weird and wacky news stories originating in each nation:

1. Workaday world: Countries with only a moderate rate of production of odball stories. examples: USA, Australia, Luxemburg, Venezuela.

2. Somewhat strange world: Countries with a bit more than their share of freakish events and strange behavior being reported. examples: France, Brazil, Japan.

3. Bizarro world: Countries that can be depended on to come up with at least a couple of loopy and/or certifiably wacko, barking-at-the-moon-mad stories on a weekly basis. examples: India, Nigeria, Turkey, Mexico.

The classification of individual countries is open to discussion and revision (Nigeria, for example, may qualify for a fourth, "not in this universe" category). My proposal focuses on the categories themselves.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Sacramento  on  Thu Jul 19, 2007  at  03:04 PM
Big Gary, this site might be evidence that the USA falls into catagory 3, Bizarro World.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Thu Jul 19, 2007  at  04:52 PM
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