Dr. Michael Fox: Photographic “Proof” of Life after Life
February 11, 2009
My favorite goofy veterinarian Dr. Michael Fox, is back with another entry in his ongoing attempts to prove what he calls “life after life” in his nationally syndicated newspaper column titled, Evidence of ‘life after’ provided (2-11-2009).
Once again, the lede is being buried on the crossword puzzle page.
If the editors thought for one moment that Dr. Fox had compelling evidence for the continued existence of personality after a dog’s metabolic processes have ceased, surely this would be on the front page, above the fold. Instead they ran it next to the horoscope and Suduko puzzle.
Don’t get me wrong, Dr. Fox can hold whatever spiritual or religious views he chooses. I simply think that such opinions should not contaminate the offering of his medical expertise as an experienced and knowledgeable veterinarian in the public press.
He’s outside of his skill set here: he is, after all, writing a column of advice to pet owners. It would be just as inappropriate for him to include his opinion about Jewish dog owners, Southern Baptist cat fanciers and Druid parrot keepers.
There are two distinct problems with Dr. Fox’s presentation. One is that all his readers who write in about seeing or somehow sensing their recently deceased pets are grieving. I think Dr. Fox is exploiting that grief, just like alleged psychic John Edward does on TV.
The second is the sketchy photographic proof he provides on his web site, here. The term for what’s going on here is pareidolia, the misperception of something unique and distinct in a vague or ambiguous pattern. Think the Virgin Mary on a piece of toast, Jesus Christ on a burnt tortilla, a pretty horsie in the clouds above.
I’m going to show you Dr. Fox’s evidence. Look carefully at the three images. Later, I’ll tell you what he thinks you should see and you can compare impressions. . .click on the pictures for larger images.
If you don’t independently and without prompting see precisely what Dr. Fox sees, I’m going to call this pareidolia, not evidence.
Instead of encouraging his audience to accept the cycle of life (which ends in death for wonderful dogs, credulous veterinarians and rotten skeptics like me alike), he indulges in wish-fulfillment fantasy. Not only it is unlikely that there will be any freight trains in Heaven*, the matter of canine and cats having souls is also unclear.
In the current instance K.T. of Chicopee, MA considered her cocker spaniel her “soul mate.” The dog Casey, had been with her through a divorce and several moves. When it became necessary to euthanize Casey, she says, “It was the most devastating time of my life. I missed her so much.”
Now, her description of the visitation:
“On one particular night, I was crying so hard I just screamed out, ‘Casey, I want you back.’ A few nights later, she came to me. I was sitting on my bed, holding, kissing and petting her. She didn’t actually ‘speak’ to me, but somehow conveyed to me that she was happy, safe and no longer in pain. It was so real: I could actually feel her.”
K.T. doesn’t explicitly state that she was alone during this encounter, but I suspect she was. If not, I wonder if anyone else present could also see, hold and pet Casey?
I’m suspect of the unfailingly positive messages the deceased animals give their grieving owners.
You never have anyone report that their cat can back and bitched at them, “You stupid tool—it wasn’t a tumor, it was a benign cyst. Dr. Brown is an incompetent old fool! You had me killed for no good reason.” They always tell their owners exactly what they want to hear, even if it is non-verbally.
So there are two possibilities: a grief-stricken, heart-broken person imagines something that comforts them OR spooky ghosts of all dead animals (why should it be limited to dogs and cats?) wander through the night comforting some, annoying others.
How this affects me personally: the cows who were slaughtered for every burger I’ve eaten congregate in my living room nightly, glowing ectoplasmically and try to graze on my rug. For every dish of Kung Pao Chicken, another ghostly clucker scratches my bed looking for phantom seed. Not to mention the pigs from my BLTs! Far better to be a vegetarian and only have to answer to the Spook Carrots and Spirits of Arugula Past.
Dr. Fox’s ‘Extraordinary’ Photographs: His Explanations
Picture 1: ”This photo, as well as a video, was taken by the parents of a little girl who was the first to notice the image of her deceased dog in the sky. It looked just like their old Golden retriever, and yet ironically, nobody else at the outdoor school event, except her parents, could make out the image. I slightly enhanced the original photo with a little more contrast.”
Picture 2: ”This photo. . . shows an aura or astral body of light around a tree that had been planted in memory of the family dog, whose surviving companion lies beneath. The owner, an experienced photographer, told me that this image was not evident when he took this picture, nor was it evident in pictures that he took just before and immediately after this extraordinary one.”
Picture 3: “Copies from the scratched color print (negative was lost) provided by the owners are reproduced here in contrast color and black and white to reveal the image as clearly as possible in the foreground. This phantom-like image, which they took to be their recently deceased dog, was not evident to them when they were out in the woods walking their other dogs and snapped a photo of one of their dogs further down the trail. The deceased dog’s tail, possibly wagging, and the hind legs can be clearly seen in the foreground, with the dog’s head and ears toward the center of the photograph.”
How close did your guesses come to Dr. Fox’s explanations?
*Jimmy Rodger’s “Hobo’s Meditation”
Will there be any freight trains in Heaven?
Any box cars in which we might hide?
Will there be any tough cops or brakemen
Will they tell us that we cannot ride?