Common experience and observation teaches us that we ‘come into this life with nothing’ and presumably, ‘leave it with nothing’. The notion that we have past lives (reincarnation) or even just that we have a species of ‘genetic memory’ is falsified by experience. We do not have a memory of any previous lives. Anecdotes are sometime invoked to suggest the contrary, but none of this stands up to analysis and remains anecdotal. The argument is sometimes given that any memory of previous existence is generally unconscious. This has always struck me as special pleading.
The advent of ‘YouTube’, ‘Facebook’ and other social media has for the first time made it possible to preserve and make public raw evidence in the form of videos, naively recorded, but which demonstrate phenomena that are not what we would expect if reincarnation or genetic memory or both were real. Children are born ‘afraid of their own shadows’ and not in any degree prepared for life. They have to be taught how to behave. Of course, it would be counterproductive if children were born with language and thus ill equipped for language acquisition, inhibited by ‘the language they were born with’. But what about more basic skills? It has been suggested that babies are born with an innate fear of spiders and that this is consistent with either the reincarnation hypothesis or genetic memory. I would suggest that videos like the ones displayed on this page are not consistent with such notions and more consistent with the hypothesis of babies coming into this world with only a few innate survival instincts — if that.
None of these are absolute disproof that we all have ‘unconscious memories of previous lives’ or ‘genetic memories’. They are however consistent with the hypothesis that we are all born as blank pages, (tabula rasa hypothesis), with only a primitive, innate fear response, and that — for example — fear of spiders arises because having an innate fear of ‘quick moving black objects’ is an adaptation that has survival value. And that is all it suggests.
Of course, it could always be argued that these examples are simply so called, ‘young souls’; or that children with an apparently innate fear of shadows are simply maladjusted. But 1) this is largely irrelevant, because we are looking at raw data; 2) the observation is of what is consistent with one or another hypotheses; 3) There is a lack of positive evidence of reincarnation or genetic memory, only anecdotal evidence; 4) we have only had social media for a few years. Presumably, in years to come this kind of video clip, rare until now, will become a commonplace. How this kind of experience affect religious beliefs in reincarnation if it turns out to be very common remains to be seen.
This phenomenon is also consistent with the hypothesis that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon, or epiphenomenon of the brain and a product of experience, rather than there being any kind of mind and body dichotomy.