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SkepticsApprentice

Thoughts on Xenoglossy?

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So last night I got into a conversation with family about supposed mystical experiences in the Christian faith, and while I never mentioned that I pretty much consider it all 'woo' at this point I did make it pretty clear that all of the stories about speaking in tongues, demon possession, and being 'slain in the Spirit' could easily be the products of a mental imbalance or some other natural phenomena. This didn't exactly dissuade the fam (nor did I expect it to), and my mother briefly described a time about seventeen years ago when she was taking the Alpha course and a woman got up and started speaking in tongues. The thing is, this apparently wasn't your garden variety glossolalia babble, since someone else in the group actually understood what was being said. Things got even more interesting when the tongue-speaker revealed that she'd never learned the language that she had been speaking, and of course it was all attributed to God. It reminded me a bit of the Agnes Ozman story, where a woman (Ozman) reportedly had hands laid on her and suddenly began to speak and write Chinese for three days, helping to kick off the Pentecostal movement.  I didn't press for too many more details, as I was trying to find a nice way to close the conversation without sounding rude or unreceptive, but later I did some searching and discovered that this phenomena–known as xenoglossy–has actually been reported many times throughout history, by Christians and nonbelievers, in both religious and non-religious situations. Of course, there's usually no way to accurately validate these claims, although a number of psychologists and linguists have tried. Outside of Christian circles, xenoglossy seems to often be associated with reincarnation, another concept that I am extremely skeptical of due to a lack of conclusive evidence to support it. 

Has anybody here had an experience with xenoglossy in the past, and if so what were your thoughts? Also, how might I reconcile the issue with a close relative who sincerely believes that she witnessed an instance of xenoglossy?

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I have head of people waking up from head injuries being able to speak fluently in another language... but the stories I've heard are anecdotal.

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