Archive for October, 2010
About a week ago, I got an email from pal, Brad Steiger. It was in response to a suggestion from the folks at The Gralien Report that the United Nations’ newly appointed “alien ambassador” create a cabinet of sorts; experts to consult on matters extra-terrestrial (and perhaps inter-dimensional). Brad was among those suggested. My immediate response was, of course, let me know if you need an assistant! Here is the original post.
Since late last week, there has been a ton of news surrounding Mazlan Othman, a Malaysian astrophysicist who, according to some sources, had been appointed by the United Nations as Earth’s “go-to-gal” should a UFO ever land with occupants asking where our “leader” could be found. Othman, whose curious last name, paired along with her first initial, rather serendipitously spells “Mothman” (looks like John Keel was right after all), denies that any such title was awarded her in an official capacity, telling Matthew Weaver at The Guardian via email that, “It sounds really cool but I have to deny it.”
I first received word about all this last week from my partner in crime, Red Pill Junkie, with the astute journal of weekly Forteana The Daily Grail. Though I was, at the time, holed-up on one of the remotest of under-developed southern escapes imaginable–the notoriously-haunted Daufuski Island–I enjoyed the ensuing email exchanges as I received them on my Blackberry. “No way… That’s too weird,” my fellow Center for Fortean Zoology correspondent and renowned Texas cryptozoologist/ufologist Nick Redfern said. Loren Coleman, arguably the most well-versed of Mothman researchers around today since Keel’s passing, pointed out early on that the claims were bunk… but what cannot be refuted is Othman’s position on the UN’s Office for Outer Space Affairs (in addition to her very weird name). If the UN should happen to have anything to do with exopolitical negotiations once E.T. does eventually touch down, Othman might arguably be involved in the ensuing affair. But are there others who might have a say in who would get to speak with aliens under such circumstances? If so, who might these “contact” individuals end up being?
I was rather flattered a few years ago when somebody suggested that a team consisting of a variety of the exopolitical heavy-hitters, with the inclusion of yours truly, might one day make a fitting (and formidable) welcoming committee for newly-arrived aliens. As thrilled as I would be to find myself an envoy on such a mission, I doubt any of the other folks suggested, among them names like Michael Salla and Stephen Greer, would even know who I am. Maybe this has more to do with their relative success compared with that of guys like me, the lowly bloggers in the twilight underworld of Forteana. Or, maybe it shows us something else: that there is a bizarre dichotomy between those researchers who equate everything ufological with government activities and cover-ups, and those of us who feel there is an inherent differential between the two which, in all likelihood, involves far less human understanding in totality.
I recently touched on this during a phone conversation with Stanton Friedman last week. Asking him whether he felt many of the prominent names in the exopolitical movement were onto something, Friedman told me, “These guys don’t check, they believe what they want to believe. Yes, the government’s covering up, but we don’t need to put lies in there… phony stories or anything like that. The truth’s quite good enough.” Pairing this alongside some of the bizarre theories I’ve heard over the years, ranging from ongoing government-extraterrestrial liaisons on remote islands in the south pacific and President Obama being briefed about extraterrestrial presences on Earth, to evil alien plans to harvest our souls and “trees” growing on the moon, it is certainly a bit difficult to “buy” all of the proposed ufological theories out there. What surprises me, however, is that most often I hear these more ridiculous theories being proposed by the guys with PhDs and careers in government.
Does this mean that the individuals who, by virtue of their professional interests, should be more well-respected and legitimate, are actually crazy? Maybe not… but does it point toward yet another conspiracy, where these individuals feed the public disinformation aimed at confusing the general public? I don’t think either of these is the case, really. However, I think it shows us that, sometimes, the academic meritocracy imposed upon us today is somewhat overrated, and that in many instances, a measure of a man’s (or woman’s) intellect shouldn’t be based solely upon the letters that follow that person’s name.
That said, if I had a say in the matter of who would best represent the human species if extraterrestrials landed, I would have to elect Jacques Vallee, with his vast knowledge in computation and mathematics, as well as the aforementioned Stanton Friedman, who has spent years studying (with a healthy dose of skepticism) the UFO phenomenon from an engineering perspective. Brad Steiger, whose research has covered the esoteric sciences in such vast and differed areas that the body of his work seems hardly fathomable, would no doubt also lend a great amount of knowledge and wisdom to the experience. Physicist Micho Kaku, with his youthful sense of wonder and excitement toward the prospect of alien-human contact, in addition to his outgoing personality, would no doubt serve well in such a capacity, also. And finally, the late (but hardly forgotten) futurist Mac Tonnies, who was brave enough to speculate within the confines of terrestrial phenomenon alone, would no doubt have been able to lend knowledge in vast capacities to such an undertaking.
I propose individuals such as these because, rather than being scientists who are somewhat vaguely interested in or familiar with the cultural and political notions surrounding human contact with extraterrestrials, these folks have undertaken all ranges of available data–whether that be science or mere speculation–but almost always that which most directly relates to the growing body of evidence of what appears to be ongoing interaction with alien beings. Though the mainstream scientific community often seems to be somewhat “in the dark” when it comes to such studies, based on the lack of (or outright refutation) of what is accepted as “science” today, these individuals I’ve listed, as well as a host of others, have worked long and hard to take all angles into proper consideration, with hope of painting a more complete and accurate picture in the end. Sadly, it seems that the mainstream scientific establishment is too-often willing to overlook any elements which push the boundaries of our existing knowledge base–boundaries that form walls of limitation around the very tool we’d hope to use to better understand the universe around us.
Is there a remedy to the human act of stifling our understanding of time and space, especially when it doesn’t conform to our preconceived notions? One can only hope there is, or else learn to accept that mankind has truly begun its descent down a rounded slope on the far side of a bell curve, where innovation is caught with no other way to grow except out in every direction, or simply down. Sadly, our continued toying with absurdly out-dated modes of learning, such as SETI’s radio communication systems, etc, seems to indicate that those with the technology and resources that might be better used to understand extraterrestrial intelligences are dancing like a single flame lit upon a candle in the dark, to borrow the famous allusion from Sagan’s magnum opus of skepticism. At present, that candle appears to be flickering… how long, then, before it goes out?
You could call Charles Fort (1874 – 1932) the “first Ufologist”—and many do—but that’s already, um, damning the quirky author of The Book of the Damned with feint praise. Fort was more of a scientist (or scientific researcher), but not in any sort of traditional sense most people would recognize as science. A better description of his interests would be to say that what fascinated Fort were the things which were intellectually excluded by science. Rains of frogs, alien spacecraft, meat falling from the sky and spontaneous human combustion were the grist for his mill and this is what he spent his life meticulously cataloging.
Fort was also a bit of a comedian, a Swiftian satirist of science. He hated the idea of experts and thumbed his nose at scientific authority. Fort was a sworn enemy of orthodox rationality. His prose is a delight and is a part of his strong attraction for many readers. His style is “circular,” I guess you might say. Repetitive, but this is kind of the point, to be bludgeoned by the sheer force of the number of examples he’d throw at readers, into accepting the simple fact that something awfully strange is going on here.
Fort, who invented words like “teleporter” kept his notes, his Forteana, if you will, on notecards. Although from time to time, the eccentric author would burn his research, tens of thousands of his cards survive and can be viewed at the New York Library’s Rare Book Room (I’ve looked at some of them myself). In his day, Fort had his share of detracters (his friend H.L. Mencken said his head was filled with “Bohemian mush”!) but also many prominent admirers such as Ben Hecht, Theodore Drieser and Oliver Wendell Homes.
The influence of Charles Fort’s work is subtle but pervasive throughout popular culture. No Fort, no X-Files, for instance. No Art Bell or George Noory, either. Although Fort was in life and after his death, a relatively obscure writer, his work still holds a strong fascination for many people who consider him an intellectual giant. And of course there is a magazine, The Fortean Times, which keeps the flame alive as well as regional organizations of Fortean enthusiasts and a yearly convention.
Dangerous Minds pal Skylaire Alfvegren organizes The League of Western Fortean Intermediatists (or L.O.W.F.I) and she’s got a great short biographical essay of Charles Fort at the Fortean West website:
There is a man, largely undiscovered by the modern world, whom I, and many others, believe made one of the most significant contributions to the world of science. Had it not been that he vehemently opposed modern scientists and their methods, his work might be enjoying a greater popularity than it does. Had this man decided to write about completely different topics, he would be hailed as a fabulous literary character. Here was a peculiar fellow. Charles Fort devoted 26 years of his life to compiling documented reports of scientific anomalies from journals and newspapers from all around the world. He lived in dire poverty so that truth could prevail. His life’s work may one day be of great scientific worth, should the established scientific community ever muster the courage to approach it.
Anomalies. This is what Fort trafficked in. Reports of prehistoric beasts frolicking in the world’s oceans. (Loch Ness, Champ, Storsjon Animal). Ancient artifacts found in improbable places (Roman coins in the deserts of Arizona, Chinese seals found buried deep in the forests of Ireland, small statues of horses discovered in pre-Columbian Venezuela). Falls of things other than rain from the sky (red rains in 1571 England, 1744 Genoa; a rain of “73 organic formations, particular to South America” in France in 1846). Unidentified aerial phenomena (excluding Ezekiel’s Biblical description. Fort’s list contains the first known report of a so-called “UFO”, dating from 1779). These are but a few of the subjects Fort spent his lifetime collecting reports of. This anomalous data are roped together under the banner of “Forteana”, a term which probably does not exist in any dictionary, because that which it pertains to isn’t supposed to exist at all.
He who championed underdogs, has been and will likely continue to be, one of the greatest underdogs of all time. For he has not a baseball team or brooding thespians to compete with, but the entire history of the scientific world. His work spat in the face of conventional scientists. There is much going on around us that defies explanation. Fort amassed reports of events seen by humans around the world countless times, which, none the less, have been dismissed. The data he collected were excommunicated by science, which acts like a religion. “The monks of science” he wrote, “dwell on smuggeries that are walled away from event-jungles- Science has done its utmost to prevent whatever science has done” (the Book of the Damned, p. 245). His legacy, his collection of data lies before us. It is indisputable, and yet still ignored. The reports he gathered could make any enemy of science acquire a renewed enthusiasm for the subject. In his four published works, the Book of the Damned (1919). New Lands (1923) Lo! (1931) and Wild Talents (1932) we find over 1,200 documented reports of occurrences which orthodox science refuses to attempt to explain. Explanation was not Fort’s purpose. He merely presented the data, sometimes with his own speculations, sometimes with tongue in cheek. While anomalies can be entertaining, they can also be deeply disturbing, for they undermine the foundations of science, the idea that every thing in this world is rational and under control. Articles like those collected in Fortean Times and the INFO Journal (International Fortean Organization), two publications which continue Fort’s work, prove that things are not under our control, nor will they ever be. Many people, including scientists, find this discomforting and so ignore that which they cannot explain.
From the article, The Life, Work and Influence of Charles Fort
Posted by Richard Metzger | 1 Comment