Any paranormal or strange phenomena that appear to defy natural explanation, such as rains of frogs, fish, stones, dead birds, flesh, and snakes; mystifying religious experiences, such as stigmata; floating balls of light in the night sky; spontaneous human combustion; UFOs; poltergeist activity; and monstrous creatures.
Fortean phenomena are named after Charles Fort (1874-1932), an American journalist.
After an inheritance enabled him to quit work as a journalist in his early forties, Fort devoted the rest of his life collecting and cataloguing thousands of odd phenomena that had no explanation, which he found by poring through scientific and popular journals in the British Museum and New York Public Library. He never attempted to explain these phenomena, but used these examples to point out the limitations of scientific knowledge and the danger of dogmatic acceptance of natural laws, which the phenomena seemed to contravene.
Fort compiled his research into four books: The Book of the Damned ( 1919); New Lands (1923); Lo! (1931); and Wild Talents (1932). In The Book of the Damned, which lists over one thousand such incidents, Fort challenged the scientific method of accepting a phenomenon as genuine only if it could be proved. To Fort the fact that a phenomenon had occurred and been reported was proof enough; the reason why was less important.
To demonstrate the folly of scientists who were convinced that there must be an explanation for every event — for example, black rains falling on Scotland between 1863 and 1866 were said by scientists to be the result of eruptions of Mount Vesuvius — Fort advanced his own catch-all theory. He invented the SuperSargasso Sea, a place above the Earth that contained a collection of matter drawn from the ground below. It was from the Super-Sargasso Sea that the frogs, cannonballs, stones, and countless other objects simply fall to the earth.
Fort's studies of the inexplicable have continued since his death, research being pursued on a scholarly basis by enthusiasts. Of major interest to modern Forteans are UFOs and related phenomena. Long before the term 'UFO' was conceived, Fort uncovered reports of sky oddities dating back to 1779.
Modern investigations focus on missing time, close encounters, and a phenomenon known as the men in black, mysterious people dressed in dark clothing who sometimes purport to be government or United States Air Force representatives, and intimidate UFO witnesses and confiscate UFO photographs taken by private citizens.
Two other phenomena, possibly related to UFOs, are the 'mystery helicopters', black helicopters reported all over the world since 1938, years before the helicopter was invented; and 'Mothman', a gray man-sized and man-shaped creature with red eyes, and wings three meters (ten feet) in span. More than one hundred reports of Mothman were made in 1966 and 1967 in an Ohio River valley area; a black Mothman-type creature was reported performing aerial stunts over New York and New Jersey in 1887 and 1880.
Forteans also investigate reported sightings of the Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, and other creatures.
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Sources: Article is scheduled to be reviewed.
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