(Investigator 85, 2002 July)
Stigmata, psychic abilities, ghosts, spontaneous human combustion, UFOs, weeping statues, fish falling from the sky. These and other anomalous phenomena are the stuff of Fortean Times magazine. They were also the stuff of Charles Fort's life.
Charles Fort (1874-1932) spent much of his time in the New York City public library and the British Museum to search newspapers and magazines for reports of weird and mysterious occurrences. He published his findings in four books:
Fort opposed the dogmatic acceptance of natural laws being discovered by science. The purpose of his research therefore seems to have been to embarrass scientists by obscuring the boundary between fantasy and fact. His book New Lands, for example, attacked astronomers whom Fort said are "led by a cloud of rubbish by day and a pillar of bosh by night." His book Lo! introduced teleportation and the notion of a living universe. And Wild Talents, completed shortly before Fort died and published posthumously, was about psychic abilities.
Fort apparently regarded scientific theories to be equivalent to myth and he liked to point out refutations of theories and also wrong predictions by scientists. His own explanations were themselves often silly. To explain frogs or fish falling from the sky he postulated the existence of an ocean, the Super-Sargasso Sea, above the Earth.
Fort had one novel published – The Outcast Manufacturers (1906). He wrote nine others and also his own biography but destroyed his notes.
summary of Charles
||Born to a Dutch immigrant family who managed a grocery store.|
||Left home and worked for a New York newspaper.|
|1893-1896||Travelled around Great Britain, Europe, South Africa, USA|
||Married Anna Filan.|
|1897-1900||Wrote ten novels and his biography.|
|1906-1915||Searched journals and newspapers in New York library.|
|1920||Burned his collection of "40,000 notes".|
|1921-1928||Lived in London.|
|1929||Moved back to New York.|
||Died May 3, possibly of leukemia.|
when Thayer died
in 1959 but others continued the idea:
Garner, M (1957) Fads
and Fallacies in
the Name of Science.
Knight, D (1974) The Complete Books of Charles Forte.
Rickard, B (1997) Charles Fort: His Life and Times.