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Forteana? What the heck is that?


by Ignatius F. Makarevich

If one is of a curious nature, surely one has wondered, privately, about reports of strange and inexplicable occurrences that happen in the world around us. Could these tales be true? And if they are, what does it mean in relation to our steadfast beliefs? There are a few good people in the world who collect these stories and use them to attempt an understanding of the world. Prominent among them was Charles Hoy Fort, who devoted the last 30 years of his life to the quest. Because of his pioneering work the study of anomalous phenomena is known as forteana.

Mainstream science abhors these phenomena, ignoring and suppressing the reports, and even going so far as to ridicule and demean the reporters. The media follow suit in their treatment of the experiences and experiencers. The scientists are mainly concerned with their reputations, jobs, and getting grants to extend their careers. They are not interesting in forging ahead into uncharted waters. Science has lost the qualities of imagination and curiosity. The media merely reflects the scientist’s attitude.

Forteana, to the author, is the realization that there is more to the world than meets the eye, and the subsequent need to understand that ever-so-elusive “more.” Should one be so bold as to look into their own personal weirdness-of-choice, one quickly discovers that there are cases numbering in the thousands, going back for as long as there are records to be had. In Renaissance religious paintings, there are clearly delineated renditions of UFOs. There are woodcuts and broadsheets of UFOs from the time the printing press was invented. These people were not influenced by pulp magazines and films, as the modern scientist might claim of someone today. There are many points of view among intellectuals as to what might cause such things in the sky, from the geological to the realm of quantum dimensionality to unknown atmospheric processes. Forteana realizes that the related sciences can only be truly understood if these rare, and not-so-rare, occurrences are understood as well.

Egyptologists, for example, insist, vehemently, that the monuments at the Giza Plateau were built 2,700 years ago. What they are loathe to discuss and gleeful to ridicule is the issue of the weathering of the Sphinx. This weathering has been shown, by credentialed geologists in true scientific analysis, to be water-worn. Erosion by water on such a scale can only have happened to the Sphinx if it is older than 10,000 years, the date of the last wet period in Egypt. What does this mean? Who built the Sphinx, and were they part of a long-lost civilization? The Egyptologists say there is no evidence for such a people. They do not, however, actually look for any evidence for such a people, and ignore the pesky weathering issue.

An aspect of forteana that I find interesting is the level of non-acceptance of the events, let alone their relationship to reality, as compared to the acceptance level of the current state of physics. The physicists are telling us that there are upwards of ten dimensions out there, not just the four we are familiar with. Physicists also tell us that in a vacuum, matter will suddenly appear from nowhere and just as suddenly vanish into nothing again. It is not more difficult to accept the ideas of the scientists than the ideas of the Forteans? The mainstream seems far more exotic on the face of it!

Is it unreasonable to assume that in the hundreds of thousands of acres that remain uninhabited woodland in the United States, that there couldn’t exist a small population of highly intelligent primates? There is no scientific reason as to why it could not be. Consider that there are dozens of planes that have crashed in the wilderness of the Northwest that have never been found.

Awash in the myriad of reports concerning most aspects of our world, and others, it is important that a belief system is not instituted. Forteans neither believe nor disbelieve. The earnest application of critical thinking, intelligence and common sense is necessary for the material to be dealt with properly and fairly. Unwavering belief systems muddy the waters of science and society with paradigms and dogma that prevent critical thinking and perpetuate the stagnation that inevitably occurs.

In conclusion, Forteana is the study of anomalous phenomena, in all the sciences and in the behavior of people and society. It is a plea for clear thinking, for not ignoring things which may be uncomfortable in the world view of the beholder. Only then can humankind achieve a true understanding of this place we call home.