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A Cornucopia of Delights For Serious Forteans
Date of Review: 
Published Work: 
Bob Rickard
Fortean Times

The editors of The Anomalist (Patrick Huyghe and Dennis Stacy) published the previous issue (number 11) of their hugely successful periodic journal in digital form.

Such was the outcry from bereft paper-fanciers that it is back in its familiar touchy-feely (and more collectable) form. More of an anthology than a journal, this edition boasts 11 papers of the expected variety and excellence.

In the realm of fortean-related philosophy we have Joseph M Felser’s short commentary on ‘Belief in belief’ about the inherent improbability of any proof of the paranormal that would satisfy scientific scepticism.

In Jay Walljasper’s account of a visit to the equally provocative Rupert Sheldrake, he wonders how the placid maverick manages to cope with the hostility his ideas attract in more conventional scientists.

Social psychology is tasked with ignoring or failing to adequately explain the panics labelled ‘mass hysteria’ – a running theme in at least three of the articles here.

The widespread public ferment in the great melting pot that was London in the 18th century (and since) gave rise to a surprising number of different ‘scares’ (street gangs, Springheel Jack, the Ripper and various other uncatchable ‘monsters’), all reviewed here by those masters of the subject, Hilary Evans and Robert Bartholomew.

This is followed by policeman/ufologist Albert Rosales with his selection of some of the most bizarre UFO ‘alien’ cases; cases which sober ufologists tend to ignore for fear of bringing their subject into disrepute.

Extrasensory perception (ESP) in the sense of Fort’s ‘wild talents’ connects three more papers.

First, Michael Schmicker explores the possibility that some sort of premonition of danger might have saved a few people from being victims of various famous serial killers; the data comes from testimony given by ‘lucky escapees’.

Nick Redfern provides an account of the experimental ESP programmes run by both the US and Soviet military, particularly the attempt to exploit ‘psychics’ for espionage.

A slightly different angle is presented by Gregory Gutierez, who examines the early attempts at scientific investigation of telekinesis in the phenomena surrounding the spiritualist medium Rudy Schneider.

The grey area between forteana and science is represented by our next trilogy.

David Hricenak champions cryptobotany, the almost forgotten cousin of cryptozoology. The recent discovery of the remains of the small species of human (Homo floresiensis) in Indonesia caught the world’s imagination, and people quickly dubbed them ‘Hobbits’.

Dwight Smith and Gary Mangiacopra suggest that association may not be too facile, as they present folkloric evidence from a number of cultures that suggests legends of dwarves and fairies may be cultural memories of a diminutive human race in prehistory.

Roger Hart writes on one of Fort’s favourite and yet neglected subjects – the evidence of microscopic life (spores, bacteria) in the remains of meteorites that have crossed immense distances of space, enduring extremes of cold and heat.

This fine volume is rounded out by a welcome reprint of William Beauchamp’s 1905 survey of the many strange mounds around Perch Lake in New York State, remains of the still enigmatic culture known as the Mound Builders which flourished from the eastern seaboard of North America inland to the Mississippi around 2,000 years ago.

This is essential and quality reading for serious forteans.