The Fortean Times, They Are A’ Changin’

Cute AliensEven since I was let loose at the age of seven in a school library with a “paranormal” section, I’ve been captivated by Fortean phenomenon, those strange events, places and creatures that can’t easily be explained by our current body of scientific knowledge. This includes UFOs, the Sasquatch (or Bigfoot or Yeti), frogs falling from the sky in hailstones, the Bermuda Triangle, magnetic children who attract spoons, ancient astronauts, the Loch Ness Monster, well-documented ghosts, and so on. I attribute this interest to a scientific mind trapped inside a wild imagination… each incident is like a intriguing and challenging puzzle to be solved (far more interesting, at any rate, than those “one car leaves from Toronto going east at 60 km/h, and another…” style problems) .

But despite the strange things reported at sites like the Fortean Times –a quality magazine, by the way, striking a good balance of skepticism and weirdness– I’ve noticed that a lot of the stranger things have fallen off the map in recent years. At first, I just related it to a certain boredom in such matters among the public, the same tediousness of topic that doomed series like the X-Files. After all, the Net should allow people interested in such things to connect and grow, right? Well, that’s partially right, and it did happen that way about a decade ago. But a new piece over at TCS: Tech Central Station – Internet Killed the Alien Star helps to put things into perspective.

The Internet processes all truth and falsehood in just this fashion. Wild rumors and dubious pieces of evidence are quick to circulate, but quickly debunked. The Internet gives liars and rumor mongers a colossal space in which to bamboozle dolts of every stripe — but it also provides a forum for wise men from all across the world to speak the truth. Over the long run, the truth tends to win.

Great food for thought, especially given the number of bloggers today who comment upon –and attempt to debunk– anything that hits the news. Are we learning to be more critical?

On the other hand, one can bring up the notion of Intelligent Design as science, or a bamboozled public when it comes to giving up one’s fundamental rights, even to the extent of allowing torture….

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