LAUGHTER AND TICKLING: THE DARK SIDE

THINGS ARE NOT AS THEY SEEM

Tickling is the act of touching a part of the body so as to cause involuntary twitching movements and/or laughter. The word “tickle” evolved from the Middle English tikelen, perhaps frequentative of ticken, to touch lightly. The idiom tickled pink means to be pleased or delighted.
In 1897, psychologists G. Stanley Hall and Arthur Allin described a “tickle” as two different types of phenomena. One type caused by very light movement across the skin. This type of tickle, called a knismesis, generally does not produce laughter and is sometimes accompanied by an itching sensation.
Another type of tickle is the laughter inducing, “heavy” tickle, produced by repeatedly applying pressure to “ticklish” areas, and is known as gargalesis. Such sensations can be pleasurable or exciting, but are sometimes considered highly unpleasant, particularly in the case of relentless heavy tickling.
Purpose of Tickling

INNOCENT PLAY?

Some of history’s greatest thinkers have pondered the mysteries of the tickle response, including Plato, Francis Bacon, Galileo and Charles Darwin. In The Assayer, Galileo philosophically examines tickling in the context of how we perceive reality
When touched upon the soles of the feet, for example, it feels in addition to the common sensation of touch a sensation on which we have imposed a special name, “tickling.” This sensation belongs to us and not to the hand… A piece of paper or a feather drawn lightly over any part of our bodies performs intrinsically the same operations of moving and touching, but by touching the eye, the nose, or the upper lip it excites in us an almost intolerable titillation, even though elsewhere it is scarcely felt. This titillation belongs entirely to us and not to the feather; if the live and sensitive body were removed it would remain no more than a mere word.
One hypothesis, as mentioned above, is that tickling serves as a pleasant bonding experience between parent and child. However, this hypothesis does not adequately explain why many children and adults find tickling to be an unpleasant experience. Another view maintained is that tickling develops as a prenatal response and that the development of sensitive areas on the fetus helps to orient the fetus into favourable positions while in the womb.
It is unknown why certain people find areas of the body to be more ticklish than others; additionally, studies have shown that there is no significant difference in ticklishness between the genders. In 1924, J.C. Gregory proposed that the most ticklish places on the body were also those areas that were the most vulnerable during hand-to-hand combat. He posited that ticklishness might confer an evolutionary advantage by enticing the individual to protect these areas. Consistent with this idea, University of Iowa psychiatrist Donald W. Black observed that most ticklish spots are found in the same places as the protective reflexes.

A third, hybrid hypothesis, has suggested that tickling encourages the development of combat skills. Most tickling is done by parents, siblings and friends and is often a type of rough-and-tumble play, during which time children often develop valuable defensive and combat moves. Although people generally make movements to get away from, and report disliking, being tickled, laughter encourages the tickler to continue. If the facial expressions induced by tickle were less pleasant the tickler would be less likely to continue, thus diminishing the frequency of these valuable combat lessons.
To understand how much of the tickle response is dependent on the interpersonal relationship of the parties involved, Christenfeld and Harris presented subjects with a “mechanical tickle machine”. They found that the subjects laughed just as much when they believed they were being tickled by a machine as when they thought they were being tickled by a person Harris goes on to suggest that the tickle response is reflex, similar to the startle reflex, that is contingent upon the element of surprise.
Tickle Torture

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING

Chinese tickle torture is a term used in Western Society to describe an ancient form of torture practiced by the Chinese, in particular the courts of the Han Dynasty. Chinese tickle torture was a punishment for nobility since it left no marks and a victim could recover relatively easily and quickly.
Another example of tickle torture was used in Ancient Rome, where a person’s feet were dipped in a salt solution, and a goat was brought in to lick the solution off. This type of tickle torture would only start as tickling, eventually becoming extremely painful.
Heinz Heger, a homosexual man persecuted in a the Flossenburg concentration camp during World War II, witnessed Nazi prison guards perform tickle torture on a fellow inmate, followed by various other tortures which resulted in his death. He describes this incident in his book The Men With The Pink Triangle: “The first game that the SS sergeant and his men played was to tickle their victim with goose feathers, on the soles of his feet, between his legs, in the armpits, and on other parts of his naked body. At first the prisoner forced himself to keep silent, while his eyes twitched in fear and torment from one SS man to the other. Then he could not restrain himself and finally he broke out in a high-pitched laughter that very soon turned into a cry of pain, while the tears ran down his face, and his body twisted against his chains. After this tickling torture, they let the lad hang there for a little, while a flood of tears ran down his cheeks and he cried and sobbed uncontrollably.”
An article in the British Medical Journal about European tortures describes a method of tickle torture in which a goat was compelled to lick the victim’s feet because they had been dipped in salt water. Once the goat had licked the salt off, the victim’s feet would be dipped in the salt water again and the process would repeat itself. In ancient Japan, those in positions of authority could administer punishments to those convicted of crimes that were beyond the criminal code. This was called shikei, which translates as ‘private punishment.’ One such torture was kusuguri-zeme: “merciless tickling.”
In his groundbreaking book Sibling Abuse, Vernon Wiehe published his research findings regarding 150 adults who were abused by their siblings during childhood. Several reported tickling as a type of physical abuse they experienced, and based on these reports it was revealed that abusive tickling is capable of provoking extreme physiological reactions in the victim, such as vomiting and losing consciousness
There are a small number of documented instances of tickle torture in The New York Times. They happened in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and in these instances restrained victims were tickled upon the bare soles of their feet, apparently against their will and for the pleasure of their tormentors
There is currently no evidence that tickle torture was ever widespread or was practiced by governments. The very small amount of related documentation discovered thus far originates from England and the United States.
A 1903 article described an immobilized suicidal patient at the Hudson River State Hospital who was tied to a bed for his own safety. While he lay helpless, the patient’s toes were tickled by one of the hospital attendants, Frank A. Sanders. “Sanders is said to have confessed that while intoxicated he amused himself by tickling the feet and ribs of Hayes and pulling his nose.” Sanders also gave his restrained victim a black eye. Another hospital employee came upon Sanders while he was entertaining himself at his patient’s expense, and the criminal was brought before a grand jury
An 1887 article entitled “England in Old Times” states “Gone, too, are the parish stocks, in which female offenders against public morality formerly sat imprisoned, with their legs held fast beneath a heavy wooden yoke, while sundry small but fiendish boys improved the occasion by deliberately pulling off their shoes and tickling the soles of the women’s defenseless feet.”
In 1872, the beating of a man’s bare feet was described in an article entitled “Terrible Punishments: The Russian Knout and Turkish Bastinado: How the Punishments are Inflicted.” The author, while explaining the intense pain caused by whipping, writes “I have heard men cry out in agony…but I never heard such heart-rending sounds as those from the poor bastinadoed wretch before me. Such is the bastinado. And of the intensiveness of the agony which its infliction produces, one has only to think of the congeries or plexus of delicate nerves which have their terminus in the feet. Even tickling the soles of the feet has often produced death; what then must be the excruciating pain when cruel violence is done to those most sensitive members?”
Historical Deaths Attributed to Laughter

LAUGHING TO DEATH

• In the third century B.C., the Greek stoic philosopher Chrysippus died of laughter after giving his donkey wine, then seeing it attempt to feed on figs.
• King Martin of Aragon died from a combination of indigestion and uncontrollable laughter in 1410
• Pietro Aretino, who died in 1580, “is said to have died of suffocation from laughing too much.
• In 1660, the Scottish aristocrat, polymath and first translator of Rabelais into English Thomas Urquhart, is said to have died laughing upon hearing that Charles II had taken the throne.
Modern deaths attributed to laughter
• On 24 March 1975, Alex Mitchell, a 50-year-old bricklayer from King’s Lynn, England, died laughing while watching the “Kung Fu Kapers” episode of The Goodies, featuring a kilt-clad Scotsman battling a vicious black pudding with his bagpipes. After twenty-five minutes of continuous laughter, Mitchell finally slumped on the sofa and died from heart failure. His widow later sent The Goodies a letter thanking them for making Mitchell’s final moments of life so pleasant.
• In 1989, a Danish audiologist, Ole Bentzen, died laughing while watching A Fish Called Wanda. His heart was estimated to have beaten at between 250 and 500 beats per minute, before he succumbed to cardiac arrest.
• In 2003, Damnoen Saen-um, a Thai ice cream salesman, is reported to have died while laughing in his sleep at the age of 52. His wife was unable to wake him, and he stopped breathing after two minutes of continuous laughter. He is believed to have died of either heart failure or asphyxiation.

POOF!

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SURVIVAL TIP: UNDERSTANDING THE BASIC LAWS OF HUMAN STUPIDITY

THE COST OF STUPIDITY

It is apparent to any of us who take the time to look around and observe our world that stupidity is rampant.  Go to any shopping mall and spend time people watching and you are sure to see many examples of stupidity in action on a large scale—ponder the reasons that draw people to malls and the levels of stupidity increase to frightening proportions.  It’s all around us—check-out your workplace, neighbors, news broadcasts, and if you have any linger doubts—the behavior of any of our political leaders will make you a true believer.

Albert Einstein summed up the situation in this famous quote: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”  Since this situation seems to be a fixed characteristic of human nature our only hope is to understand and do our best to deal with the phenomena.  Luckily, we can look to the work of an Italian economic historian for guidance.

Carlo Maria Cipolla (August 15, 1922-September5, 2000), specialized in the study of the causes that produce specific economic and social situations throughout history, rather than focusing on facts and figures.  The outline of his thinking on Human Stupidity appeared in the Whole Earth Review, Spring 1987.  Cipolla identified five fundamental laws:

1)    Always and inevitably each of us underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

2)    The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person.

3)    A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process.

4)    Non-stupid people always underestimate the harmful potential of stupid people; they constantly forget that at any time anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error.

5)    A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is.

A close look at these laws will uncover some frightening implications.

*************************************************************

DON'T UNDERESTIMATE STUPDITY

—Always and inevitably each of us underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

First of all, we will find ourselves repeatedly surprised with the startling fact that people that we, at one time judged rational and intelligent, will reveal themselves to be unashamedly stupid.  This can come as a shock, but should temper any quick assessments we make about the people we deal with.

Secondly, we will find ourselves, on a daily basis, harassed by stupid individuals who will appear in the most unexpected places at the most inconvenient times.  We should practice constant vigilance and try to be prepared for these situations.

The third implication is perhaps the most sobering—Cipolla pointed out that the first basic law prevents us from making any numerical estimate of the fraction of stupid people within the total population, since any estimate will inevitably be an underestimate.

— The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person.

Cipolla found stupidity to be determined by nature rather than culture.  He placed stupidity into the same category of human characteristics as hair color or blood group.  This means that stupidity does not discriminate– it will be found in any and all human groups, in the same frequency—which of course cannot be given a numerical value due to the operation of the first law.

This means that stupidity is not determined by race, education, social status, or income level.  It is found in equal proportion among blue-collar workers, university professors, students, bureaucrats, Nobel Laureates, bums, parents, children, leaders of industry, wives and husbands.  THERE IS NO ESCAPE—you can join the priesthood, enter a monastery, relocate to a tropical paradise, join MENSA, or move to Miami—you will always have to face the same percentage of stupid people, which will always surpass your expectations—as spelled out in the first law.  This phenomena provides shocking proof of the truly awesome power of Nature.

— A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process.

This law is perhaps the most troubling and difficult one to understand.  It is a fact that reasonable, rational people find it extremely difficult to comprehend and understand unreasonable behavior.  Cipolla found that individuals fall into four groups: the intelligent, the helpless, the bandit, and the stupid.  We are not rigidly trapped within the first three groups—people in general do not act consistently.  At times, the intelligent will act helplessly, there are intelligent bandits as well as helpless bandits.  The only exception to this is found in the fourth group—stupid people will act with almost perfect consistency within whatever field of endeavor they become involved in.  As Cipolla puts it, “the majority of stupid people are basically and unwaveringly stupid-in other words they perseveringly insist in causing harm and losses to other people without deriving any gain, whether positive or negative.”

This brings to mind the fable, often attributed to Aesop, of the scorpion and the fox:  “a scorpion asks a fox to carry him across a river. The fox is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion reassures him that if it stung the fox, the fox would sink and the scorpion would drown as well. The fox then agrees; nevertheless, in mid-river, the scorpion stings him, dooming the two of them. When asked why, the scorpion explains, “I’m a scorpion; it’s my nature.”

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

— Non-stupid people always underestimate the harmful potential of stupid people; they constantly forget that at any time anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error.

Most people make the mistake of believing that a stupid person will only do harm to himself.  This is a costly mistake and appears to stem from the confusion of stupidity with helplessness, as well as feelings of self-satisfied distain towards the stupid.  This causes usually intelligent, reasonable people to let their guard down at the very time that they should be extra vigilant.  This has caused mankind unforeseen losses throughout history.

NO QUICK FIX

— A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is.

At first sight, this may appear to be an unreasonable exaggeration, but as Cipolla makes clear this is no overstatement.  If we consider society as a whole the bandit may appear to be more dangerous than the stupid, but close examination will show that this is not true.  A perfect bandit’s action is just a vehicle for the transfer of wealth.  The plus in the bandits account is offset by the minus he caused to another person.  The state of society as a whole remains static.  If everyone acted as a bandit, society as a whole would remain in steady state with no change.

The frightening truth is that a stupid person causes losses to other people without any gain to themselves.  The result is society as a whole is constantly being impoverished by stupid people.  Let the consequences of this implication sink in and be afraid, very afraid.

A WAKE UP CALL!

I hope this summary of Cipolla’s work will be of value to intelligent, reasonable people everywhere.  Stupidity will always be with us, but familiarity with the laws of its operation can be used to minimize its damages to ourselves and loved ones.

WATERLOO, IOWA SITE OF 1897 UFO LANDING

TIMES WERE STRANGE IN 1897

I remember running across this story, which appeared on the front page of the Waterloo Courier Newspaper, while doing research on “Yellow Journalism” and the Spanish –American War.  The original story used to be available on micro-film in the University of Northern Iowa library.  This account is from a Rhode Island newspaper, as the story generated national coverage.

If I remember correctly, the Courier article mentioned that the mysterious stranger claimed to have lost his partner, who fell out of the airship as he was trying to adjust the rudder of the craft.  Search parties were reportedly sent out to comb the area.

What to make of this?

“My own notion is that it is very unsportsmanlike to ever mention fraud.  Accept anything.  Then explain it your way.”—-Charles Hoy Fort (August 6, 1874-May 3, 1932)

1897: AIRSHIP LANDS IN IOWA

Here’s the actual news story of the UFO that reportedly landed outside Waterloo, Iowa on April 17, 1897.

“Waterloo, Iowa April 17 – This region is much excited over an airship or a large vessel designed to leave the impression that it is a flying machine.”

“It was first observed here at dawn yesterday (April 16, 1897). The stranger in charge says it is a flying machine and he landed here to make some repairs and that he will resume his voyage in the air to-day. He keeps all people at a distance of several hundred yards from the machine and therefore many do not credit his story, but think it is a fake designed to create a sensation.”

“Just what object the man has to gain is a mystery, as he has not asked for money from the hundreds who have visited the field to take a look at the thing.”

“The structure is about 40 feet long (13 meters), constructed like a giant cigar, with wing-like attachments on the sides and a steering apparatus in the rear.”

“The whole is surmounted by a cupola, or lookout cabin, on the roof. The queer craft appears to be built of canvas and to be heavily varnished.”

“A pipe leading from the cone constantly emits vapor, as if the motive power were steam. The man in charge is a stranger hereabouts and carries a rifle to keep the people from too closely examining the machine. He secured permission from the farmer upon whose land he is to keep the machine there for a few days.”

HEADLINE NEWS

Mystery airships or phantom airships are a class of unidentified flying objects best known from a series of newspaper reports originating in the western United States and spreading east during 1896 and 1897. According to fringe researcher Jerome Clark, airship reports were made worldwide, early as the 1880s, and late as the 1890s.Mystery airship reports are seen as a cultural predecessor to modern extraterrestrial-piloted flying saucer-style UFO claims.Typical airship reports involved unidentified lights, but more detailed accounts reported ships comparable to a dirigible. Reports of the alleged crewmen and pilots usually described them as human looking, although sometimes the crew claimed to be from Mars.It was popularly believed that the mystery airships were the product of some genius inventor not ready to make knowledge of his creation public. Thomas Edison was so widely speculated to be the mind behind the alleged airships that in 1897 he “was forced to issue a strongly worded statement” denying his responsibility.

Mystery airships are unlikely to represent test flights of real human-manufactured dirigibles as no record of successful airship flights are known from the period and “it would have been impossible, not to mention irrational, to keep such a thing secret.” Contemporary American newspapers were more likely to print manufactured stories and hoaxes than modern ones are and newspapers often would have expected the reader to be in on the fact that the outlandish stories were hoaxes. Period journalists didn’t seem to take airship reports very seriously, as after the major 1896-1897 flap concluded the subject was not given further investigation. Instead, it was allowed to very quickly drop off the cultural radar.The subject only received further attention when ufologists  revived studies of the airship reports as alleged early UFO sightings.

LOST IN WATERLOO?

Specific cases

  • The Sacramento Bee and the San Francisco Call reported the first sighting of the flap on November 18, 1896.Witnesses reported a light moving slowly over Sacramento on the evening of November 17 at an estimated 1,000 foot elevation. Some witnesses said they could see a dark shape behind the light. A witness named R. L. Lowery reported that he heard a voice from the craft issuing commands to increase elevation in order to avoid hitting a church steeple.  Lowery added “in what was no doubt meant as a wink to the reader” that he believed the apparent captain to be referring to the tower of a local brewery, as there were no churches nearby. Lowery further described the craft as being powered by two men exerting themselves on bicycle pedals. Above the pedaling men seemed to be a passenger compartment, which lay under the main body of the dirigible. A light was mounted on the front end of the airship. Some witnesses reported the sound of singing as the craft passed overhead.
  • The November 19, 1896 edition of the Stockton, California Daily Mail featured one of the earliest accounts of an alleged alien craft sighting. Colonel H. G. Shaw claimed that while driving his buggy through the countryside near Stockton he came across what appeared to be a landed spacecraft. Shaw described it as having a metallic surface which was completely featureless apart from a rudder, and pointed ends. He estimated a diameter of 25 feet and said the vessel was around 150 feet in total length. Three slender, 7-foot-tall (2.1 m), apparent extraterrestrials were said to approach from the craft while “emitting a strange warbling noise.” The beings reportedly examined Shaw’s buggy and then tried to physically force him to accompany them back to the airship. The aliens were said to give up after realizing they lacked the physical strength to force Shaw onto the ship. They supposedly fled back to their ship, which lifted off the ground and sped out of sight. Shaw believed that the beings were Martians sent to kidnap an earthling for unknowable but potentially nefarious purposes. This has been seen by some as an early attempt at alien abduction; it is apparently the first published account of explicitly extraterrestrial beings attempting to kidnap humans into their spacecraft.
  • The mystery light reappeared over Sacramento the evening of November 21. It was also seen over Folsom, San Francisco and Oakland later that same evening and was reportedly viewed by hundreds of witnesses.
  • One witness from Arkansas— allegedly a former state senator Harris — was supposedly told by an airship pilot (during the tensions leading up to the Spanish American War) that the craft was bound for Cuba, to use its “Hotchkiss gun” to “kill Spaniards“. (Jacobs, 10)
  • In one account from Texas, three men reported an encounter with an airship and with “five peculiarly dressed men” who reported that they were descendant from the lost tribes of Israel; they had learned English from the 1553 north pole expedition led by Hugh Willoughby.
  • February 2, 1897, the Omaha Bee reported an airship sighting over Hastings, Nebraska the previous day.
  • An article in the Albion Weekly News reported that two witnesses saw an airship crash just inches from where they were standing. The airship suddenly disappeared, with a man standing where the vessel had been. The airship pilot showed the men a small device that supposedly enabled him to shrink the airship small enough to store the vessel in his pocket.  A rival newspaper, the Wilsonville Review, playfully claimed that its own editor was an additional witness to the incident and that he heard the pilot say “Weiver eht rof ebircsbus!” The phrase he allegedly heard at the airship landing site is “Subscribe for the Review” transliterated backwards.
  • On April 10th, 1897 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a story reporting that one W. H. Hopkins encountered a grounded airship about 20 feet in length and 8 feet in diameter near the outskirts of Springfield, Missouri. The vehicle was apparently propelled by 3 large propellers and crewed by a beautiful nude woman and a bearded man, also nude. Hopkins attempted with some difficulty to communicate with the crew in order to ascertain their origins.  Eventually they understood what Hopkins was asking of them and they both pointed to the sky and “uttered something that sounded like the word ‘Mars.'”
  • An April 16th 1897 a story published by the Table Rock Argus claimed that a group of “anonymous but reliable” witnesses had seen an airship sailing overhead.] The craft had many passengers. The witnesses claimed that among these passengers was a woman tied to a chair, a woman attending her, and a man with a pistol guarding their apparent prisoner. Before the witnesses thought to contact the authorities the airship was already gone.
  • An account by Alexander Hamilton of Leroy, Kansas supposedly occurred about April 19, 1897, and was published in the Yates Center Farmer’s Advocate of April 23. Hamilton, his son, and a tenant witnessed an airship hovering over his cattle pen. Upon closer examination, the witnesses realized that a red “cable” from the airship had lassoed a heifer, but had also become entangled in the pen’s fence. After trying unsuccessfully to free the heifer, Hamilton cut loose a portion of the fence, then “stood in amazement to see the ship, cow and all rise slowly and sail off.” (Jacobs, 15) Some have suggested this was the earliest report of cattle mutilation (In 1982, however, UFO researcher Jerome Clark debunked this story, and confirmed via interviews and Hamilton’s own affidavit that the story was a successful attempt to win a Liar’s Club competition to create the most outlandish tall tale).
  • An account from Aurora, Texas (as related in the Dallas Morning News) reported that an airship had smashed into a windmill— later determined to be a sump pump — belonging to a Judge Proctor, then crashed. The occupant was dead and mangled, but the story reported that presumed pilot was clearly “not an inhabitant of this world.” (Jacobs, 17) Strange “hieroglyphic” figures were seen on the wreckage, which resembled “a mixture of aluminum and silver … it must have weighed several tons.””(ibid.) (In the 20th Century, unusual metallic material recovered from the presumed crash site was shown to contain a percentage of aluminum and iron admixed.) The story ended by noting that the pilot was given a “Christian burial” in the town cemetery. In 1973, MUFON investigators discovered the alleged stone marker used in this burial. Their metal detectors indicated a quantity of foreign material might remain buried there. However, they were not permitted to exhume, and when they returned several years later, the headstone — and whatever metallic material had lay beneath it — was gone.

EARLY UFO?

$5,000 for Proving the Earth is a Globe (Oct, 1931)

MODERN MECHANICS 1931

WOULD you like to earn $5,000? If you can prove that the world is a sphere, floating in space, turning on its own axis, revolving around the sun, you can earn a prize of that amount. Such a prize has been posted for years, offered by Wilbur Glenn Voliva, general overseer of Zion, 111., home of the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church, founded some thirty years ago by the late John Alexander Dowie.

Many have tried to claim the $5,000 and all have failed. The catch is that your proof must not start with the assumption that the world is round, or rather a globe, for Voliva believes the world is round, but a round, flat disc rather than a sphere. Without that basic premise that the earth is spherical no one has found an absolutely convincing proof that Voliva is wrong when he describes his disc-shaped world, firmly planted on its foundations, surrounded by a wall of ice to keep mariners from falling off the edge, and surmounted by a crystal dome in which the stars are hung like chandeliers to light the night. Nor can you submit proof to absolutely disprove the belief of Voliva that the sun, instead of being an 800,000 mile ball of fire more than ninety millions of miles away is really a fairly insignificant affair, only some 27 to 30 miles in diameter and about 3,000 miles above the earth. Or that the sun and moon move in orbits while the earth stands still, that the moon is about the same size as the sun and the same distance from the earth, shines by its own light, and moves in much the same orbit as the sun.

DANGERS OF A FLAT EARTH

LONGVIEW SHOT OF THE EARTH

International Flat Earth Research Society
known as
FLAT EARTH SOCIETY

Charles K. Johnson, President
Marjory Waugh Johnson, Sec.
Telephone: (805) 727-1635
PO Box 2533, Lancaster, CA 93539

Aim: To carefully observe, think freely rediscove forgotten fact and oppose theoretical dogmatic assumptions. To help establish the United States…of the the world on this flat earth. Replace the science religion…with SANITY

The International Flat Earth Society is the oldest continuous Society existing on the world today. It began with the Creation of the Creation. First the water…the face of the deep…without form or limits…just Water. Then the Land sitting in and on the Water, the Water then as now being flat and level, as is the very Nature of Water. There are, of course, mountains and valleys on the Land but since most of the World is Water, we say, “The World is Flat.” Historical accounts and spoken history tell us the Land part may have been square, all in one mass at one time, then as now, the magnetic north being the Center. Vast cataclysmic events and shaking no doubt broke the land apart, divided the Land to be our present continents or islands as they exist today. One thing we know for sure about this world…the known inhabited world is Flat, Level, a Plain World.

We maintain that what is called ‘Science’ today and ‘scientists’ consist of the same old gang of witch doctors, sorcerers, tellers of tales, the ‘Priest-Entertainers’ for the common people. ‘Science’ consists of a weird, way-out occult concoction of jibberish theory-theology…unrelated to the real world of facts, technology and inventions, tall buildings and fast cars, airplanes and other Real and Good things in life; technology is not in any way related to the web of idiotic scientific theory. ALL inventors have been anti-science. The Wright brothers said: “Science theory held us up for years. When we threw out all science, started from experiment and experience, then we invented the airplane.” By the way, airplanes all fly level on this Plane earth.

Our Society of Zetetics have existed for at least 6,000 years, the extent of recorded history. Extensive writing from 1492 b.c. We have been and are the Few, the Elite, the Elect, who use Logic Reason are Rational. Summed up, we are Sane and/ or have Common Sense as contrasted to the “herd” who is unthinking and uncaring. We have absorbed the Universal Zetetic Society of America and Great Britian, ZION U.S.A., the work of Alexander Dowie 1888, Wilber Glen Voliva 1942, Samuel Shenton, Lillian J. Shenton of England 1971. Zetetic: from Zeto, to seek and search out; Prove, as contrasted to theoretic which means to guess, to hope, to suppose, but NOT to ‘prove’. Science ‘proves’ earth a ‘ball’ by ‘scripture’ words. We PROVE earth Flat by experiment, demonstrated and demonstrable. Earth Flat is a Fact, not a ‘theory’!

VISUAL PROOF

ly beOur aim is not to ‘disturb the herd’ or wreck the Government, but rather to be an aid to the Elite Human Being in coming to KNOW earth flat…to then FREE his or her mind from such blind unreasoning ‘theory-superstition’ and so go on “to carefully observe…think freely…rediscover forgotten facts and oppose theoretical dogmatic assumptions.” As Sir Fields, owner of newspapers in England, has said about us, “They are the Last pocket of individual Thinkers in English speaking world.”

I sometimes call myself the Last Iconclast. Science is a false religion, the opium of the masses. I myself count it as a begining of Sanity to confess ‘the creation proves there was a Creator’ so a God or Creator…Exists. From a life-time of study, of seeking out a proving things, from the study of 6,000 years of recorded history, from observation, from experience, from Common SenseObservation, have concluded the 10 Commandments are in fact good Laws of Living and Behavior for oneself and all in contact with you…truley ‘Laws of Physics for Living.’ That is my opinion. The Fact the Earth is Flat is not my opinion, it is a Proved Fact. Also demonstrated Sun and Moon are about 3,000 miles away are both 32 miles across. The Planets are ‘tiny.’ Sun and Moon do Move, earth does NOT move, whirl, spin or gyrate. Australians do NOT hang by their feet under the world…this is a FACT, not a theory! Also a Fact the Spinning, Whirling, Gyrating Ball World Planet, Globe Idea is Entirely 100% now and at all times in the Past, a RELIGIOUS DOCTRINE…a Blind Dogmatic Article of Faith in the Religion for the Blind unreasoning beast of prey. No earthly reason for a Sane, Upright Member of the Elite Elect Humans to subscribe to it. Also a Fact, today the Elite of Earth ALL live on the Flat World. Only the illogical, unreasoning “herd”…prefers the way-out occult weird theology of the old Greek superstitution earth a spinning ball! Both Copernecious and Newton, the inventors of the “modern” superstitions (400 year OLD modern) have said: “It is not possible for a Sane reasonable person to ever realieve these Theories.” Thus sayeth Newton-Copernecious. What sayeth THOU?

ANOTHER DISASTER

. People of goodwill who seek the truth also known as the Facts are Welcome! We do not want members who are stupid, mindless, brute beasts with two feet whose only aim is to scoff or in some way ‘harm’ our work — Facts, Logic, Reason, Sanity also known as commonsense, is our aim.

In 30AD JC said… seek and find the Truth and it will set you free. Free from the Pathological Liars…the great pretenders who mislead all flesh and blood.

THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE !

Charles Fort

CHARLES FORT

Charles Hoy Fort (August 6, 1874 – May 3, 1932) was an American writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena. Today, the terms Fortean and Forteanaare used to characterize various such phenomena. Fort’s books sold well and are still in print today.

STILL IN PRINT TODAY

Biography

Charles Hoy Fort was born in 1874 in Albany, New York, of Dutch ancestry. He had two younger brothers, Clarence and Raymond. His grocer father was something of an authoritarian: Many Parts, Fort’s unpublished autobiography, relates several instances of harsh treatment – including physical abuse – by his father. Some observers (such as Fort’s biographer Damon Knight) have suggested that Fort’s distrust of authority has its roots in his father’s treatment. In any case, Fort developed a strong sense of independence in his youth.

As a young man, Fort was a budding naturalist, collecting sea shells, minerals, and birds. Curious and intelligent, the young Fort did not excel at school, though he was quite a wit and full of knowledge about the world – yet this was a world he only knew through books.

So, at the age of 18, Fort left New York on a world tour to “put some capital in the bank of experience”. He travelled through the western United States, Scotland, and England, until falling ill in Southern Africa. Returning home, he was nursed by Anna Filing, a girl he had known from his childhood. They were later married on October 26, 1896. Anna was four years older than Charles and was non-literary, a lover of films and of parakeets. She later moved with her husband to London for two years where they would go to the cinema when Charles wasn’t busy with his research. His success as a short story writer was intermittent between periods of terrible poverty and depression.

In 1916, an inheritance from an uncle gave Fort enough money to quit his various day jobs and to write full time. In 1917, Fort’s brother Clarence died; his portion of the same inheritance was divided between Charles and Raymond.

Fort wrote ten novels, although only one, The Outcast Manufacturers (1909), was published. Reviews were mostly positive, but the tenement tale was commercially unsuccessful. In 1915, Fort began to write two books, titled X and Y, the first dealing with the idea that beings on Mars were controlling events on Earth, and the second with the postulation of a sinister civilization extant at the South Pole. These books caught the attention of writer Theodore Dreiser, who attempted to get them published, but to no avail. Disheartened by this failure, Fort burnt the manuscripts, but was soon renewed to begin work on the book that would change the course of his life, The Book of the Damned (1919) which Dreiser helped to get into print. The title referred to “damned” data that Fort collected, phenomena for which science could not account and was thus rejected or ignored.

Fort’s experience as a journalist, coupled with high wit egged on by a contrarian nature, prepared him for his real-life work, needling the pretensions of scientific positivism and the tendency of journalists and editors of newspapers and scientific journals to rationalise the scientifically incorrect.

Fort and Anna lived in London from 1924 to 1926, having moved there so Charles could peruse the files of the British Museum. Although born in Albany, Fort lived most of his life in the Bronx, one of New York City’s five boroughs. He was, like his wife, fond of films, and would often take her from their Ryer Avenue apartment to the nearby movie theater, and would always stop at the adjacent newsstand for an armful of various newspapers. Fort frequented the parks near the Bronx where he would sift through piles of his clippings. He would often ride the subway down to the main New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue where he would spend many hours reading scientific journals along with newspapers and periodicals from around the world. Fort also had a small circle of literary friends and they would gather on occasion at various apartments, including his own, to drink and talk which was tolerated by Anna. Theodore Dreiser would lure him out to meetings with phony telegrams and notes and the resultant evening would be full of good food, conversation and hilarity. Charles Fort’s wit was always in evidence, especially in his writing.

His books earned mostly positive reviews, and were popular enough to go through several printings, including an omnibus edition in 1941. Fort’s books were at the time appreciated for both their literary quality and his critique of scientific dogma.[citation needed]

Suffering from poor health and failing eyesight, Fort was pleasantly surprised to find himself the subject of a cult following. There was talk of the formation of a formal organization to study the type of odd events related in his books. Clark writes, “Fort himself, who did nothing to encourage any of this, found the idea hilarious. Yet he faithfully corresponded with his readers, some of whom had taken to investigating reports of anomalous phenomena and sending their findings to Fort” (Clark 1998, 235).

Fort distrusted doctors and did not seek medical help for his worsening health. Rather, he focused his energies towards completing Wild Talents. After he collapsed on May 3, 1932, Fort was rushed to Royal Hospital in The Bronx. Later that same day, Fort’s publisher visited him to show the advance copies of Wild Talents. Fort died only hours afterward, probably of leukemia.[1]

He was interred in the Fort family plot in Albany, New York. His more than 60,000 notes were donated to the New York Public Library.

Fort and the unexplained

Overview

Fort’s relationship with the study of anomalous phenomena is frequently misunderstood and misrepresented. For over thirty years, Charles Fort sat in the libraries of New York and London, assiduously reading scientific journals, newspapers, and magazines, collecting notes on phenomena that lay outside the accepted theories and beliefs of the time.

Fort took thousands of notes in his lifetime. In his short story “The Giant, the Insect and The Philanthropic-looking Old Gentleman,” published many years later for the first time by the International Fortean Organization in issue #70 of the “INFO Journal: Science and the Unknown”, Fort spoke of sitting on a park bench at The Cloisters in New York City and tossing some 60,000 notes, not all of his collection by any means, into the wind. This short story is significant because Fort uses his own data collection technique to solve a mystery. He marveled that seemingly unrelated bits of information were, in fact, related. Fort wryly concludes that he went back to collecting data and taking even more notes. The notes were kept on cards and scraps of paper in shoeboxes, in a cramped shorthand of Fort’s own invention, and some of them survive today in the collections of the University of Pennsylvania. More than once, depressed and discouraged, Fort destroyed his work, but always began anew. Some of the notes were published, little by little, by the Fortean Society magazine “Doubt” and, upon the death of its editor Tiffany Thayer in 1959, most were donated to the New York Public Library where they are still available to researchers of the unknown.

From this research, Fort wrote four books. These are The Book of the Damned (1919), New Lands (1923), Lo! (1931) and Wild Talents (1932); one book was written between New Lands and Lo! but it was abandoned and absorbed into Lo!.

Fort’s writing style

Understanding Fort’s books takes time and effort: his style is complex, violent and poetic, profound and occasionally puzzling. Ideas are abandoned and then recalled a few pages on; examples and data are offered, compared and contrasted, conclusions made and broken, as Fort holds up the unorthodox to the scrutiny of the orthodoxy that continually fails to account for them. Pressing on his attacks, Fort shows what he sees as the ridiculousness of the conventional explanations and then interjects with his own theories.

Writer Colin Wilson opines that Fort’s writing style is “atrocious” (Wilson, 199) and “almost unreadable” (Wilson, 200), and compared him to Robert Ripley, a contemporary who found major success hunting oddities, and speculates that Fort’s idiosyncratic prose might have kept him from greater popular success.

Fort suggests that there is, for example, a Super-Sargasso Sea into which all lost things go, and justifies his theories by noting that they fit the data as well as the conventional explanations. As to whether Fort believes this theory, or any of his other proposals, he gives us the answer: “I believe nothing of my own that I have ever written.” Wilson suspects that Fort took few if any of his “explanations” seriously, and notes that Fort made “no attempt to present a coherent argument”. (Wilson, 200)

Jerome Clark writes that Fort was “essentially a satirist hugely skeptical of human beings’ – especially scientists’ – claims to ultimate knowledge”.[2] Clark describes Fort’s writing style as a “distinctive blend of mocking humor, penetrating insight, and calculated outrageousness”.[3]

Wilson describes Fort as “a patron of cranks”[4] and also argues that running through Fort’s work is “the feeling that no matter how honest scientists think they are, they are still influenced by various unconscious assumptions that prevent them from attaining true objectivity. Expressed in a sentence, Fort’s principle goes something like this: People with a psychological need to believe in marvels are no more prejudiced and gullible than people with a psychological need not to believe in marvels.”[5]

Fortean phenomena

Despite his objections to Fort’s writing style, Wilson allows that “the facts are certainly astonishing enough” (Wilson, 200). Examples of the odd phenomena in Fort’s books include many of what are variously referred to as occult, supernatural, and paranormal. Reported events include teleportation (a term Fort is generally credited with coining);[6][7] poltergeist events; falls of frogs, fishes, inorganic materials of an amazing range; unaccountable noises and explosions; spontaneous fires; levitation; ball lightning (a term explicitly used by Fort); unidentified flying objects; unexplained disappearances; giant wheels of light in the oceans; and animals found outside their normal ranges (see phantom cat). He offered many reports of Out-of-place artifacts (OOPArts), strange items found in unlikely locations. He also is perhaps the first person to explain strange human appearances and disappearances by the hypothesis of alien abduction and was an early proponent of the extraterrestrial hypothesis, specifically suggesting that strange lights or object sighted in the skies might be alien spacecraft. Fort also wrote about the interconnectedness of nature and synchronicity. His books seem to center around the idea that everything is connected and that strange coincidences happen for a reason.

Many of these phenomena are now collectively and conveniently referred to as Fortean phenomena (or Forteana), whilst others have developed into their own schools of thought: for example, reports of UFOs in ufology and unconfirmed animals (cryptids) in cryptozoology. These new disciplines per se are generally not recognized by most scientists or academics however.

FROGS FROM THE SKY

Forteana and mainstream science

Some skeptics and critics have frequently called Fort credulous and naïve, a charge his supporters deny strongly. Over and over again in his writing, Fort rams home a few basic points that were decades ahead of mainstream scientific acceptance, and that are frequently forgotten in discussions of the history and philosophy of science:

  • Fort often notes that the boundaries between science and pseudoscience are “fuzzy”: the boundary lines are not very well defined, and they might change over time.
  • Fort also points out that whereas facts are objective, how facts are interpreted depends on who is doing the interpreting and in what context.
  • Fort insisted that there is a strong sociological influence on what is considered “acceptable” or “damned” (see strong program in the sociology of scientific knowledge).
  • Though he never used the term “magical thinking“, Fort offered many arguments and observations that are similar to the concept: he argued that most (if not all) people (including scientists) are at least occasionally guilty of irrational and “non scientific” thinking.
  • Fort points out the problem of underdetermination: that the same data can sometimes be explained by more than one theory.
  • Similarly, writer John Michell notes that “Fort gave several humorous instances of the same experiment yielding two different results, each one gratifying the experimenter.”[8] Fort noted that if controlled experiments – a pillar of the scientific method – could produce such widely varying results depending on who conducted them, then the scientific method itself might be open to doubt, or at least to a degree of scrutiny rarely brought to bear. Since Fort’s death, scientists have recognized the “experimenter effect“, the tendency for experiments to tend to validate given preconceptions. Robert Rosenthal has conducted pioneering research on this and related subjects.

There are many phenomena in Fort’s works which have now been partially or entirely “recuperated” by mainstream science: ball lightning, for example, was largely rejected as impossible by the scientific consensus of Fort’s day, but is now receiving new attention within science. However, many of Fort’s ideas remain on the very borderlines of “mainstream science“, or beyond, in the fields of paranormalism and the bizarre. This is unsurprising, as Fort resolutely refused to abandon the territory beyond “acceptable” science. Nonetheless, later research has demonstrated that Fort’s claims are at least as reliable as his sources. In the 1960s, American writer William R. Corliss began his own documentation of scientific anomalies. Partly inspired by Fort, Corliss checked some of Fort’s sources and concluded that Fort’s research was “accurate, but rather narrow”; there were many anomalies which Fort did not include in his books.[9]

Many consider it odd that Fort, a man so skeptical and so willing to question the pronouncements of the scientific mainstream, would be so eager to take old stories – for example, stories about rains of fish falling from the sky – at face value. It is debatable whether Fort did in fact accept evidence at face value: many instances in his books, Fort notes that he regarded certain data and assertions as unlikely, and he additionally remarked, “I offer the data. Suit yourself.” In Fort’s books, it is often difficult to determine if he took his proposals and “theories” seriously, but he did seem to hold a genuine belief in the presence of extraterrestrial visitations to the Earth.

The theories and conclusions Fort presented often came from what he called “the orthodox conventionality of Science”. On nearly every page, Fort’s works have reports of odd events which were originally printed in respected mainstream newspapers or scientific journals such as Scientific American, The Times, Nature and Science. Time and again, Fort noted, that while some phenomena related in these and other sources were enthusiastically accepted and promoted by scientists, just as often, inexplicable or unusual reports were ignored, or were effectively swept under the rug. And repeatedly, Fort reclaimed such data from under the rug, and brought them out, as he wrote, “for an airing”. So long as any evidence is ignored – however bizarre or unlikely the evidence might seem – Fort insisted that scientists’ claims to thoroughness and objectivity were questionable.

It did not matter to Fort whether his data and theories were accurate: his point was that alternative conclusions and world views can be made from the same data “orthodox” conclusions are made from, and that the conventional explanations of science are only one of a range of explanations, none necessarily more justified than another. In this respect, he was far ahead of his time. In The Book of the Damned he showed the influence of social values and what would now be called a “paradigm” on what scientists consider to be “true”. This prefigured work by Thomas Kuhn decades later. The work of Paul Feyerabend could also be likened to Fort’s.

Another of Fort’s great contributions is questioning the often frequent dogmatism of mainstream science. Although many of the phenomena which science rejected in his day have since been proven to be objective phenomena, and although Fort was prescient in his collection and preservation of these data despite the scorn they often received from his contemporaries, Fort was more of a parodist and a philosopher than a scientist. He thought that far too often, scientists took themselves far too seriously, and were prone to arrogance and dogmatism. Fort used humor both for its own sake, and to point out what he regarded as the foibles of science and scientists.

Nonetheless, Fort is considered by many as the father of modern paranormalism, not only because of his interest in strange phenomena, but because of his “modern” attitude towards religion, 19th-century Spiritualism, and scientific dogma.

Darwin and evolution

Regarding Darwin and evolution, Charles Fort wrote:

“Darwin & Evolution In mere impressionism we take our stand. We have no positive tests nor standards. Realism in art: realism in science – they pass away. In 1859, the thing to do was to accept Darwinism; now many biologists are revolting and trying to conceive of something else. The thing to do was to accept it in its day, but Darwinism of course was never proved: The fittest survive. What is meant by the fittest? Not the strongest; not the cleverest – Weakness and stupidity everywhere survive. There is no way of determining fitness except in that a thing does survive. “Fitness,” then, is only another name for “survival.” Darwinism: That survivors survive.” (Damned, pp. 23-24)

The Forteans

Fort’s work has inspired very many to consider themselves as Forteans. The first of these was the screenwriter Ben Hecht, who in a review of The Book of the Damned declared “I am the first disciple of Charles Fort… henceforth, I am a Fortean”. Among Fort’s other notable fans were John Cowper Powys, Sherwood Anderson, Clarence Darrow, and Booth Tarkington, who wrote the foreword to New Lands.

Precisely what is encompassed by “Fortean” is a matter of great debate; the term is widely applied from every position from Fortean purists dedicated to Fort’s methods and interests, to those with open and active acceptance of the actuality of paranormal phenomena, a position with which Fort may not have agreed. Most generally, Forteans have a wide interest in unexplained phenomena in wide-ranging fields, mostly concerned with the natural world, and have a developed “agnostic scepticism” regarding the anomalies they note and discuss. For Mr. Hecht as an example, being a Fortean meant hallowing a pronounced distrust of authority in all its forms, whether religious, scientific, political, philosophical or otherwise. It did not, of course, include an actual belief in the anomalous data enumerated in Fort’s works.

In Chapter 1 of Book of the Damned, Charles Fort states that the ideal is to be neither a “True Believer” nor a total “Skeptic” but “that the truth lies somewhere in between”.

The Fortean Society was founded at the Savoy-Plaza Hotel in New York City on 26 January 1931 by his friends, many of whom were significant writers such as Theodore Dreiser, Ben Hecht, Alexander Woolcott, and led by fellow American writer Tiffany Thayer, half in earnest and half in the spirit of great good humor, like the works of Fort himself. The board of Founders included Dreiser, Hecht, Booth Tarkington, Aaron Sussman, John Cowper Powys, the former editor of “Puck” Harry Leon Wilson, Woolcott and J. David Stern, publisher of the Philadelphia Record. Active members of the Fortean Society included journalist H.L. Mencken and prominent science fiction writers such as Eric Frank Russell and Damon Knight. Fort, however, rejected the Society and refused the presidency which went to his close friend writer Theodore Dreiser; he was lured to its inaugural meeting by false telegrams. As a strict non-authoritarian, Fort refused to establish himself as an authority, and further objected on the grounds that those who would be attracted by such a grouping would be spiritualists, zealots, and those opposed to a science that rejected them; it would attract those who believed in their chosen phenomena: an attitude exactly contrary to Forteanism. Fort did hold unofficial meetings and had a long history of getting together informally with many of NYC’s literati such as Theodore Dreiser and Ben Hecht at their various apartments where they would talk, have a meal and then listen to short reports. Reports of these meetings mention lively discussions accompanied by great good humor and quantities of wine. Fort was not a joiner of established groups and, perhaps, it is ironic that many such Fortean groups have been established.

Most notable of these are the magazine, Fortean Times (first published in November 1973), which is a proponent of Fortean journalism, combining humour, scepticism, and serious research into subjects which scientists and other respectable authorities often disdain and the International Fortean Organization (INFO). INFO was formed in the early 1960s (incorporated in 1965) by brothers, the writers Ron and Paul Willis, who acquired much of the material of the original Fortean Society which had begun in 1932 in the spirit of Charles Fort but which had grown silent by 1959 with the death of Tiffany Thayer. INFO publishes the “INFO Journal: Science and the Unknown” and organizes the FortFest, the world’s first, and continuously running, conference on anomalous phenomena dedicated to the spirit of Charles Fort. INFO, since the mid-1960s, also provides audio CDs and filmed DVDs of notable conference speakers (Colin Wilson, John Michell, Graham Hancock, John Anthony West, William Corliss, John Keel, Joscelyn Godwin among many others). Other Fortean societies are also active, notably the Edinburgh Fortean Society in Edinburgh and the Isle of Wight.

More than a few modern authors of fiction and non-fiction who have written about the influence of Fort are sincere followers of Fort. One of the most notable is British philosopher John Michell who wrote the Introduction to Lo! published by John Brown in 1996. Michell says “Fort, of course, made no attempt at defining a world-view, but the evidence he uncovered gave him an ‘acceptance’ of reality as something far more magical and subtly organized than is considered proper today.” Stephen King also uses the works of Charles Fort to illuminate his main characters, notably “It” and “Firestarter”. In “Firestarter”, the parents of a pyrokinetically gifted child are advised to read Fort’s Wild Talents rather than the works of baby doctor Benjamin Spock. Loren Coleman is a well-known cryptozoologist, author of “The Unidentified” (1975) dedicated to Charles Fort, and “Mysterious America,” which Fortean Times called a Fortean classic. Indeed, Coleman calls himself the first Vietnam era C.O. to base his pacificist ideas on Fortean thoughts. Jerome Clark has described himself as a “sceptical Fortean”.[10] Mike Dash is another capable Fortean, bringing his historian’s training to bear on all manner of odd reports, while being careful to avoid uncritically accepting any orthodoxy, be it that of fringe devotees or mainstream science. Science-fiction writers of note including Philip K. Dick and Robert Anton Wilson were also fans of the work of Charles Fort.

Fort’s work, of compilation and commentary on anomalous phenomena reported in scientific journals and press, has been carried on very creditably by William R. Corliss, whose self-published books and notes bring Fort’s collections up to date with a Fortean combination of humor, seriousness and open-mindedness. Mr. Corliss’ notes rival those of Fort in volume, while being significantly less cryptic and abbreviated.

Ivan T. Sanderson, Scottish naturalist and writer, was a devotee of Fort’s work, and referenced it heavily in several of his own books on unexplained phenomena, notably Things (1967), and More Things (1969).

Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier‘s The Morning of the Magicians was also heavily influenced by Fort’s work and mentions it often.

The noted UK paranormalist, Fortean and ordained priest Lionel Fanthorpe presented the Fortean TV series on Channel 4.

P.T. Anderson‘s popular movie Magnolia (1999) has an underlying theme of unexplained events, taken from the 1920s and ’30s works of Charles Fort. Fortean author Loren Coleman has written a chapter about this motion picture, entitled “The Teleporting Animals and Magnolia,” in one of his recent books. The film has many hidden Fortean themes, notably “falling frogs”. In one scene, one of Fort’s books is visible on a table in a library and there is an end credit thanking him by name.

SPONTANEOUS HUMAN COMBUSTION

Quotations

  • “Now there are so many scientists who believe in dowsing, that the suspicion comes to me that it may be only a myth after all.”
  • “One measures a circle, beginning anywhere.”
  • “My own notion is that it is very unsportsmanlike to ever mention fraud. Accept anything. Then explain it your way.”
  • “But my liveliest interest is not so much in things, as in relations of things. I have spent much time thinking about the alleged pseudo-relations that are called coincidences. What if some of them should not be coincidence?”
  • “If any spiritualistic medium can do stunts, there is no more need for special conditions than there is for a chemist to turn down lights, start operations with a hymn, and ask whether there’s any chemical present that has affinity with something named Hydrogen.”
  • “The Earth is a farm. We are someone else’s property.”
  • “Do you want power over something? Be more nearly real than it.”
  • “I conceive of nothing, in religion, science or philosophy, that is more than the proper thing to wear, for a while.”

A quotation often attributed to Fort is “If there is a universal mind, must it be sane?” This quote is from Damon Knight‘s 1970 biography, Charles Fort : Prophet of the Unexplained.

From Wikipedia Article

“Mind Writing Slogans,” via Beat Buddhist Poet Allen Ginsberg: How to Write.

Chögyam Trungpa remarked, “Writing is writing the mind,” thus the title. Ground, Path, and Fruition are common stages of Tibetan style dharma teaching, often condensed into slogans for mind-training traditioned in Eastern thought.
           Here, Ground means the situation of mind: we’re all amateurs at reading our own minds, but that’s all we have to work with, mutability of consciousness, appearance of chaos, our own confusion, inconsistency, awareness, humors & mental information.
           Path: How to use, order & select aspects of mind, how accept & work with ordinary mind? We can only write what we know & teach same, what tricks & techniques of focus are practicable?
           Fruition: What to expect, what to aim for, what result?
           Candor: to reveal ourselves to ourselves, reveal ourselves to others, resolve anxiety of confusion & relieve our own & others’ sufferings.
           Two decades’ experiences teaching poetics at Naropa Institute, half decade at Brooklyn College, and occasional workshops at Zen Center & Shambhala/Dharmadhatu weekends have been boiled down to brief mottoes from many sources found useful to guide myself and others in the experience of “writing the mind.”    

~ Allen Ginsberg, 2/19/94

MIND WRITING SLOGANS
“First thought is best in Art, second in other matters.”  -William Blake

WILLIAM BLAKE

I. GROUND (Situation, or Primary Perception)
1. “First Thought, Best Thought” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
2. “Take a friendly attitude toward your thoughts.” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
3. “The Mind must be loose.”-John Adams
4. “One perception must immediately and directly lead to a further perception.” -Charles Olson, Projective        Verse
5. “My writing is a picture of the mind moving.” -Philip Whalen
6. Surprise Mind –Allen Ginsberg
7. “The old pond, a frog jumps in, Kerplunk!” -Basho
8. “Magic is the total delight (appreciation) of chance” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
9. “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, (I am large. I contain multitudes.)” -Walt           Whitman
10. “…What quality went to form a man of achievement, especially in literature? …Negative capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.”-John Keats
11. “Form is never more than an extension of content.” -Robert Creeley to Charles Olson
12. “Form follows function.” -Frank Lloyd Wright
13. Ordinary Mind includes eternal perceptions.-A.G.
14. “Nothing is better for being Eternal/ Nor so white as the white that dies of a day.” –Louis Zukofsky
15. Notice what you notice.-A.G.
16. Catch yourself thinking-A.G.
17. Observe what’s vivid.-A.G.
18. Vividness is self-selecting.-A.G.
19. “Spots of Time” -William Wordsworth
20. If we don’t show anyone we’re free to write anything -A.G.
21. “My mind is open to itself.” -Gelek Rinpoche
22. “Each on his bed spoke to himself alone, making no sound.” -Charles Reznikoff

II. PATH (Method or Recognition)
23. “No ideas but in things.” “…No ideas but in the Facts.” -William Carlos Williams
24. “Close to the nose.”-W.C.Williams
25. “Sight is where the eye hits.” –Louis Zukofsky
26. “Clamp the mind down on objects.”-W.C.Williams
27. “Direct treatment of the thing…” (or object.)” -E.Pound, 1912
28. “Presentation, not reference…” -Ezra Pound
29. “Give me a for instance.” -Vernacular
30. “Show not tell.”-Vernacular
31. “The natural object is always the adequate symbol.” -Ezra Pound
32. “Things are symbols of themselves.”-Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
33. “Labor well the minute particulars, take care of the little ones/ He who would do good for another must do it in minute particulars/ General Good is the plea of the Scoundrel Hypocrite and Flatterer/ For Art & Science cannot exist but in minutely organized particulars” -William Blake
34. “And being old she put a skin/On everything she said.” -W.B.Yeats
35. “Don’t think of words when you stop but to see the picture better.” –Jack Kerouac
36. “Details are the Life of Prose.” -Jack Kerouac
37. Intense fragments of spoken idiom, best. -A.G.
38. “Economy of Words” -Ezra Pound
39. “Tailoring” -Gregory Corso
40. Maximum information, minimum number of syllables. -A.G.
41. Syntax condensed, sound is solid. -A.G.
42. Savor vowels, appreciate consonants.-A.G.
43. “Compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome.”-Ezra Pound
44. “…awareness…of the tone leading of the vowels.” -Ezra Pound
45. “…an attempt to approximate classical quantitative meters…” -Ezra Pound
46. “Lower limit speech, upper limit song”-Louis Zukofsky
47. “Phanopoeia, Melopoeia, Logopoeia.” -Ezra Pound
48. “Sight, Sound & Intellect.” -Louis Zukofsky
49. “Only emotion objectified endures.” – Louis Zukofsky

JACK KEROUAC

III. FRUITION (Result or Appreciation)
50. Spiritus = Breathing = Inspiration = Unobstructed Breath
51. “Alone with the Alone” -Plotinus
52. Sunyata (Skt.) = Ku (Japanese) = Emptiness
53. “What’s the sound of one hand clapping?” -Zen Koan
54. “What’s the face you had before you were born?” -Zen Koan
55. Vipassana (Skt.) = Clear Seeing
56. “Stop the world” -Carlos Casteneda
57. “The purpose of art is to stop time.” -Bob Dylan

GINSBERG AND DYLAN AT KEROUACS GRAVE

58. “The unspeakable visions of the individual.”-J.K.
59. “I’m going to try speaking some reckless words, and I want you to try to listen recklessly.” -Chuang Tzu, (Tr. Burton Watson)
60. “Candor” -Whitman
61. “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” -Shakespeare
62. “Contact”-A Magazine, Nathaniel West & W.C. Williams, Eds.
63. “God Appears & God is Light/ To those poor Souls who dwell in Night/ But does a Human Form Display/ To those who Dwell in Realms of day.” -W. Blake
64. Subject is known by what she sees.-A.G.
65. Others can measure their visions by what we see.-A.G.
66. Candor ends paranoia.-A.G.
67. “Willingness to be Fool.”-Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
68. “day & night/you’re all right”-Gregory Corso
69. Tyger: “Humility is Beatness.” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche & A.G.
70. Lion: “Surprise Mind”-Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche & A.G.
71. Garuda: “Crazy Wisdom Outrageousness” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
72. Dragon: “Unborn Inscrutability” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
73. “To be men not destroyers” -Ezra Pound
74. “Speech synchronizes mind & body.” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
75. “The Emperor unites Heaven & Earth.” -Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
76. “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” -Shelley
77. “Make it new”-Ezra Pound
78. “When the mode of music changes, the walls of the city shake”-Plato
79. “Every third thought shall be my grave” -W. Shakespeare, The Tempest
80. “That in black ink my love may still shine bright” -W. Shakespeare, Sonnets
81. “Only emotion endures” -Ezra Pound
82. “Well while I’m here I’ll do the work-and what’s the Work?  To ease the pain of living. Everything else, drunken dumbshow.” -A.G.
83.”…Kindness, sweetest of the small notes in the world’s ache, most modest & gentle of the elements entered man before history and became his daily connection, let no man tell you otherwise.” -Carl Rakosi
84. “To diminish the mass of human and sentient sufferings.” -Gelek Rinpoche

A.G.
Naropa Institute, July 1992

SACRED PATH OF THE WARRIOR

Awareness of the Body as a Live Corpse!

The Blessed Buddha said:
If a monk sees a corpse 1, 2, 3 days dead; swollen, blue & festering,
thrown in cemetery, he then utilizes this experience on his own body:
Verily, exactly so is also my own body; it is of the very same nature;
so disgusting will it inevitably become and it cannot ever escape it…
If a monk sees a body thrown in the cemetery, being eaten by crows,
hawks, vultures, dogs, jackals or by different worms and maggots…
If a monk sees a corpse reduced to a skeleton with some flesh and
blood still attached to it, and held together by the sinews…
If a monk sees a cadaver; a blood-besmeared skeleton, but without
any flesh, held together by the tendons as a chain of bones…
If a monk sees a carcass; just a skeleton without any flesh or blood,
yet still held together by the tendons…
If a monk sees a skeleton of separated bones, scattered in a mess,
here a hand bone, there a foot bone, the pelvis, spine & the skull…
If a monk sees a skeleton simply as bleached white shell-like bones…
If a monk sees bare bones thrown in the cemetery lying heaped up…
If a monk sees a stack of bones now gone rotten & turning into dust,
he then applies this experience to his own body: Verily, exactly so
is also my own body; it is of the very same nature; so fragile & feeble
is it, it will inevitably turn into dust and it cannot ever escape it…
Then he lives fearless, detached, and clings to nothing in this world!!!

BAG OF BONES

The Body is just a painted puppet!
A chain of bones plastered by skin with 9 oozing holes!
A heap of sores & rotten excrement with evil intentions!

AWARENESS

FACING YOUR INNER KILLER: FOOD PREPERATION AS A PATH TO PERSONAL GROWTH

I'M READY TO EAT!!

On a recent visit to fellow pastor, the Reverend Turd Ferguson, I

was treated to an account of his slaughtering of several home-grown

turkeys. His account of this experience was a vivid and memorable

reminder to me of how far we have removed ourselves from the food

chain. Most of us no longer make the connection between the food on

our tables and its origins. For most of us, our meat appears, smartly

wrapped, in the sterile meat counters of our plastic grocery stores.

Our only “hands on” experience with our poultry, beef, or pork is in

warnings to thoroughly wash our hands before and after preparation.

Most of us are vaguely familiar with the horrors that are involved

in the mass production of the meat industry. Assembly lines of

wheezing pigs, workers casually slitting throats, again and again, for

hours on end—chickens living in tiny, dark boxes until slaughter. This

is a nasty business which we best not dwell on when we gather around

the table to carve that Butterball. Reverend Ferguson inspired me to

take a deeper look into our main source of protein from a D.I.Y.

perspective.

JUST HANGIN' OUT

On the surface, slaughtering your own turkey appears to be a

rather simple process:

1) Catch the bird and tie its legs.

2) Behead the bird with an ax.

3) Remove the feathers.

4) Remove the internal organs and feet.

5) Cook and enjoy.

This simple scenario becomes much more complicated and interesting

when the details are examined.

First of all, there are basic differences in approach to killing the

bird. Some favor the idea of a quick beheading, others lean towards

slitting of the throat. Although beheading the turkey results in a

quicker death, the heart stops beating sooner and the bird does not

bleed out as well—if the body is not emptied of blood the meat may

become tainted. If you cut the throat, severing the trachea, carotid

arteries, and jugular vein, the beating heart helps to efficiently empty

the body of blood.

The method you choose, will also determine whether the deed is a

one-man or two-man operation. Either way, it is a messy business.

Since turkeys are not known for an outstanding brain capacity,

severing the head does not immediately kill the body. The turkey’s

body will continue to violently thrash about for up to five minutes.

This can cause bruising to the meat, so it is advisable to have one

person hold the bird in a loving body-hug just before your partner axes

the head. Turkeys can be surprisingly strong, so hang on tight. This is

the traditional method preferred by old-timers.

If you are working alone, the best method is to truss the turkey’s

feet and then suspend it upside down. Although you may notice some

initial struggle, most turkeys will become calm and quiet when

inverted—I speculate that this could be due to the small brain,

suddenly engorged with blood, the turkey is paralyzed and stunned

with its first encounter with the semblance of a thought. At this point

the throat is slit. Be advised to then stand back, the thrashing will

begin and blood will be spewing everywhere.

As I mentioned earlier, this is a messy and potentially dangerous

job. The wise will keep in mind, when choosing their slaughtering

attire, that they will be generously spattered with arterial spray.

Also, due to the strength of a thrashing turkey, gripped by death,

goggles are a prudent safety precaution. A good dinner is not worth

losing an eye over. You might also consider burning a little tobacco

before the deed—according to a Native American tradition the smoke

will show the animal’s spirit which way is up. A Muslim tradition, only

recommended for the stout-hearted, advises one to look the animal in

the eye until its soul departs. We should respect our food.

Once the killing is complete, you will need a large vat of water to

scald the bird to loosen the feathers. The water should be heated to

145 degrees F, and the bird is immersed for 45 seconds. Remove it

and begin pulling feathers. Most can be removed by hand but some of

the larger ones may require a pliers.

After the feathers have been removed you still need to deal with

the filoplumes or hair feathers. This is best done with a propane

torch—just run the flame over the body being careful not to burn or

cook the skin or meat.

The final step is the actual butchering process. Make an incision

across the soft area between the breastbone and the tail. Be very

careful to make a shallow cut so you don’t rip any organs—the result of

this is unpleasant and messy. Now go “hands on” gently work your way

into the slit and remove the entrails and guts. The lungs will be the

toughest part, as they are tightly anchored in the body cavity, and are

very soft and spongy. You can obtain a special “lung scrapping” tool,

but diligent work with your hands will get the job done. Throughout

the process, frequent rinsing of the bird, both inside and out is

advisable. Remove the feet by severing them between the knee joint

with a sharp knife. These make great doggy treats. After the

butchering is complete, place the cleaned bird into an ice water bath.

Perhaps this intimate interaction with the food we eat is not for

everybody, But, I think familiarity with the experience could make us

more thoughtful about our food. It’s a long journey from the egg to

McNuggets—and much of it is kept hidden from us. To appreciate this

is to realize what a gift our food is. In “The Encyclopedia of Country

Living,” Carla Emory sums it up: “I don’t think much of people who say

they like meat but go ‘ick’ at the sight of a bleeding animal. Doing our

own killing, cleanly and humanely, teaches us humility and reminds us of

our interdependence with other species.” It’s another opportunity to

take a further step down the path of personal growth. Let us be

thankful for the bounty of the Lord. 

SURVIVAL TIP: UNDERSTANDING THE BASIC LAWS OF HUMAN STUPIDITY

Tags

It is apparent to any of us who take the time to look around and observe our world that stupidity is rampant.  Go to any shopping mall and spend time people watching and you are sure to see many examples of stupidity in action on a large scale—ponder the reasons that draw people to malls and the levels of stupidity increase to frightening proportions.  It’s all around us—check-out your workplace, neighbors, news broadcasts, and if you have any linger doubts—the behavior of any of our political leaders will make you a true believer.

DON"T STICK FORKS IN YOUR EYE!!!

Albert Einstein summed up the situation in this famous quote: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”  Since this situation seems to be a fixed characteristic of human nature our only hope is to understand and do our best to deal with the phenomena.  Luckily, we can look to the work of an Italian economic historian for guidance.

Carlo Maria Cipolla (August 15, 1922-September5, 2000), specialized in the study of the causes that produce specific economic and social situations throughout history, rather than focusing on facts and figures.  The outline of his thinking on Human Stupidity appeared in the Whole Earth Review, Spring 1987.  Cipolla identified five fundamental laws:

1)    Always and inevitably each of us underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

2)    The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person.

3)    A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process.

4)    Non-stupid people always underestimate the harmful potential of stupid people; they constantly forget that at any time anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error.

5)    A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is.

A close look at these laws will uncover some frightening implications.

PROTECT YOURSELF

*************************************************************

—Always and inevitably each of us underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

First of all, we will find ourselves repeatedly surprised with the startling fact that people that we, at one time judged rational and intelligent, will reveal themselves to be unashamedly stupid.  This can come as a shock, but should temper any quick assessments we make about the people we deal with.

Secondly, we will find ourselves, on a daily basis, harassed by stupid individuals who will appear in the most unexpected places at the most inconvenient times.  We should practice constant vigilance and try to be prepared for these situations.

The third implication is perhaps the most sobering—Cipolla pointed out that the first basic law prevents us from making any numerical estimate of the fraction of stupid people within the total population, since any estimate will inevitably be an underestimate.

— The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person.

Cipolla found stupidity to be determined by nature rather than culture.  He placed stupidity into the same category of human characteristics as hair color or blood group.  This means that stupidity does not discriminate– it will be found in any and all human groups, in the same frequency—which of course cannot be given a numerical value due to the operation of the first law.

This means that stupidity is not determined by race, education, social status, or income level.  It is found in equal proportion among blue-collar workers, university professors, students, bureaucrats, Nobel Laureates, bums, parents, children, leaders of industry, wives and husbands.  THERE IS NO ESCAPE—you can join the priesthood, enter a monastery, relocate to a tropical paradise, join MENSA, or move to Miami—you will always have to face the same percentage of stupid people, which will always surpass your expectations—as spelled out in the first law.  This phenomena provides shocking proof of the truly awesome power of Nature.

— A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process.

This law is perhaps the most troubling and difficult one to understand.  It is a fact that reasonable, rational people find it extremely difficult to comprehend and understand unreasonable behavior.  Cipolla found that individuals fall into four groups: the intelligent, the helpless, the bandit, and the stupid.  We are not rigidly trapped within the first three groups—people in general do not act consistently.  At times, the intelligent will act helplessly, there are intelligent bandits as well as helpless bandits.  The only exception to this is found in the fourth group—stupid people will act with almost perfect consistency within whatever field of endeavor they become involved in.  As Cipolla puts it, “the majority of stupid people are basically and unwaveringly stupid-in other words they perseveringly insist in causing harm and losses to other people without deriving any gain, whether positive or negative.”

This brings to mind the fable, often attributed to Aesop, of the scorpion and the fox:  “a scorpion asks a fox to carry him across a river. The fox is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion reassures him that if it stung the fox, the fox would sink and the scorpion would drown as well. The fox then agrees; nevertheless, in mid-river, the scorpion stings him, dooming the two of them. When asked why, the scorpion explains, “I’m a scorpion; it’s my nature.”

— Non-stupid people always underestimate the harmful potential of stupid people; they constantly forget that at any time anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error.

Most people make the mistake of believing that a stupid person will only do harm to himself.  This is a costly mistake and appears to stem from the confusion of stupidity with helplessness, as well as feelings of self-satisfied distain towards the stupid.  This causes usually intelligent, reasonable people to let their guard down at the very time that they should be extra vigilant.  This has caused mankind unforeseen losses throughout history.

BE AWARE AND VIGILANT

— A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is.

At first sight, this may appear to be an unreasonable exaggeration, but as Cipolla makes clear this is no overstatement.  If we consider society as a whole the bandit may appear to be more dangerous than the stupid, but close examination will show that this is not true.  A perfect bandit’s action is just a vehicle for the transfer of wealth.  The plus in the bandits account is offset by the minus he caused to another person.  The state of society as a whole remains static.  If everyone acted as a bandit, society as a whole would remain in steady state with no change.

The frightening truth is that a stupid person causes losses to other people without any gain to themselves.  The result is society as a whole is constantly being impoverished by stupid people.  Let the consequences of this implication sink in and be afraid, very afraid.

I hope this summary of Cipolla’s work will be of value to intelligent, reasonable people everywhere.  Stupidity will always be with us, but familiarity with the laws of its operation can be used to minimize its damages to ourselves and loved ones.

WHEN PROPHECY FAILS

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
When Prophecy Fails
1964 When Prophecy Fails Festinger.jpg
Book cover, 1964 edition.
Author Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, Stanley Schachter
Country  United States
Language English
Subject(s) Psychology
Genre(s) Non-fiction
Publisher Harper-Torchbooks
Publication date January 1, 1956
Media type Hardcover
Pages 253
ISBN ISBN 0-06-131132-4
OCLC Number 217969

When Prophecy Fails is a 1956 classic book in social psychology by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter about a UFO cult that believes the end of the world is at hand.

Contents

Cognitive dissonance

Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance can account for the psychological consequences of disconfirmed expectations. One of the first published cases of dissonance was reported in the book, When Prophecy Fails (Festinger et al. 1956). Festinger and his associates read an interesting item in their local newspaper headlined “Prophecy from planet Clarion call to city: flee that flood.” A housewife from Chicago (changed to “Michigan” in the book), given the name “Marian Keech” (real name: Dorothy Martin, later known as Sister Thedra [1]), had mysteriously been given messages in her house in the form of “automatic writing” from alien beings on the planet Clarion. These messages revealed that the world would end in a great flood before dawn on December 21, 1954. Mrs. Keech had previously been involved with L. Ron Hubbard‘s Dianetics movement, and her cult incorporated ideas from what was to become Scientology.[2] The group of believers, headed by Keech, had taken strong behavioral steps to indicate their degree of commitment to the belief. They had left jobs, college, and spouses, and had given away money and possessions to prepare for their departure on the flying saucer, which was to rescue the group of true believers.

Premise of study

Festinger and his colleagues saw this as a case that would lead to the arousal of dissonance when the prophecy failed. Altering the belief would be difficult, as Keech and her group were committed at considerable expense to maintain it. Another option would be to enlist social support for their belief. As Festinger wrote, “If more and more people can be persuaded that the system of belief is correct, then clearly it must after all be correct.” In this case, if Keech could add consonant elements by converting others to the basic premise, then the magnitude of her dissonance following disconfirmation would be reduced. Festinger and his colleagues predicted that the inevitable disconfirmation would be followed by an enthusiastic effort at proselytizing to seek social support and lessen the pain of disconfirmation.

Sequence of events

Festinger and his colleagues infiltrated Mrs. Keech’s group and reported the following sequence of events:[3]

  • Prior to December 20. The group shuns publicity. Interviews are given only grudgingly. Access to Keech’s house is only provided to those who can convince the group that they are true believers. The group evolves a belief system—provided by the automatic writing from the planet Clarion—to explain the details of the cataclysm, the reason for its occurrence, and the manner in which the group would be saved from the disaster.
  • December 20. The group expects a visitor from outer space to call upon them at midnight and to escort them to a waiting spacecraft. As instructed, the group goes to great lengths to remove all metallic items from their persons. As midnight approaches, zippers, bra straps, and other objects are discarded. The group waits.
  • 12:05 A.M., December 21. No visitor. Someone in the group notices that another clock in the room shows 11:55. The group agrees that it is not yet midnight.
  • 12:10 A.M. The second clock strikes midnight. Still no visitor. The group sits in stunned silence. The cataclysm itself is no more than seven hours away.
  • 4:00 A.M. The group has been sitting in stunned silence. A few attempts at finding explanations have failed. Keech begins to cry.
  • 4:45 A.M. Another message by automatic writing is sent to Keech. It states, in effect, that the God of Earth has decided to spare the planet from destruction. The cataclysm has been called off: “The little group, sitting all night long, had spread so much light that God had saved the world from destruction.”
  • Afternoon, December 21. Newspapers are called; interviews are sought. In a reversal of its previous distaste for publicity, the group begins an urgent campaign to spread its message to as broad an audience as possible.

Conditions

Festinger stated that five conditions must be present, if someone is to become a more fervent believer after a failure or disconfirmation:

  • A belief must be held with deep conviction and it must have some relevance to action, that is, to what the believer does or how he behaves.
  • The person holding the belief must have committed himself to it; that is, for the sake of his belief, he must have taken some important action that is difficult to undo. In general, the more important such actions are, and the more difficult they are to undo, the greater is the individual’s commitment to the belief.
  • The belief must be sufficiently specific and sufficiently concerned with the real world so that events may unequivocally refute the belief.
  • Such undeniable disconfirmatory evidence must occur and must be recognized by the individual holding the belief.
  • The individual believer must have social support. It is unlikely that one isolated believer could withstand the kind of disconfirming evidence that has been specified. If, however, the believer is a member of a group of convinced persons who can support one another, the belief may be maintained and the believers may attempt to proselyte or persuade nonmembers that the belief is correct.

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ Dorothy Martin left Chicago after being threatened with arrest and psychiatric commitment. She later founded the Association of Sananda and Samat Kumara. Under the name “Sister Thedra”, she continued “channeling” and participating in UFO contact groups until her death in 1992. The Association is still active. See http://drvitelli.typepad.com/providentia/2008/07/after-the-prophecy.html
  2. ^ Bainbridge, William Sims; Rodney Stark (1979). “Cult Formation: Three Compatible Models”. Sociological Analysis (Oxford University Press) 40 (4): 90. ISSN 0038-0210. OCLC 61138057. Retrieved 22 December 2009.
  3. ^ Staff. “Leon Festinger, School: Cognitivist”. Candle In The Dark. candleinthedark.com. Retrieved 2007-11-17.

Sources

External links