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Two Forteanisms: Scientific Vs. Fringe

T. Peter Park

original source |  fair use notice

Summary: I believe there are two basic types of Forteans, espousing two distinct basic types of Forteanism or paranormalism. They are what I call fringe Forteans versus scientific Forteans.

I believe there are two basic types of Forteans, espousing two
distinct basic types of Forteanism or paranormalism. They are
what I call fringe Forteans versus scientific Forteans.

Scientific Forteans believe that the generally accepted
mainstream scientific world-picture is mostly correct and
accurate. They would only like to add a few specific classes of
phenomena dismissed or ignored by most mainstream scientists. To
make it complete, they feel, the scientific world-picture simply
needs to take account of a few extra phenomena and the possibly
novel entities, creatures, forces, or natural laws required to
explain them. Fringe Forteans, on the other hand, believe that
the mainstream scientific world-picture (which I will call MSWP
for short from now on) is seriously flawed or fundamentally

Scientific Forteans see the anomalies they champion - ESP, PK,
ghosts, poltergeists, UFO's, abductions, crop circles, Hairy
Hominids like Bigfoot, Almas, and Yeti, Lake Monsters like
Nessie, Champ, and Ogopogo, sea serpents, merbeings,
chupacabras, etc. - as additions or extensions to a MSWP they
otherwise accept. Fringe Forteans, on the other hand, believe
that such anomalies imply a major basic revision or even
overturning of the MSWP. For scientific Forteans, the MSWP is
correct but incomplete, only needing the addition and
incorporation of a few extra elements that the "Establishment"
has too hastily and dogmatically dismissed or ignored. For
radical Forteans, on the other hand, the MSWP is fundamentally
false in basic, important ways, and needs more than just a few
minor "add-ons" here and there at its edges. Fringe Forteans
demand major revisions or outright rejections of MSWP views of
the Universe, the Earth's structure, the origin and history of
life, human origins, or ancient history: hollow- earth and
"ancient astronaut" theories, "Scientific Creationism," other-
dimensional or demonological theories of UFO aliens,
cataclysmically destroyed prehistoric civilizations, etc. -
theories rejected just as much by scientific Forteans as by
"Establishment" MSWP spokespersons.

Scientific Forteans include parapsychologists focusing on ESP,
ghosts, and PK, "nuts and bolts" UFO researchers committed to
the extraterrestrial visitor hypothesis, abduction researchers
committed to the alien/human genetic hybridization hypothesis,
and cryptozoologists who see Bigfoot, Yeti, Almas, chupacabras,
lake monsters, sea serpents, Africa's mokele-mbembe, "mystery
cats," etc., as "cryptid" flesh-and-blood animals of hitherto
unknown species. Such scientific parapsychologists, UFO'logists,
abductologists, and cryptozoologists feel that all would be well
if only the scientific "Establishment" admitted the reality of
certain "damned" and "excluded" phenomena, and stretched the
MSWP just a little bit at its edges to accommodate and explain

Scientific parapsychologists, like the late J.B. Rhine and the
founders & most members of the (British) and American Societies
for Psychical Research, believe that the MSWP is basically
correct except for its gratuitous philosophical acceptance of
materialism and of a strictly sensationalist theory of
knowledge. If mainstream scientists only accepted the
possibility of non-material components, aspects, capacities, or
causal interactions of the human psyche, including perhaps the
possibility of life after death, they feel, all would be well
otherwise. All that would need to be changed, they feel, is the
Enlightenment materialist and sensationalist view that mind,
thought, and consciousness are simply a by-product or
epiphenomenon of the structure and functioning of certain very
complex physical systems with no possible existence apart from
those physical systems, that all knowledge comes through
physical objects or stimuli affecting the sense organs which
then send electrical or chemical impulses to the brain, and that
the mind/brain can only act on the physical world through motor
nerves making our muscles contract to move objects outside our
bodies. However, Rhine/SPR/ASPR type parapsychologists do not
question MSWP views of cosmogony, the Solar System, the Earth,
evolution, or human origins and prehistory. They do not try to
tie in ESP and PK with hollow-earth, ancient-astronauts, "Space
Brothers," or lost- continents speculations, nor with Scientific

The "Nuts-and-bolts" extraterrestrialist UFO'logists (Stanton
Friedman, Bruce Maccabee, the late Donald E. Keyhoe) and
hybridization-oriented abductologists (Budd Hopkins, David M.
Jacobs) accept the SETI theories and speculations of mainstream
scientists like Frank Drake and Carl Sagan about intelligent
life and advanced civilizations elsewhere in the Galaxy. They
simply add that the extraterrestrials in fact are already here,
studying us and perhaps trying to interbreed with us or steal
our genetic material. Mainstream scientists are wrong only in
dismissing the here-and-now presence of the extraterrestrials.
Cryptozoologists (Loren Coleman, Bernard Heuvelmans, Ivan T.
Sanderson, Mark A. Hall, Scott Corrales, Roy Mackal) accept the
bulk of mainstream orthodox biology, zoology, and evolutionary
theory. They merely add that Neandertals, Homo erectus,
Gigantopithecus, dinosaurs, plesiosaurs, and zeuglodons
(serpent-like prehistoric whales) may in fact still be alive on
our planet in our own time as "cryptids" like Bigfoot, Yeti,
almas, orang pendek, Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and the
Brontosaurus-like West African mokele-mbembe. Loren Colema &
Patrick Huyghe's Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti, and Other Mystery
Primates Worldwide (1999), Loren Coleman & Jerome Clark's
Cryptozoology A to Z (1999), Loren Coleman's Bigfoot! (2003),
and Loren Coleman & Patrick Huyghe's Field Guide to Lake
Monsters, Sea Seerrpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep
(2003) are four good solid recent examples of this un-mystical
feet-on-the-ground no-nonsense yet non- debunking biologically-
oriented cryptozoology, whose classic statements are Bernard
Heuvelmans' On the Track of Unknown Animals (1958, 1959, 1965,
1995), Willy Ley's Exotic Zoology (1959), and Roy Mackal's
Searching for Hidden Animals (1980).

Fringe Forteans champion a wide, wild variety of "far-out"
theories that in various ways drastically revise or totally
overturn accepted MSWP views of the Universe, our planet,
prehistory, or human origins. Many fringe Forteans advocate
occult, paraphysical, "ultraterrestrial," "daimonic," "Goblin
Universe," other-dimensional, or demonological theories of
UFO's, "aliens," and "cryptids." Other "far-out" theories
espoused by fringe Forteans include hollow-earth theories (John
Cleves Symmes Marshall Gardner, Cyrus Reed Teed, Raymond
Bernard, W.G. Emerson, John Uri Lloyd), underground
civilizations speculations, allegations that Admiral Byrd
discovered a vast warm, fertile "Land Beyond the Poles,"
"ancient astronaut" theories of human prehistory and ancient
history, Christian fundamentalist "Scientific Creationism," and
speculations about advanced prehistoric civilizations destroyed
by great catastrophes like Atlantis and Lemuria. "New Age"
enthusiasts of a benignly "spiritual" interpretation of UFO's
and abductions, like Whitley Strieber, John Mack, and Kenneth
Ring, also belong in the radical Fortean camp, I feel.

"Daimonic Reality," "Goblin Universe," and demonological
theorists (e.g., John A. Keel, Janet & Colin Bord, Jacques
Vallee, Patrick Harpur, F.W. Holiday, Gordon Creighton, etc.)
argue that UFO's, their occupants, bedroom-invading "Grays,"
"Men in Black," Bigfoot, Yeti, other "Hairy Hominids,." Lake
Monsters, "Mothmen," "Owlmen," "Black Dogs," gnomes, dwarfs,
fairies, and other assorted weird elusive mystery creatures are
all simply different guises adopted by "Elementals,"
"ultraterrestrials," other-dimensional visitors, "Devas,"
Christian demons, or Isl=E2mic djinn. Some of these "Goblin
Universe" theorists are Christian fundamentalists (Hal Lindsey,
John Weldon, Clifford Wilson, Zola Levitt, Ray Boeche, etc.)who
simply identify UFO's, "aliens," abductors, MIB, and other weird
mystery creatures with Satan and his demonic host. Others (like
Gordon Creighton, Patrick Harpur, etc.) prefer an identification
of such weird entities rather with the Isl=E2mic djinn, the
demonic beings of Hindu mythology, or the daimones and
elementals of ancient paganism and modern occultism. Keel and
Vallee, on the other hand, take a more secular, irreligious view
of the "ultraterrestrials" or "control system." They all take a
rather skeptical view, however, both of flesh-and-blood aliens
in nuts-and-bolts spaceships and of flesh-and-blood zoological
"cryptids" lurking in Pacific Northwest forests or Scottish
lakes. To such "Daimonic Reality," "Goblin Universe," and
"ultraterrestrial" theorists, I suspect we should also add "New
Age" UFO theorists like Whitley Strieber, John Mack, and Kenneth
Ring, who claim that the "Visitors" are here to uplift us to a
higher spiritual plane, and that the frightening, traumatic,
manipulative aspects of abductions are really a form of
spiritual "shock therapy" comparable to Zen koans, or to the
"Dark Night of the Soul" suffered by Catholic mystics as part of
their spiritual journey.

Hollow-earth theories, speculations about underground
civilizations, "ancient astronaut" theories of human origins,
"Scientific Creationism," and speculations about Atlantis and
Lemuria likewise radically question the MSWP and its views of
the Solar System, the Earth's structure, evolution, human
origins, and ancient history. Richard Shaver's stories of the
underground dero living in the cavern-cities of the Lemurians
and using abandoned Lemurian machinery to bedevil us combined
hollow-earth (or at least underground-civilization), ancient-
astronaut, and Atlantis/Lemuria themes while flouting the
accepted MSWP of human origins, prehistory, and early history.

Here, I think, we should make a distinction between "hard-core"
ancient astronaut theories, like those of Eric von D=E4niken,
Zecharia Sitchin, and the Ra=EBlian cultists, versus the more
modest speculations of writers like the late Carl Sagan about
extraterrestrials visiting the Earth from time to time in
prehistoric times. Von D=E4niken, Sitchin, other "ancient
astronaut" enthusiasts, and the Ra=EBlians claim that
extraterrestrials genetically engineered Homo sapiens, taught
our ancestors the rudiments of civilization, and built ancient
archaeological marvels like the Great Pyramid, the Sphinx,
Tiahuanaco, and the Nazca lines. Carl Sagan type writers,
however, take an orthodox MSWP view of human evolution and the
development of human civilization. They simply hold it possible
that extraterrestrials might have occasionally visited our
planet in the days of the dinosaurs or the "cave-men," without
doing the genetic-engineering, species-creating, and
civilization-building feats attributed to them by Von D=E4niken,
Sitchin, or the Ra=EBlians. At the very most, Sagan tentatively
speculated that amphibious ichthyoid extraterrestrials landing
in the Persian Gulf around 4,000 B.C. and giving a few tips on
agriculture and metallurgy to the Sumerians might perhaps have
possibly inspired the Babylonian myth of the fish-man Oannes
coming out of the sea and teaching Humankind the arts and
sciences. Aside from that, Sagan was just sort of willing to
consider extraterrestrials long ago photographing dinosaurs or
collecting trilobites. And, I also suppose, maybe, just maybe,
Sagan was also willing to accept the possibility that maybe our
Australopithecine or Homo habilis ancestors in the African veldt
around Olduvai Gorge were once studied by something like the
Black Monolith observing "Moon-Watcher" and his fellow hairy
Pliocene hominids in Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick's
2001: A Space Odyssey! A few somewhat "far-out"
parapsychological and Fortean theories admittedly lie on the
border between scientific and fringe Forteanism. It may largely
be a matter of personal taste which side of that border yo place
them on. They include speculations about "group minds," about
quasi-material "thought- forms" or "tulpas," and about
subterranean cavern-dwelling predatory quasi-humanoids. I see
them as stretching the MSWP very nearly to its breaking point -
but not yet QUITE breaking it.

Parapsychologists like Whately Carington, G.N.M. Tyrrell, Nandor
Fodor, and D. Scott Rogo have speculated about telepathically-
generated, quasi-autonomous "group minds," "collective idea-
patterns," or "gestalts" of families, clans, tribes, cultures,
political movements, etc. These "group minds" or "gestalts"
would be telepathically created from the beliefs, myths,
symbols, archetypal images, etc., of those groups, and would
have a certain independent active telepathic influence on group
members' minds. Such "group minds," "gestalts," or "collective
idea-patterns" might explain family warning-spirits like the
Irish banshee, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox apparitions of the
Virgin and saints, mediaeval appearances of the Devil, ancient
Greek and Roman visions of Pan, satyrs, nymphs, dryads, Theseus,
and Castor & Pollux, Celtic and Germanic close encounters with
fairies, gnomes, leprechauns, dwarfs, trolls, etc. - and UFO
close encounters and abductions in our own time. Sometimes, some
of these parapsychologists have suggested, these visions and
apparitions take a temporarily semi-solid, quasi- material form
as "thought-forms," "tulpas," or "telesmic images." UFO's,
"aliens," Bigfoot, Lake Monsters, "Black Dogs," "Mothmen," and
assorted "cryptids" might be such "tulpas." Such "tulpas" might
actually have a temporary physical existence - as collective
psychic projections of our own human "group minds," or perhaps
of Carl Gustav Jung's "Collective Unconscious." Jerome Clark and
Loren Coleman at one time proposed something along such lines in
The Unidentified (1975), where they drew on Carl Jung's theories
to describe the UFO phenomenon as a planetary poltergeist
generating apparitions from Humankind's repressed collective
unconscious to create UFO manifestations, Men in Black, etc. -
some of which ideas former FATE editor Clark reportedly now

All-out hollow-earth theories like those of John Cleves Symmes,
Marshall Gardner, Cyrus Reed Teed, John Uri Lloyd (Etidorhpa,
1895), and Willis G. Emerson (The Smoky God, 1908) clearly
belong to fringe Forteanism, involving QUITE extreme
modifications of accepted MSWP views of the Earth's structure.
There is a bit less outright conflict with orthodox MSWP
geology, however in the suggestion that subterranean cavern-
systems in the Earth's crust may be vastly more extensive and
complex than mainstream geologists yet believe. These cavern-
systems may harbor a vast variety of organisms originally
descended from surface-dwelling life-forms, it is suggested. In
effect, these vast underground cavern-realms hold a largely
unknown and unsuspected subterranean biosphere: a now almost
independent biosphere that originated millions of years ago as
an aberrant, specialized branch or offshoot of our terrestrial

Thus, William Michael Mott argues in Caverns, Cauldrons, and
Concealed Creatures (2000)that this cavern-dwelling subterrene
fauna includes a number of intelligent or semi-intelligent
humanoid and reptilian races with a seemingly "magical" advanced
technology. These subterrene humanoids and reptoids, Mott
believes, have been preying both cannibalistically and
reproductively on surface humanity throughout history, abducting
us sometimes for food but much more importantly to steal our
genetic material and cross-breed with us. They account for the
demons, gnomes, fairies, trolls, dwarfs, frog-princes, dragons,
serpent-people, mermen, and mermaids of traditional religion,
mythology, and folklore, for the so-called "Hairy Hominids,"
"Bigfoot," "Lake Monsters," "frog-men," "lizard-men," and other
"cryptids" and "mystery beasts" studied by cryptozoologists, and
for modern UFO's, "aliens," "Grays," "Mothmen," and "deros." All
such entities and creatures, Mott argues, have a subterranean
origin, though they try to make us believe that they are
extraterrestrial, "ultraterrestrial," or other- dimensional.
UFO's, Mott believes, come from the cavern realms inside the
Earth rather than from outer space. Like the space aliens
discussed by extraterrestrial-oriented abductologists like Budd
Hopkins and David M. Jacobs, Mott's cavern-dwellers are
obsessively, ruthlessly interested in hybridizing with us and
stealing our genetic material. Like Hopkins and Jacobs, Mott
believes that they wish to improve their own somewhat defective
or degenerate genetic stock and to make themselves (or their
children and grandchildren) better fitted to survive and thrive
in our own environment. Mott, we should note, confines these
cavern-realms to the Earth's crust. He does not speculate about
concentric habitable inner-earth spheres like John Cleves
Symmes, nor a vast inner cavity with an inner sun or inner
energy-center like W.G. Emerson in The Smoky God or John Uri
Lloyd in Etidorhpa. As an inner-earth theorist, Mott is far more
modest and conservative than Symmes, Emerson, or Lloyd.

In an e-mail discussion of conspiracy theorizing in the UFO
field, parapsychologist George P. Hansen, author of The
Trickster and the Paranormal (2001), remarked (private
communication, August 8, 2002) that his own "observations
suggest that conspiracy thinking in the UFO area is far more
prevalent among nuts-and-bolts ufologists and others that adopt
a =91concrete' reality stance as opposed to New Agers who have a
more =91metaphysical' approach." Later that day, Hansen added
(private communication, August 8, 2002) his "impression" that
"the nuts-and-bolts people put a stronger emphasis" on
"government cover-ups of UFO crashes." He felt that "a very,
very high percentage of nuts- and-bolts ufologists believe that
the government either has a crashed saucer or knows the =91truth'
about them," while the "metaphysical types sometimes embrace
really wide ranging conspiracies that are much more fluid in
their applicability."

My own personal impression is that while nuts-and-bolts
UFO'logists do very often allege government cover-ups of UFO
crashes and government cover-ups of its "knowledge" of the
"truth" about UFO's, scientific Forteans (among whom I include
the nuts-and-bolts UFO'logists) are otherwise not much given to
conspiracy theorizing. It is the fringe Forteans, I have myself
long noticed, who are in fact much more given to conspiracy
theorizing about history, society, and politics in general, to
Jewish, Illuminati, Bilderbergers, New World Order, or Reptilian
world domination conspiracy theories like those of Milton
William Cooper and David Icke, to allegations that the United
Nations was started as a Communist world domination agency with
a charter written or dictated by Joseph Stalin, and to
denunciations of so-called "political correctness." You simply
never see any such theories, speculations, charges, or
denunciations in any of the books or articles, for instance, of
Patrick Huyghe, Loren Coleman, Jerome Clark, George P. Hansen,
Brenda Denzler, Stanton Friedman, Bruce Maccabee, David Jacobs,
Budd Hopkins, Bernard Heuvelmans, or Ivan T. Sanderson. Some of
them at times may espouse much more limited and modest
conspiracy hypotheses, as about government UFO cover-ups - but
not fabtasies of vast Illuminati, Zionist, or Reptilian plots.
As historian Richard Hofstadter once noted, there is a big
difference between locating conspiracies in history, and seeing
history itself as a conspiracy. One principal reason, I believe,
is that scientific Forteans are generally much less alienated
from or hostile towards the "Establishment" or "cultural =E9lites"
than are fringe Forteans. Of course, this is only a rough
generalization, to which I would naturally concede many specific

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