There are varying definitions, but a Fortean follows the anomalous researcher and writer tradition of Charles Fort. Charles Fort (1874- 1932) wrote numerous articles and books involving unexplained scientific and paranormal events. He is regarded by many to be the god-father of UFOlogy, the discoverer of ball lightning and the inventor of the term “teleportation.” Could any anomalous researcher match this curriculum vitae? We think not, but we endeavor to persevere.
As do many, in their own unique ways. Some Forteans focus on one aspect of the phenomenon. Faerie religions and the Fay are a favorite topic of many. You can find articles on faeries and ultrahumans in copies of the Fortean Times. Other Forteans form societies, groups or organizations. There are a number of them, and they all perform research in their own way. However, it’s worth noting that Fort himself chose to turn away from the first Fortean Society to bear his name. So, one doesn’t need to join any group or receive anyone’s blessing to become a Fortean.
From the Fortean Winds POV: In order to become a Fortean one needs only curiosity and an open mind. Fort rejected scientific dogma. He often used humor to make his point. This doesn’t mean he rejected science. He didn’t allow theory to overcome data. UFOs or UAP are the perfect example. Fort followed the subject closely. He was an early proponent of the extra-terrestrial hypothesis. In 2019, the Government admitted (again) that UFOs were real and NASA administrator Bill Nelson considers the extra-terrestrial hypotheses plausible.
Some of Fort’s hypotheses were tongue-in-cheek. He knew they were ridiculous, and put them out as a way of “trolling” science. This has value. He would not allow science to reject a world filled with anomalies and the unexplained. However, today people often confuse humor with fact, and when it comes to the subject of the unexplained this has created a distortion.
I believe nothing. I have shut myself away from the rocks and wisdoms of ages, and from the so-called great teachers of all time, and perhaps because of that isolation I am given to bizarre hospitalities. I shut the front door upon Christ and Einstein, and at the back door hold out a welcoming hand to little frogs and periwinkles. I believe nothing of my own that I have ever written. I cannot accept that the products of minds are subject-matter for beliefs. But I accept, with reservations that give me freedom to ridicule the statement at any other time, that showers of an edible substance that has not been traced to an origin upon this earth, have fallen from the sky, in Asia Minor.Charles Fort (Lo! )1931
To illustrate this we would point to the second most famous Fortean of all time: John A. Keel. He wrote “The Mothman Prophecies” and a number of other books regarding anomalous subjects. While Fort did much of his research in the library, Keel was prone to adventure. He visited Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the 1960’s and became a part of the infamous UFO and cryptid flap during that era. He visited Egypt to look for ancient anomalies and saw a UFO. Like Fort, Keel was a bit of a loner. Many of his investigations were done by himself, and he chose not to join any particular group.
Fortean Winds is a collective made up of private and anonymous researchers. We have no organization and rarely agree on anything. This is healthy in our opinion. So, if you’re that type of person who needs a place to publish your research…please reach out. The only commonality we have is our data driven approach to the phenomenon. We do what we can to separate our theory from data. Because theory is always changing…
Due to his experiences in Point Pleasant, Keel adopted a different view of UFOs and the paranormal in general stating: “I abandoned the extraterrestrial hypothesis in 1967, when my own field investigations disclosed an astonishing overlap between psychic phenomena and UFOs,” Keel wrote. “The objects and apparitions do not necessarily originate on another planet and may not even exist as permanent constructions of matter. It is more likely that we see what we want to see and interpret such visions according to our contemporary beliefs.”
Keel’s work bears a striking similarity to the current events and theories surrounding Skinwalker Ranch.
Keel coined the term “ultraterrestrial.” It featured heavily in his book “The Eighth Tower” and was meant to give readers his evolved view of the phenomenon toward the end of his career. The term “ultraterrestrial” was a way of getting people to stop thinking about the entities behind UFOs as E.T.’s from science fiction, and more like interdimensional beings or what’s commonly associated with demons and evil spirits.
He felt this term was a failure as people began to name the ultraterrestrials and assign them personalities. It became its own form of research when it was merely meant as a literary device. They forgot John A. Keel’s first maxim: “Never Form a Belief.” Theorize, hypothesize, guess, joke….but never form a belief. We’re looking for anomalous phenomenon and trying to show people it exists. That’s it. As you can see by looking at Fort and Keel. The reason they are so well known is they found real anomalies. They didn’t know what they found.
There are many other Forteans continuing to fight the good fight by pointing out that mysteries still happen every day. Some of them focus on taking field reports and following up on sightings. This is valuable data, and no doubt the people who witnessed the events are pleased to find someone who believes them. We can’t imagine how alone that must make someone feel, to witness the unknown and be called mad. It’s awful.
We don’t typically add single witness accounts to our research because they’re too hard to validate, but that doesn’t mean we don’t believe people. This is our own brand of Fortean research and you can read more about our approach in our about section. However, those firsthand accounts are important and we read as many as we can. Groups like “The Singular Fortean Society” are publishing detailed reports of anomalous activity frequently. As we look for patterns in the data, we always need more data.
So, what is a Fortean? A Fortean is someone who researches the anomalous or unexplained. They are doing it in groups, they are doing it by themselves. They are doing it for no money, because there’s no money in it. Sure there are con-artists out there, selling all the answers for money. Yet, if they have all the answers, they’re not researching the unexplained because they have all the answers. We don’t have the answers. We have data, and we have theory. We’re just trying to understand it better. To us, that’s what a Fortean is. So, congratulations. You just became a Fortean.