Charles Fort: Enfant Terrible Of Science

Comfortably Numb

Aug 7, 2018
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I had noticed a reference to the following article:

Charles Fort: Enfant Terrible of Science
by Miriam Allen DeFord

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1954

I have located an online copy of the magazine, which can be downloaded as a .pdf file from:

Click on the issue date underneath the cover.

The article is a revealing insight as it includes extracts from Fort's correspondence, including to the author, I have never seen published anywhere else.

Sharon Hill

Complicated biological machine
Dec 16, 2014
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Pennsylvania, USA
What always bothered me about Fort is the way he is portrayed as skeptical of science as orthodoxy; that he was intent on being disruptive to the norm as reflected in the title of this article. He even is quoted as saying "I am suspicious of all absolute statements." Yet, he considers the data he collects as "facts". When I first read Fort, I was struck by how gullible it seemed to repeat these claims from newspapers, etc. and take them at face value. Now, he did occasionally question their veracity, but the premise of the book is that, taken together, these data are "damning" to the established ideas of science.

I disagree.

I liked that the author of the above piece noted that Fort had no scientific education because it appeared he entirely misunderstood the process and nuance of the scientific endeavor, or else Fort was aiming solely towards those authoritarians of science who were obnoxious know-it-alls. (If the latter, then I do sympathize.) In my mind, though, there is often little justification for pooling subjective data together to indicate something new, especially fringe claims because so many other factors come into play. I'm wondering if Fort ever acknowledged that some of these reports were mistakes, exaggerated, or outright fakes. The data should be scrutinized first before a theory is formulated or else you will be immediately off in wild directions without basis. Examples include every paranormal subject ever.