Giving Up On FT

EnolaGaia

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This wasn't known to me. I would have liked to have known that I could donate to the forums. I'm not rich but I can and will contribute more so than a subscription to the magazine.
The topic of donations hasn't been blatantly advertised (Gordon is shy ... ), but it was first mentioned right after we accomplished the 2018 emergency migration and had some time to catch our breaths ...

https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/precision-transition-respect-is-due.65092/post-1805890
 

EnolaGaia

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I did not know about this as well... can we put this info + link on the front page please?
I'll cite your request in our High Command HQ at Fort Fort.

The advertising of donation capabilities is a CFI issue, and Gordon (gordonrutter) speaks for CFI.
 

Sharon Hill

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I continue to look through old issues as well as the new. Sure, there are new ones that are a little light. But the argument of "too academic" doesn't wash with me. There are very few places to publish this kind of historical research and documentation. Fortean Times still pays writers and people appreciate the articles. As others have said, there are not too many experts in these fields. Blogs are dead. No one reads them anymore. We still need FT. Considering the continued efforts to reenchant the world, maybe we need it now more than ever.

I'd love to see a web page back up with weird news with the Fortean Times logo. I miss it a lot. FT remains the go-to place for this kind of news. The current "Fortean" news sites are shit and littered with made-up stories and exaggerations, or tinged with religious end times sentiment. I've watched them for years. (Maybe some of you might recall my news site, Doubtful News, that I kept up for 7 years. It was crazy difficult to do and it made no money. But I also had very little help.)

Re: skepticism. This complaint is so old, I find it in the letters sections from the 1990s. Maybe the move to be more serious, more critical, more careful is a reflection of the overall culture and the fact that pure Forteanism has little utility these days. Times have changed. How much can you do with an idea without a proposed explanation? I always saw classic Fort as the stamp collecting of weird data. That's boring, we want some meaning associated with it. (Rabbit hole: Consider the cultural meaning of cryptids, ghosts, psi, conspiracies, anomalous natural phenomena, and UFOs from the 40s to now - it's deeply complex.) Many of us grew up with strange stories and then we became grown-ups who saw some of these stories fell apart or realized they deserved a different take.

Weird news has grown in popularity. Sadly, FT failed to take advantage of that but times are tough. I'll subscribe as long as it keeps serving the purpose of being the primary place to access news, research, and opinions about weirdshit.
 

oldrover

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Just to say Doubtful News was very good, thanks for creating it.
 

MrRING

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We'll have to agree to disagree, Sharon. But I'm glad you and others are digging it, even if I and others are not. Many of the things you site as bonuses in the current mag are detriments to me...
 

XEPER_

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I have absolutely zero interest in the "weird postcards" or whatever that section is called. Just one more page of the magazine I don't bother reading along with Classical Corner, Alien Zoo, Haunted Generation, the priest's movie reviews and so on.
I don't think it's all the magazine's fault - as Naughty Felid I think pointed out, things just don't seem as unexplainable or unbelievable as they did 20 years ago. Or they seem more like lies and exaggerations like pretty much the whole UFO field (see the new Unexplained Mysteries series on Netflix as an example of this. I used to LOVE UFO stories, but as soon as that one started and the people were recounting their stories, I turned it off).
I also sent a simulacra to the editor last year and never even received an acknowledgement which was a bit shit.
 
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Comfortably Numb

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No ... The autumn 2018 negotiated agreement involved a complete divorce of the forum (as an ongoing operation) from the magazine and the publisher. In effect, Dennis divested itself of the forum in a complete and final manner. In return, those of us who were to continue the forum operation agreed to explicitly renounce any formal connections to FT and Dennis and desist from suggesting any such connections continued.

...The forum operation was adopted by the Charles Fort Institute (CFI), which is now its formal sponsor.

...There are expenses. To date they've been covered by voluntary donations of time, effort and funds.

... Contributing to the forum's ongoing viability can be done by donations to the Charles Fort Institute:

https://www.forteana.org

The team who negotiated and executed the 2018 emergency migration continue to manage the forum. At the tactical (everyday) operational level, most responses to emergent issues are decided among the team.
One humongous thanks, for taking the time to explain.

I have been wondering for some time about the Charles Fort Institute and where intrinsically they fit in.

Who are they, why and how, etc.!

Again, it was the realisation I had no idea about this at all.

However, thanks to your most helpful response, I do now.

That would be, 'now', as in a couple of minutes ago there, when I found the, quite proverbial, 'missing link''... :p

This one:

https://forteana.org/

Honestly, until these recent clarifications, I have always spoken of the 'Fortean Times' forums.

I shall now duly spend some time reading through what already looks to be fascinating background material via forteana.org.
 

Comfortably Numb

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A brief, further mention, that I have always noticed the Charles Fort Institute (CFI) logo at top of screen.

However, if clicked upon, it doesn't lead anywhere else, as it links to the forums:

https://forums.forteana.org

Would this perhaps have been intended as a link to the CFI instead? :

https://forteana.org

Possibly not so, for whatever reason?
 

gordonrutter

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One humongous thanks, for taking the time to explain.

I have been wondering for some time about the Charles Fort Institute and where intrinsically they fit in.

Who are they, why and how, etc.!

Again, it was the realisation I had no idea about this at all.

However, thanks to your most helpful response, I do now.

That would be, 'now', as in a couple of minutes ago there, when I found the, quite proverbial, 'missing link''... :p

This one:

https://forteana.org/

Honestly, until these recent clarifications, I have always spoken of the 'Fortean Times' forums.

I shall now duly spend some time reading through what already looks to be fascinating background material via forteana.org.
The blogs are currently down hopefully they will be back up soon and new material will be added and the old material will be available.
 

EnolaGaia

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A brief, further mention, that I have always noticed the Charles Fort Institute (CFI) logo at top of screen.
However, if clicked upon, it doesn't lead anywhere else, as it links to the forums: https://forums.forteana.org
Would this perhaps have been intended as a link to the CFI instead? : https://forteana.org
Possibly not so, for whatever reason?
Hot-linking the title / logo in a website header back to the website's main / entry page is a very common navigation feature.

For example ... This same behavior can be found on the websites for LiveScience, ScienceAlert, SciTechDaily, ScienceNews, EurekAlert, Scientific American, and Smithsonian Magazine.
 

Sharon Hill

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We'll have to agree to disagree, Sharon. But I'm glad you and others are digging it, even if I and others are not. Many of the things you site as bonuses in the current mag are detriments to me...
It's hard to please everyone. It seems obvious the audience preferences are splitting into mulitple directions as to what they want the magazine to be. (That may even differ for various parts of the world as well.)
 

XEPER_

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We still need FT. Considering the continued efforts to reenchant the world, maybe we need it now more than ever.
Agreed. But it seems to me FT is doing the opposite nowadays. It's too skeptical.
Or maybe there's just nothing really unexplained out there any more.
 

Sharon Hill

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Agreed. But it seems to me FT is doing the opposite nowadays. It's too skeptical.
Or maybe there's just nothing really unexplained out there any more.
Well that was my point. The world isn’t reenchanted. It’s still quite explainable. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s my preferred point of view. As I pointed out above, the skeptical tendency for FT is not new and may be a reflection of a larger cultural shift. Honestly, we’re in trouble when we head the opposite way. Less skepticism/critical thinking is not good. See: politics today.
 

GNC

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Don't mention p*l*t*cs! But I agree, the FT takes the weirdness seriously enough to devote articles to examining it, and if the weirdness doesn't stand up to scrutiny, what do people want them to do? Lie? "Benevolent scepticism" is in the mission statement.
 

Trevp666

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Thing is...weird shit happens. It always has. And will continue to do so. And it needs reporting.
I was particularly disappointed when the annual survey stopped happening (was it called the weirdness index?).
Maybe FT will restructure it's mag so that the larger articles and the items that might cater for a more individual group are distinctly separated.
I find that the 'sidelines' are good, and worth reading, but for me they would be better off grouped together instead of spread through the pages.
 

Naughty_Felid

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Well that was my point. The world isn’t reenchanted. It’s still quite explainable. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s my preferred point of view. As I pointed out above, the skeptical tendency for FT is not new and may be a reflection of a larger cultural shift. Honestly, we’re in trouble when we head the opposite way. Less skepticism/critical thinking is not good. See: politics today.
Providing Skepticism isn't lazy, which a lot of it is these days.

The one interesting piece from the Ghost Studies book I'm reading, was when Massullo provided an all too common example of this.

An, (unnamed), Skeptic's article suggested that later research had trashed the work of Saxton Burr, (I think it was him). Massullo contacted the author to provide the references. The author could not provide the citations and "assumed" someone had done further work to disprove Burr's findings which wasn't the case when Massullo looked into it.

There are countless examples of this in the skeptical world, loads of podcasts and articles are just smug and lazy. I call it the "swamp gas and owls' argument after an early Blurry Photos pod mocked how Skeptics always attribute paranormal activity to one or the other.

Paranormal believers get accused of a lack of critical thinking and yet the skeptics are just as bad.
 

Sharon Hill

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Providing Skepticism isn't lazy, which a lot of it is these days.

The one interesting piece from the Ghost Studies book I'm reading, was when Massullo provided an all too common example of this.

An, (unnamed), Skeptic's article suggested that later research had trashed the work of Saxton Burr, (I think it was him). Massullo contacted the author to provide the references. The author could not provide the citations and "assumed" someone had done further work to disprove Burr's findings which wasn't the case when Massullo looked into it.

There are countless examples of this in the skeptical world, loads of podcasts and articles are just smug and lazy. I call it the "swamp gas and owls' argument after an early Blurry Photos pod mocked how Skeptics always attribute paranormal activity to one or the other.

Paranormal believers get accused of a lack of critical thinking and yet the skeptics are just as bad.
There are some of those, of course - it depends on the person and the topic. I'm not a fan of work by some most notable "skeptics" but when they want to be taken seriously, they do dig into the weeds and find the problems with the non-skeptical evidence. Skeptics like Shermer have made asses out of themselves by talking about topics they know absolutely nothing about. A small group of us used to call ourselves the "Bigfoot skeptics" at the skeptic conventions because the rest of the crowd would treat cryptozoology and paranormal topics as a dumb waste of time. It was typical for the card-carrying skeptic to just call believers stupid and think that was a good response. I didn't. A more serious problem is that committed believers won't even read material with a tinge of skepticism or critical analysis because the cognitive dissonance is too much. In order to truly know your topic thoroughly, you must know the arguments people make against it.
 

Naughty_Felid

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There are some of those, of course - it depends on the person and the topic. I'm not a fan of work by some most notable "skeptics" but when they want to be taken seriously, they do dig into the weeds and find the problems with the non-skeptical evidence. Skeptics like Shermer have made asses out of themselves by talking about topics they know absolutely nothing about. A small group of us used to call ourselves the "Bigfoot skeptics" at the skeptic conventions because the rest of the crowd would treat cryptozoology and paranormal topics as a dumb waste of time. It was typical for the card-carrying skeptic to just call believers stupid and think that was a good response. I didn't. A more serious problem is that committed believers won't even read material with a tinge of skepticism or critical analysis because the cognitive dissonance is too much. In order to truly know your topic thoroughly, you must know the arguments people make against it.
That's the problem, people invest huge amounts in things they've seen or believe, and to have that rubbished isn't going to help anyone. I honestly think this place tries it's best at having a critical approach but still being supportive. I wish the skeptical world would take on board the same attitude.

Also, we seem to be losing the whole point of evaluating the experience of a paranormal encounter - it's not all about the swamp gas.
 

Naughty_Felid

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No one uses “swamp gas” anymore, thankfully. But remember who you can thank for that trope. (Not a skeptic.):ufo:
Who, Hynek? Sorry, I don't click on links that don't tell me where it's going.

Hynek was a skeptic who changed his mind, wasn't he? He began to believe in ALIENS! (I'm not a big UFO fan tbh).

Has "swamp gas" been banned by the skeptics charter? Well, that's a start.

Can you work on Owls next? :D
 
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XEPER_

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Last night I finally got around to reading the issue with the plague doctor cover. I read two articles - Jenny Randles, in which she reports on a woman researcher who convinced someone who thought they'd seen an alien that they'd actually had sleep paralysis despite the fact no paralysis was felt (WTF?), and "This house is not haunted" which was just some guy listing the leaky pipes, bad wiring and drunk, stoned teens hassling him around his new house as if it proved poltergeists are all easily explainable.
Sorry, but that's me done with the mag.
 

gordonrutter

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Last night I finally got around to reading the issue with the plague doctor cover. I read two articles - Jenny Randles, in which she reports on a woman researcher who convinced someone who thought they'd seen an alien that they'd actually had sleep paralysis despite the fact no paralysis was felt (WTF?), and "This house is not haunted" which was just some guy listing the leaky pipes, bad wiring and drunk, stoned teens hassling him around his new house as if it proved poltergeists are all easily explainable.
Sorry, but that's me done with the mag.
So er, not even the Flat Earth article than? Oh well.
 

Sharon Hill

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Who, Hynek? Sorry, I don't click on links that don't tell me where it's going.

Hynek was a skeptic who changed his mind, wasn't he? He began to believe in ALIENS! (I'm not a big UFO fan tbh).

Has "swamp gas" been banned by the skeptics charter? Well, that's a start.

Can you work on Owls next? :D
Nah. I actually like owls as explanations. They make sense (although glowing ones...not sold yet). Shall we move to otters for lake monsters? Those are also real creatures that people mistake for other things too.

But swamp gas as an explanation for UFOs and even just distinct lights/will o-the wisp is still not a great idea as it's not been demonstrated to look anything like what people describe.
 

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It strikes me that the world in which the magazine now finds itself is a very different kettle of fish to the one that existed in its early days. Nowadays - largely, but not solely, due to the existence of the internet - we live in a world of two parallel orthodoxies: the established order - of science, philosophy, medicine, politics etc - and a contrarian order which I think virtually everyone would accept entertains at its extreme the most untested, unqualified, ridiculous and dangerous ideas imaginable. Only, thing is - I say 'extreme' - but in this orthodoxy the extreme has, for very many people, effectively become the norm; one thing the current unpleasantness has underlined it is that a not insignificant proportion of society now source all their 'knowledge' from this side of the street.

If part of the Fortean remit is to bridle against accepted ideas and received knowledge, then the FT clearly wouldn't be doing its job if it wasn't pushing against the contrarian orthodoxy as well as established ideas; if it sometimes appears sceptical about mad ideas then, personally, I'd say it was simply because it was fulfilling its role, because barking mad is now a very significant part of the established order of received knowledge.

Maybe the magazine's ethos has shifted over the decades - but, in all honesty, I think if the FT was exactly the same magazine it was decades ago the world would still have rolled over it to a point where what was once in a niche at one end of the spectrum is now much further from that end of the shelf.

If people don't like the magazine anymore, maybe try Nexus - or, like, 90% of the internet.
 
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MrRING

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You raise some interesting points, Spookdaddy, but while I agree with elements of what you are saying, I see matters from a different perspective.
One measures a circle, beginning anywhere. If there is an underlying oneness of all things, it does not matter where we begin, whether with stars, or laws of supply and demand, or frogs, or Napoleon Bonaparte. - Charles Fort
I see many things as part of a continuum, including these varying possible paranormal explanations for so many elements, and that I always took the Fortean outlook as one where even if you didn't believe in an individual piece of the puzzle, that the claims themselves could lead to something original, interesting, unknown yet completely real. For example, maybe you don't believe in ghots, but claims of ghosts over time and across cultures might lead to something? I thought that is what the magazine was supposed to be, based on my experience with this board, which tips more often into skepticism than not these days, but still feels more open, more willing to look at the circle from multiple perspectives, than the published articles of the magazine.

I never saw the magazine in it's heyday, but I have one of the compiled books (having won it for supplying a review to FT many a year ago) indicated that my understanding of the magazine is true of the past. I only started seeing FT maybe 5 years ago, and the drift of what looks to me to be quick dismissal, garden-variety skepticism, and personality jostling seems more within the last few years.

These are strange times indeed, and there is a push of outlandish media claims pushing against orthodoxy in the various fields. But I don't see things as just two choices, orthodoxy and mad ideas. I see it as part of Fort's circle, a very real whole where there are more positions and possibilities than merely a singular orthodoxy of opinion against a monolithic other filled with madness that needs to be taken down. Everthing in the modern world is turning out binaries, maybe becasue people find it easier to do that than consider the possibilities. It's my way or the highway, I'm irrefutably right and you are irrefutably wrong. Online, if you don't agree with me, then you should be shouted out. Ban this, ban that. That fellow is a right nutter!

But the idea that you present, that:
If part of the Fortean remit is to bridle against accepted ideas and received knowledge, then the FT clearly wouldn't be doing its job if it wasn't pushing against the contrarian orthodoxy as well as established ideas; if it sometimes appears sceptical about mad ideas then, personally, I'd say it was simply because it was fulfilling its role, because barking mad is now a very significant part of the established order of received knowledge.
... could be exactly how most of the current writers for the magazine sees things, and I think we are the poorer for it if that is how reality appears to folks, a choice only between two poles, and not a continuum of possibilities. Particularly in the world of the paranormal claim, because I certainly feel that there are still possibilities in looking at cases and trying to find new connections and new possibilites, as opposed to stomping them flat in a fit of skepticism.
 

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... could be exactly how most of the current writers for the magazine sees things, and I think we are the poorer for it if that is how reality appears to folks, a choice only between two poles, and not a continuum of possibilities. Particularly in the world of the paranormal claim, because I certainly feel that there are still possibilities in looking at cases and trying to find new connections and new possibilites, as opposed to stomping them flat in a fit of skepticism.
I was using pretty broad brushstrokes there, and not intending to suggest that either option is a monolithic mass - there's clearly a very broad spectrum to both. And I don't mean to suggest that people should pick one or the other as the subject of their critical gaze - rather that they should employ the same standards for both.
 

stu neville

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...could be exactly how most of the current writers for the magazine sees things, and I think we are the poorer for it if that is how reality appears to folks, a choice only between two poles, and not a continuum of possibilities.
I can only speak for myself, but my Forum articles have tended to highlight absurdities, whereas the longer articles have presented a synthesis of facts and opinions as we know them, however I'm careful to not be judgmental. The Patterson film was - as you yourself know - derived at least in part from discussions we had on here, but I was absolutely clear that I could draw no firm conclusion at the end as to whether or not the film is real (however, real or not, the footage itself is Fortean by dint of its very controversy and now iconic status.) The Alien Autopsy piece in the current issue concludes it is a fake, end of - both the vying main protagonists say they made it in SE England in the early 90s. What's remarkable about it was the timing, how much it exploited the mid-90s zeitgeist, and how there are still people out there convinced that it's real and that the CIA have covered it all up via misinformation: I didn't delve into that as I only had a finite amount of space, and that's a rabbit hole miles in length.

My stuff tends to be about the wider cultural impact of Forteana, and as such I don't usually "judge" the phenomenon itself. My next one, however, will be far more originally researched, synthesised, and hopefully will take a new direction for some old favourites.
 
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GNC

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I'd say Stu's Alien Autopsy article was ideal for the magazine, it tied together many loose ends I was not aware of, it was still about a weird subject, and the human reaction was as much important as any of the musings about life from outer space. When you boil it down, the human dimension is paramount since that's what we measure all these experiences from, and as long as the FT continues that tradition, I'm a satisfied customer.

FT till I die!
 
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