Is Fortean Nostalgia A Reality?

GNC

King-Sized Canary
Joined
Aug 25, 2001
Messages
33,544
Reading the All Colours Sam thread in Ufology, I was struck that you just don't get Fortean reports like that now, or if you do, it's something someone's invented on Reddit or for Creepypasta (is that still a thing?). Is that the attraction of these old cases, a kind of nostalgia for the times when these experiences felt magical and not flogged to death as an internet concept? Are the up and coming generations quite as interested in these old cases as the older ones are, or are they content to mix it up with the blithely fictional?
 

Eponastill

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Aug 2, 2002
Messages
1,050
Location
generally on the fringes
I take your point very much. But I wonder if part of it is that we are just old and cynical now. In contrast to when I read about (say) that freaky ghost on the altar steps, or the scary faces in the kitchen floor and just lapped it up and felt pleasingly scared. (Now if I posted those things as new, you'd probably be like - pfff yeah right)?!
 

Paul_Exeter

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jan 9, 2012
Messages
1,060
Reading the All Colours Sam thread in Ufology, I was struck that you just don't get Fortean reports like that now, or if you do, it's something someone's invented on Reddit or for Creepypasta (is that still a thing?). Is that the attraction of these old cases, a kind of nostalgia for the times when these experiences felt magical and not flogged to death as an internet concept? Are the up and coming generations quite as interested in these old cases as the older ones are, or are they content to mix it up with the blithely fictional?
Absolutely. For me it’s partly nostalgia for the Fortean books and magazines of my youth youth (born late 60s), partly nostalgia for a pre-Internet 2.0 age which I feel was less cynical and partly nostalgic for a more innocent age in which young children were able to roam free and encounter gnomes/humanoids/ghosts etc. in an environment free from adult scepticism. It all adds up to a whole heap of nostalgia..!
 

Fanari_Lloyd

Ephemeral Spectre
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
382
I think so. I absolutely love reading (and re-reading) books by Peter Underwood, especially on autumn afternoons when it’s gloomy and windy outside. They’re such charming books; it’s a world away from Reddit and dubious videos on YouTube, but this site is also excellent.
 

BS3

Abominable Showman
Joined
Sep 20, 2021
Messages
839
Reading the All Colours Sam thread in Ufology, I was struck that you just don't get Fortean reports like that now, or if you do, it's something someone's invented on Reddit or for Creepypasta (is that still a thing?). Is that the attraction of these old cases, a kind of nostalgia for the times when these experiences felt magical and not flogged to death as an internet concept? Are the up and coming generations quite as interested in these old cases as the older ones are, or are they content to mix it up with the blithely fictional?

This is a great question.

I can only really answer for myself but there are several levels of nostalgia: nostalgia for my own childhood in which things seemed naturally more marvellous; nostalgia for a pre internet age in which information needed to be carefully searched for, and therefore seemed that little bit more valuable; nostalgia for an earlier era, before my time, when various 'Fortean' disciplines (eg ufology) were a bit more earnest and naive in a sort of fun way; maybe even in my own case a sort of nostalgia for an even earlier time when the skies and countryside were darker and folklore was that much more alive for people.

Going back to ufology in particular I think part of this is bound up with the way the phenomenon has changed, moving much more towards fuzzy lights in the sky, abductions and large scale conspiracy theorising (what I think Andy Roberts referred to as the "subterranean homesick Greys stuff"). American pro-ETH writers in particular often seemed to fall back on looking at 'classic' cases of the 'golden era' - the 40s and 50s - as a way of keeping the magic alive. This expressed itself in several ways, e.g. you got ufologists like the late Karl Pflock who were broadly 'sceptical' but (in Pflock's case) believed that the phenomenon of the 1940s and early 50s was real and extraterrestrial: ie 'they' were here but then went away again.
 

Mikefule

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Dec 9, 2009
Messages
982
Location
Lincolnshire UK
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be, and it never was.

Certainly as an individual, I have become more sceptical, but mainly because I am 40 years older and at least 7 years wiser than when I first started reading books about UFOs, the Highgate Vampire, ancient astronauts, the Loch Ness Monster, sharpening razor blades in cardboard pyramids, and of course the fascinating but [spoiler alert] entirely fictional memoirs of T Lobsang Rampa.

It was definitely more fun when I could read about such things almost uncritically.

There are very few Fortean subjects left where people have not already made their decisions. Many of the "canonical cases" have been debunked, or explained. Detailed histories of proven hoaxes are there for anyone to read in Wikipedia. If you are inclined to look only one step behind the sensational or comical headlines in the tabloids, it quickly becomes clear that in most cases there is little or no remaining mystery.

Discussions in this forum tend to be more about human stupidity, gullibility, and suggestibility. It has gone from "Isn't the world a strange and wonderful place?" to "Don't we see the world in a strange way?" or even just to "Aren't people stupid?" (This last is decidedly un-Fortean, because stupidity is not only a phenomenon known to science, but one of the strongest natural forces and one of the most abundant elements in the universe.)

I had been thinking of writing a post on this very subject, and as part of that, I was wondering which truly "Fortean" phenomena are still a proper unresolved mystery.

In this context, by "Fortean" I mean something like, any phenomenon supported by numerous apparently sincere reports, but which cannot adequately be explained by, and appear to contradict, scientific orthodoxy.

The only one that keeps coming to me is "fish falls". I feel that I have a fairly established and stable position on what I believe about most of the big Fortean subjects. However, I find myself unable to accept the supposed scientific rationalisation of fish falls as "a shoal of fish lifted by a tornado or waterspout, transported inland, and then dropped." This feels like science "explaining away" rather than "explaining" the phenomenon. Put another way: it sounds like a load of cod.

Unfortunately, fish falls do not have the glamour and excitement of a relict colony of plesiosaurs in a Scottish loch, or a carving on an ancient pyramid being clear evidence that our ancestors were visited by astronauts. Fish falls do not keep me awake at night like the thought of the Highgate Vampire did when I was teenager.

However, to be fair, if I was camping, a prolonged fish fall might keep me awake.
 

Coal

The Ultimate Skepticus
Joined
Jun 27, 2015
Messages
8,859
I got a bit Fortean in c. 1980 (but I can handle it) and there was a mysterious traveling bookshop near The Antelope in High Wycombe that had a ready supply of the Underwood’s and Trenches et al. I read loads of these and in the early 90's even got hold of copies of Alexandra David-Néel's stuff (and one or two very odd books which I promise I'll get out of the loft and share a little) and I even have a 'pdf' of SSOTBME. Pfft.

I know how I felt about Forteana then, but (big but), by 2017 all the mysteries of 1980 were either (a) still mysteries but very very very unlikely or (b) resolved into mundanity. Crop circles turned out to be blokes with planks, I wrote my own software and showed for myself 'ley lines' don't exist, or at least are no more likely that random alignments, if Loch Ness held anything we'd know by now, and so on...never mind my unhealthy obsession with Neolithic earthworks. I just like them OK?

So, if I’m nostalgic, it’s for ‘the feeling that there might be something out there’, but for me now the mysteries are inside the brain, not outside. That’s enough to keep me interested. :hoff:
 
Joined
Apr 2, 2012
Messages
6,417
It seems a number of us have been pondering this phenomenon for some time, I also have been thinking of starting a thread along these lines. As people have pointed out above this is a multi-pronged nostalgia: nostalgia for our childhood and youth where we automatically had a greater sense of wonder, nostalgia for the pre-web era (could even be early web era too) where information was much, much more limited, slower moving harder to find and finally, nostalgia for a time when these old cases weren't quite so old and hadn't been debunked or at least seemed more possible.

All of this ties closely into Hauntology, with people's sense of wonder/the uncanny/the Weird in their own childhoods and in the media of yesteryear. No wonder people whose childhoods coincide with this era (mid-60s to early 80s?) and even those too young to remember this are looking back to it for sense of wonder. The recently invented not-quite-genre of Folk Horror seems to be part of the same phenomenon too.

This partially explains the malaise the board is in, I'm in my mid-40s and as far as I'm aware, one of the youngest people here. Again, as has been posted, Creepypasta and the like are very alike IHTM type cases. I remember someone somewhere on here posting back in the early 00s that IHTM stories had a "fictional" feel and that the poster was wondering about starting a thread of deliberately and openly "fake" accounts to see if this could be replicated. I don't know if anything came of that, I think it would be all too easy and pointless outside of a creative outlet for people. Many of the more elaborate IHTM accounts are almost certainly fiction, there may be ghost (pun intended) of truth to them, but that's all, this subject came up recently, prompted by this fun but almost certainly made-up story:

https://forums.forteana.org/index.p...es-from-reddit-other-sites.47527/post-2175715
 
Last edited:

Paul_Exeter

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jan 9, 2012
Messages
1,060
I think so. I absolutely love reading (and re-reading) books by Peter Underwood, especially on autumn afternoons when it’s gloomy and windy outside. They’re such charming books; it’s a world away from Reddit and dubious videos on YouTube, but this site is also excellent.
I do like the Summer months, especially for long walks and it makes travelling to and fro work more pleasant. However, a part of me pines for the wet afternoons and cosy, dark evenings of Autumn and Winter when I can curl up in front of the fire with a good Fortean book whilst a stew bubbles on the stove. Even better if it’s stormy outside…
 

Paul_Exeter

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jan 9, 2012
Messages
1,060
I think it was Jon Downes (CFZ) who wrote that a belief in the paranormal is a form of anarchy, because we want the mainstream belief systems to come crashing down when we finally hold the truth up to the world. Pretty much everyone I know who was a radical in their youth has mellowed with age following the long battle against the travails of life, perhaps we are no different. I know I have to work a bit harder to engage my childhood inner wonder with Fortean phenomenon nowadays.
 

Min Bannister

Possessed dog
Joined
Sep 5, 2003
Messages
5,204
Reading the All Colours Sam thread in Ufology, I was struck that you just don't get Fortean reports like that now, or if you do, it's something someone's invented on Reddit or for Creepypasta (is that still a thing?).
Now that you mention it, the thing that strikes me is not really how adults feel but how children appear to be not making those reports much in the last couple of decades. Maybe it is this:-
a more innocent age in which young children were able to roam free and encounter gnomes/humanoids/ghosts etc. in an environment free from adult scepticism.
Or, since everything seems to appear on the internet nowadays, it is all so anonymous that a story of children seeing gnomes could so easily have been written by a 35 year old on a computer having a laugh.

I think more scepticism as you get older is quite natural as the answers you wanted to find when you were young do not happen or get explained away.

*Edited to hopefully provide more clarity.*
 
Last edited:

Paul_Exeter

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jan 9, 2012
Messages
1,060
Now that you mention it, the thing that strikes me is not really how adults feel but how children appear to be not really making those reports. Maybe it is this:-

Or, since everything seems to appear on the internet nowadays, it is all so anonymous that a story of children seeing gnomes could so easily have been written by a 35 year old on a computer having a laugh.

I think more scepticism as you get older is quite natural as the answers you wanted to find when you were young do not happen or get explained away.
With respect, the Wollaston gnomes children were named, interviewed by the media and investigators and also photographed. Whatever happened to them, it wasn’t a fictional story nvented by an adult. The Mann UFO abduction family,? Yes, quite possibly.
 

Min Bannister

Possessed dog
Joined
Sep 5, 2003
Messages
5,204
With respect, the Wollaston gnomes children were named, interviewed by the media and investigators and also photographed. Whatever happened to them, it wasn’t a fictional story nvented by an adult. The Mann UFO abduction family,? Yes, quite possibly.
Yes. It also happened in 1979. Before the internet. I think I expressed my post badly. I was trying to say that children don't appear to be making those reports now whereas they did in the past. I will edit my post to make it more clear. :)
 

stu neville

Commissioner.
Staff member
Joined
Mar 9, 2002
Messages
13,219
..nostalgia for the pre-web era (could even be early web era too) where information was much, much more limited, slower moving harder to find and finally, nostalgia for a time when these old cases weren't quite so old and hadn't been debunked or at least seemed more possible...
This is definitely part of it. As I said in the FTMB/FF retrospective in FT400 when this place started there was a wave of excitement as we could finally discuss stuff in real time, so there was an air of "Oh! What about...?" which lasted for quite a long while. Gradually we started to catch up, people said what they wanted to say, and topics went dormant. There are a few that keep churning but many, for lack of new info, instead rely on new insights.

Then there's the tech. Sixty years ago Ray Harryhausen was state of the art. Now you can matte a Tyrannosaur into a shopping mall seamlessly. In 1960, people would view today's effects as utterly convincing and conclusive as it is light years ahead of the FX of the time, so to them modern footage of a Tyrannosaur in a shopping mall would be hugely Fortean. If however you see that same footage now, however sincerely presented, how many would buy it?

The threshold for evidence raises all the time. It's not that less evidence is presented, its that less gets through, at least to the sort of people that look at it properly (ie us).
.....I remember someone somewhere on here posting back in the early 00s that IHTM stories had a "fictional" feel and that the poster was wondering about starting a thread of deliberately and openly "fake" accounts to see if this could be replicated.
You learn to spot the difference between poorly expressed and outright fabricated after a while. They don't feel right.
I was trying to say that children don't appear to be making those reports now whereas they did in the past.
It's a cliche, but fewer are outside as much and fewer still are looking up or around.
 

Coal

The Ultimate Skepticus
Joined
Jun 27, 2015
Messages
8,859
I think more scepticism as you get older is quite natural as the answers you wanted to find when you were young do not happen or get explained away.
Exactly - our internal decision making heuristic adds more and more weight (historical events) until it becomes the largest factor.

So every time a 'Fortean thing' turns out to be smoke, we increment our 'likely to be smoke' factor weight. As I've noted elsewhere, a lot the topics still earnestly debated today were just as earnestly debated in the 1980's and in very many instances, nothing has changed since then.
 

Earthly oddity

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Dec 19, 2021
Messages
231
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be, and it never was.

Certainly as an individual, I have become more sceptical, but mainly because I am 40 years older and at least 7 years wiser than when I first started reading books about UFOs, the Highgate Vampire, ancient astronauts, the Loch Ness Monster, sharpening razor blades in cardboard pyramids, and of course the fascinating but [spoiler alert] entirely fictional memoirs of T Lobsang Rampa.
I just googled T Lobsang Rampa....I am amused to read on his wikipedia entry that...
"One of the books, Living with the Lama, was described as being dictated to Rampa by his pet Siamese cat, Mrs. Fifi Greywhiskers."

I am more cynical about everything in life now....When I was younger I had hope/positivity and the belief in possibilities that I don't have these days.

I feel it is easier to debunk things now due to the internet. I think it is easier to trace people now than ever before. You can trace the evolution of stories, trace people/identities online etc....There isn't total anonymity online.

I think lots of us know to question people and not trust everything we hear.

In the past, people were presented as "experts" and we might have trusted them at that time. We would probably not trust them now, because we would be able to find out about them and might decide they were just cranks/woo merchants.

I think it is harder to convince people about phenomena now than it was, for that reason.
 

eziofan

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Nov 14, 2005
Messages
119
It seems a number of us have been pondering this phenomenon for some time, I also have been thinking of starting a thread along these lines. As people have pointed out above this is a multi-pronged nostalgia: nostalgia for our childhood and youth where we automatically had a greater sense of wonder, nostalgia for the pre-web era (could even be early web era too) where information was much, much more limited, slower moving harder to find and finally, nostalgia for a time when these old cases weren't quite so old and hadn't been debunked or at least seemed more possible.

All of this ties closely into Hauntology, with people's sense of wonder/the uncanny/the Weird in their own childhoods and in the media of yesteryear. No wonder people whose childhoods coincide with this era (mid-60s to early 80s?) and even those too young to remember this are looking back to it for sense of wonder. The recently invented not-quite-genre of Folk Horror seems to be part of the same phenomenon too.

This partially explains the malaise the board is in, I'm in my mid-40s and as far as I'm aware, one of the youngest people here. Again, as has been posted, Creepypasta and the like are very alike IHTM type cases. I remember someone somewhere on here posting back in the early 00s that IHTM stories had a "fictional" feel and that the poster was wondering about starting a thread of deliberately and openly "fake" accounts to see if this could be replicated. I don't know if anything came of that, I think it would be all too easy and pointless outside of a creative outlet for people. Many of the more elaborate IHTM accounts are almost certainly fiction, there may be ghost (pun intended) of truth to them, but that's all, this subject came up recently, prompted by this fun but almost certainly made-up story:

https://forums.forteana.org/index.p...es-from-reddit-other-sites.47527/post-2175715
I think I sort of started one.
https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/50-years-of-forteana-well-nearly.68733/
 

James_H

And I like to roam the land
Joined
May 18, 2002
Messages
7,457
Really interesting thread.

One thing: I think when the kids of the internet grow up, they're going to be nostalgic about all the creepypasta stuff we think is rubbish. I see stuff I roll my eyes at on reddit but a lot of the (presumably younger) people on those boards sincerely believe it.
 

GNC

King-Sized Canary
Joined
Aug 25, 2001
Messages
33,544
Really interesting thread.

One thing: I think when the kids of the internet grow up, they're going to be nostalgic about all the creepypasta stuff we think is rubbish. I see stuff I roll my eyes at on reddit but a lot of the (presumably younger) people on those boards sincerely believe it.

Yes, you could say the same for the music and media of today: there are fifty-year-olds of the future who will be getting misty-eyed over Ed Sheeran and Marvel the way Generation X would do over ABBA or Star Wars. Oh, wait a sec, they're still around...

Maybe the old stories of the 1960s-80s will endure because they will keep being endlessly revived, as they are now, for new audiences?
 

Tunn11

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Nov 23, 2005
Messages
725
Location
Under the highest tree top in Kent
I think I’ve said elsewhere that first seeing the Patterson Gimlin film on news at ten was almost like a personal Fortean experience. It was unexpected, it was shown once, there was no mainstream follow up. As Stu Neville has said this means that the discussion went on for ages. Those that had missed it had missed it. I can’t remember when I next saw the film. The sense of mystery persisted for a long time.

Any similar film is now all over the internet, repeated several times if it turns up on one of the numerous, generally uncritical TV shows and commented on by just about everyone. Again as Stu says the technology now makes fakery easier.

It is often perversely more difficult to establish the credentials of the witness or those commenting as the internet is more anonymous than most printed accounts. Are the criticisms from an expert on analysing digital pictures, or Tracy from Essex? Is Tracey from Essex an expert on analysing digital pictures? Coverage from a book was far more comprehensive than most items get now. Will the Tic Tac story still be of the same interest after twenty odd years as Roswell is ?

This all means that more and more incidents are reported and using Sturgeon’s revelation * 90% are crap but they move focus from any more interesting reports very quickly and some of the items of real interest are I fear not getting the attention they deserve.

The internet has allowed access to a lot of information but as a Librarian I will maintain that knowledge isn’t power. Access to organised retrievable knowledge is power and that ain’t google!

Yes I miss the old days of Forteana. If you wanted to create or push a hoax you had to try much harder. :)



*SF Author Theodore Sturgeon was once asked by a critic: “Surely you must agree Mr Sturgeon that 90% of SF is crap?” “Sure,” Replied Sturgeon; “But then 90% of everything is crap,”
 

charliebrown

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Nov 2, 2020
Messages
2,498
Location
Earth
If I understand this thread correctly, I miss the UFOs of the past when there was most likely no CGI and no drones.

Actually UFO sightings today is dead because of the super technology of drones.

People in the past simply told what they saw not looking for fame or fortune.

Antonio Villas Boas, Lonnie Zamora, Jesse Marcel, Gordon Cooper all remained faithful to their stories until they died.

The citizens of Varginha, Brazil still talk about the E.T. captured by the Brazilian Army.

These kinds of stories are missing in today’s times.

As they say these stories are “ gone with the wind”.
 

James_H

And I like to roam the land
Joined
May 18, 2002
Messages
7,457
Yes, you could say the same for the music and media of today: there are fifty-year-olds of the future who will be getting misty-eyed over Ed Sheeran and Marvel the way Generation X would do over ABBA or Star Wars. Oh, wait a sec, they're still around...
Funny you should mention Star Wars – the much-maligned-at-the-time Prequel Trilogy seems to have been rehabilitated because the people who watched it as a kid have grown up to be tastemakers (I watched it as a kid and still think it's nonsense but whatever).
 

BS3

Abominable Showman
Joined
Sep 20, 2021
Messages
839
If I understand this thread correctly, I miss the UFOs of the past when there was most likely no CGI and no drones.

Actually UFO sightings today is dead because of the super technology of drones.

People in the past simply told what they saw not looking for fame or fortune.

Antonio Villas Boas, Lonnie Zamora, Jesse Marcel, Gordon Cooper all remained faithful to their stories until they died.

The citizens of Varginha, Brazil still talk about the E.T. captured by the Brazilian Army.

These kinds of stories are missing in today’s times.

As they say these stories are “ gone with the wind”.

It's an interesting point, particularly for the field of ufology. The phenomenon itself seems to have changed, with a particular point of divergence in the late 1970s.

As an example of a less well-known but typical, and I think in its own way intriguing, sighting of the type that just doesn't happen anymore, I'd take the sighting by Rev. Lionel Browning and his wife at Cressy, Tasmania in October 1960. If you take Browning's account at face value, they saw a large, cigar-shaped, vertically banded grey object accompanied by several smaller, shiny 'saucers' emerge from a rain cloud, move across and in front of a backdrop of distant hills (enabling rough distance / size estimates), and finally disappear in the clouds again. This was all in a time when it took commitment to make a report, by modern standards.

When was the last time you heard about a structured craft sighting of this type, with size estimates? A report by a vicar? A 'cloud cigar', or a 'saucer' for that matter? But why is this - are Anglican clergy simply more visually discriminating these days? Are they less likely to be interested in UFOs, or less likely to go to the press? Did the big 'motherships' get decommissioned, or did whatever was getting mistaken for them get retired? This change in what is being seen, or reported, is almost as interesting as the reports themselves.
 

Coal

The Ultimate Skepticus
Joined
Jun 27, 2015
Messages
8,859
It's an interesting point, particularly for the field of ufology. The phenomenon itself seems to have changed, with a particular point of divergence in the late 1970s.

As an example of a less well-known but typical, and I think in its own way intriguing, sighting of the type that just doesn't happen anymore, I'd take the sighting by Rev. Lionel Browning and his wife at Cressy, Tasmania in October 1960. If you take Browning's account at face value, they saw a large, cigar-shaped, vertically banded grey object accompanied by several smaller, shiny 'saucers' emerge from a rain cloud, move across and in front of a backdrop of distant hills (enabling rough distance / size estimates), and finally disappear in the clouds again. This was all in a time when it took commitment to make a report, by modern standards.

When was the last time you heard about a structured craft sighting of this type, with size estimates? A report by a vicar? A 'cloud cigar', or a 'saucer' for that matter? But why is this - are Anglican clergy simply more visually discriminating these days? Are they less likely to be interested in UFOs, or less likely to go to the press? Did the big 'motherships' get decommissioned, or did whatever was getting mistaken for them get retired? This change in what is being seen, or reported, is almost as interesting as the reports themselves.
Possibly the zeitgeist can very much influence what people perceive as well - French did a nice little illustration of this by comparing the 'type' of Nessie sighting on a time line with major media 'monsters of the day' and there was an interesting correlation (the release of the first Godzilla movie for instance, produced a marked up-tick in Godzilla like sightings).

Leaving aside the vicar angle, the use of a cigar (or occasionally a cigar tube) as a descriptor might be taken as an example of this - cigars barely exist these days, many people haven’t seen one outside of TV and films.

It may be that the sightings such as you describe are as much product of the mores of the time as they are of the object themselves.

It would be interesting to track or plot the predominant types of UFO sightings from (say) 1950 to 1990 and see how the nature of them changes.
 

BS3

Abominable Showman
Joined
Sep 20, 2021
Messages
839
Possibly the zeitgeist can very much influence what people perceive as well - French did a nice little illustration of this by comparing the 'type' of Nessie sighting on a time line with major media 'monsters of the day' and there was an interesting correlation (the release of the first Godzilla movie for instance, produced a marked up-tick in Godzilla like sightings).

Leaving aside the vicar angle, the use of a cigar (or occasionally a cigar tube) as a descriptor might be taken as an example of this - cigars barely exist these days, many people haven’t seen one outside of TV and films.

It may be that the sightings such as you describe are as much product of the mores of the time as they are of the object themselves.

It would be interesting to track or plot the predominant types of UFO sightings from (say) 1950 to 1990 and see how the nature of them changes.

There were a few of these big 'ships' accompanied by smaller 'saucers' seen in France in the early 50s - not dissimilar to Browning's report. There is a theory that what the witnesses in the French cases were seeing was luminous funnel clouds emitting ball lightning (the 'discs'), although this itself relies on the presence of two anomalous weather phenomena (luminous tornadoes and ball lightning).

More to the point, why does no-one see such funnel clouds or saucer-shaped ball lightning these days?

So - yes, the cultural background to such experiences is very important. I have a feeling that under the right circumstances people can enter an unusual dreamlike state of consciousness under which ordinary objects can be transformed into something unusual - I think the Angus Brooks sighting from 1967 is a potential great example of this and someone on this board (was it you @WeirdExeter ?) posted a similar experience of their own. In these cases then, just possibly, underlying expectations would shape the experience.

Having said all that, this seems unlikely for Rev. Browning.
 
Last edited:

BS3

Abominable Showman
Joined
Sep 20, 2021
Messages
839

Angus Brooks was alone (other than his dogs) lying down watching the clouds passing, and saw an unusual cross-shaped UFO - this at a time when there was a major news story about the "flying cross" seen by two policemen in Devon, and which was later shown to have been probably Venus. He was a 'credible', sober and sincere witness but the conditions seem right for him to have slipped into some sort of waking dream state.

By contrast the equally sober and credible Rev Browning was standing up at his dining room window, and the object was first pointed out by his wife (there was supposedly another independent witness in the Cressy area but the details are a bit vague). While there was a subsequent UFO 'flap' in the country, presumably partly due to reports of what Browning saw, I don't think there was anything obvious going on at the time to explain it. So misperception is possible, but I think in this case it would have more to do with two conscious observers reinforcing each other's initial error, rather than an altered state of consciousness.
 

Paul_Exeter

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jan 9, 2012
Messages
1,060
There were a few of these big 'ships' accompanied by smaller 'saucers' seen in France in the early 50s - not dissimilar to Browning's report. There is a theory that what the witnesses in the French cases were seeing was luminous funnel clouds emitting ball lightning (the 'discs'), although this itself relies on the presence of two anomalous weather phenomena (luminous tornadoes and ball lightning).

More to the point, why does no-one see such funnel clouds or saucer-shaped ball lightning these days?

So - yes, the cultural background to such experiences is very important. I have a feeling that under the right circumstances people can enter an unusual dreamlike state of consciousness under which ordinary objects can be transformed into something unusual - I think the Angus Brooks sighting from 1967 is a potential great example of this and someone on this board (was it you @WeirdExeter ?) posted a similar experience of their own. In these cases then, just possibly, underlying expectations would shape the experience.

Having said all that, this seems unlikely for Rev. Browning.
Yes, the wasps that swarmed, chased and stung me me as a child in that same location became Flash Gordon flying rocket ships with fire coming from their tails ten years (-ish) later when I slipped into a waking dream state whilst lying on my back and staring at the clouds scudding along above me. I realised what I was seeing in that gap in the clouds was illogical - as flames being 'jetted' out the back of a craft in horizontal flight is absurdly inefficient and dangerous - so pulled myself out of my waking dream state and they were gone. Flash Gordon had been released the previous year.
 
Last edited:
Top