Monday, 23 July 2007

In Strange Company:

I noticed while pursuing that vainest of pastimes, googling myself, that I was quoted on a site called I hadn't come across this online 'zine before, and it's...umm, weird. Or odd. Unusual. A little different, yes.

It seems to be a mixed bag. The subject matter is credulous; everything from 'giantology' and smoking chimpanzees to UFO's and the pterodactyl 'Thunderbird'. Then it shifts, and often is debunking what it finds, playing the skeptic. I've come rather late to this magazine, as's founder, Mark Chorvinsky, has passed away in recent years. Seems like an interesting guy.

It prompted me to look up the term, "Fortean". I had seen the Fortean Times on magazine racks, and thought it kind of New Age-hokey. It seems there is a bit of a poke-in-the-eye attitude toward scientists, mixed with a different sort of skepticism than you see in Skeptic magazine. A quote from Fortean founder Charles Fort (at right) on Wikipedia: "Now there are so many scientists who believe in dowsing, that the suspicion comes to me that it may be only a myth after all". The Skeptic's Dictionary, always one of my favourite places, has an entry on Charles Fort as well.

The quote from my blog was from my posting about palaeontologist Dong Zhiming educating some Chinese rural folk who believed dinosaur fossils were really medicinal dragon bones. It feels somewhat strange for a person like myself, trying to be rational and understanding the scientific method to be quoted on a site near articles on Bigfoot. But what I've read so far shows these journalists are showing a healthy dose of skepticism and tracking their sources, as wild as the claims are.

It's interesting that skepticism falls along a spectrum rather than a discrete definition. But perhaps that's a scientific simile.

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