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This page Paranormal is part of the mysticism series. Illustration to the Speculum Sophicum Rhodostauroticum (1618) by Teophilus Schweighardt Constantiens
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This page Paranormal is part of the mysticism series.
Illustration to the Speculum Sophicum Rhodostauroticum (1618) by Teophilus Schweighardt Constantiens
 This page Paranormal is part of the supernatural series Illustration: Henri Robin and a Specter, 1863 by Eugène Thiébault
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This page Paranormal is part of the supernatural series
Illustration: Henri Robin and a Specter, 1863 by Eugène Thiébault

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Paranormal is a general term that describes unusual experiences that lack a scientific explanation, or phenomena alleged to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure. In parapsychology, it is used to describe the potentially psychic phenomena of telepathy, extra-sensory perception, psychokinesis, ghosts, and hauntings. The term is also applied to UFOs, some creatures that fall under the scope of cryptozoology, purported phenomena surrounding the Bermuda Triangle, and other non-psychic subjects. Stories relating to paranormal phenomena are found in popular culture and folklore, but the scientific community contends that scientific evidence does not support paranormal beliefs.

Paranormal research: the anecdotal approach

An anecdotal approach to the paranormal involves the collection of stories told about the paranormal.

Charles Fort (1874–1932) is perhaps the best-known collector of paranormal anecdotes. Fort is said to have compiled as many as 40,000 notes on unexplained paranormal experiences, though there were no doubt many more. These notes came from what he called "the orthodox conventionality of Science", which were odd events originally reported in magazines and newspapers such as The Times and scientific journals such as Scientific American, Nature and Science. From this research Fort wrote seven books, though only four survive: The Book of the Damned (1919), New Lands (1923), Lo! (1931) and Wild Talents (1932); one book was written between New Lands and Lo!, but it was abandoned and absorbed into Lo!

Reported events that he collected include teleportation (a term Fort is generally credited with coining); poltergeist events; falls of frogs, fishes, and inorganic materials of an amazing range; crop circles; unaccountable noises and explosions; spontaneous fires; levitation; ball lightning (a term explicitly used by Fort); unidentified flying objects; mysterious appearances and disappearances; giant wheels of light in the oceans; and animals found outside their normal ranges (see phantom cat). He offered many reports of OOPArts, the abbreviation for "out of place" artifacts: strange items found in unlikely locations. He is perhaps the first person to explain strange human appearances and disappearances by the hypothesis of alien abduction and was an early proponent of the extraterrestrial hypothesis.

Fort is considered by many as the father of modern paranormalism, which is the study of the paranormal.

The magazine Fortean Times continues Charles Fort's approach, regularly reporting anecdotal accounts of the paranormal.

Such anecdotal collections, lacking the reproducibility of empirical evidence, are not amenable to scientific investigation. The anecdotal approach is not a scientific approach to the paranormal because it leaves verification dependent on the credibility of the party presenting the evidence. Nevertheless, it is a common approach to investigating paranormal phenomena.

Linking to Charles Fort in 2022

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