Historian of stage magic Jim Steinmeyer discussed his latest work on author and researcher Charles Fort, the namesake of "Fortean" phenomena, and how he influenced and promoted the world of the supernatural. Fort's four books about oddities were groundbreaking in the era they were written (1919-1932). For instance, he was one of the first to write about mysterious airships or "vessels in the sky," long before they were called UFOs, Steinmeyer noted. He also was known for chronicling strange meteorological phenomena like frogs and fish falling from the sky (he speculated there might be a kind of gigantic Sargasso Sea or junkyard pool in he sky from which these objects come).
To explain some of the phenomena, such as the airships, Fort proposed the theory that Earth might be controlled by another planet and that "something thinks that it owns us," Steinmeyer recounted. Fort also wrote about mysterious creatures, coined the word "teleportation," and inspired the term "Bermuda Triangle."
He researched material, including many scientific journals, at libraries in New York City and London, and created some 40,000 handwritten notes on separate pieces of torn paper that he cross-categorized and used for his books. The Fortean Society, formed in 1930, was the first of a number of organizations interested in the strange, unexplained phenomena Fort popularized (The UK magazine Fortean Times also takes its name from Fort). Steinmeyer particularly recommends Fort's book Lo, as being one of his most readable (all four are available to read online in a compilation on Google Books).
Last hour guest, author and filmmaker Jeffrey M. Smith shared an update on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO). India recently said no to using GM eggplant over safety concerns, he noted, but farmers forced to use GM cotton there have been committing suicide because of poor crop yields (related report). Here in the U.S., the FDA was hijacked into fast tracking GMO, while Monsanto rigged its research, Smith asserted. For those looking to avoid GMO foods, he recommended visiting the Non-GMO Shopping Guide.
This photo/illustration is from the cover of Jim Steinmeyer's book, Charles Fort: The Man Who Invented the Supernatural (Tarcher/Penguin).
Bumper music from Tuesday February 09, 2010