Forteana can be variously defined as:
  • data that do not fit a/the current paradigm of a given subject (e.g. meteorology)

  • "weird stuff" (like, for instance, a rain of frogs falling out of a clear blue sky)

  • anything that Charles Fort wrote about in his four works of forteana, early in the 20th century
Forteana might also be called anomalistics, the study of anomalies. Anomalies are data points that lie outside of the range of expected or acceptable values.

Why is this important? I personally find several compelling reasons to pay attention to the oddities of the world:

  1. Serious, sober people tell me that the oddities are not important (Carl Sagan, Steve Allen, James Randi et al.)
  2. Some of the stories around anomalies are themselves compelling. For example, there is an anecdote in a collection of oddities that tells of a teacher who was rained on by his own personal cloud that pursed its "lips" and spat at him! Is it a true story, or not? Who cares - it's a wonderful, crackerjack of a funny picture in my head. That's why I care.

  3. All advances in a study come from outside the boundaries of the field.

  4. The people who study oddities are, themselves, interesting. Anybody who has looked at the life of John Keel, for instance, knows that the guy is... entertaining, to say the least.

An adjective meaning:

Derived from the name of the American author and free-thinker Charles Hoy Fort.

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