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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Apr > Apr 25

Fortean Times 'Un-Convention' This Weekend

From: stig.agermose@get2net.dk (Stig Agermose)
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 01:16:12 GMT
Fwd Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 04:17:54 -0400
Subject: Fortean Times 'Un-Convention' This Weekend

Source: BBC Obline News




BBC News Online: UK

Saturday, April 24, 1999

Published at 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK

Weird weekend


X-files agents Mulder and Scully may have hung up their holsters
and switched off their huge mobile phones - but interest in the
unexplained is as rampant as ever.

While fads in phenomena have swung through crop circles, monster
cats, aliens and conspiracy theories, one publication has prided
itself on recording "weird news" from around the world.

Founded in 1973, to continue the work of American Charles Fort,
The Fortean Times brings together testimony on everything from
miracle vegetables to monster hunting.

Back in the early 1920s, Mr Fort refused to believe the
contemporary scientific explanations for various phenomena.

He published several books arguing that, if the truth was out
there, then the "experts" were not necessarily getting hold of

The Fortean Times has gone from strength to strength, selling
36,000 copies a month as interest in the unexplained continues
to gather pace.

Its managing editor Jane Watkins says: "People are very strange,
so as long as there are people, there will be material for the

"We definitely reached a peak with the X-Files, and UFOs were
the thing then.

"There are trends in the unexplained. UFOs were popular, but
since the death of Diana, conspiracy theories are far more

"Maybe it's because of the millennium, but spiritual things are
getting far more attention at the moment as well."

Ms Watkins says that the publication is currently receiving
increased reports of religious imagery in vegetables, plants and
even freezers.

"Another thing that tends to change," says Jane, "is the way
people interpret the strange thing that they see.

"There's no doubt that people do see strange things - but the
flashing lights in the sky that might once have been thought to
have been dragons were then viewed as fairies, then angels and
now UFOs."

And she says that often, the "normal" explanation for some
phenomena can be stranger than anything paranormal.

She cites a case of a "haunted" beachside car park in California
where vehicle alarms would inexplicably activate, and doors and
windows would open.

The scientific explanation turned out to be that whale sound
from the nearby sea was at exactly the same frequency as that
needed to set off some car security systems.

Over the weekend of 24 and 25 April, the publication is hosting
its sixth annual "Un-convention" in London, entitled Monster
Hunting, Millennium Catastrophes and Alien Abduction.

Australian Tom Healy is to monsters what his compatriot Steve
Irwin is to snakes and crocodiles.

The fearless cryptozoologist is set to give talks at the
convention on the art of stalking fabled beasts - includie the
Yowie, Australia's answer to the Yeti.

He also plans to describe an outbreak of poltergeist activity in
the Australian town of Humpty Doo - where ghosts hurled rocks at

Spokeswoman Margie Foskin said: "The Yowie looks more like a
gorilla than the normal images of the Yeti, but basically it's
the same big hairy creature.

"Tom Healy will give a general overview of the Yowie phenomenon,
recount some 'normal' Yowie sightings, then focus on some 'high
strangeness' cases."

Closer to home, perhaps, will be discussions on beliefs
surrounding the turn of the millennium.

Ms Watkins said apocolyptic beliefs about the end of the
millennium worry a lot of people, but are only based on the
Christian calander, which had no year 0.

She said: "That means that the millennium is not actually on 31
December, 1999.

"There was an advert encouraging people to visit Egypt recently,
which said visit Egypt in its 5th millennium - I think that puts
the issue into context.

"A more real concern about the millennium could be the year 2000
bug. But again, things will start going wrong with that from
September, not December.

"We are already aware of computer people who have headed to the
hills because they know what chaos could happen. I certainly
won't be flying around that time."

Another feature of the convention will be live seances, hosted
by magician and doctor of psychology, Richard Wiseman.

Up to 30 people will be invited to sit in a circle, hold hands
and wish for luminous objects to levitate and move.

Dr Wiseman said: "The purpose of the seances is two-fold.
Firstly we want to see if anything does happen - if there's any
movement of objects.

"We will be filming in infra-red throughout the day to record
anything that happens, and we will also be speaking to the
people who took part to see what they think happened.

"We will also be showing people how trickery and suggestion are
used to make them believe they are seeing something that they
are not."

Other talks include expos=E9s on Egyptian mythology, science and
magic, and psychic ability experiments.

The Un-convention takes place at the Commonwealth Institute,
High Street Kensington, London on April 24 and 25. Doors open at
10.30am. For further information call 01795 414925.

Relevant Stories:

*Mind machine tests UK's psychic powers  (19 Mar 99 | Set99)
*Crop circle fans caught by the Net  (20 Nov 98 | UK)
*Hunters try to bag Dartmoor lion  (20 Nov 98 | UK)
*Aliens: a conspiracy out of this world  (25 Sep 98 | Conspiracy -
Radio 5 Live)

Internet Links:

*Fortean Times

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.


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