Hope and despair of attempted positivism

The London Times of Dec. 25, 1883, reported, in a translation from a Turkish newspaper, that a substance fell in Scutari on Dec. 2, 1883, in particles or flakes like snow. “‘It was found to be saltish to the taste, and to dissolve readily in water.”

–Charles Fort, The Book of the Damned, p70 (The Complete Books of Charles Fort, Dover, c1974).

Anything can be identified as anything

A substance said to have fallen at Montussan (Gironde) on October 16, 1883 was sent to La Nature, 1883-342. The Editor (Tisandier) wrote that the fibrous substance was white, “but was something that had been burned.” It fell from a cloud “composed of a woolly substance in lumps the size of a fist,” accompanied by rain and a violent wind. “M. Tissandier,” writes Fort, “astonishes us by saying that he cannot identify this substance. We thought that anything could be ‘identified’ as anything. He can only say that the cloud in question must have been an extraordinary congomeration.”

–Charles Fort, The Book of the Damned, p63 (The Complete Books of Charles Fort, Dover, c1974).

Peasants and meteorites

September falls of meteorites/stones in storms:
St. Leonards-on-sea, England, Sept. 17, 1885 (Annual Register, 1885)
Sweden, Sept. 24, 1883 (Nature, 29-15)
Cardiff, Sept. 26, 1916, accompanied by lightning flash (London Times, Sept. 28, 1916)

Writes Fort: “It is said [in Science Gossip, n.s., 6-65] that, though meteorites have fall in storms, no connection is supposed to exist between the two phenomena, except by the ignorant peasantry.”

He further says:
“Peasants believed in meteorites.
"Scientists excluded meteorites.
"Peasants believe in ‘thunderstones.’
"Scientists exclude ‘thunderstones.’
"It is useless to argue that peasants are out in the fields, and that scientists are shut up in laboratories and lecture rooms. We cannot take for a real base that, as to phenomena with which they are more familiar, peasants are more likely to be right than are scientists: a host of biologic and meteorologic fallacies of peasants rises against us.”

–Charles Fort, The Book of the Damned, pp101, 107 (The Complete Books of Charles Fort, Dover, c1974).

Science is established preposterousness

On August 28, 1883, the volcano of Krakatoa exploded. The atmospheric effects continued for seven years. “Except that,” Fort tells us, “in the seven, there was a lapse of several years–and where was the volcanic dust all that time?”

Fort poses the rhetorical question, “How can you prove that something is not something else, when neither is something else some other thing?”

He goes on to say that “you can oppose an absurdity only with some other absurdity. But Science is established preposterousness. We divide all intellection: the obviously preposterousness and the established.”

Fort points out references in Annual Register, 1883-105, and Knowledge, 5-418, that the atmospheric effects attributed to Krakatoa were seen in Trinidad and Natal before the eruption occurred.

[Charles Fort, The Book of the Damned. From The Complete Books of Charles Fort, Dover, c1974.]