The Book of the Damned Book Summary

Title: The Book of the Damned
Author: Charles Fort

TLDR: “The Book of the Damned” is a fascinating exploration of unexplained phenomena that mainstream science has rejected. Charles Fort meticulously catalogues reports of strange falls from the sky, bizarre atmospheric events, and anomalous astronomical observations, arguing that these “damned data” point to a far stranger and more wondrous cosmos than we conventionally imagine.

Chapter 1: A Procession of the Damned

This chapter serves as an introduction to Fort’s overarching thesis and methodology. Fort declares his intention to present a “procession of data” that mainstream science has excluded, the “damned” data that don’t fit neatly into established scientific paradigms. He argues that science, in its quest for order and certainty, has arbitrarily drawn boundaries around accepted knowledge and relegated everything outside those boundaries to the realm of the “damned.”

Fort introduces the concept of “Continuity,” arguing that all phenomena are interconnected and merge into one another, making it impossible to draw absolute distinctions. He contends that attempts to establish positive differences between things are ultimately illusory and that all pronouncements of truth are based on this fallacy. He proposes an “intermediatist” perspective, recognizing that our understanding of reality is always incomplete and that all phenomena exist in a state of flux between positiveness and negativeness, reality and unreality.

Fort asserts that his book will use the same methods employed by theologians, scientists, and even children – observation, speculation, and the gathering of evidence – but with a focus on the excluded data that challenge conventional explanations. He proposes that the reader should “accept” rather than “believe” his propositions, acknowledging that his conclusions are also provisional and subject to modification as new data emerge.

Chapter 2: The Exclusionists and the Krakatoa Eruption

Fort examines the scientific response to the extraordinary atmospheric phenomena that followed the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. He argues that scientists, in their eagerness to explain these phenomena in terms of terrestrial events, attributed the colorful sunsets and blue moons to volcanic dust suspended in the atmosphere for an implausibly long period. Fort highlights the tendency of science to resist acknowledging external influences on Earth, opting instead for explanations that reinforce the idea of Earth’s isolation. He suggests that the persistence of these atmospheric effects for years after the eruption points to an extra-terrestrial origin, possibly cosmic dust.

Fort uses this example to illustrate the “hypnosis” of scientific orthodoxy, where established explanations are clung to even in the face of contradictory evidence. He introduces the idea that opposing an absurdity often requires another absurdity, suggesting that science itself is built on preposterous assumptions that have become accepted through a process of collective hypnosis.

Chapter 3: Yellow Rains and the Fall of Animal Matter

Fort dives into a specific category of excluded data: reports of yellow substances falling from the sky. He challenges the conventional explanation that all such falls are simply pollen from pine trees. He presents numerous accounts of yellow rains and snows that were found to contain various organisms and substances with “animal odor,” arguing for an extra-terrestrial origin for at least some of these occurrences.

Fort reinforces his intermediatist perspective, emphasizing that all substances are fundamentally interconnected and that “anything can be found anywhere.” He criticizes the selective focus of scientific investigation, where inconvenient data are often ignored to preserve the coherence of existing theories. He suggests that the reluctance to acknowledge the fall of animal matter from the sky stems from a desire to maintain the illusion of Earth’s isolation.

Chapter 4: The Kentucky Meat Shower and Gelatinous Falls

Fort explores the infamous “Kentucky Meat Shower” of 1876, where flakes of a substance resembling beef fell from a clear sky. He analyzes the various attempts by scientists to explain this event, including the identification of the substance as nostoc (a type of algae), dried frog spawn, and even buzzard vomit. Fort highlights the contradictions and inconsistencies in these explanations, arguing that none of them adequately account for all the observed details.

He extends his discussion to include other reports of gelatinous substances falling from the sky, often associated with meteorites. He challenges the conventional explanations of nostoc or frog/fish spawn, pointing out the discrepancies in color and seasonal unseasonableness. Fort suggests that these substances may originate from vast “gelatinous areas aloft” that meteorites pass through, carrying fragments down to Earth. He also introduces the idea of a “stationary source overhead,” a region where substances can remain suspended for extended periods before falling, a concept that will become increasingly central to his arguments.

Chapter 5: Edible Substances, “Manna,” and Fibrous Materials

Fort examines reports of edible substances falling from the sky, traditionally labeled as “manna.” He critiques the conventional explanation that this “manna” is simply a type of lichen from the steppes of Asia Minor, arguing that this explanation is based on a limited geographical understanding and ignores similar falls in other parts of the world. He presents evidence of edible substances falling in various locations, including Persia, Canada, and India, suggesting a more diverse and possibly extra-terrestrial origin for these occurrences.

He delves into reports of fibrous materials, such as paper and silk, falling from the sky. He questions the common explanation that these are simply spiderwebs, presenting data on massive falls of “cobweb-like” substances that far exceed the scale of terrestrial spiderweb production. He proposes the idea of overhead “cargoes” from wrecked interplanetary vessels, suggesting that these fibrous materials might be remnants of fabrics or other materials from other worlds.

This chapter further develops Fort’s argument against the limitations of scientific explanations that rely on localized, terrestrial phenomena to explain the unusual. He emphasizes the vastness and diversity of the cosmos, suggesting that “other lands” beyond Earth may be the source of many unexplained falls.

Chapter 6: Coal, Cinders, and the “True Test” of Meteoritic Material

Fort tackles one of the most challenging categories of damned data: reports of coal, cinders, and other carbonaceous materials falling from the sky. He systematically presents evidence from various sources, including scientific journals, newspapers, and eyewitness accounts, documenting numerous instances of these falls occurring in diverse locations and often accompanied by unusual phenomena, such as thunder, lightning, and even earthquakes.

He fiercely criticizes the attempts of scientists to dismiss these reports, highlighting their reliance on the concept of “true meteoritic material” as a standard of exclusion. He argues that this standard is arbitrary and ultimately meaningless, as all substances are interconnected and subject to transformation. He also challenges the explanation that these materials are simply picked up by meteorites upon impact with Earth, pointing out that many of these masses are carbonaceous throughout, not merely coated with surface debris.

Fort proposes that these carbonaceous falls may originate from coal-burning “super-constructions” operating in interplanetary space, suggesting that they are remnants of fuel or debris from wrecked vessels. This chapter underscores Fort’s central argument that science, in its quest for certainty, has created artificial boundaries around accepted knowledge, excluding data that challenge its prevailing paradigms.

Chapter 7: Dr. Hahn’s Fossils and the Positivist Quest for Realness

Fort delves into the controversial case of Dr. Hahn, a scientist who claimed to have found microscopic fossils in meteorites. He recounts the vehement rejection of Hahn’s findings by the scientific community, which branded him as “half-insane” for proposing such a radical idea. Fort, however, takes Hahn’s side, arguing that his evidence was compelling and that the scientific establishment’s response was driven by a dogmatic adherence to the exclusionist mindset.

Fort connects this case to his broader argument about the limitations of human understanding and the futile quest for absolute truth. He suggests that science is not so much about finding “truth” as it is about creating a system of knowledge that approximates reality. He argues that all progress is ultimately an attempt to break away from the limitations of “Continuity” and establish a sense of realness or “positiveness.” He uses the analogy of a dreaming mind striving to awaken, suggesting that science is a similar process of moving towards a more complete understanding of reality, but always subject to the constraints of our limited perspective.

He emphasizes that the scientific quest for truth is often driven by a desire to find the “universal” in the “local,” attempting to explain the vast and complex in terms of the familiar and manageable. He argues that this approach inevitably leads to distortions and oversimplifications, excluding data that don’t fit neatly into pre-conceived notions.

Chapter 8: The Super-Sargasso Sea and Things Brought Down by Storms

Fort introduces the concept of the “Super-Sargasso Sea,” a vast region above Earth’s atmosphere where objects and substances can remain suspended for extended periods, sometimes falling to Earth during storms. He presents a wide range of evidence to support this idea, including accounts of unusual falls coinciding with storms, the narrow localization of some falls, and the presence of ice coatings on objects that could not have formed during a rapid descent through the atmosphere.

He argues that this Super-Sargasso Sea is a repository for all sorts of “derelicts, rubbish, old cargoes from inter-planetary wrecks,” as well as objects lifted from Earth’s surface by cyclones. He suggests that storms can dislodge objects from this region, causing them to fall to Earth in seemingly inexplicable ways. Fort’s concept of the Super-Sargasso Sea serves as a unifying explanation for a vast array of damned data, tying together falls of fish, frogs, gelatinous substances, fibrous materials, and even large chunks of ice. He emphasizes the dynamism and interconnectedness of this aerial region, highlighting its role as a conduit for the exchange of matter between Earth and other parts of the cosmos.

He further challenges the Newtonian concept of gravity, arguing that it is not the absolute, invariable force that mainstream science assumes. He points to data on slow-falling meteorites and other anomalous phenomena to suggest that gravity may be a more complex and variable force than previously recognized, opening the possibility for regions of gravitational inertness or even repulsion.

Chapter 9: Manufactured Objects and the “Thunderstone”

Fort focuses on reports of manufactured objects, particularly those made of stone and iron, falling from the sky. He argues that these “thunderstones,” often dismissed as primitive superstition, are evidence of advanced technologies operating in other worlds. He presents numerous accounts of these objects being found embedded in trees struck by lightning or unearthed from locations where they could not have originated terrestrially. He challenges the conventional explanations of coincidence, prehistoric artifacts being exposed by rain, or objects being flung upward by whirlwinds, arguing that these explanations strain credulity when confronted with the mass of data.

Fort proposes that these objects are remnants of “bombardments” of Earth, possibly intentional attempts to communicate by beings from other worlds or debris from wrecked interplanetary vessels. He analyzes the various shapes of these objects – wedges, spheres, and disks – speculating on their possible functions and origins. He highlights the tendency of science to dismiss these objects by attributing them to terrestrial sources or by labeling them as “amusing” curiosities, emphasizing the role of prejudice and the desire to maintain the illusion of Earth’s isolation.

Chapter 10: The Chinese Seals of Ireland and the Search for a Standard

Fort examines the perplexing case of the Chinese seals found in Ireland. He describes these intricately carved stone objects, each with an animal seated upon it and bearing ancient Chinese inscriptions. He points out the utter lack of any conventional explanation for these objects, given that there’s no historical record of any contact between ancient China and Ireland and that these seals have been found scattered widely across the Irish countryside, seemingly “sown broadcast.” He criticizes the attempts of archaeologists to dismiss these objects as forgeries or to explain their presence through improbable scenarios, arguing that none of these explanations adequately account for the unique characteristics and distribution of the seals.

Fort uses this example to further illustrate the limitations of human understanding and the futile search for absolute standards of judgment. He argues that “everything can be ‘identified’ as anything,” given the inherent ambiguity and interconnectedness of all phenomena. He suggests that the quest for certainty in an “intermediate” existence is ultimately doomed to failure, as all standards are provisional and subject to revision as new data emerge.

Chapter 11: Astronomic “Errors” and the Discovery of Neptune

Fort tackles the seemingly unassailable realm of astronomy, challenging the notion of its absolute accuracy and completeness. He starts by questioning the “triumphant” discovery of Neptune, often cited as a testament to the predictive power of astronomical calculations. He reveals that Neptune’s actual orbit deviated significantly from the predictions of Adams and Leverrier, leading Leverrier himself to question whether it was the planet he had calculated. Fort points out that the discovery was more a matter of lucky guesswork than precise scientific prediction, as the calculations could have applied to numerous other positions in the sky.

He then examines the case of Halley’s Comet, another astronomical icon, highlighting the discrepancies between its predicted return and actual observations. He extends his critique to other astronomical phenomena, such as comets, eclipses, and the Leonids meteor shower, pointing out the inconsistencies and frequent failures of astronomical predictions. He argues that astronomers, like other scientists, are prone to biases and overconfidence in their methods, often overlooking or explaining away data that contradict their models.

Chapter 12: “Vulcan” and the Disregarded Transits

This chapter continues Fort’s critique of astronomy, focusing on the infamous case of the “planet Vulcan.” He recounts the story of Dr. Lescarbault, an amateur astronomer who claimed to have observed a planetary-sized object crossing the sun. This observation caught the attention of Leverrier, who had already predicted the existence of an Intra-Mercurial planet based on irregularities in Mercury’s orbit. Leverrier championed Lescarbault’s observation and used it, along with five other reports of similar transits, to calculate the orbit of “Vulcan.” He even predicted a specific date in 1877 when “Vulcan” would be visible, generating widespread anticipation in the astronomical community.

However, when the predicted date arrived, no trace of “Vulcan” was found, despite extensive observations by astronomers around the world. Fort argues that this fiasco reveals the inherent fallibility of astronomical predictions and the tendency of scientists to cling to theories even when contradicted by evidence. He further contends that Leverrier’s “discovery” of “Vulcan” was based on a selective interpretation of the data, as he disregarded numerous other reports of similar transits that didn’t fit his calculations. Fort suggests that there may be multiple Intra-Mercurial bodies, not just a single planet, and that Leverrier’s attempt to impose order on a complex and unpredictable phenomenon led him astray.

Chapter 13: Worlds in Hordes and the “Stone-Throwing” Phenomenon

Fort shifts his focus from the regularized bodies of the solar system to the vast and diverse “worlds in hordes” that he believes populate interplanetary space. He presents evidence from astronomical observations of large, dark bodies, luminous objects, and strange formations moving across the sky. He argues that these phenomena are evidence of “tramp worlds,” celestial objects not bound by fixed orbits, some of them possibly under intelligent control. He draws parallels between these “tramp worlds” and tramp vessels on Earth’s oceans, suggesting that astronomers, in their focus on the regularized planets, have overlooked the vast and unpredictable traffic that may be occurring in the cosmos.

Fort connects this idea to the “stone-throwing” phenomenon often attributed to poltergeists. He presents accounts of stones falling within localized areas from an unseen source, suggesting that these events might be caused by objects being dropped from passing “tramp worlds” or from a hypothetical “Super-Sargasso Sea” where debris can accumulate and be dislodged by atmospheric disturbances. He acknowledges that the concept of poltergeists doesn’t fit neatly into his current system of interpretation but leaves open the possibility that these entities might become assimilable as his understanding expands.

This chapter further develops Fort’s vision of a dynamic and heterogeneous cosmos, teeming with diverse modes of existence beyond the limited scope of conventional astronomy. He emphasizes the limitations of human perception and the tendency to dismiss the unusual as mere illusion or coincidence. He suggests that the universe is far more complex and unpredictable than our current models suggest, full of wonders and mysteries that challenge our comprehension.

Chapter 14: The Super-Sargasso Sea as a Source of Falling Objects

Fort further elaborates on his concept of the Super-Sargasso Sea, presenting additional evidence for its existence and exploring its role as a source of falling objects. He examines reports of unusual falls, including pebbles, insects, snails, and even snakes, that exhibit patterns of localization, narrow distribution, and unseasonableness that cannot be adequately explained by terrestrial whirlwinds or other conventional meteorological phenomena. He argues that these falls originate from a region above Earth’s atmosphere where objects and substances can remain suspended for extended periods, sometimes accumulating on the “beaches” of floating “islands” within this aerial sea.

He continues to challenge the Newtonian concept of gravity, suggesting that it may be a more variable and complex force than traditionally assumed. He proposes the existence of a “Neutral Zone” above Earth’s surface where gravity is negligible, allowing objects to remain suspended until dislodged by storms or other disturbances. He compares this Neutral Zone to the neutral zone of a magnet’s attraction, where the force of gravity is balanced by opposing forces.

Fort emphasizes the interconnectedness of the Super-Sargasso Sea with other parts of the cosmos, envisioning it as a repository for debris from interplanetary wrecks, objects ejected from other planets, and even life forms carried aloft from Earth. He suggests that this aerial region is a dynamic and ever-changing environment, subject to its own unique meteorological conditions, including vast ice fields, bodies of water, and even tracts of land.

This chapter solidifies Fort’s vision of a cosmos teeming with diverse and often inexplicable phenomena. He challenges the narrow focus of conventional science, arguing for a more inclusive and imaginative approach to understanding the universe. He encourages the reader to embrace the preposterous and the unconventional, suggesting that the greatest discoveries often lie outside the boundaries of accepted knowledge.

Chapter 15: The “Pigmy Flints” and Miniature Worlds

Fort delves into the curious phenomenon of “pigmy flints,” tiny prehistoric implements found in various parts of the world. He examines the conventional explanation that these flints were toys of prehistoric children, arguing that this explanation is inadequate because the chipping on these flints is too intricate and precise to have been produced by children, even with the use of magnifying glasses.

He proposes a more radical hypothesis: that these flints were created by a race of tiny beings, “about the size of pickles,” who once visited Earth from their own miniature world. He speculates on the nature of this world, suggesting that it might be the asteroid Eros or a similar small celestial body, which he names “Elvera.” He envisions these tiny visitors coming to Earth in vast swarms, exploring its environment and leaving behind their miniature tools. He even suggests that some of these visitors might have perished on Earth, their fragile bodies quickly disintegrating, leaving only their durable flints as evidence of their presence.

This chapter showcases Fort’s willingness to embrace the most outlandish possibilities, using his intermediatist approach to weave together seemingly disparate data and create new, imaginative interpretations of the unknown. He challenges the anthropocentric view of the universe, suggesting that other worlds may harbor life forms vastly different from our own, both in scale and in capabilities.

Fort further explores the concept of “Genesistrine,” a hypothetical world or region aloft that he believes is the source of life on Earth. He speculates that this Genesistrine might be a part of the Super-Sargasso Sea or a separate celestial body, a place where life forms originate and are periodically dispersed to other planets, including Earth. He proposes that the fall of small frogs, insects, and other life forms might be a result of this ongoing “bombardment” from Genesistrine, a process driven by a “vestigial geotropism” that compels these creatures to migrate towards Earth.

Chapter 16: Angels, Tutelary Worlds, and the Milky Way

Fort turns his attention to astronomical observations of vast swarms of luminous objects, often described as “star-shaped” or “winged,” that have been seen moving across the sky. He rejects the conventional explanations of seeds, birds, or ice crystals, arguing that these phenomena are far too grand and organized to be accounted for by such mundane objects. He proposes that these swarms might be “angels” or other celestial beings, possibly traveling in vast “argosies” or celestial vehicles.

He explores the concept of “tutelary worlds,” worlds that have a guiding or protective influence on other worlds, drawing connections to Kepler’s idea of angels assigned to push and guide planets. He suggests that Earth may have been influenced or even colonized by beings from other worlds in the past, and that some of these worlds may still be attempting to communicate with Earth or with specific groups of Earth’s inhabitants. He speculates on the motives of these tutelary worlds, suggesting that they might be driven by a desire to convert, educate, or exploit humanity, or that they might simply be observing us with scientific curiosity.

Fort also revisits the concept of the Milky Way, suggesting that it might be a vast aggregation of “stiff, frozen, finally-static, absolute angels,” representing a state of ultimate positiveness or realness. He contrasts this static Milky Way with the “dynamic” Milky Ways he believes astronomers have observed, suggesting that these moving swarms of luminous objects are evidence of celestial beings or vehicles still in a state of flux, engaged in interplanetary travel or communication.

This chapter further expands Fort’s vision of a universe teeming with diverse and often inexplicable life forms, challenging the anthropocentric view of humanity as the sole intelligent species in the cosmos. He encourages the reader to embrace the possibility of celestial beings and to consider the implications of their interactions with Earth.

Chapter 17: The “Modern Ezekiel” and Submerged Wheels

Fort examines a remarkable account from a reader, “Lee Fore Brace,” who described seeing two enormous luminous wheels rotating on either side of a ship in the Persian Gulf. He analyzes the details of this observation, including the estimated size and speed of the wheels and the fact that the light seemed to emanate from below the surface of the water. He rejects the suggestion that this was simply a hallucination or a result of intoxication, citing the corroboration of the ship’s captain and third officer.

Fort proposes that these wheels were massive “super-constructions” adapted to operate in the dense medium of interplanetary space. He speculates that they might have entered Earth’s atmosphere and, threatened with disintegration in the thinner medium, submerged themselves in the ocean for relief. He suggests that they may have been rotating slowly to maintain their stability or to repair damage before continuing their journey.

He draws parallels between these submerged wheels and deep-sea fishes, arguing that both are adapted to function in dense environments and would suffer disruption if brought to the surface. He suggests that the luminous wheels might have been visible because their protective coverings had been damaged, allowing their internal lights to shine through the water.

Fort uses this example to further develop his concept of a “super-geography” encompassing a diverse range of environments and life forms beyond the familiar realm of Earth. He encourages the reader to consider the possibility of vast, technologically advanced civilizations operating in the cosmos, whose vehicles and constructions may occasionally intrude into our own world.

Chapter 18: More Aerial Wheels and the Dhurmsalla Meteorite

Fort continues his exploration of wheel-shaped phenomena, presenting data from various sources, including scientific journals and eyewitness accounts, of enormous luminous wheels being seen in the sky, plunging into the ocean, or rising from the ocean and continuing their voyages. He argues that these observations, often dismissed as misidentified clouds, balloons, or meteors, are evidence of vast, navigable “constructions” traversing interplanetary space.

He revisits the Dhurmsalla meteorite fall of 1860, highlighting the unusual features of this event, including the extreme coldness of the stones, the brilliant light accompanying their fall, and the reports of some stones resembling “cannon balls just discharged from engines of war.” He connects this event to his broader hypothesis of interplanetary traffic and suggests that the Dhurmsalla meteorites may have been objects deliberately dropped from a passing vessel or accidentally dislodged from a larger structure.

He reinforces his intermediatist perspective, acknowledging that his interpretations are based on limited data and are subject to revision as new information emerges. He encourages the reader to engage in independent thought and to consider the possibility of a cosmos far more complex and wonderous than conventionally depicted.

Chapter 19: Birds, Dragnets, and the Super-Sargasso Sea Revisited

Fort struggles to find a satisfying explanation for data related to birds, acknowledging the difficulty of interpreting these phenomena in light of his existing framework. He analyzes reports of birds falling from the sky, both during storms and from clear skies, and considers various possible explanations, including collisions with unseen objects, exhaustion, and entrapment in aerial dragnets. He revisits the concept of the Super-Sargasso Sea, proposing that birds might be swept upward into this region during storms and later fall to Earth, sometimes in a frozen or disintegrated state, due to the varying temperatures and conditions within this aerial environment.

He contemplates the possibility of “super-scientific” expeditions from other worlds investigating Earth’s atmosphere and collecting specimens, including birds, using advanced technologies that might resemble dragnets or other capturing devices. He speculates that these expeditions might originate from distant civilizations unaware of Earth’s ownership by another entity.

Fort acknowledges the ambiguity of his data and the difficulty of drawing definitive conclusions, emphasizing the limitations of human understanding and the need for an open mind in confronting the unknown. He encourages the reader to consider the possibility of a cosmos teeming with diverse and often inexplicable life forms, whose interactions with Earth may be far more complex and nuanced than we currently imagine.

Chapter 20: The “New Dominant” and the Breakdown of Exclusionism

Fort reiterates his concept of the “New Dominant,” a shift in perspective towards greater inclusiveness and a recognition of the limitations of conventional scientific paradigms. He argues that this New Dominant is manifesting in various fields, including physics, biology, art, and even astronomy, as evidenced by the growing acceptance of previously excluded phenomena, such as psychic research, non-Darwinian evolution, and anomalous astronomical observations. He suggests that this shift is driven by a growing awareness of the interconnectedness of all phenomena and a dissatisfaction with the narrow focus of exclusionist science.

He acknowledges that his own intermediatist perspective is also provisional and subject to revision as new data emerge. He emphasizes that his goal is not to establish a new dogma but to challenge existing assumptions and encourage a more open and imaginative approach to understanding the universe. He anticipates that the New Dominant will eventually solidify into a new set of beliefs and interpretations, only to be challenged and overturned by future generations as the cycle of scientific progress continues.

He introduces the idea that “we’re property,” suggesting that Earth may be owned by a more advanced civilization that has established its claim and warned off other potential colonizers. He speculates that certain esoteric groups on Earth may be in contact with these owners, receiving instructions and guidance on how to manage humanity for the benefit of this unseen proprietorship.

This chapter serves as a call to embrace the unknown and to challenge the limitations of conventional thinking. Fort urges the reader to become a “correlate to the New Dominant,” to engage in independent thought, and to contribute to the ongoing evolution of human understanding by exploring the “damned” data that science has cast aside.

Chapter 21: Triangular Objects and the “False Lights” of Durham

Fort examines a series of observations of triangular-shaped objects in the sky, including reports from Bermuda, Kiel, and England. He analyzes the details of these observations, noting the estimated size, shape, color, and movements of the objects, as well as the lack of any corresponding balloon ascents or other terrestrial explanations. He proposes that these triangular objects may be a type of aerial vehicle or construction used by advanced civilizations for interplanetary travel.

He connects these observations to the “False Lights” of Durham, a series of unexplained lights that appeared along the coast of England in the 19th century, often mistaken for beacons by sailors, leading to numerous shipwrecks. He notes the failure of official investigations to identify the source of these lights and suggests that they might have been associated with the same triangular objects observed elsewhere.

Fort explores the possibility that these objects are capable of manipulating light in unusual ways, perhaps using technologies that allow them to project beams of light or to create shadows on clouds. He suggests that these objects may be engaging in clandestine activities, such as observation, communication, or even specimen collection, and that their operators are deliberately avoiding detection by terrestrial authorities.

This chapter reinforces Fort’s concept of a “super-geography” encompassing a diverse range of environments and life forms beyond the familiar realm of Earth. He encourages the reader to consider the possibility of advanced civilizations operating in the cosmos, whose vehicles and technologies may occasionally intrude into our own world, often in ways that defy conventional explanation.

Chapter 22: The “Lady of the Lake” Diagram and the Quest for Reality

Fort presents a remarkable diagram drawn by Captain F. W. Banner of the bark Lady of the Lake, depicting a complex, geometric cloud-like object observed in the sky in 1870. He analyzes the details of Captain Banner’s observation, emphasizing the object’s unusual shape, stability, and movement against the wind, arguing that these features are highly atypical of ordinary clouds. He proposes that this object may have been a super-construction or vehicle of some kind, possibly operating under intelligent control.

He connects this observation to his broader arguments about the limitations of human perception and the tendency to dismiss the unusual as mere illusion or coincidence. He suggests that the object observed by Captain Banner may have been an example of a phenomenon that defies conventional scientific explanation, a glimpse into a realm of existence beyond our current understanding.

Chapter 23: Cold Light, Luminous Rains, and Disintegrating Objects

Fort explores the phenomenon of “cold light,” a type of luminosity that is not associated with heat or incandescence. He presents evidence from various sources, including accounts of luminous rains, glowing objects falling from the sky, and laboratory experiments with ice formed under high pressure. He argues that this cold light may be a manifestation of a force or energy not fully understood by conventional science, possibly associated with objects or beings entering Earth’s atmosphere from a denser medium.

He discusses the phenomenon of “ball lightning,” often dismissed as a dubious or imaginary phenomenon. Fort, however, presents a large body of evidence from eyewitness accounts and scientific reports, arguing that ball lightning is a real phenomenon that may be related to the fall of objects from the sky, exploding with a violence disproportionate to their size. He suggests that these objects may be composed of materials that react explosively when entering Earth’s atmosphere, possibly due to their origin in a denser environment where different physical laws may apply.

He revisits the Kentucky meat shower, suggesting that the flake-like formation of the “meat” might indicate flattening under pressure, possibly during its transit through a dense medium. He extends this idea to other falls of unusual substances, such as fish scales and peculiarly shaped hailstones, arguing that these formations may also be evidence of objects being subjected to intense pressure in an environment different from Earth’s atmosphere.

This chapter further challenges the conventional understanding of light and energy, proposing the existence of forces and phenomena beyond the scope of established physics. Fort encourages the reader to consider the possibility of a universe governed by laws that we are only beginning to glimpse, a universe where the familiar rules of matter and energy may not always apply.

Chapter 24: The “Outcry of Silences” and the Suppression of Data

Fort highlights the “outcry of silences,” the vast body of unexplained phenomena that have been ignored or suppressed by mainstream science. He presents a litany of astronomical observations of unusual objects, lights, and formations in the sky that have been disregarded because they don’t fit into existing astronomical models. He argues that this suppression of data is a result of the “jealousy” of the Old Dominant, the exclusionist mindset that seeks to maintain the illusion of a complete and predictable universe.

He emphasizes the power of the “System” to shape perception and to enforce conformity, suggesting that even astronomers, with their seemingly objective observations, are influenced by the prevailing paradigms of their time. He argues that the fear of ridicule, ostracism, and professional ruin prevents many scientists from reporting or investigating unconventional phenomena, leading to a systematic exclusion of data that could challenge the established order.

Fort uses the case of “Eddie’s comet,” a comet-like object observed in South Africa in 1890 that moved at an impossible speed, to illustrate the power of the System to disregard inconvenient data. He notes that this observation was not even mentioned in Monthly Notices, a prestigious astronomical journal, presumably because it contradicted the accepted understanding of cometary motion. He suggests that the editors of the journal were unwilling to risk their reputation by publishing such a radical observation.

This chapter serves as a call to break free from the constraints of the System and to embrace the unknown. Fort encourages the reader to seek out the excluded data, to challenge conventional explanations, and to contribute to the ongoing evolution of human understanding by exploring the realms that science has deemed off-limits.

Chapter 25: The “Aerial Fleet” and the New Correlates

Fort continues his exploration of unusual aerial phenomena, presenting data from various sources, including scientific journals, newspapers, and eyewitness accounts, of luminous objects, formations, and seemingly structured entities moving across the sky. He argues that these observations, often dismissed as misidentified clouds, balloons, or meteors, are evidence of vast, navigable “constructions” traversing interplanetary space, possibly under intelligent control.

He highlights the increasing number of these observations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, suggesting that interplanetary traffic may be becoming more frequent or that our awareness of these phenomena is increasing due to advances in technology and a shift towards a more inclusive scientific perspective.

He introduces the concept of “super-personification,” arguing that the forces driving the evolution of knowledge can be understood as quasi-intelligent entities, analogous to individuals, that shape and guide human understanding. He suggests that the “Old Dominant,” the exclusionist mindset of the past, is being displaced by a “New Dominant” that embraces a wider range of phenomena and interpretations. He proposes that this New Dominant, though still a provisional and evolving force, represents a step towards a more complete and accurate understanding of the universe.

This chapter further develops Fort’s vision of a dynamic and heterogeneous cosmos, teeming with diverse modes of existence beyond the limited scope of conventional science. He encourages the reader to embrace the preposterous and the unconventional, suggesting that the greatest discoveries often lie outside the boundaries of accepted knowledge.

Chapter 26: The “Devil’s Hoofprints” and the Psychology of Correlation

Fort delves into the infamous “Devil’s Footprints” case, a series of mysterious tracks that appeared in the snow across a vast area of Devonshire, England, in 1855. He meticulously examines contemporaneous accounts from newspapers and scientific journals, reconstructing the event and analyzing the various attempts to explain it. He highlights the astonishing scale and peculiar features of the tracks, their appearance in seemingly impossible locations, their uniform spacing, and their resemblance to hoofprints, despite being arranged in single lines.

He challenges the conventional explanations put forward at the time, such as a badger, a kangaroo, a hopping toad, or even large birds driven ashore by storms, arguing that none of these explanations adequately account for all the observed details. He criticizes the tendency of scientists, particularly Professor Owen, to focus on a single aspect of the phenomenon, such as the alleged claw marks, while ignoring the broader context and the numerous inconsistencies.

Fort explores the psychological factors that shape our interpretations of the unknown, highlighting the influence of prevailing beliefs, social pressures, and the desire for simple, reassuring explanations. He demonstrates how the “Devil’s Footprints” were quickly assimilated into the dominant paradigm of the time, being explained away as a hoax, a misidentified animal track, or even a supernatural manifestation, despite the lack of conclusive evidence.

Fort proposes that the footprints might have been created by a non-terrestrial entity, possibly a visitor from another world or a being from a realm beyond our current understanding. He speculates on the nature of this entity, suggesting that it might be a bipedal creature with hoof-like feet or a being capable of manipulating matter in ways that defy our current scientific knowledge.

This chapter is a masterful analysis of how we perceive and interpret the unknown, highlighting the limitations of human understanding and the subtle ways in which our beliefs shape our observations. Fort encourages the reader to question conventional explanations, to embrace the preposterous, and to consider the possibility of a cosmos far more strange and wondrous than we currently imagine.

Chapter 27: Oceans of Blood and the “Super-Sargasso Sea” Climax

Fort returns to the theme of blood falling from the sky, presenting data from various sources, including scientific journals and newspapers, of red rains, snows, and powders falling in diverse locations, often accompanied by unusual phenomena, such as storms, lights in the sky, and even earthquakes. He challenges the conventional explanations of sand from the Sahara, volcanic dust, or red-pigmented microorganisms, arguing that these explanations are inadequate to account for the scale, intensity, and composition of some of these falls.

He proposes the existence of “oceans of blood” or “deserts of blood” in the Super-Sargasso Sea or other regions aloft, suggesting that these falls might be remnants of interplanetary battles, hemorrhages from vast celestial organisms, or debris from wrecked vessels carrying cargoes of blood or blood-like substances. He connects these falls to reports of red sunsets and auroras, speculating that these atmospheric phenomena might also be caused by the presence of blood or blood-like matter in the upper atmosphere.

He revisits the phenomenon of objects exploding violently upon entering Earth’s atmosphere, suggesting that these explosions might be caused by the rapid decompression of objects formed in a denser medium, similar to the explosive behavior of ice formed under high pressure when brought into contact with ordinary air. He proposes that the flake-like formation of the “meat” from the Kentucky meat shower might be a result of this pressure differential, indicating that the substance had been subjected to intense pressure before entering Earth’s less dense atmosphere. This pressure, he suggests, could also explain the peculiar formation of some hailstones and the fall of fish scales unaccompanied by any fish.

Fort’s fascination with blood as a recurring theme in the damned data speaks to his sense of a cosmos teeming with organic life, even in its most unsettling forms. He imagines vast, bleeding creatures navigating the interplanetary spaces, their spilled lifeblood staining the heavens and occasionally raining down upon Earth. He invokes the imagery of a wounded cosmos, a celestial battlefield where colossal organisms clash, leaving behind trails of blood as testament to their struggle.

He challenges the reader to confront the implications of these unsettling possibilities, to consider the potential for life forms so alien and immense that their very existence would overturn our current understanding of biology and our place in the universe. He offers a glimpse into a reality where the familiar boundaries between the organic and the inorganic, the terrestrial and the celestial, blur and dissolve, leaving us to grapple with the awe-inspiring and sometimes terrifying vastness of the cosmos.

The chapter culminates with a focus on two specific instances of blood falling from the sky. First, he revisits the red rain that fell in France in 1846, emphasizing the vivid, blood-like color and the terror it evoked in witnesses. He points to the chemical analyses that revealed a high percentage of organic matter and the presence of corpuscles, suggesting a strong resemblance to blood. He then presents a more recent and even more unsettling datum: the fall of red snow near the Crystal Palace in London in 1876. This “snow,” upon examination, was found to be composed of corpuscles, again prompting comparisons to blood, though scientists, clinging to convention, attributed them to a “vegetable” origin.

This second instance is particularly significant because of its location—the heart of London—and the timing—just nine days before the Kentucky meat shower. Fort, ever the correlator, sees a connection between these events, hinting at a possible common origin or a shared causal agent. He suggests, with a touch of dark humor, that a “super-egotist, vast, but not so vast as it had supposed, had refused to move to one side for a comet,” resulting in a celestial collision that showered debris, including blood, upon Earth.

This dramatic imagery reinforces Fort’s central theme: that the universe is a dynamic, interconnected, and often violent place, and that Earth is not immune to the forces and events unfolding in the cosmic arena. He ends the chapter with a stark reminder of this interconnectedness:

“This one datum: The fall of blood from the sky—But later, in the same place, blood again fell from the sky.”

This repetition, for Fort, is not simply a coincidence. It is a sign, a warning, a call to awaken to the reality of our precarious existence in a cosmos that is far stranger, far more wondrous, and far more dangerous than we have ever dared to imagine.

Chapter 28: The “Devil’s Hoofprints” Revisited and the Limitations of Explanation

Fort returns to the “Devil’s Footprints” case, supplementing his previous analysis with a deeper examination of contemporaneous accounts and illustrations. He presents a detailed reconstruction of the event, emphasizing the sheer scale and peculiar features of the tracks: their appearance across an immense area, their uniform spacing and single-file arrangement, their resemblance to hoof prints despite the lack of any corresponding animal, and their occurrence in seemingly impossible locations, such as rooftops and enclosed gardens.

He critiques the attempts of scientists, particularly Professor Owen, to explain the tracks away as those of a badger, emphasizing the selective focus and disregards inherent in this explanation. He highlights the discrepancies between Owen’s pronouncements about claw marks and the actual illustrations of the tracks, which show no such features. He also challenges the alternative explanations proposed at the time, such as a kangaroo, a hopping toad, or a hare galloping with its feet close together, demonstrating the inadequacy of each of these interpretations.

Fort delves into the social and psychological context of the event, arguing that the “Devil’s Footprints” were quickly assimilated into the dominant paradigm of the time, being explained away as a hoax, a misidentified animal track, or even a supernatural manifestation. He argues that the fear of the unknown and the desire for simple, reassuring explanations led to a collective dismissal of the evidence, despite its compelling and inexplicable nature.

Fort refrains from offering a definitive explanation of his own, emphasizing the limitations of human understanding and the provisional nature of all interpretations in the face of the unknown. He suggests that the footprints might have been created by a non-terrestrial entity, possibly a visitor from another world or a being from a realm beyond our current comprehension. He encourages the reader to engage in independent thought, to question conventional explanations, and to embrace the possibility of a cosmos far more strange and wondrous than we currently imagine.

He ends the chapter with a suggestive anecdote from an 1840 newspaper account of similar tracks found in the snow in the Scottish Highlands, again resembling the hoofprints of a foal but occurring in single file and covering a vast expanse of territory. He notes the observation that the creature seemed to “bound or leap” rather than walk, a detail that resonates with his broader hypothesis of aerial beings visiting Earth. He leaves the reader to ponder the implications of this enduring mystery, a testament to the enduring presence of the unknown in our world.

Overall Summary

Fort’s “The Book of the Damned” is a relentless assault on the limitations of conventional science and a passionate plea for a more inclusive and imaginative approach to understanding the universe. He assembles a vast and diverse collection of “damned data”—phenomena that have been excluded, disregarded, or explained away by mainstream science—and weaves them into a tapestry of interconnectedness, suggesting that Earth is not isolated but intimately connected to a dynamic and often chaotic interplanetary environment.

Fort’s writing is intentionally provocative and unconventional, challenging the reader to question assumptions, to embrace the preposterous, and to consider the possibility of a cosmos far more strange and wondrous than we currently imagine. He presents his ideas not as definitive truths but as “acceptances,” provisional interpretations that are subject to revision as new data emerge. He encourages the reader to engage in independent thought, to become a “correlate to the New Dominant” of inclusiveness, and to contribute to the ongoing evolution of human understanding by exploring the realms that science has deemed off-limits.

The book is a testament to the enduring power of the unknown and a celebration of the human capacity for wonder and imagination. It is a call to break free from the shackles of dogma and to embrace a more open and expansive view of the universe, a universe where the impossible might just be possible after all.

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