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    Origin Story
    The Answer is 42!

    Whenever a person enters the paranormal field, it is appropriate to ask what got them started, particularly, what gets someone interested in this Esoteric/Fortean thing. The typical response is "Oh, I saw a UFO" or "Grandma Dot visited my bedroom after her death." Unfortunately for me, I have never had anything quite that exciting happen. I thought I saw a guy turn into a dog once, but it was more likely that I saw a man entered a dark alley and a dog coincidentally exited the same alley. At the time of my first "encounter," I was eight, so it seemed more likely that the man was a werewolf. With age, I have changed my mind. Who knows? Maybe I did see a werewolf, but since I didn't bother to track the dog down we may never know.

    So what was it that got me started? As a child, I was fascinated by science, especially astronomy. Around the age of five, I took it upon myself to debunk all UFOs. Based upon my "extensive" research, I concluded that there was no possibility of life on other planets. I proclaimed my findings to my mother, who changed the very course of my destiny with the utterance of a simple thought, "why would God have made the entire universe with all the different galaxies and put life only on one?" Something changed in me that day- it was like a light-bulb had gone off and, for the first time in my life, I could really see the world.

    After that revelation, my first real foray into the Fortean was a little discussed book by Courtney Brown, author of Cosmic Voyage. This strange little tome introduced me to a few new concepts; remote viewing, the possible existence of a few different alien races interacting with humanity, and sincere people who are probably insane. Following that little introduction to Ufology, I moved through a few books (which are listed in detail below, in my suggested reading list). I came across a very interesting and life altering book in a second hand book store not too long after finishing Dr. Brown's book. The title? Alien Agenda by Jim Marrs. At the time, I had no idea who Jim Marrs was, all I knew was that I was interested in aliens and, even more so, by their agenda. There is a reason that this is one of the best selling UFO books of all time, it has everything; cattle mutilations, abductions, contactees, MJ-12, Roswell, the moon being a spaceship and so much more. Seriously, if you haven't read it you should really pick it up.

    After this venture into the Ufological side of the esoteric, I began to get more curious about other Fortean topics. If aliens were possible, then what else could be? Thus, I began to read about ghosts, werewolves, vampires, fairies and all other assorted creatures. I would also begin to branch out into ESP and hypnosis. Around this time, I started to try and get my friends and younger brother interested in the paranormal. The result was that at the age of eleven my brother, two good friends of ours, and myself created the PSA or Paranormal Society of America. This group was envisioned to be an investigative body that would seek out and find answers, such as the causes of all forms of paranormal phenomena. As with most things that come out of childhood, this club fell by the wayside long before we proved anything paranormal.

    My interests in the esoteric continued through high school and into the real world. As an example, I was definitely an ETH guy. I "knew" that the greys were coming from Zeta Reticuli and that the US government had made a secret deal with the aliens that, in exchange for certain technologies, the US would allow the greys access to humans to abduct. It wasn't until I began to listen to podcasts such as BOA and Radio Misterioso that I began to question the almost dogmatic opinions I had about the origin of the paranormal. Through these radio programs I was introduced to some really far out guys: John A Keel, Jacques Vallee, and Mac Tonnies. Around this time I also read The Book of the Damned by Charles Fort. Fort really got me to open my eyes about possible alternatives to accepted modes of thought, whether they were scientific, religious, or paranormal.

    Through these very influential writers I now realize that I know even less about the paranormal than I thought I did, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The more we learn, the more we should realize that we don't know all the answers. Do I think I know what's behind the UFO phenomena? Sure, it's aliens, time travelers, ball lightning, cryptoterrestrials, all of the above, and none of the above. John Keel once said, "To Hell with the answer, what's the question?" I'm hoping that with this column we can realize that maybe discovering the question is more important than finding the answer.

    Tony's recommended Fortean Reading List (in no particular order):
    Cosmic Voyage Courtney Brown Ph. D.
    Alien Agenda Jim Marrs
    The Cryptoterrestrials Mac Tonnies
    The 12th Planet Zecharia Sitchin
    Faces of the Visitors Kevin Randle
    Unexplained! Jerome Clark
    The Book of the Damned Charles Fort
    The Werewolf Book Brad Steiger
    Exempt from Disclosure Robert M Collins
    The Sirius Mystery Robert Temple
    The Field Guide to Ghosts + other Apparitions Hilary Evans + Patrick Huyghe
    UFOs and the Alien Presence Six Viewpoints Michael Lindemann
    Hollywood Vs. the Aliens Bruce Rux
    The Vampire Book J. Gordon Melton

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