The beliefs of UFO contactees like Witley Striber ultimately owe a debt to the work of the eighteenth-century natural philosopher and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, who elaborated on that basic tale of initiation. The sweep of Swedenborg's vision and its influence is clear even from the title of one of his books: The Earths in Our Solar System Which Are Called Planets: and the Earths in the Starry Heavens; with an Account of their Inhabitants, and also of the Spirits and Angels there: From What Has Been Seen and Heard (1787).
In this tract Swedenborg explained how each of the planets and others "innumerable" have spirits and angels inhabiting them. Swedenborg depicted a universe imbued with meaning: "He who believes, as everyone ought to believe, that the Deity created the universe for no other end, than that mankind, and thereby heaven, might have existence, (for mankind is the seminary of heaven,) must needs believe also, that wheresoever there is any earth, there are likewise men-inhabitants."
Thus contactee tales need not be interpreted as fraudulent sales pitches or delusional concoctions, but as defining narratives of a new creed.
Occultist writers of the turn of the twentieth century followed Swedenborg's tradition of depicting spiritual voyages to other planets. In 1880, Henry A. Gaston published his Mars Revealed: Or, Seven Days in the Spirit World." C. W. Leadbetter, a prominent Theosophist, offered two cosmic travel books describing the astral plane and the "devachanic plane" in the 1890s. One had the title The Astral Plane: Its Scenery, Inhabitants and Phenomena (1895). Such books continued to appear in the twentieth century, such as one in 1922 titled The Planet Mars and Its Inhabitants: A Psychic Revelation by Iros Urides (A Martian).
Thus The flying saucer cults emerged from America's occult underground, much of which can be traced back to the books by Helena Blavatsky of the Theosophical Society, formerly a Spiritualist medium, recruiting many prominent citizens as members, including Thomas Edison.
Such literature inevitably converged with the quasi-mystical conception of spaceflight to be found among early rocketry enthusiasts and in science fiction. Sociologist William Bainbridge has shown that early rocketry pioneers such as Robert Goddard and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, both dedicated readers of early science fiction, had mystical conceptions of spaceflight and of the liberating consequences of overcoming gravity. Such ideas became common in the rocketry movement. The German rocket scientists Hermann Oberth and his follower Wernher von Braun clearly articulated this vision. Oberth's occultist studies underpinned his scientific work. He developed rockets with the fervent hope that he would be shaping a world that would enable him one day to reincarnate as a spaceship captain. 4 Von Braun, whom the military brought to the United States after World War II, was a leading rocketry expert and a spokesman for the position that spaceflight would prepare the human species for its next step in evolution-to speed off into the heavens to populate the stars. In America von Braun became a convert to evangelical Christianity and began to announce spaceflight's millennial mission: "It is profoundly important for religious reasons that he [man] travel to other worlds, other galaxies; for it may be Man's destiny to assure immortality, not only of his race but even of the life spark itself."
UFO contactee tales of the 1950s fused the occult tradition with the evolutionary "spaceflight" vision. Both of these communities also turned for inspiration to science fiction, a medium that had long promoted a millennialist vision for science. Robert Wise's 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still was particularly influential to contactee narratives. In this work, a visiting spacecraft brought the enlightened messenger Klaatu to warn earthlings to end their nuclear standoff. When Klaatu was ignored in diplomatic channels, he fashioned a miniature apocalypse to gain earthlings' attention, by halting all mechanical processes on the earth for an hour. The filmmakers fashioned the character of Klaatu, the visitor that came to warn Earth, as a stern savior. When mingling with the earth's population, he took on the pseudonym of "Carpenter"-a name associated with legends of the Christian savior. Likewise Klaatu, though betrayed and later killed by soldiers, underwent a technological resurrection on his flying saucer. Klaatu, the savior, was also depicted as a scientist who found more natural kinship with Earth's scientists than with its political leader.
The plot and design schemes of The Day the Earth Stood Still made the point that Klaatu was a representative of beings with technological and scientific superiority. Doors emerged and vanished seamlessly from Klaatu's spacecraft, pioneering the art direction concept of "fluid metal" that became a standard for film depictions of alien technology.6 The craft's interior was portrayed as a maze of curved womb-like walls pulsing with light and shadow, creating a high-tech gothic design scheme. Feminine and masculine traits were intermingled, and passages through the ship took on ritual significance, as when Klaatu's giant, smoothmetal-skinned robot, Gort, carried the terrified heroine Helen, played by Patricia Neal, into its interior, or when Gort later carried the lifeless Klaatu to the laboratory to be resurrected with pulsing lights. Klaatu looked human in appearance, but after his resurrection and the shedding of borrowed Earth clothes, Klaatu donned a tight, zipperless body suit of miracle fabric of the sort that aliens and aeronauts have worn in science fiction adventure tales from the beginning.
Two years after the movie's release, George Adamski, a teacher of mysticism who worked at a hamburger stand near Mount Palomar in California, published the first "nonfiction" narrative of contact with a man from a spaceship. Adamski followed the script and production of The Day the Earth Stood Still closely. Adamski's description of the scout ship-or bell-shaped flying saucer-that left the large cigar-shaped mother ship to descend to the desert near him was reverential. "It was
translucent brought "fr into a than the sunlig1 Adamski altranslucent and of exquisite color." He suspected it was a metal brought "from the opaque stage to a translucent stage" like carbon made into a diamond. "The splendour as it flashed its prismatic colours in the sunlight surpassed every idea I had ever had about space craft." Adamski also offered photographs of the scout vessel to bolster the authenticity of his account . The Venusian spaceman who met Adamski had long sandy hair, was clothed in a seamless, otherworldly fabric, and made Adam ski feel "like a little child in the presence of one with great wisdom and much love." Although Klaatu, in The Day the Earth Stood Still, preferred to mingle with Earth scientists, Adamski rejected the idea that science and scientists were now Earth's only hope. Instead, Adamski carefully rendered the visitation as one that was thoroughly religious in nature and presented himself as the vanguard for a new chosen people.
Another contact narrative, Orfeo Angelucci's The Secret of the Saucers (1955), even more carefully paralleled the hero's meeting with the Space Brothers to older tales of religious initiation. Angelucci, who came from a working-class Italian American family in Trenton, New Jersey, reported a childhood full of illnesses and sensitivities-electrical storms, for example, pained him greatly. As a youth he fancied himself an amateur scientist and attempted at least onit experiment that involved launching samples of the fungus Aspergillis clavatus into the atmosphere in a weather balloon. Later he moved to the West Coast for his health, worked at Lockheed, and unsuccessfully peddled a screenplay that detailed a trip to the moon. According to his account, while driving home from work one night in 1952, he felt ill and saw on the road ahead of him a saucer, glowing with reddish light, which ascended and disappeared. He pulled his car to a stop and saw two green circles ahead of him. When he drank from a goblet that appeared on the fender of his car, he heard voices announcing they were friends from another world.
Angelucci reported having numerous contacts in the months and years to come. One night after leaving a café and walking down a lonely street, he felt a tingling in his arms and saw a fuzzy dome taking shape. He stepped in and was whisked off to outer space. The interior of this dome, he reported, "was made of an exquisite mother-of-pearl stuff, iridescent with exquisite colors that gave off lights .25 The room was empty but for a reclining chair also made of the same "translucent, shimmering substance." His unseen escorts soon informed him that despite its beauty, Earth was a "purgatorial world" with hate, selfishness, and cruelty rising from many parts "like a dark mist." The small scout vehicle then approached a "crystal-metal-alloy" ship. Inside, vortices of green flame appeared and voices further instructed Orfeo about earthlings' need to follow a creed of love. Orfeo was told that Christ had originated as "an infinite entity of the sun" and "out of compassion for mankind's suffering he became flesh and blood and entered the hell of ignorance and woe and evil" that was the earth.
Angelucci then underwent a death and resurrection experience. He heard loud music and saw bright light and concluded, "I am dying. .. I have been through this death before in other earthly lives. This is death! Only now I am in ETERNITY, WITHOUT BEGINNING and WITHOUT END." He heard a voice announce, "Beloved friend of earth, we baptize you now in the true light of the worlds eternal." Then he was bathed in peace and beauty. He was taught that the flying saucers were symbols of mankind's "coming resurrection from the living death." Angelucci learned that communism, too, was a symbol of the earth's fallen state and of the evils that must be overcome. A Great Armageddon was approaching, possibly in the form of an atomic war, possibly in the form of a destructive comet, if humanity did not reform.
Following the aptly named pioneers Adamski, our American Adam, and Angelucci, who met with angels, countless other chosen people began to announce that they had made contact with Space Brothers, leading one UFO writer to dub the 1950s the "golden age of UFO religion."
Some contactees more directly addressed the political context of the era's anxieties. For example, in 1960, Gabriel Green, president of the Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America, a large contactee organization, decided to engage directly in politics. He mounted a brief "Space Candidate" write-in campaign for the U.S. presidency in 1960, then ran for California state senator in 1962 on a platform that insisted on ending nuclear testing, and received approximately 170,000 votes in the Democratic primary.
Green's political advertisements included slogans such as "Solutions instead of stalemates," "Survival instead of annihilation," and "The true Stairway to the Stars instead of missile-fizzles and launching-pad blues." The smaller copy went on to insist that his goal was "to eliminate vested interest in inefficiency so that machines and automatonic industry can be permitted to do the laborious work of man, and still distribute the abundance produced by those machines to those who need them." He called for many dizzying reform measures including improved dental care, shorter workdays, unlimited education for all, an end to traffic jams, free energy, human rights, and "The World of Tomorrow today, and UTOPIA now"
Such interests firmly establish the flying saucer craze as an instance in which a segment of the American public sought salvation in technology. In contrast to the dystopian weapons building they were witnessing, Green, Angelucci, and others joined turn-of the-century thinkers like Edward Bellamy in imagining a world in which technology would usher in a new millennium. In this case, the technological sublime undermined established power. The flying saucer's inhabitants evaded efforts to sight them, confounded government authorities, and chose humble working-class people such as Adamski and Angelucci to bear their otherworldly message.
To lend the cause greater credibility, the contactees often added the mysterious inventor Nikola Tesla to the list of otherworldly players shaping millennial technology. Like the fans of Houdini before him, Tesla followers developed numerous resurrection scenarios for the deceased hero whose public demonstrations had once made him appear indestructible. One of the more remarkable literary products of the flying saucer movement to invoke Tesla's spirit was Margaret Storm's Return of the Dove (1959). Though very much a part of the "Movement," as flying saucer aficionados called it, Storm's volume was less concerned with tales of contact than with the promotion of utopian technology and a vision of the unfolding millennium, or new age. In her book, Storm, a fashion journalist and occultist, drew upon Theosophical theories to deify the inventor Nikola Tesla and promote her friend Otis Carr's free energy schemes.
At the heart of this book's eccentric claims is Storm's announcement that Tesla had actually been from Venus, born on a spaceship in 1856 and soon after presented to his earth mother in Croatia. Storm explained that Tesla's mission was to bring utopian technology to mankind as part of the Aquarian Age program for the earth's redemption. Storm related that throughout Tesla's career, industrialists, politicians, and military leaders did their best to stifle the unearthly inventor's creations. But he never was vanquished. Even after death, as an ascended master, Tesla was available to help other inventors devise new technology-whether free energy devices, antimissile defense shields, or flying saucers that could enter the etheric realm. Storm's insistence that Tesla was from Venus gave him kinship with the space people that contactees then were describing. The godlike Tesla represented science that was spiritually aligned. In this way he embodied one of the goals of the more formidable of the occultist groups, the Theosophical Society, to smoothly fuse the religious and scientific worldviews.
Tesla was an ideal choice to serve as a figurehead for utopian science. Newspaper stories of his era noted how his visionary World Wireless System would soon smash the power monopolies, as virtually free electricity would be beamed throughout the earth. His hero status was also ensured when the liberator later offered up visions of machinery capable of destroying the earth. While he faded into obscurity with the general public, tales of sabotage circulated among his devotees. Industrialists reportedly had suppressed Tesla's revolutionary inventions, and the U.S. military had carried off many of Tesla's secrets after his death during World War II.
After his death in 1943, Tesla became a cult figure, often featured in popular science magazines as a forgotten genius. Pro-Tesla forces lobbied to keep his memory alive and to prevent him from being written out of historical accounts as a simple madman. In 1956, thirteen years after his death, the International Tesla Society helped arrange a celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the idiosyncratic inventor's birth. The American Institute of Electrical Engineers dedicated its annual meeting to his memory. In 1956 the International Electrotechnical Commission adopted the name "Tesla" for the unit of magnetic flux density. Popular Science even offered a cartoon version of Tesla's life story in its July 1956 issue. Such publicity helped revive interest in Tesla, whom science fiction impresario Hugo Gernsback had long hailed in his publications.
Against this backdrop, Theosophist Margaret Storm picked up the Tesla story in 1959. She transmuted Tesla from a tragic or pathetic figure, a man of grand but broken dreams who ended his days living in shabby hotels, feeding pigeons, into a cosmic hero. Stories of the 1890s such as Garret P. Serviss's "Edison's Conquest of Mars" had glorified inventor Thomas Edison and made him into an adventure hero whose disintegrating ray weapon saved Earth from a Martian attack. In Storm's narrative, Tesla figured in a drama of even greater importance.
Storm placed Tesla and the cold war era into a twenty-five-millionyear cosmic history. Following the teachings of Theosophy's founder Madame Helena Blavatsky, Storm insisted that Tesla and humanity's story was one of a fall from spirit into matter, followed by redemption as spirit slowly prevailed. This grand narrative of progress was to be inscribed in the evolution of five root races, corresponding to historical eras and degrees of spiritual advancement. Storm depended on this master narrative while adding her own notions about Tesla, flying saucers, and wondrous technology.
Storm depicted her own era as one that spiritually blighted individuals ruled. She insisted the planet had been spoiled by the "laggards ... the spoilsports, the screwballs, the odd balls, the sad sacks ... a whole assortment of wet blankets in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and shades. They are the ones with the souped-up egos; they do not buy the idea of spaceships, music of the spheres or the singing of angels." Storm related that the rise of the laggards, among politicians and scientists, "in brief, is the story of the Fall of Man."
But this was not the end. Storm believed that as of 1957, the tides had shifted. "The interior of the globe has been cleansed." For some esoteric reason, the axis of the earth was also successfully shifted to a new angle. Likewise, flying saucers had been bombarding the atmosphere with cleansing energies. Hosts of angels were returning from exile, and nounced that the Aquarian Age, or the New Age, the time of the seventh ray, was now under way, when the earth could be transformed from a "Dark Star" to a place of joy. Storm aligned the dove of peace not only with Noah's dove flying with its olive branch over the flood-cleansed earth, but also to Tesla and his love of pigeons. In so doing, she managed to transform what many con sidered a pathetic pastime of the inventor's declining years into a heroic effort. Investigators opening Tesla's stored trunks upon his death in 1943, for example, complained that several trunks, rather than being filled with notes for brilliant inventions, contained newspaper clippings and birdseed.
This love of pigeons had long troubled Tesla fans. Tesla's first biographer, John J. O'Neill, reported that Tesla, a celibate, confessed that the great love of his life was a pigeon. He tenderly cared for this pigeon when it was ill, using electrotherapy devices. Prior to the pigeon's death, she flew from the darkness into his dark hotel room and beamed intense, loving light at him. O'Neill believed that the celibate Tesla's suppressed sexuality emerged in his "abnormal" love for the pigeon. Yet at the close of the book he offered a mystical reading, commenting that the incident of the pigeon flying into Tesla's dark hotel room and lighting it up with a brilliant light was the sort of phenomenon on which "the mysteries of religion were built."
Furthering this interpretation, in her book Storm explained that the dove symbolized peace and was Tesla's "Twin Ray," an enlightened partner in his redemptive work. When the pigeon died, Tesla knew he hadn't much longer to live either. But like Tesla, his Twin Ray, having ascended, was now doing scientific work in the mystic realm of Shambala.
Throughout Return of the Dove, Storm relied on Tesla as a symbol of the enlightened scientist to criticize the male-controlled military and scientific establishment. For example, she blamed the strontium poisoning of the soil from nuclear tests and nuclear weapons production on scientists who were laggard souls, men "dedicated to deeds of violence." Her rhetoric included a subdued feminism, as she argued that the maledominated sciences came from an unbalanced and violent perspective. The atomic scientist, a rapacious breed in Storm's estimation, "seeks to enslave the atom, just as he has enslaved his own atoms that he lives with each day.... He wants to split the atom; to tear it apart by brute force; to strip it bare as one would strip the skin from an orange. His way is the way of fear." Once America's leaders turned from utopian scientists like Tesla to laggard scientists like this one, they had no one but themselves to blame for the current weakness in scientific education.
In her book, Storm mirrored the concerns of the mass culture critics and Beat writers in their attacks on the age's homogenized culture. Members of the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School, such as Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, argued that advanced capitalism engendered a culture industry that shaped mass tastes, adding to the conformist and virtually totalitarian dimensions of consumer society. Employing a different vocabulary, Storm described the symptoms of the fall of man in the 1950s as including an America full of bored juveniles "going delinquent," asylums full of the overstressed, and a populace subjected to a war machine draining wealth, controlling minds, and sowing fear. She explained that the "average citizen ... will just sit and sit and sit and watch television, or given a chance he will talk and talk and talk. He may appear to be talking about the state of the world.... Actually he is expressing the confused state of his own consciousness . . . his own troubled heart ... his vibratory note is always the same doleful moanthe note of crucifixion." Agents of the cosmic hierarchy were hard at work trying to awaken the average citizen from this slumber. But it was difficult to lift oneself from the false consciousness perpetuated by the education system, religion, the media, prisons, and mental institutions. Storm primarily blamed the military powers that "refused to reveal to the public the truth about flying saucers" and the help the saucers represented.
To a Theosophical point of view, science was an attempt to intellectually strip matter entirely from earlier notions of being or spirit; hence, restoring science and technology to spirit would be a redemptive act. Storm relied on Tesla to fill the gap. Tesla, we learn from Storm, though a man of flesh and blood, did his creative work in the "fourth ether." Indeed, Tesla had often insisted that he had an uncanny imagination that allowed him to design and calibrate all his inventions without resorting to a drafting table . Storm explained that Tesla could even allow versions of his machines to run in the ether for days or years, then "test the etheric machinery and make any necessary adjustments" 41 or "examine them for signs of wear."
For Storm, the flying saucer was a prime example of the confluence of technology and spirituality. If Tesla, on Earth, could design in the ether, UFOs came directly from the ether. Offering her own take on the "fluid metal" depiction of saucers in Hollywood films, Storm argued, "That is why spaceships are described as being constructed without rivets, welding, seams, or cracks around doors. They are not constructed but precipitated direct from the ether."
Storm's obsession with utopian technology led her to declare that Tesla's redemptive efforts would prevail against all countertrends. In refusing to further finance Tesla's energy broadcasting stations, J. P Morgan, a representative of dark forces, preferred what Gabriel Green had called the "vested interest in inefficiency." Tesla, however, had two major disciples who would succeed where the master had failed. Spiritual technology was soon to free the world from the errors of financiers and the "men of violence" who tended atomic energy and nurtured the arms race. Tesla's disciples would fare better.
The most important Tesla disciple was Storm's friend, Otis T. Carr, who promoted himself in the 1950s, often at flying saucer conventions, as Tesla's scientific heir. Convention-goers could marvel at a prototype of the OTC-XI, a flying saucer that Carr planned to make available to the public. Carr claimed to have received messages from Tesla and other Space Brothers to help him design his flying saucer, which ran on atmospheric energy as well as other free energy or "utronic" generators. In Return of the Dove, Storm hinted that Carr's innovations might even make Tesla's never-realized Worild Wireless System seem obsolete.
The "free energy" that Carr packaged as "utronics" was an old dream deferred, formerly filed under the category of "perpetual motion."44 Beginning with the development of waterwheels, inventors long had explored the possibility of perpetual motion to fulfill energy needs and to create the mechanical equivalent of immortality. Such devices fit two basic variants. Perpetual motion machines "of the first kind" created a closed circuit that, once started, would overcome forces such as gravity and friction and allow a wheel to turn perpetually and perform work for example, grinding wheat or generating electricity. "Overbalanced wheels," for example, would, through various ingenious schemes, keep a wheel weighted more heavily on its down-turning side than on its upturning side. More promising have been perpetual motion machines "of the second kind," that is, open-circuit devices that connect the basic clockwork to outside sources such as tides, changes in temperature, or changes in barometric pressure.
In the perpetual motion milieu, frauds who have appealed to occultist thinking have abounded. For example, from 1873 until his death in 1898, John E. W. Keely of Philadelphia promoted a mysterious motor that ran on "etheric force" derived from the "disintegration of water." He raised millions from financiers and the public for his company on the strength of his demonstrations of such phenomenon as musical notes causing weights to rise and fall. Of these performances, which had kinship to séances , he remarked, "I am always a good deal disturbed when I begin one of these exhibitions, for sometimes, if an unsympathetic person is present, the machines will not work." Theosophists of the age admired him for combining "the intuitions of the seer with the practical knowledge of mechanics." It was not until after Keely's death that it was determined that his devices relied on hidden tubes conveying pressurized air .Today Keely still has disciples, one of the most vocal Theos Paijmans on 9 november 2003 gave a lecture in Amsterdam claiming free-energy devices have already long been invented (Vrije energie uitvindingen zijn reeds beschikbaar).
Carr's inventing and marketing abilities were closer to the Keely model than the Tesla brand. Nevertheless, Storm regarded Carr as one of Tesla's two principal disciples, well deserving of a place in her outline of cosmic history. The other disciple was Arthur H. Matthews, a Canadian electrical engineer who had designed an interplanetary communication device à la Tesla and worked on developing Tesla's "antiwar" machine. Although Storm placed her primary hope in Carr, the details of Carr's "discipleship" appear concocted from very slight material. During the 1920s, while an art student, Carr had worked as a package clerk at the Hotel Pennsylvania in Manhattan. One day Tesla, a resident, "came straight to his young disciple" and requested that Carr purchase four pounds of unsalted peanuts. Tesla fed these peanuts to pigeons with Carr's help. To anyone but Margaret Storm this work with pigeons would seem no great apprenticeship for a budding inventor, but Storm elevated this homely tale to the cosmic by assuring us the two were collaborating to help assure the return of the dove of peace. During his brief apprenticeship, Carr ran errands, asked questions, and soaked up the powerful vibrations of the master inventor.
Three decades after these meetings, Carr announced his amazing Tesla-influenced technologies: the "Carrotto gravity motor" and the "Utron Electrical Accumulator." Showing a flair for paradox as well as showmanship, Carr explained that the Utron Electrical Accumulator "is completely round and completely square and generates and regenerates electrical energy." Storm wrote enthusiastically, in high occult rhetoric, about Carr's devices. The world was not ready for Tesla's world system in 1900 but surely would be ready for Carr's system with the advent of the New Age. Carr's flying saucers that relied on free energy could be ideal for transport within the earth's atmosphere, but "shattering" for those who tried to leave the earth if they weren't spiritually prepared for "transmutation" to the etheric realm. Carr's free energy devices could also create a utopian revolution. Storm wrote with approval of the coming transition to clean, free energy. "Very soon now will come the big planetary housecleaning. Then down will come all the cables, conduits, wires and posts, which the public is now paying to have installed. What fools these mortals be."
Although Tesla had once happily announced that his new energy distribution system would abolish power monopolies, Carr's own publicity, in the age of un-American activities, downplayed the economic repercussions of his utopian inventions. He insisted his devices would stimulate productivity and sales and enhance the American business system. Furthermore, OTC Enterprises would only design prototypes of antigravity flying saucers and free energy devices. He would encourage manufacturers all over the globe to put these inventions into production. Carr insisted that his "primary interest ... is the opportunity of all industry the world over, to have an ownership with us in our business." The flier betrayed its crank roots with its conclusion: " The best way to get the total concept of what his [Carr's] free-energy devices mean to the world, is to suppose that the wheel were just now being discovered-then consider that OTC Enterprises is putting the wheel into the air ... in an entirely new dimension. This should be pretty good for industry." He placed a hefty price tag on his flying saucers: $20 million for the first prototypes and $4 million for subsequent models."
Carr and his associates found backers for their projects from a public excited by Sputnik, American space shots, and numerous UFO sightings. He was able to plug his enterprises on air when he was interviewed on Long John Nebel's popular all-night talk show on New York City radio station WOR; Nebel also had interviewed contactees George Van Tassel and Howard Menger. Carr and his associates helped produce at least one flying saucer convention in California and at it prominently displayed models of their products, such as the OTC-X1 . Such tactics, like those of Keely before him, gained Carr investors. A brochure advertising Carr's grandiose "Free Energy" research station in Maryland included a sketch of the buildings and grounds, and text that explained the station's goals of developing spaceships, interplanetary communication technology, and solar energy devices. The promotional brochure indicated that the interior of its domed building would be decorated by Salvador Dali to represent Ezekiel's vision of the fiery chariot. Likewise, a white dove and four cherubim would surround this central grouping.
Storm's relationship with Carr was clearly close. In fact, she shared a business address with him. The same Baltimore street address that appeared on her self-published book also appeared as the address for Carr's dubious flying saucer and free energy device business. One writer indicated that these headquarters, though modest, "featured numerous rooms and apparently housed various departments and in general suggested a successful operation." One possible, though doubtful, explanation for Storm's book is that it was little more than a publicity for Carr, who was bilking investors in his business schemes. Margaret Storm, however, seems an unintentional partner in crime. Return of the Dove is far too elaborate a text to have simply been prompted by an impulse to swindle the public. It seems more likely that she believed in Carr's inventions. This would be a natural extension of her belief that a new millennium was dawning, and her acceptance of the Theosophical notion that the past civilizations of Lemuria and Atlantis had been scientifically advanced.
Though ambitious, Carr's enterprises did not fare well. In 1959, he put out a press release announcing a cancellation of the demonstration flight of his prototype flying saucer, the OTC-X1, arranged to take place at Frontier City amusement park near Oklahoma City. While Long John Nebel, his assistants, and various investors gathered to watch the launch, Carr took to his sickbed. The need for "further testing and refinement" delayed the launch, which never materialized. In the spring of 1959, one of Carr's business backers approached the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Carr was fined and issued an injunction to end OTC's business enterprises.A year later the state attorney in Maryland considered pressing charges against him for defrauding investors.G1 He also spent time in prison in Oklahoma in 1961 after being unable rumblings from the lunatic fringe. While Christian revivalism and New England transcendentalism inspired the earlier reform movements, the 1950s reform movement relied on a folkloric wonder show script rooted in science fiction, rocketry, and occult literature.
The contactee movement relied on pamphlets and conventions to construct its unorthodox "theatrics of space." In their drama, handsome visitors from the stars in miracle-fabric outfits were stepping from aerodynamic vehicles to warn a chosen few of the infantilism of Western culture. When governments like the Soviet Union and the United States were making the most of their first fumbling steps into space, sending dogs and monkeys into orbit, the chosen few were speeding around the cosmos, guests of benevolent aliens light-years ahead of earthlings in technology and spiritual evolution. This script allowed a fringe group, America's occultists, to present themselves as a vanguard in their lectures, pamphlets, and radio and convention appearances.
This weighty task makes efforts like Storm's book seem both absurd and poignant. Clearly a fringe publication, down to the decision to print it with green ink, Return of the Dove nevertheless offered readers a critique of 1950s America with its docile yet terrorized public. The book directly criticized the cold war arms race and establishment science. And at times Storm's rhetoric made plausible her case that her fringe point of view was saner than that of the sober-minded "laggards" who then ruled public opinion and the nation.
The folk challenge that the "Movement" made to the cold war status quo soon after entered the mainstream. After incorporating the 1960s counterculture's fascination with Eastern mysticism, and the environmentalist awakenings of the 1960s and 1970s, the saucer and occultist "Movement" of the 1950s developed into the "New Age" movement of the turn of the twenty-first century. At the heart of the New Age movement remained a critique of materialism and technology, coupled with an interest in ecology, spirituality, health, diet, utopian technology, and, as in the widespread interest in "angels" during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, millennial hopes of redemption through otherworldy agency. Partially because of its consumerist appeal to the good life, the New Age also built up a solidly middle-class base and no longer lurked on the lunatic fringe as it did in the 1950s. Just as earlier wonder showmen offered evidence of miraculous technology and miracles of human capabilities, this enlarged "Movement," comprising both idealists and opportunists, continued to embody hopes for the reconciliation of technology and spirituality.
Free Energy Engines in 2001 and Beyond
Then in October 2001, inventor and entrepreneur Dennis Lee appeared in Austin, Texas, on stop forty-two of his fifty-state tour, in one of the sprawling white buildings of "Promiseland," a Pentecostal church lit up at night in shades of green and purple . One truck in the parking lot had a hand-lettered sign: "Free Electricity? Ask Me." About 150 people filled the red-cushioned pews, which could seat about 250. Out in the lobby was a check-in table that included forms to fill out for those interested in dealerships, black T-shirts of Nikola Tesla for fifteen dollars, and twentydollar copies of Lee's 1994 book, The Alternative-A True Story With Solutions to America's Most Pressing Problems. Its back jacket included the copy "Fossil Fuels Are Polluting Our Planet," "We Are Overrun with Garbage and Toxic Waste," "The Media Is Manipulating We the People," "Courts No Longer Uphold Our Inalienable Rights," and the litany concluded with "But, What is the Alternative?"
The alternative was Lee's mixture of Yankee tinkering and magic. His show combined salesmanship with demonstrations of engines, generators, vacuums, and magnetism. Like a good wonder show worker he sought to astound his audience, to make them appreciate the wonders of the universe, and to persuade them that normal science, big business, and government need not have the last word. As with his book, The Alternative, the focus of his pitch was ecological sanity combined with right-wing libertarian notions. Lee framed his performance in the rhetoric of wonder and conspiracy and so played to his audience's fear that the fundamental Western dream of progress had been betrayed.
Dennis Lee, founder of Better World Technologies, and the International Tesla Electric Company, could be regarded as the 1990s and 2000s answer to Otis T. Carr of the 1950s. Though he did not promise flying saucer flights, like Carr, Lee has offered the miracle of free energy devices, and through this miracle, a vision of the world transformed. Like Carr, Lee has preyed financially on believers in otherworldly technology and sought credibility by associating his company with the aura of the deceased inventor Nikola Tesla.
For publicity, Dennis Lee has relied on a network that reaches into the free energy community, fundamentalist Christian church culture, and rural libertarian circles with his websites and weekly web radio broadcasts. Lee's radio show, which began broadcasting in December 2000, is titled The John Galt Show. The pseudonym Galt is an homage to the hero of Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead, a symbol of individualism and of the libertarian ideals that Rand helped articulate. Lee's broadcasts from "down on the farm" would generally appeal to rural, right-wing individuals, and to fundamentalist Christians. He notes that his company's president is "Jesus Christ," its treasurer is the Holy Spirit, while Dennis Lee is merely the director of research. His radio broadcasts have included such titles as "God Doesn't Need Us to Make Free Energy," "Free Electricity and 1.6 Million Witnesses," "Government Interference," "Partial Birth Abortions," and "God's Involvement in Our Beginning." His target audience is also indicated by the network he belongs to, the Truth Radio Network, which has the motto "Not Necessarily Your Mainstream Conservative & Christian Talk." In yet another bit of evidence that the farright and far-left often meet, Truth Radio's web page includes the slogan "Truth Radio tells the Truth behind the Dominant Media Propaganda." The actual broadcasts are rambling and numbing monologues that rely on vernacular humor and reports of conspiracies to stave off the monotony of Lee's pitches for his company's products and promises that listeners that become franchised dealers will soon gain a fortune.
Dennis Lee is significant not only as a modern wonder show operator but also as a member of a fringe science movement: the contemporary free energy movement dedicated to finding clean and virtually limitless energy sources. This movement had its roots in the utopian energy efforts of Tesla and in the pitches of 1950s hucksters like Otis T. Carr; it also relates to the alternative energy interests that rose to prominence in the 1970s with the environmental and anti-nuclear movements.
Lee fits well into the company of such past dreamers, inventors, and hoaxers 3 He has attributed the source of his mysterious motor to numerous possibilities including magnets, but he also has allied himself with the slightly more respectable contemporary cold fusion movement. This movement dates to 1989 when University of Utah chemist Stanley Pons and his colleague Martin Fleischmann, a world leader in the field of electrochemistry, reported at a press conference that they had developed an electrical method for achieving nuclear fusion reactions at room temperatures. Pons and Fleischmann announced that with their simple apparatus, which involved minimal electrical input, enormous heat was released. Their equipment included four electrolysis cells with palladium electrodes immersed in heavy water. With this simple, inexpensive apparatus, they announced they had fused hydrogen nuclei within the interstices of the palladium atoms and generated fusion reactions that emitted heat and nuclear energy. They suspected it could have powerful commercial applications.
The scientific and popular reaction was immense. With promised help from the Utah legislature, the University of Utah began plans for a multimillion-dollar National Cold Fusion institute . Thousands of scientists and enthusiasts began to tinker with their own tabletop fusion kits. Early confirmations of anomalous energy emissions eventually led to new studies and retractions of many of the confirmations, as researchers refined methods for measuring the actual output of heat, radioactive particles, and rays. "Hot" fusion experts insisted that the recorded emissions, if accurate, were far too low for fusion reactions and rejected other attempts to theorize anomalous heat output. Cold fusion largely lost legitimacy, as science, in 1990, one year after its "discovery." Yet throughout the 1990s interest in free energy of the cold fusion variety remained.
Scientists who openly continued to conduct such research were stigmatized. As an alternative, many researchers continued on the sly or turned to the public realm, allying themselves with the amateurs who are often called "cold fusioneers." Together, they run their own conferences and have developed popular websites and journals, such as New Energy News, Infinite Energy Magazine, and the Journal of New Energy.
These researchers have formed their own loose alliance of dedicated amateurs, after-hours scientists, engineers, and futurists. Free energy advocates also are generally welcomed both in New Age circles and in fundamentalist Christian groups, by those whose millennialist assumptions make such miracle devices the norm rather than the unexpected." These assumptions are inscribed haphazardly in the Institute for New Energy website-an encyclopedic mass of links to web postings and articles ranging from the highly technical to the loosely metaphysical. Many of the postings dispute ruling paradigms of science and revel, for example, in questioning the principles of thermodynamics, while exploring antigravity devices, low-energy nuclear reactions, transmutation, and perpetual motion. Others insist, with some scientific basis, that the "ether" of earlier physics tallies with the quantum theory premise that space is not empty but contains quantum-level fluctuations, which, free energy researchers maintain, might be harvested like wind or solar power. The postings also promote a rebellious attitude toward a sinister status quo that encompasses the political, scientific, and business establishment. A scattering of reports of espionage and sabotaged projects also links this website to a strong current of similar folklore. Many cold fusioneers suspect that they, having neared a new scientific secret that will allow for miraculous technology, have been stopped and oppressed by economic interests.
Borrowing from the free energy community's quasi-scientific status, Dennis Lee also has argued that "free energy" and the transmutation of radioactive materials to inert materials occur in cold fusion cells. Like many of the cold fusioneers, he has portrayed himself as a modern alchemist, bringing spirituality to technological research. Lee also has relied on a conspiracy argument of the "If authorities are calling me a fraud and out to get me, then I must be onto something" variety to boost his appeal. His lectures and web broadcasts also point to the obvious truth that the passion or cognitive pathways opened by wonder have long been a part of American commercial and sales culture.
Lee is a far better live performer on stage than on radio. The stage for the Dennis Lee show at the church in Austin was filled with apparatus such as engines, a boiler rigged to run off of gas from a septic tank, a welding machine, a kitchen stove, a generator beneath a row of lightbulbs, and posters for products such as Fire Shaker and Sonic Bloom. Lying about were oddities that suggested Lee had an instinct for clowning, such as a cane with a bulbed bicycle horn attached. The audience was mainly middle-aged and white. There were also a few children, teenagers, and people of color scattered about the pews. Many of the men wore remarkably long beards and seemed quite serious. Many, like myself, held pens and notebooks.
Lee came on stage and asked, "Are you ready to have fun tonight? " He was a big man, with a Fu Manchu moustache, light sideburns, and an intense look as he sized up his audience, trying to decide if he would have any hecklers or "trouble." He immediately asked the audience if he could remove his jacket, gained their assent, and promised he would not take anything else off.
Lee seemed comfortable on stage, capable of both physical and verbal comedy; he has a droll voice with a wheedling quality and he enjoyed playing to his audience, frequently asking rhetorical questions like, "Does anyone remember Free Enterprise?" This brought shouts of "Yep!" or "Sure do!" He began by noting that he would be telling us what we did not know and "What it is we don't know in America will shock you." He complained about "good old boy politics" and corrupt big business. He informed the audience he had technology that could eradicate all forms of pollution in the United States. "What level of pollution is OK for the United States? " he asked. "None!" came the replies. He also said that at the end of the night he would make a job offer to everyone; at no cost to us we could earn more than our present salaries while working only part-time. He also let us know that his other forty-one performances of the 2001 tour had been in hotel conference rooms-not churches. He had no connection with Promiseland; however, he announced, "I am a Christian from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes. That's who I am." He admitted that this did not necessarily give anyone credibility in this day and age, yet he wanted it noted. The inventions he would reveal were the Lord's work.
Like someone doing the "Lord's work," he was attempting to convert audience members to a new worldview. Lee has been a salesman for many years and knows instinctively what American sales manuals long have been teaching apprentice salespeople and what evangelical pamphlets have been teaching leaders of revivals. A sale, like a religious conversion, is fraught with dangers. It requires an attention to setting, an intuitive reading of the audience, a presentation that blends logic and emotion, and a skillful "closing." The salesman and the evangelist not only must rely on a simple display of logic, but also must create a heightened emotional atmosphere. In his analysis of revivalism, Lectures on Revivais of Religion (1835), Charles Grandison Finney remarked, "The state of the world is still such, and probably will be till the millennium is fully come, that religion must be mainly promoted by these excitements."
If novels such as Sinclair Lewis's Elmer Gantry (1927) made the evangelical preacher as confidence trickster an American archetype, then the salesman who offers a revivalist show, like Lee, is yet another. Like an evangelist cast among sinners, Lee had a difficult task before him. To convince his audience that the "impossible" was not impossible, that "free energy" could exist, and that they would soon have such a device on their lawn required a powerful conversion process. To these ends Lee generated wonders and delight. In addition to offering wonders that might evoke miniature epistemological crises in audience members, Lee also relied on more worldly strategies to delight. He followed to the letter sales manual stratagems-to quote one from 1916, "The sale is made, let it be whispered, to the child in the man.... It is the child that dares, that ventures, and that loves the new and untried.... To put analytical reason off her guard by pleasing with simple reason is the aim of the logical presentation. When the seller has accomplished this, he nlay address the child." Lee offered enough apparent technical knowledge to relax his audience, but appealed throughout, with humor, clowning, and spectacle, to the child in each of his spectators.
Early in his presentation, he held up a small pedestal, noting it was the sort that "a toy elephant might dance on." He set it down and spun a top on it. "Let's see how long that keeps spinning." This led to a monologue on how perpetual motion wasn't ridiculous if linked to a perpetual source, such as the motion of the earth around the sun. Here Lee was affirming Tesla's and other technologists' belief in the possibility of perpetual motion devices "of the second kind." Lee said, "Everyone in this room is sitting on the biggest mass known"-laughter ensued-"No, I'm not insulting anyone-you're sitting on the earth, which is moving seventy-eight thousand miles per hour. How doçs that make you feel? How long has it been moving? A long time. When will it stop? Not for a long time." These thoughts led to a brief side discussion of his company's "dietary aids," which he depended upon to keep his weight down; he held up a spoon with a hole in it, again to much laughter.
He then went on to explain how he wanted to put a generator on each of our houses, as this "was a dream God gave to me." The machine would offer 100 percent of our heat, hot water, air-conditioning, and electricity. It would also put out fifteen times more than the needed wattage. He would sell the surplus to the local power company to make his money and let us use the rest for free.
His first demonstration was designed as a game-he informed us that he could modify our cars to run on pickle juice. He brought his two assistants-one of whom wore a trucker's cap, the other a black T-shirt bearing the portrait of Nikola Tesla-on the stage to help him run a small "infernal combustion motor." He was going to prove that we could run the engine on anything as part of his pitch for the environmentally friendly and economically pleasing formula of 80 percent water and 20 percent gasoline.
Acting like three conspiratorial clowns, he and his assistants began to produce samples of various household products, and Lee urged the audience to take sips or sniffs to authenticate each ingredient. Into a jar they poured samples of Coca-Cola, water, "Hot as Hell" hot sauce, crude oil, Aqua-Velva, sugar, salt, pickle juice, Frappuccino, and urine, which he referred to as "technician's juice." This routine included many broad comedy moments, as when an assistant bravely tasted the hot sauce and had a delayed reaction of horror. Lee then told us with his modified engine, no pollution would be emitted from the exhaust pipe, and, in fact, the exhaust would be 97 percent oxygen and perfectly safe to breathe. They attached the jar of fuel to the apparatus, and after many pulls on the starter and a few engine starts and sputters, they got the engine running. Lee held a white handkerchief before the exhaust, showed it was still clean, then leaned down to breathe in the exhaust. Lee then told us his modified engine relied on a mysterious "reactor rod." Scientists had been "astounded" by this rod, and nobody knew how it worked. Fiberoptic photography showed that "a blue lightning storm" was going on while it worked. He spoke of how these rods could be installed on a car, a complicated process of "tuning" while having it face magnetic north, and making other seemingly magic adjustments. With such modified engines, we could save enormously on fuel bills by using a water/gasoline mixture. He also attempted to demonstrate how a lawn mower could "run on its own exhaust," though he admitted that physicists would tell you this was "impossible." During this demonstration, as with the last, the lawn mower frequently stalled and Lee, the impatient showman, finally told his assistants, with some disgust, "Take it away." Here Lee's acting out of exasperation gained the audience's trust despite the demonstration's failure.
Lee next demonstrated his plug-in "water gas" welding units. The gas was not the mixture of hydrogen and oxygen one would expect from the electrolysis of water but a mysterious "water gas" that does not explode but "implodes," and had the structure of H-O-H rather than the H-H-O that he incorrectly claimed was standard for water. Here he also added a new motif. the idea that organic nature has an anthropomorphic quality. Water gas had the remarkable homeopathic quality of adjusting its temperature to melt whatever substance you were working with. In this way it never burned your hand. He said he discussed this with a scientist at Brigham Young University who said, "Atomic reactions must be involved for no conduction of heat to occur." Water gas also left "no slag" on steel when cut, left water streaks on surfaces it cut, and could burn through any substance on this planet, including diamonds. He and his assistants proceeded to cut various pieces of metal and discuss the costs of using the "water gas" instead of acetylene. The cost for one of the plug-in welding units was approximately $1,200, but Lee would also be happy to sell the bottled gas as well.
His following exhibit involved the concept, popular in the cold fusion and free energy community, that the transmutation of radioactive elements to inert elements was possible through cold fusion processes. He told us that the federal government was putting our lives at risk. He described an aboveground nuclear waste storage facility in Richland, Washington, with brine circulating around spent rods to prevent spontaneous reactions, and how authorities were scrambling around to find salt mines to bury the waste in. This was all foolery, since Lee had "a machine to neutralize all radioactive waste into inert materials. We know they know that," he added, because he had demonstrated the device for two unnamed U.S. senators, one of whom responded favorably and was promptly voted out of office. Though scientists and the Department of Energy would disagree -"anyone from the Department of Energy here tonight? No? I always invite them"-it was possible to "transmutate" [sic] the nucleus of an atom. "The alchemists were right."
After demonstrating what background radiation sounded like with a Geiger counter, Lee had an assistant mix up a control sample and a solution of one gram of radioactive thorium along with 125 grams of water and an undisclosed amount of hydrochloric acid. These would be placed in his "pure zirconium" cooker, with its electrodes, for thirty minutes. With a radioactive gauge they would test the sample before and after. Lee told us what to expect: a lowered radioactive count and traces of titanium and copper and other metals would be in the solution-proof of the transmutation of the thorium. Though the most likely explanation would involve contaminated samples or electrodes, Lee insisted that this was out of the question because the cooker was 99.9 percent pure zirconium.
While the samples "cooked," Lee spoke about the conspiracy of the power companies to rip off consumers with inefficient meters and appliances that drew more current than needed. It was all a result of the "good old boy routine," the short script of which ran, "You lie, I'll swear to it." He then extolled the virtue of his company's numerous products, through a home. He also revealed the "Bandit" alarm system for homes or stores, which took three seconds to fill a room with thick fog, and "Miracle Shield," which was an anti-graffiti liquid-a product that catered to the audience's fear of teen gang members. Next came an enzyme soil remover that "deans up the environment instead of polluting it." Those "little bugs," he told us, "ate all the oil they could find, then cannibalized each other. Eventually you have only one giant bug left to battle." He then did some shadow boxing, as if trying to knock out a giant adversary, then grinned and said, "Just kidding."
After these videos, Lee returned our attention to the zirconium cooker; his assistant offered precise measurements to confirm that the radioactivity level had lowered. Lee then urged an audience member to bring a test tube of the transformed solution to a university lab where trace amounts of newly formed atoms of copper, titanium, and other metals would be found. Lee then continued his theme of the insecurity of life in America, alluding to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in Manhattan that had taken place several weeks prior to his show. This was the one point in the lecture where his impeccable sense for what his audience would be willing to hear failed somewhat-a brief shudder seemed to greet the allusion. He soldiered on, though, and solemnly intoned that jet planes could use water as fuel. This had been demonstrated irrefutably. A "hydrogen pulse separator" would turn the water to hydrogen fuel (appareitly preferable, in this case, to "water gas"). If a plane loaded with fuel tanks of water ran into a tower, he asked, what would happen? "Far less damage."
He then moved on to describe how he had been harassed in Kentucky and forced off the stage, and took a passionate stand about returning with federal marshals to claim his right to free speech .28 When the applause faded, he began his final pitch. It was over three hours into his performance, and as no hecklers had challenged him, he suspected, correctly, the docile crowd was now ready to accept his more absurd pronouncements. He told us that he believed he had found a perpetual energy source-and it was the magnet. "I believe," he said, "that energy flows into magnets." Most scientists, he admitted, would disagree. He offered us a few clues as to how his device might work. At the front of the stage he earlier had set up a series of small magnet-laden windmills. Spinning one caused the others to spin in a haphazard, chaotic way that Lee enjoyed; he gave personalities to these mills and their quirks, underlining his identification of the magnet as a trustworthy friend, a reliable source of unlimited power. Next he demonstrated an unusual magnetic phenomenon known since the nineteenth century. He showed us a permanent magnet and a segment of wide copper pipe. He upended the pipe and set up a mirror so that a video camera could look down it. Then he had his assistant drop a magnet down the copper tube. The video screens showed it slowly falling, as it induced magnetic currents in the copper; it fell in what seemed slow motion. He then said that a stronger magnet would go even slower. We watched its slow, somewhat magical free fall through the short length of tube on the video screen. "My motor will use one hundred permanent magnets," he said.
He then said he was not demonstrating his free energy motor this tour because in 1999 he had demonstrated it to all comers. Using the magician's art of misdirection, he then switched the audience's attention from his miraculous but unseen "permanent magnet motor" to the generator that it would be attached to on our lawns, the "G-10." The G-10 was brought out on stage and hooked to a heater, and amid its thunder and fury, several spectators came down with devices to measure its efficiency. He assured us that the complete energy-producing unit would not make much noise on our lawn.
It was now close to 11:00 P.M. Lee's audience had been listening to him for four hours. They were willing to take on trust Lee's miraculous free energy machine and to instead test the efficiency of the G-10 generator. They apparently had faith in his "permanent magnet motor" and interest in his other products, like the "noiseless jackhammer" and the welding unit that used "water gas." All that was left for the final hour was to pitch products and dealerships. The incentive for takers would be personal wealth and a chance to help improve the environment. By moving our imaginations ahead to the day we would have the G-10 working for us, Lee had already psychologically closed the deal. Some spectators might conclude that even if Lee was running a racket, he was a tireless front man who could help them sell products to others and so gain commissions.
Thus Lee gained his audience's trust by making religious appeals and by fanning distrust of big government, big business, and big science. He championed an alternative science, seemingly like that of the cold fusioneers, one able to challenge established truths. Lee offered his audience not just "free energy" but another form of "power." He was selling a vision of democracy, one that gave each audience member the authority to reject scientific expertise and shape his or her own worldview. He offered a miracle gadget on the lawn but, more important, he offered a cosmos that was not grim and mechanistic but full of possibilities. Like Francis Bacon before him, Lee was offering a "Great Instauration"-a restoration that linked the American Dream to the millennial Christian dream of the approaching reign of heaven on earth.
As of Summer of 2003, Dennis has been trying to get Churches to recruit people for him and has been working connections via a group called NUAF. Dennis broke his promises of free energy delivery by March and July and Dec 28 in 2002. He took out a full-page ad in Newsweek to promote his 50 state tour. In addition to having people pay between $5 and $20 to sign up for free electricity, he's having people pay $1000 to have their cars get over 100 miles to the gallon. Dennis was arrested in Kentucky and released on bail.
While most skeptic authors abhor pseudoscience, those of good humor, such as Martin Gardner, at times display an aficionado's appreciation for the nuances of such theories. A good entry point to the skeptic literature is Gardner's Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (New York: Dover Publications, 1957). Other entries include Carl Sagan, Demon-Haunted World (New York: Random House, 1995), Michael Shermer, Why People Believe in Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time (New York: W. H. Freeman, 1997), and Robert L. Park, Voodoo Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). Numerous periodicals are also dedicated to the skeptical stance, including the Skeptical Enquirer and Skeptic. The Amazing Randi keeps his followers informed o' his debunking activities on his website.
Efforts to "debunk" or parody science are harder to come by. The journal Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) offers some amusing sendups of scientific research, but it is an insider critique that does not stray philosophically beyond the bounds of the scientific orthodoxy whose members are its primary audience. AIR hosts an annual Ig Nobel Awards ceremony in Cambridge, Massachusetts, honoring ridiculous sounding research. Prize winners often demonstrate their award winning work: the 2000 physics prize, for example, went to Sir Michael Berry and Andre Geim, "for using magnets to levitate a frog."
Charles Fort popularized many themes of the paranormal that later made their way into science fiction thus see also Louis Kaplan's quasi-academic treatise, The Damned Universe of Charles Fort (Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1993).