Quick Definition: The use of scientific methods to evaluate anomalies
Anomalistics is the use of scientific methods to evaluate anomalies (phenomena that fall outside of current understanding), with the aim of finding a rational explanation. The term itself was coined in 1973 by Drew University anthropologist Roger W. Wescott, who defined it as being “…serious and systematic study of all phenomena that fail to fit the picture of reality provided for us by common sense or by the established sciences.”
Wescott credited journalist and researcher Charles Hoy Fort as being the creator of anomalistics as a field of research, and he named biologist Ivan T. Sanderson and Sourcebook Project compiler William R. Corliss as being instrumental in expanding anomalistics to introduce a more conventional perspective into the field.
Henry Bauer, emeritus professor of Science Studies at Virginia Tech, writes that anomalistics is “a politically correct term for the study of bizarre claims,” while David J. Hess of the Department of Science and Technology Studies at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institutedescribes it as being “the scientific study of anomalies defined as claims of phenomena not generally accepted by the bulk of the scientific community.”
Anomalistics covers several sub-disciplines, including ufology, cryptozoology, andparapsychology. Scientifically trained anomalists include ufologist J. Allen Hynek,Carl Sagan, Christopher Chacon, cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans, andCSICOP founder Paul Kurtz.