249 episodes

The world is more mysterious than most people are comfortable imagining. We cross paths with the mystical from time to time and may not even notice it. If we do, we quickly return to our usually mundane daily existence. But what if we not only acknowledged the unknown, we investigated it and spoke with those in the know? That’s what co-hosts Scott & Forrest, and their producer Tess Pfeifle do at Astonishing Legends. Over 85 million downloads and hundreds of thousands of listeners have shown that exploring and embracing the wonders of our world can be not only enlightening but exciting.  Welcome to Astonishing Legends!

Astonishing Legends Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.6 • 8.5K Ratings

The world is more mysterious than most people are comfortable imagining. We cross paths with the mystical from time to time and may not even notice it. If we do, we quickly return to our usually mundane daily existence. But what if we not only acknowledged the unknown, we investigated it and spoke with those in the know? That’s what co-hosts Scott & Forrest, and their producer Tess Pfeifle do at Astonishing Legends. Over 85 million downloads and hundreds of thousands of listeners have shown that exploring and embracing the wonders of our world can be not only enlightening but exciting.  Welcome to Astonishing Legends!

    Congressional Hearing Special Announcement! Happening Now!

    Congressional Hearing Special Announcement! Happening Now!

    tinyurl.com/congressufo

    • 48 sec
    What it Wasn't - Or How I Learned to Stop Dismissively Categorizing Potentially Paranormal Events as Mass Hysteria

    What it Wasn't - Or How I Learned to Stop Dismissively Categorizing Potentially Paranormal Events as Mass Hysteria

    Often when one hears about some group of people claiming to experience a highly strange event or similarly acting out in bizarre and irrational manners, it's easy and common to dismiss the episode as a case of "mass hysteria." Phenomena like the audience reaction to Orson Welles' War of the Worlds radio broadcast, "The Dancing Plague of 1518," the "Windshield-Pitting Mystery of 1954," and "The Mad Gasser of Mattoon" are considered by much of the public to be examples of mass hysteria. In the late 1930s and decades after, some sociologists used occurrences like those to help model their theory of "Social Contagion." Like the idea that one or several people claim to experience something unusual, others hear about it and start to see the same thing. Soon it all spirals into an epidemic of vast numbers of people all testifying to the same weirdness with no real, mystical cause. But is the potentially antiquated term of mass hysteria or even its modern descendant "mass psychogenic illness" accurate or helpful? When explaining how some collectives of people can declare to see the same impossible thing, or how communities usually react in predictable patterns when faced with the Fortean, are they all just "hysterical" or "ill?" Are these events all the same? With the Enfield Monster, sociologist David L. Miller used the incident as a case study for what seems a more suitable way to think about many of the stories we cover, not as contagion or hysteria, but as "Collective Action and Behavior." We may never know what these cryptic creatures and mysterious happenings genuinely are, but at least we can better understand how people react to them and each other when they show up. Regarding the experiencers, we can know what it wasn't. These are important considerations because, after all, what is the value to humans if a paranormal event occurs and no one is around to witness it?

    Visit our webpage for this episode for a lot more information!

    • 2 hr 57 min
    The Enfield Horror and other Midwest Monsters

    The Enfield Horror and other Midwest Monsters

    On the evening of April 15, 1973, Enfield, Illinois, resident Henry McDaniel heard a scratching noise outside his door he thought might be a bear. He opened it to find a hideous creature he described as having "... three legs on it, a short body, two little, short arms coming out of its breast area, and two pink eyes as big as flashlights. It stood four and a half feet tall and was grayish colored. It was trying to get into the house." McDaniel grabbed his pistol and a flashlight and fired four shots at the beast, which was only 12 feet away, sure that he had hit it with the first shot. The bullets had no effect on the beast, as it made a hissing sound at McDaniel "much like a wildcat's" before bounding 50 to 75 feet towards a brush-lined railroad embankment in just three leaps. A neighbor of McDaniel's, ten-year-old Greg Garrett, claimed that 30 minutes before this encounter, the same creature had accosted him in his backyard, stepping on his sneakers and ripping them to shreds before the boy ran inside terrified. However, as a team of sociologists from Western Illinois University interviewed witnesses and townsfolk, Greg and his parents would later tell them they had concocted the story to tease their eccentric neighbor McDaniel and put one over on an out-of-town newsman. McDaniel would spot the same or similar creature again on May 6, around 3:00 a.m., casually ambling down the railroad track. After McDaniel reported his second sighting to WWKI radio, the media, thrill-seekers, and the sociologists mentioned above all came to Enfield to investigate, including the radio station's News Director, Rick Rainbow. Rainbow and three associates had their own run-in with a monster near McDaniel's place. Also joining the investigation was noted cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, along with famed WGN radio host Richard Crowe. Both experienced men would hear what Coleman described as "the most ungodly, piercing shriek you can imagine." Whatever this being or beings were, it became known as "The Enfield Horror" or "The Enfield Monster." It would be easy enough to pass off this tale as the fanciful yarn of a crackpot and some eager cryptid hunters who were the only ones in town to claim a brush with the beast, but were these Enfield monster sightings an isolated event? According to Coleman, in his later book, Bigfoot!: The True Story of Apes in America, there was a flap of different monster sightings in the Midwest before, during, and years after Enfield, yielding colorful names like "Momo" and "The Big Muddy Monster." Considering all these accounts that don't sound like the suggested kangaroos, bears, dogs, calves, deer, or escaped apes, could McDaniel have been right when he said, "If they do find it, they will find more than one, and they won't be from this planet, I can tell you that."

    Visit our webpage for this episode for a lot more information!

    • 1 hr 32 min
    Charles Fort - Our Supernatural Father Part 2

    Charles Fort - Our Supernatural Father Part 2

    In the second part of our series on Charles Hoy Fort, we first return to the formative events of his adolescence that shaped his personality, career, and personal philosophies. Fort chronicled anecdotes from his youth in an unpublished manuscript titled Many Parts, written while in his 20s and of which only fragments remain. What can be gleaned from tales of his boisterous boyhood adventures, punctuated by harsh punishments from a strict father, is that it all instilled in Fort defiance of rules, dogma, and the expectations of hallowed establishments. He struggled to make sense of a childhood world that seemed rife with capricious events and outcomes, much as he later struggled to make sense of an adult world peppered with anomalous occurrences and their close-minded dismissal. We then examine Fort's journey from middle age to the end and his mindset towards and relationship with strange evidence. Just as he had been since he was a kid, Fort remained a collector. First of birds and rocks, then later stories of things that shouldn't happen yet still seemed to. And just as he had lost interest in labeling his natural finds in his teens, Fort perhaps lost interest in defining the enigmas he gathered and instead focused not on the labels and definitions but on the meaning and mechanics behind them. As much as Fort proved to be a "fly in the ointment" to hubristic scientists, critics, and clergy alike, his point was that the events themselves remained even more problematic, or as he wrote, "They will march." We must accept that the weirdness of our reality defies absolute conclusions. As we've also found with our research, any judgments on the impossible essentially boil down to belief. Or, as Fort summed up, "Here are the data. Make what you will, yourself, of them. . . . We have expressions: we don't call them explanations. We've discarded explanations with beliefs." If there is any conclusion we perhaps share with Charles Fort, it is this: if the paranormal and the supernatural genuinely exist, it certainly doesn't care what anyone believes.

    Visit our webpage for this episode for a lot more information!

    • 2 hr 17 min
    Charles Fort - Our Supernatural Father Part 1

    Charles Fort - Our Supernatural Father Part 1

    Perhaps most everyone listening to this show is familiar with the term "Fortean," meaning something related to the paranormal, the supernatural, or just generally strange phenomena. But where did that term come from? How did "Forteana" come to describe many of the topics we cover on the podcast? We owe that cognomen and a good deal of our inspiration for our reportage to the work of one man, Charles Hoy Fort. Fort (b. August 6, 1874 - d. May 3, 1932) was a journalist, author, and researcher best known for his collection of accounts of extraordinary incidents and bizarre phenomena. These reports and Fort's commentaries and speculations on them mostly ended up in four books: The Book of the Damned (1919), New Lands (1923), Lo!  (1931), and Wild Talents (1932). Within these volumes of nonfiction are found testimonies of rains of meat, frogs, blood, manna, black rain, and unbelievably large stones, poltergeists and spontaneous human combustion, vampires, animal mutilations, UFOs, and alien abductions – anomalies we're familiar with nowadays. Fort is also widely credited for coining the term "teleportation." However, there were likely no other compilations of these incredible tales in Fort's time or before, aside from local newspaper reports. For that reason alone, those of us who are fascinated by such subjects owe him a debt of gratitude. For over 30 years, Fort pored over magazines, books, newspapers, and scientific journals in New York and London libraries and had amassed thousands of notes on odd occurrences. By his own account, Fort would become discouraged by the futility of his endeavors and purpose and claimed to have tossed into the wind around 48,000 notes once while sitting on a park bench at The Cloisters in New York City. Yet his defiance at the dismissal or ridicule from contemporary scientists, or the mystification by religious thinking about these happenings, kept him working until the end. Fort's theories about the causes of such impossibilities would evolve or vacillate throughout his oeuvre, sometimes even within the same book. Whether speculating that the paranormal is the prank of some kind of "Cosmic Joker," to these aberrations being the vestigial byproducts of extraordinary primordial human survival skills, Fort remained compelled by their occurrences regardless. As suggested by the title, The Book of the Damned, Fort postulated that the facts of these cases were "damned" to be excluded by science. Yet no amount of scoffing from anyone would keep the data from these baffling events from proceeding – "they'll march" on, and so did Charles Hoy Fort. We're glad that they, and he, did.

    Visit our webpage for this episode for a lot more information!

    • 2 hr 18 min
    The Mystery of Pumapunku Part 2

    The Mystery of Pumapunku Part 2

    In tonight's Part Two of our series, we continue with the "Why?" of Tiwanaku and Pumapunku. As in, why was it all built? Why did Tiwanaku society spend so much effort and resources on it, and what did it mean to them? We then transition to the "How?" such a monumental architectural and cultural feat could be accomplished. What craftsmanship skills and construction technology did they possess to erect structures that continue to baffle present-day archaeologists and engineers? Could an organic technique of creating geopolymers, or essentially a type of concrete, explain the precise geometric shapes attained? Or was it a combination with a lost art of stone softening and shaping to achieve such exact tolerances? Perhaps they were just some of the best stonemasons in the world, with modern-quality chisels, drills, saws, and generations of labor at their disposal? And how did they come by their craft, through observation of nature and technical evolution, or some otherworldly source? We'll ask our good friend, Chemical Engineer Dr. Chris Cogswell, Ph.D., of The Mad Scientist Podcast, about the theoretical possibilities of ancient formulations as it applies to material sciences and their implications. Finally, we'll speculate on hypotheses and one aspect of the Tiwanaku enigma that is no less important than studying its stones – the legends and the beliefs that sparked its creation. For it is the folklore and spirituality of a culture that echoes through the ages, adding wonder about the mystery of Pumapunku.

    Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode!

    • 3 hr 54 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
8.5K Ratings

8.5K Ratings

Tamnoe22 ,

You guys are legends👽👻

I absolutely love the dedication, work, research and open minded discussions that Scott and Forrest bring to their podcast. The Sallie House episodes will forever be my favorite!

Dreye1689 ,

Meh

Two man circle jerk with guests sometimes. 🤷🏻‍♂️

2muchp1zza ,

Vertical Plane

Wow! Great show! Great book! Can’t wait to listen to more topics!

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