In the 1760s, a French naturalist named Buffon was determined to prove that America’s wildlife was degenerate compared to that of other countries. Enraged, Thomas Jefferson began a personal quest to prove otherwise. Fueled by the recent discovery of an unidentified fossil called the American incognitum (which is now known to have been a mastodon), Jefferson claimed that the Woolly Mammoth was alive and well in America. He was determined to find a live specimen to show Buffon and the world that America had the biggest, baddest wildlife. All this despite the widely held belief that the mammoth was long extinct and that Jefferson was insane for thinking otherwise.
“It may be asked, why I insert the Mammoth, as if it still existed? I ask in return, why I should omit it, as if it did not exist?” -Thomas Jefferson
The story of Jefferson’s incognitum inspired me. To Jefferson, denying the existence of the mammoth in America because of a lack of evidence was just as foolish as insisting on its existence despite a lack of evidence.
I have never seen a ghost, a UFO, a chupacabra, or a lake monster but I haven’t really been looking. I refuse to cite my current lack of first-hand encounters with the paranormal as evidence for its non-existence.
The paranormal is my personal American incognitum. Armed only with curiosity and thirst for truth, I am ready to find it.