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Flammarion’s Interests in Anomalies and Controversial Topics

Flammarion showed a keen interest in the anomalous and the unexplained throughout his life. While psychic phenomena were an expression of this interest, he also focused during his long career on anomalies and controversial topics of a different nature.

One of his interests was the idea and possibility of extraterrestrial life. In his book La Pluralité des Mondes Habités [The Plurality of Inhabited Worlds]), Flammarion (1868) focused on, as stated in his subtitle, a study of the “conditions of habitability of celestial land discussed from the point of view of astronomy, physiology, and natural philosophy.” (For a review click here). The book included discussions of the idea of life on other planets coming from antiquity, speculations about extraterrestrial life, and life in general, among other topics. (For Flammarion’s speculations on Mars click here.)

In Dieu dans la Nature [God in Nature]), Flammarion (1869) argued that the mind was not a function of the brain, an idea consistent with his conclusions about the meaning of such psychic phenomena as telepathy. He also defended intelligent design in the book.

Another interest of Flammarion was the manifestations of lightning. In his book Les Caprices de la Foudre [The Whims of Lightning]) he (1905) discussed ball lightning, as well as rare cases of the effects of lightning on people, animals, and plants, and in the production of imprints of images on a variety of surfaces.


Flammarion, C. (1868). La Pluralité des mondes habités [The plurality of inhabited worlds] (12th ed.) Paris: Didier.

Flammarion, C. (1869). Dieu dans la nature [God in nature]. (5th ed.) Paris: Didier.

Flammarion, C. [1905]. Les caprices de la foudre [The whims of lightning]. Paris: Ernest Flammarion.



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