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Mike Dash

Mike Dash

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Mike Dash is a Welsh
Welsh people
The Welsh people are an ethnic group and nation associated with Wales and the Welsh language.John Davies argues that the origin of the "Welsh nation" can be traced to the late 4th and early 5th centuries, following the Roman departure from Britain, although Brythonic Celtic languages seem to have...

 writer, historian and researcher. He is best known for his books and articles looking at unusual historical events, anomalous phenomena, and strange beliefs.


Born in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, Dash attended Peterhouse, a college at the University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 particularly noted for teaching history
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

. He did postgraduate work at King's College London
King's College London
King's College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and a constituent college of the federal University of London. King's has a claim to being the third oldest university in England, having been founded by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington in 1829, and...

, and holds a PhD in naval history for the thesis British Submarine Policy 1853–1918.

Dash worked for 20 years as contributing editor and publisher of the journal Fortean Times
Fortean Times
Fortean Times is a British monthly magazine devoted to the anomalous phenomena popularised by Charles Fort. Previously published by John Brown Publishing and then I Feel Good Publishing , it is now published by Dennis Publishing Ltd. As of December 2010, its circulation was approximately 18,000...

, which specialises in the study and research of strange and anomalous phenomena. His works investigate misconceptions and errors in the field of strange phenomena, typically finding a middle path between "believers" (who, in Dash's view, often accept extraordinary or unusual claims without investigation or on scant evidence) and skeptics and debunker
A debunker is an individual who attempts to discredit and contradict claims as being false, exaggerated or pretentious. The term is closely associated with skeptical investigation of, or in some cases irrational resistance to, controversial topics such as U.F.O.s, claimed paranormal phenomena,...

s (who, in Dash's view, often overlook interesting or valuable evidence in their seeming desire to disprove alleged paranormal or anomalous phenomena). In Borderlands (1997), Dash repeatedly notes that researchers of unusual phenomena must always be wary of potential hoax
A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, or rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences or April Fools' Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes.-Definition:The British...

es; time and again people have perpetrated elaborate pranks or hoaxes with little motive other than to fool others. Overall, he adheres to the psychosocial
Psychosocial Hypothesis
In ufology, the psychosocial or psychocultural hypothesis, colloquially abbreviated PSH or PCH, argues that at least some UFO reports are best explained by psychological or social means...

 school of thought, arguing that the vast majority of strange experiences have their origins in the human brain, mediated by the culture in which the percipients were raised.

As a historian, Dash is noted for the high quality of his research, which the academic journal The Age of Sail described as "to a level rarely seen in books intended for a general audience." The Toronto Globe and Mail applauded his work as “up-close, personal, and full of you-are-there detail," adding, "Dash is that rarity: a perfectionist in his research and a writer who perfectly carves out his story with a pen as sharp as a stiletto," and the New York Times praised his "unabashedly cinematic flair, backed by meticulous research." On the other hand, Clive Ponting
Clive Ponting
Clive Ponting is a British writer, former academic and former senior civil servant. He is the author of a number of revisionist books on British and world history...

, writing in the local London paper the Hampstead & Highgate Express, described Borderlands as the work of "a writer on that journal for the gullible, Fortean Times," concluding that the book was "bad, in an unexpected way."

Dash has published seven books and a number of articles and papers in Fortean Times and later spin-off titles such as the academic annual Fortean Studies, published from 1994 through 2000. His most recent title, The First Family, is a new history of Giuseppe Morello
Giuseppe Morello
Giuseppe "the Clutch Hand" Morello , also known as "The Old Fox", was the first boss of the Morello crime family and later top adviser to Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria. He was known as Piddu and his rivals the Castellammarese knew him as Peter Morello...

 and the establishment of the Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. In July 2011 his history site A Blast from the Past was purchased by the Smithsonian, for whom he now writes a weekly blog.

External links

  • Blog at the Charles Fort Institute
  • Blog at the Smithsonian