THE world was 2.9% weirder in 1996 than in 1995, according to the Fortean Times, and weirdness is likely to increase up to 2000 with “pre-millennial tension”.

The journal of strange phenomena, which publishes its index of the world’s overall weirdness today, records the largest rise in weirdness in the animal world, with more reports on big cats, at least six sightings of the Loch Ness monster and a video of what is purported to be a Swedish lake monster.

“Although we cannot accurately measure weirdness per se, we are in an excellent position to measure how weird the world is reported to be by examining and totalling up all the articles in our extensive archive.” said Joe McNally, associate editor. “Things seemed to dip slightly last year, but now it’s back on its way up.”

Reports of crop circles and miracles are down, fire and spontaneous human combustion have remained level, and UFO sightings and weeping statues are up.

“Biological and medical weirdness took off in 1996, thanks to NASA’s announcement that they had found what appeared to be traces of bacterial life in Martian meteors,” said Mr McNally.

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