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Joe Nickell

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Joe Nickell, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and "Investigative Files" Columnist for Skeptical Inquirer. A former stage magician, private investigator, and teacher, he is author of numerous books, including Inquest on the Shroud of Turin (1998), Pen, Ink and Evidence (2003), Unsolved History (2005) and Adventures in Paranormal Investigation (2007). He has appeared in many television documentaries and has been profiled in The New Yorker and on NBC's Today Show. His personal website is at joenickell.com.

“Mr. Holmes”: A Nickell-odeon Review

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 29, 2015

As Sherlockians know, one of the great detective’s earliest (pre-Watson) stories (“The Musgrave Ritual”) was set in Sussex, as were some later tales penned by his faithful sidekick (“The Sussex Vampire” for example). And in 1903 Holmes retired to Sussex Downs to enjoy life as a beekeeper, although mystery intervened: In “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane,” Holmes must solve a case of strange horror, but he does so, not with his deductive genius but by his powerful memory (recalling a book he once read).

 

My Latest: “American Hauntings”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 15, 2015
My Latest: “American Hauntings”

Co-authored by Robert E. Bartholomew, a world expert on panics and hysterias, is our American Hauntings: The True Stories behind Hollywood’s Scariest Movies—from The Exorcist to The Conjuring.

 

“It Is Said That . . .”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 13, 2015

Yawn. Another ghost book, long on mostly unattributed anecdotes and short on anything resembling evidence.

 

RIDDLEculous VIII

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 29, 2015

More funny riddles with a science/critical-thinking angle.

Cartoon: The Search

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 22, 2015
Cartoon: The Search

 

Dr. Pierce: Medicine for ‘Weak Women’

Skeptical Briefs Volume 24.4, Winter 2014/2015

Investigative Files
Dr. Pierce: Medicine for ‘Weak Women’

In the latter nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, alleged cures for “female weakness” were among the nostrums marketed by quacks.

Available in the Print Edition. Subscribe Here.

Dillinger’s Ghost

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 39.4, July/August 2015

Investigative Files

Available in the Print Edition. Subscribe Here.

At Last a Photo of the Soul?

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 39.4, July/August 2015

Review

Image of a Spirit by Paul Williams

Dillinger’s Ghost and Hoover’s Vendetta against G-Man Purvis

Online Extras
June 11, 2015
Dillinger’s Ghost and Hoover’s Vendetta against G-Man Purvis

Although there were other “public enemies” of the Depression Era, John Dillinger had daring and style to spare. But so did a tenacious G-man named Melvin Purvis, an agent so effective and so adored by the public and press that his boss, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover, seethed with jealousy.

Beginning a Theory of Everything

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 11, 2015
Beginning a Theory of Everything
In memory of Victor Stenger

“Clouds of Sils Maria”: A Nickell-odeon Review

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 1, 2015

Some moviegoers will find the film Clouds of Sils Maria difficult. When my wife Diana and I saw it recently, the young lady sweeping up popcorn afterward confided to us that, at some showings, people actually walked out during the show. It was nearly mid-way through before I really caught on and began to see how this ostensibly humdrum movie was not just “literary,” but profoundly so, and was—rather brilliantly—going somewhere.

The New Pope Saints

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 39.2, March/April 2015

Investigative Files

On April 27, 2014, two former popes—John XXIII (Angelo Roncalli, 1881–1963) and John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla, 1920–2005)—were made saints of the Roman Catholic Church. But how are saints created?

Enfield Haunting: Guy Playfair not a Fair-playing Guy

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 7, 2015

I don’t know if Guy Lyon Playfair has ever been scared by his own shadow, but he is most assuredly a True Believer in some scary things that science can’t prove actually exist—poltergeists, for instance. Skeptics have been following Playfair for years—rather like trailing behind an elephant in a parade to clean up after it.

“Woman in Gold”: A Nickell-odeon Review

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 28, 2015

Simply put, Woman in Gold is the story of Maria Altmann who—her family’s paintings having been stolen by the Nazis—seeks to reclaim a particularly famous one from the Austrian national art museum that “owns” it.

Fake Turin Shroud Deceives National Geographic Author

April 23, 2015
Fake Turin Shroud Deceives National Geographic Author

Science—and truth—have come under attack by an online article that bears the imprimatur of National Geographic.

The Wizardry of Oz

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 21, 2015
The Wizardry of Oz
 

Monster Catfish: Investigating a Whopper

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 39.1, January/February 2015

Investigative Files
Monster Catfish: Investigating a Whopper

There are different versions—folklore at work—regarding the origins of both the giant fish and the old photo. Some say the picture is genuine, while others insist that it is not.

Available in the Print Edition. Subscribe Here.

Monster Lookalikes: Reflections of a Paranatural Naturalist

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 39.3, May/June 2015

Investigative Files

Now a Second “Human Torch” Baby

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 13, 2015

A bizarre case has become even more bizarre as burns from alleged “spontaneous human combustion” (SHC)—inflicted on a baby boy from rural India in 2013—have now been followed by similar burns on his newly born brother!

“Miracle” of “Jesus” in Mud

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 9, 2015

Caused by heavy rain, a mudslide on a remote Colombian hillside has revealed an apparent image of a face many believe is that of Jesus. Appearing on Saturday, March 21 (a week and a half before Palm Sunday), the mud Christ drew the attention of media (ah) muckrakers who mostly treated it with amusement.

Poltergeist at Amityville?

Skeptical Briefs Volume 24.3, Fall 2014

Investigative Files

On December 18, 1975, George and Kathy Lutz and their three children moved into a six-bedroom Dutch colonial home in Amityville, New York. But soon they were driven out, they claimed, by horrific supernatural forces. Ghosts? A poltergeist? Demons? Let’s take a look, as new claims continue to surface.

RIDDLEculous VII

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 26, 2015
More funny riddles with a science/critical-thinking angle.

St. Pat’s “Miracle,” 1697

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 16, 2015

On St. Patrick’s Day, 1697, a painting known as the “Irish Madonna of Hungary” began to weep tears and blood—a “miracle” that has remained unexplained, if not unexplainable, to this day more than three centuries later.

CNN’s “Finding Jesus”: Disingenuous Look at Turin “Shroud”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 6, 2015

The ongoing, six-part series Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery— which began on Sunday, March 1—represents CNN’s run-up to Easter. By a coincidence of a financial nature, the series co-appears with a book of the same title by religion writers/filmmakers, David Gibson and Michael McKinley. The first episode of the TV series (but curiously the last chapter of the book) was about the “Shroud” of Turin. Easter after Easter, this alleged burial cloth of Jesus is trotted out like a ghost story at Halloween, typically with the same shoddy standards.

New “Ghost” at Hampton’s Court

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 4, 2015
New “Ghost” at Hampton’s Court

At England's Hampton Court Palace, in Middlesex, “ghosts” are always welcome, whatever their true nature. Recently 12-year-old Holly Hampsheir captured a strange figure on her iPhone—as she and her cousin of the same age noticed the following day, while perusing their images. Was it the fabled ghost of the Grey Lady? asked the tabloid Daily Mail. Or was it something else? as I was asked by Alan Boyle of NBC News.

Epilepsy “Cures”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 24, 2015
Epilepsy “Cures”

New York City directories listed Henry Root, Patent Medicines, from as early as 1881 until 1913 or possibly later. Sometimes calling himself “Dr.” Root, he offered a “cure” for epilepsy—only one among many.

A Parisian Patent Medicine

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 18, 2015

Recently acquired for my collection of paranormal and pseudoscience artifacts is a rather curious bottle.

Pictures (For Diana)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 12, 2015
Pictures (For Diana)
 

Science Slams “Supplements”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 10, 2015

Like the snake-oil products of yesteryear, which ran afoul of the 1907 Food and Drug Act, today’s “herbal dietary supplements” were dealt a severe blow in New York state when the attorney general ordered four major, national retailers to stop selling such store-brand products. Concluded the state’s top lawman, Eric T. Schneiderman: “Misbranding, contamination and false advertising are illegal. They also pose unacceptable risk to New York families—especially those with allergies to hidden ingredients.”

RIDDLEculous VI

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 3, 2015
More funny riddles with a science/critical-thinking angle.

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