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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.

WWJD?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 18, 2012

Among evangelicals it is common to ask, in a situation, What Would Jesus Do? (sometimes shortened to WWJD?). However, evangelicals being a politically conservative lot, it is well to ask, just how much in agreement would Jesus be, regarding their stance on some of today’s controversial issues? In other words, we know they are right (even far right), but are they right with Jesus? Here are some answers.

 

Asteroid’s Namesake

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 6, 2012

Thanks to my friend, colleague, and fellow UFO researcher James McGaha, I now have the distinct honor of having an asteroid named for me! This fact was revealed at the 2011 CSIcon in New Orleans, held on Halloween weekend.

 

“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” (A Nickell-odeon Review)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 3, 2012

“Ah, Watson, do come in. I see you have just been to that latest, ah, ‘movie,’ supposedly based on what you so faithfully romanticize as my ‘adventures.’ And I perceive you were extremely dissatisfied with it.

 

Investigating Life as a Poet

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 29, 2011
Investigating Life as a Poet

Given that my main persona is investigator—of historical and literary mysteries (see my “Did Shakespeare Write ‘Shakespeare’?” in the Nov./Dec. 2011 Skeptical Inquirer), as well as homicides, and, most extensively, of paranormal enigmas—relatively few know of me as a poet—in which role I investigate life and attempt to shape the results into art.

 

Turin “Shroud” Called “Supernatural”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 22, 2011

As reported in the UK Independent of December 21, 2011, scientists working for the Italian government have claimed to find evidence that the image of Jesus crucified appearing on the notorious Shroud of Turin was not produced by a medieval artist but instead was likely caused by a supernatural event.

 

The Skepcook: Regarding “No Substitutions”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 19, 2011

The “no-substitution” policy of some restaurants is not a customer-friendly way to help one address his or her dietary concerns. Of course, sometimes substitutions cannot reasonably be made, but where they can be, restaurateurs should be encouraged to adopt a more flexible policy.

 

In Search of the Emerald Grail

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 35.5, September/October 2011

Investigative Files
In Search of the Emerald Grail

Il Sacro Catino, “The Holy Basin,” is one of the most famous embodiments of the legendary “Holy Grail,” and I was able to study both it and its legend there in the fall of 2009, attempting to resolve some of the mysteries and controversies concerning it.

“J. Edgar” (A Nickell-odeon Review)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 5, 2011

Let me confess at the outset that my response to Clint Eastwood's new biopic about Federal Bureau of Investigation founder J. Edgar Hoover is necessarily colored by my own personal encounters with the man. Actually, there were two J. Edgars.

“Chupacabra” Attack

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 29, 2011
“Chupacabra” Attack

The Chupacabra is a fabled vampiric creature that has supposedly preyed on farm animals in many countries since it first appeared in Puerto Rico in 1995. Is it on the loose now in the American midwest? In November I was able to examine the carcass of one such reputed creature on a Missouri farm.

Shootout with Martians: In the Wake of the 1938 Broadcast Panic

Skeptical Briefs Volume 20.4, December 2010

Investigative Files
Shootout with Martians: In the Wake of the 1938 Broadcast Panic

A visit to an art exhibit—based on Orson Welles’s famous 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast—at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo introduced me to a remarkable incident that reportedly occurred during the “panic” caused by Welles’s dramatized Martian invasion.

“Who Believes in Roswell?”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 14, 2011

What has come to be known as "the Roswell Incident"—the alleged mid-1947 retrieval of a crashed flying saucer and its humanoid crew from the desert near Roswell, New Mexico—continues to be controversial. It is the Holy Grail of UFOlogy, and many believe the truth is being covered up by a government conspiracy. However, skeptics cite evidence that what really crashed on Max Brazel's ranch was a secret U.S. spy-balloon array from Project Mogul (an attempt to monitor Soviet nuclear tests). Only later were alien bodies added to the story, through repeated hoaxes, proliferating urban legends, and the confabulated memories of aging witnesses.

“Anonymous”  (A Nickell-odeon Review)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 9, 2011
“Anonymous”  (A Nickell-odeon Review)

Fresh from counting the take of his other box office bonanzas—Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012—Roland Emmerich has gone from creating disaster movies to launching a movie disaster. Called Anonymous, this is a conspiracy fantasy based on the idiotic notion that Shakespeare was not the author of his literary masterpieces, which were instead penned by the Earl of Oxford.

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‘Messages’ from the 9/11 Dead

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 35.4, July/August 2011

Article

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The Séances of ‘Hellish Nell’: Solving the Unexplained

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 35.4, July/August 2011

Investigative Files

The Skepcook: Gourmet Anti-Vampire Soup

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 20, 2011

A guest who turns away from this delicious first-course offering, is probably a—well, you know what! Check the person's image in a mirror!

Theatrically Yours:  “The Ghost of Fort Niagara”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 11, 2011

"The Ghost of Fort Niagara" is an engaging little musical by the multitalented Neal Radice, founder and director of Buffalo's Alleyway Theatre, as well as author, composer, lyricist, and set and lighting designer—just to mention his personas that are directly involved in this Alleyway production!

The Case of the Miracle Oil

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 35.3, May/June 2011

Investigative Files
The Case of the Miracle Oil

I was invited to a home in Northern California where myriad icons, statues, and other religious effigies were “miraculously streaming oil”.

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GHO$TLY ENDEAVOR: Ethical Issues Haunt Kentucky Press

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 35.3, May/June 2011

Special Report

Scientific Investigation vs. Ghost Hunters

Skeptical Briefs Volume 20.3, September 2010

Investigative Files
Scientific Investigation vs. Ghost Hunters

I have often crossed paths with The Atlantic Paranormal Society, headed by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, stars of the popular Ghost Hunters series.

Irish “Spontaneous Human Combustion”? Blarney!

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 27, 2011

In a classic instance of faulty logic—what is known as "an argument from ignorance"—an Irish coroner has proclaimed "spontaneous combustion" as the cause of death of a 76-year-old man, Michael Faherty, whose body was found extremely burned at his home in Ballybane, Galway. Although his remains were found lying "with his head closest to an open fireplace," fire officers nevertheless concluded that that blaze was not involved! They did not explain how they had ruled out the obvious source of the ignition (BBC News Online, September 23, 2011).

“The Debt” (A Nickell-odeon Review)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 21, 2011
“The Debt” (A Nickell-odeon Review)

The Debt is a riveting thriller about Mossad secret agents David, Stefan, and Rachel, who are played—in scenes of 1966 and 1997—by two sets of actors.

Outlaw-Imposture Syndrome

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 7, 2011

The targets of impostors are not only the noted but the notorious also. Numerous persons have claimed that they were an erstwhile presumed-dead outlaw, like Jesse James or—the latest target—Butch Cassidy. So similar are the features of such cases that they define what I now call the Outlaw-Imposture Syndrome.

“Cowboys and Aliens” (A Nickell-odeon Review)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 25, 2011

It's a cross between True Grit and War of the Worlds—with sequences of fine acting and great special effects worthy of either movie.

Why, then, is Cowboys and Aliens such a failure?

Midnight in Paris (A Nickell-odeon Review)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 15, 2011

Ah, midnight in Paris!

Or anytime in Paris if you ask me—a place where I once had a magical time, until the Orient Express whisked me away, like a magic carpet, to Istanbul.

The Ghost Haunters

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 27, 2011

(What the spirited duo might say, if they weren't speaking through a ghost writer.)

“Psychics” in the Casey Anthony Murder Case

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 11, 2011

In the travesty of justice that was the Casey Anthony Murder trial in Orlando, two things may have escaped the reader's notice. The first is that the O.J. Simpson jury must have moved with O.J. to Florida and made themselves available to serve at the Anthony trial. The second concerns the involvement of "psychics." Did, in fact, a "psychic" divine the location of the remains of little Caylee Anthony, who was long sought after she went missing from her Orlando, Florida, home in the summer of 2008?

The First Grader (A Nickell-odeon Review)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 8, 2011

An inspiring narrative of humanity—of strength, values, and triumph—The First Grader should attract humanists in droves, perhaps especially secular humanists (i.e., atheists with hearts), since its messages are entirely secular. The story is all the more relevant for being "Based on a true story."

Gay-Marriage Victory

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 5, 2011

I am proud that my state government has at last, on June 25, 2011, passed legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, and that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo—who personally lobbied for its passage, as I voted for him to do—promptly signed it into law.

Heaven’s Stenographer: The ‘Guided’ Hand of Vassula Ryden

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 35.2, March/April 2011

Investigative Files
Heaven’s Stenographer: The ‘Guided’ Hand of Vassula Ryden

She claims to receive communications not only from her guardian angel, “Daniel,” but also from Jesus and even Yahweh himself, who guide her hand ...

Padre Pio: Scandals of a Saint

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 35.2, March/April 2011

Book Review
Padre Pio: Scandals of a Saint

A review of Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age by Sergio Luzzatto.

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