Barker’s Nerve and Bone Liniment

June 19, 2017

Barker’s Nerve and Bone Liniment was a proprietary medicine introduced by Thomas Barker in Philadelphia in 1859. It was intended for both man and beast.

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Multipurpose “Florida Water”

June 01, 2017

“Florida Water”—popular through most of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth—was neither water nor a product of Florida. It had a surprising number of uses, medicinal and otherwise.

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“Globster” Mysteries

May 22, 2017

Cryptozoologists call them “globsters”—great decaying masses usually seen when they wash ashore somewhere. The unidentified carcasses are typically called “sea monsters”—until science determines their true identity. Such a creature—a 50-foot leviathan—appeared on an Indonesian island beach in early May 2017. The rotting corpse was first thought to be that of a giant squid (the “Kraken” of sea lore).

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“Mouth Elixir”: Bell-shaped Dr. Bell Bottle

May 11, 2017

This distinctive bell-shaped bottle (see photo) is embossed on its bottom, “DR. V. C. BELL’S MOUTH ELIXIR.” What on earth was that?

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Televangelist Hinn Investigated—Again

May 05, 2017

Benny Hinn—the televangelist who talks with God and knocks people down by merely pointing at them—is being investigated for fraud and tax evasion, following a raid executed by a search warrant on April 26, 2017. I am not surprised. He is full of tricks.

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“The Lost City of Z”: A Nickell-odeon Review

April 28, 2017

The Lost City of Z is the story of an alleged indigenous city in Brazil’s Amazon, its name given by British soldier, surveyor, and explorer Col. Percy Fawcett who sought to prove its reality. To understand Fawcett’s quest, we must see it in the context of such myths generally, which—pursued from the fifteenth century—helped lead to the development of archaeology.

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Ghost “Orbs” at the Witch’s Barn

April 24, 2017

Many ghost hunters insist that “orbs”—strange balls of light that mysteriously appear in their photos—are a form of “spirit energy.” If so, they seem nowhere more evident than at a Rhode Island barn where, according to some sources, two persons were hanged, including a witch named Bathsheba. She was central to the horror film, The Conjuring, reportedly based on the case files of the infamous Ed and Lorraine Warren, self-styled “demonologist” and “clairvoyant” who made a career of scaring people with made-up demons.

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“The Conjuring” Double Bombshell

April 11, 2017

The author of the book that launched The Conjuring franchise (two main horror films and spin-offs based on the work of two notorious paranormal investigators) has now launched a double bombshell. He is suing the movies’ producers for allegedly violating his rights, while also stating that central claims in the movies are bogus.

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Joe Nickell Receives Distinguished Service Award

April 05, 2017

Thanks to the committee for Buffalo’s annual Science Exploration Day who — on the event day of March 22, 2017, at the University of Buffalo — honored me with the Distinguished Service Award. The following page appeared in the event booklet:

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A Brief Biography of “Magnetic Healer” H.N. Wheelock

March 28, 2017

As presented elsewhere (Nickell 2017), I acquired for my collection a trade card of nineteenth-century “Magnetic Healer” H.N. Wheelock. To learn more about him, I researched various sources, including an authoritative Wheelock genealogy (Sullivan 2017). CFI Libraries Director Tim Binga greatly assisted with this project, tracking Wheelock through federal and state censuses and other records. Here is what we discovered.

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