Joe Nickell is unfortunately one of those people who pose as skeptical enquirers but has in fact absolutely no critical thinking skills and very little understanding of science. His particular brand of “belligerent pseudoscience” does real harm to the values of true critical thinking and scientifically based skepticism.
First, for someone who goes on the public record espousing the values of science and its methodology, he actually has a very poor understanding of the history. philosophy and methodology of science - in fact “grade school level” and “folklore-ish” might be appropriately applicable terms. One only has to read a book such as A F Chalmers “An Assessment of the Nature and Status of Science and Its Methods” to understand why I state this. Unfortunately, his lack of a basic understanding is not unique - many qualified scientist (and Mr Nickell is certainly not even a qualified scientist) also do not have a good grasp of the topic. It takes a formal education in scientific history, philosophy and methodology to understand and I would suggest any public figure who purports to promulgate the values of science should have at least a basic grasp of the topic about which he speaks.
Second his powers of critical thinking are suspect - to say the least. You only have to look at the gullibility he displays when he buys wholeheartedly into the fraudsters, hoaxers, and disinformation specialists agendas when he talks about such things as “ghosts” being derived from the souls of dead people or that “flying saucers” being craft carrying alien being from other planets. If he was a true skeptic, a true critical thinker, he would realise that these characterisations of anomalous phenomena have agendas behind them. UFOs for example are just that - Unidentified Flying Objects. They are not “flying saucers”. They are not “alien craft” atc. They are merely UFOs. A true skeptic, a true critical thinker would realise there really are phenomena out there that we cannot explain according to our current state of knowledge. Period. That Mr Nickell thinks he can explain away all anomalous phenomena using conventional knowledge (such as delusions or meteorites or the planet Venus or truck lights on the wall or air currents, etc.) is disengenous in the extreme and does a great disservice to the nature of human intellectual curiosity and discovery.
Of course Mr Nickell, being the type of arrogant, prosthelitising, dogmatic personality that he is (as evidenced in his most recent podcast discussion), is not one to let the evidence get in the way of a good story. I would suggest people actually try and ignore Mr Nickell’s misinformed and misguiding pronouncements and search out and critically examine the evidence for themselves. On the topic of UFOs for example I would suggest people begin by exploring and trying to critically explain military reported radar/visual cases. They should also have a closer look at cases such as Lonnie Zamorra or the Rendlesham Forrest Woodbridge/Bentwater cases. Until you have examined such cases of UFO (remember U stands for “Unidentified”) activity, one cannot with any authority pronounce on the veracity of or explicability of UFO cases in general.
Of course I doubt very much whether anyone using this forum will take up my suggestions to actually go and examine the evidence, because it is probably true that most here will have closed their minds to true intellectual curiosity a long time ago. This is truly unfortunate - but understandable - people simply do not feel safe when their belief systems are challenged by rational and critical inquiry and will go out of their way to avoid disconfirming evidence to their own belief systems. Thus, even though I have opted to be notified when anyone posts to this thread, I fully expect no-one to actually read the Chalmers book and then critically comment on Mr Nickell’s understanding of science, and I fully expect no-one to research my suggested UFO cases and then critically comment on what Mr Nickell’s pronouncements on the topic amount to. I may be pleasantly surprised, but I doubt it.