Joe Nickell

Center for Inquiry — Amherst, NY

Joe Nickell, Ph.D. (University of Kentucky, 1987) is senior research fellow of the international Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), formerly the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), and an investigative columnist for Skeptical Inquirer science magazine. He has been profiled in the New Yorker magazine and on the Today show. 

A former professional stage magician (the resident magician at the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame for three years) and private investigator for a world-famous detective agency, Dr. Nickell taught technical writing for several years at the University of Kentucky before taking the full-time position with CSICOP in 1995.

Utilizing his varied background, Nickell has become widely known as an investigator of myths and mysteries, frauds, forgeries and hoaxes. Believed to be the world’s only full-time professional paranormal investigator, he routinely explores “haunted” houses, examines “weeping” statues, searches for fabled monsters, investigates psychics and mediums, and probes other “unexplained” phenomena such as crop circles, UFOs, spontaneous human combustion, etc. He insists that mysteries should neither be hyped nor dismissed, but instead carefully investigated with a view toward solving them. Nickell has been called “the modern Sherlock Holmes,” “the original ghostbuster,” and “the real-life Scully” (from “The X-Files”).

Nickell is the author, co-author, or editor of some thirty books, including Inquest on the Shroud of Turin (1983, 1998); Secrets of the Supernatural (1988); The Magic Detectives (1989); Pen, Ink, and Evidence (1990); Missing Pieces (co-author Robert A. Baker, 1992); Mysterious Realms (1992); Looking for a Miracle (1993); Psychic Sleuths (1994); Camera Clues (1994); Entities (1995); Detecting Forgery (1996); The UFO Invasion (1997); Crime Science (co-author John F. Fischer, 1999); Real Life X-Files (2001); The Mystery Chronicles (2004); Secrets of the Sideshows (2005); Unsolved History (2005); Relics of the Christ (2007); Adventures in Paranormal Investigation (2007); Real or Fake (2009); Tracking the Man-Beasts(2011); and The Science of Ghosts (2012), among others. 

In addition to several documentaries and series on A&E ("The Unexplained"), the History Channel ("Monster Quest"), the National Geographic Channel (e.g., "Is It Real?"), the Oprah Winfrey Network ("The Miracle Detectives"), Animal Planet ("Lost Tapes Series"), and the Discovery Channel (such as “The Science of Magic,” “America’s Haunted Houses,” and the “Science Mysteries” series), Nickell has appeared on numerous national TV shows. These include “News with Brian Williams,” “Dateline NBC,” “Larry King Live,” “Oprah,” “Ricki Lake,” “Jerry Springer Show,” “Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious Universe,” “Unsolved Mysteries,” “Politically Incorrect,” “20/20,” "CBS News Sunday Morning," “48 Hours,” and Anderson Cooper's "AC 360" and "Anderson." 

To book Joe as a speaker, contact the CFI Outreach Department via email.

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