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Real-Life X-Files: Investigating the Paranormal Hardcover – October 24, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky; First Edition edition (October 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567316700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813122106
  • ASIN: 0813122104
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Nickell is no armchair skeptic. In order to debunk paranormal claims effectively, he knows it's not enough to make ill-informed pronouncements from a distance. In this collection of articles reprinted from Skeptical Inquirer magazine, Nickell does excellent background research, which he follows up in many cases with on-site investigations of mysteries ranging from crop circles and lake monsters to spiritualist mediums and stigmata. His previous forensic experience as a private investigator is put to good use when he looks into apparent spontaneous human combustion. He tackles the mysterious and elusive treasure of Nova Scotia's Oak Island--the "money pit"--and concludes that it is a natural formation and that Masonic groups may have had a hand in planting some confusing artifacts. Some of his targets are little more than curiosities, such as Magnetic Hill, where cars seemingly roll uphill, or the giant Coleman frog, which is rather obviously a manufactured model. Others seem more worthy of deconstruction, like mysterious faces appearing on rose petals, spirit paintings, and Fox-TV's famous alien autopsy film. George Eberhart
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"Nickell does excellent background research, which he follows up in many cases with on-site investigations of mysteries ranging from crop circles and lake monsters to spiritualist mediums and stigmata." -- Booklist



"Examines forty-seven paranormal cases, ranging from a supposedly petrified girl buried in eastern Kentucky, to spontaneous human combustion, to UFO visitations, to auras, to stigmata, to haunted houses, to ghostly photos, to police psychics, to communicating with the dead." -- Ozarks Mountaineer



"Whoever said that the truth is both stranger and more entertaining than fiction describes this book exactly." -- Skeptical Inquirer



"It may not be as fun as being fooled, but it's refreshing to see an experienced professional who has investigated hundreds of alleged paranormal occurrences.... A fascinating book." -- WTBF


More About the Author

Joe Nickell has been called "the modern Sherlock Holmes." Since 1995 he has been the world's only full-time, professional, science-based paranormal investigator. His careful, often innovative investigations have won him international respect in a field charged with controversy.

Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By William Holmes VINE VOICE on September 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Despite the title, readers looking for a book that proves Mulder right and Scully wrong are going to be disappointed. Nickell agrees that "the truth is out there"--he just thinks that it's a lot more mundane than most people realize.
Nickell investigates 47 "mysteries," including the Turin Shroud, spontaneous human combustion, crop circles, the Oak Island treasure, the Flatwoods UFO monster, the Roswell flying saucer crash and an assortment of hauntings, miracles and lake monsters. True believers be warned: Nickell concludes that each of these events can be explained rationally and without resort to space aliens or the supernatural.
Nickell has an agreeable style, although at times it's a bit academic. He doesn't talk down to his readers--he thinks that each mystery is worth investigating carefully and he is clearly having fun with his work. In his own words, "if we steer between the extremes of gullibility and dismissiveness--in other words, if our minds are neither too open nor too closed--we may learn more about our world and ourselves. We may even have some fun doing it" (p. 135). I'm a card-carrying skeptic, so I love this stuff, but I think that an open-minded "true believer" might enjoy this book as well.
If you like "Real-Life X-Files," I recommend any of Nickell's other books ("Secrets of the Supernatural," "Entities" and "Ambrose Bierce is Missing"), as will as Hogart and Hutchinson's "Bizarre Beliefs." Each tells the skeptic's side of the story, but each is open minded and entertaining.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I read Fate and Fortian Times every month so I am definitely not a skeptic and fully expected to hate this book. The typical "skeptical inquirer" is a closed minded snob and ultimately just as silly as the most gullible "believer". However, Nickell is an exception. He approaches his cases open minded and without an attitude.
Most important is that this book is a fun read. The topic rarely attracts such coherent yet enjoyable writing. I had a blast reading it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By B. Horne on June 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I find it hard to believe that this book has gotten so many negative reviews, and thus such a low average. I really don't think it deserves it. I found this a competent, readable book that provided a lot of answers for things I may have always wondered about, or had never even known of before. I appreciated that each topic only had a few (anywhere from three to fifteen or so) pages on the subject, so that if it was something I wasn't particularly interested in, I knew soon enough I'd be past it and on to something new.

My only real complaints would be to say that, first, some of the topics do get a bit repetitive (although, as I said, they don't last for too many pages, so it's easy to get by them). Second, I found chapter 3 ("Magicians Among The Stars") almost unbearably boring due to all the 'facts' I found very uninteresting. Thus, it seemed to drag on, and I had to force myself through it, which is unfortunate since it's in the beginning of the book. However, once past that, I was typically quite content to continue reading to the end.

If you've ever wondered just how some of the most common 'paranormal' claims were/are likely pulled off, or just want to gain a bit of knowledge on some interesting topics in the area, this is a pretty nice book to add to your collection.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I would have to agree somewhat with the last reviewer.
I like to read both paranormal/strange occurence books and debunking/skeptical books to get both sides of the story.
Unfortunately for the Nickell, debunking camp, they always seem to be a bit more hysterical in their denials and more willing to bend the evidence to support their beliefs than the people they are trying to discredit.
Some of the mysteries that he investigates he does a pretty good job on and provides reasonable explanations for. Others, where he can't prove any clear fraud or provide a reasonable explanation for, he resorts to the old 'I don't think it could have happened, so it didn't' arguement, or provides explanations that couldn't possibly be true, such as the Doug/Dave claim to have produced hundreds of crop circles, rather than just saying the verdict is still out.
I love mysteries and I love more a good explanation for them. This is about 1/2 way there. There are some good explanations, excellent bibliography (for further studies) and a lot of arrogant, patronising statements which are there, seemingly, just to show Joe Nickells brillance and superiority to the poor benighted fools that might believe differently than him.
All in all, not a bad book, and the bibliographies at the chapter ends are worth the price alone.
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Stefan Isaksson on November 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Over the years, Joe Nickell of skeptic organization CSICOP has written or co-written a large amount of books, and several of them are a lot like Real X-Files: large anthologies where numerous paranormal and mysterious cases are described and investigated, cases that Nickell has investigated personally and in most cases, at least according to himself, has solved. (And several of these books have appeared on UFO-Sweden's review sections.)

One thins is for sure: Nickell's books are always very educational. He's definitely a skilled investigator with a lifetime's worth of experience, he knows people all over the world, and most important of all, he's extremely scientific in his methodology which he applies to ALL his investigations. Pseudo-science and spirituality don't get along very well with Nickell, but that's something he's the first to admit. What he tries to tell his audience - in book after book - is that in HIS world the scientific approach is the only approach worth while, and even the most bizarre of cases usually have both simple and/or natural explanations when the famous razor of Occam has been applied.

In other words, Joe Nickell is every Skeptic's household god and every Believers worst nightmare.

And therefore, some people will always hate him while others while always love him. However, no matter what your personal opinion about him may be, you still cannot ignore the fact that his books - at least the ones who resemble Real-Life X-Files - continually show the same weakness: they always contain cases and investigations that are either described very briefly or have no real conclusions, which makes them all seem redundant.

A few examples from Real-Life X-Files: the Roswell incident are dealt with on three (3!
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