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In this sequel to The Real-Life X-Files: Investigating the Paranormal (2001), Nickell, a senior research fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), collects 41 short pieces sure to please skeptics. On the other hand, believers drawn by the "X-Files" in the subtitle and the paranormal category label may be dismayed to discover that the author provides rational, often mundane explanations for such phenomena as crop circles, the Nazca lines in Peru, the shroud of Turin, the Winchester mystery house, various ghosts and haunted houses, spiritualism, voodoo and much more. In straightforward, understated prose, Nickell describes frauds, deceptions and instances of superstition among vulnerable and gullible victims, some of which he exposed by covert investigations. Those looking for further reading on these topics will welcome the reference lists at the end of each chapter.
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Nickell is a hands-on skeptic, who prefers to visit the scene of a good mystery, testing for trickery among the psychics, or tramping around in the swamps looking for monsters. When he can't visit a site personally, he makes a reasonable effort to research the facts of the case and engage in critical speculation. His varied work experience as a private investigator, forensic document analyst, stage magician, carnival pitchman, and English professor gives him credibility as a hard-nosed researcher and writer. This sequel to his Real-Life X-Files (2001) is a compilation of 41 investigative reports, most of which have appeared in issues of the Skeptical Inquirer magazine. Some of the mysteries he chronicles (and, for the most part, finds explanations for) are supposed hauntings such as the "Amityville horror" in New York and the ghost of voodoo queen Marie Laveau in New Orleans. Nickell considers himself an investigator rather than a debunker, so this is no slash-and-burn diatribe against true believers; however, the book does offer some cautionary tales that uncritical paranormalists should take to heart. George Eberhart
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Arch-skeptic Joe Nickell has returned with yet another collection of stories and eye-witness accounts about various alleged supernatural and paranormal phenomena. Read morePublished on October 13, 2006 by Stefan Isaksson
One again, Joe Nickell demonstrates his unflappable penchant for "debunking through ignorance." Case in point: his chapter on Our Lady of Guadalupe, an image of supposed miraculous... Read morePublished on June 6, 2006 by Bruce D. Wilner