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Real-Life X-Files: Investigating the Paranormal Hardcover – October 24, 2001
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"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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of the worst books I have ever read! Nickel has the writing skills of a 9th grader delivery his first report. It is dry as the sudan. Read morePublished 11 months ago by popeye72
I am fascinated with the paranormal. I don't like the extremists on either side. Joe Nickel should have been able to hit the spot quite easily, however, there were childish... Read morePublished on October 24, 2008 by noyb
It's fine to be a believer; it's fine to be a skeptic. However, it is not fine to settle so staunchly on your viewpoint that all your conclusions are foregone--while representing... Read morePublished on May 26, 2006 by Bruce D. Wilner
Nickell trys to call himself a skeptic but he is not at all, in fact he is an all out non believer who even when he has no evidence that things are a hoax or natural he deems them... Read morePublished on December 15, 2005 by Elyse M. Ogden
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... Read morePublished on November 29, 2005 by Stefan Isaksson
If you don't believe in anything, you'll like this book. I like this book, because I don't believe in anything (not unless I can taste, touch, smell, hear, or see it). Read morePublished on March 18, 2005 by FruityAsANutcake
I should have been forewarned when this $27.50 hardback was on the Barnes & Nobel's Bargain Table for $4.99. Read morePublished on February 27, 2005 by Dr. Ali Fant