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Oh no, a mean and nasty smokescreener and clever rationalizationer

Joe's Office

Sectes et Pseudo-sciences is reporting on the 2013 Activities of Joe Nickell:

As CSI’s Senior Research Fellow Joe Nickell continued his work—now in the middle of his fifth decade—of investigating the world’s paranormal, historical, and forensic mysteries. A former stage magician, a twice-promoted operative for a world-famous detective agency, and a literary scholar (Ph.D. in English literature, with an emphasis on literary investigation and folklore), Nickell also has a strong background in both historical research and forensics. He is the author (or co-author or editor) of some forty books, including Unsolved History, Crime Science, and Looking for a Miracle.He has appeared on numerous television shows, such as Oprah, and has been profiled inThe New Yorker and on the Today show.

[ . . . ]

Print and online news sources that sought Nickell’s expertise included the Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, Kansas City Star, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Raleigh News Observer, and many others. Nickell was the prominently featured skeptic regarding the notorious Shroud of Turin in an article in the National Catholic Register. (Unfortunately Nickell’s scientific and historical evidence was followed by a proponent’s smokescreen of pseudoevidence, pseudoscience, and clever rationalizations.)

Oh no, a mean and nasty smokescreener of pseudostuff, no less a clever rationalizationer, at the National Catholic Register.

Official triptych showing Joe in his lab wearing a suit, sleeveless bush jacket and white lab coat is from Joe’s media information page at joenickell.com

Categories: News & Views
  1. Matthias
    January 20, 2014 at 7:30 am

    I’m sure Mr Nickell is a smart man – he has a PhD – but his list of work experiences is an oddball mash up of things, what can he claim his real expertise is in, in evaluating the Shroud?

    • Dan
      January 20, 2014 at 7:48 am

      Joe is smart. He’s a nice guy as well. I enjoyed talking with him in the past. He is a bit pompous when talking about the shroud. For instance, he insists that McCrone was proven right and there is nothing more to be said about it because it is just an argument between zealous Christians and everyone else. Back in 1999, Eric Krieg of the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking wrote about him: “Joe is not your “average Joe”, by nature of former occupations of: undercover detective, teacher, draft dodger, river boat manager, carnival promoter, magician, investigator, and spokesperson. . . . Joe impressed on me the difference between being a scientist and an investigator. Joe seems to have no significant credentials just as his mentor: James Randi. In both cases, the lack of single significant credentials is much more than offset by a more important broad area of knowledge. Joe remarks that a scientist tends to approach an investigation from the narrow view of his own specialty – where as a “jack of all trades” would come up with more avenues of investigation.”

  2. Matthias
    January 20, 2014 at 7:59 am

    fair enough, sounds a bit “mickey mouse’ to me….then again, I’m necessarily a fan of so called “specialists” either, so maybe I should open my mind.

  3. Louis
    January 20, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Joe Nickell has at least been frank about the shortcomings of a scientist but he should know that a parapsychologist is expected to be some sort of “jack of all trades”. Both Randi and him are not parapsychologists and tend to take it for granted that genuine phenomena is obtained by fraudulent means, which is not really the case. A good parapsychologist is able to distinguish between what is genuine and what is fraudulent, also knowing that the field is neutral in its approach.

  4. piero
    January 20, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Here I want to ask …
    If you know a parapsychologist able to investigate the field of precognitive dreaming in the realm of analyses … for the linen fibrils of the Holy Shroud (and see also the controls of the inherent “ghosts”) …

    • Louis
      January 20, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      Piero, I presume you are serious about what you are saying, so let me tell you something:
      genuine parapsychological phenomena are spontaneous, they cannot be stimulated. You cannot go to bed and begin dreaming about the Shroud to see if you arrive at some result, because the dream did not emerge from the unconscious.

      Just in case you are not aware about it, let me draw your attention to the case of Danish physician Dr. Niels Svensson. According him he saw the face of Jesus in a dream in 1962, when he was twelve years old, and he was astonished to see that it was the same face he saw on the Shroud in 1975.

      Having felt and witnessed genuine parapsychological phenomena, I have no reason to doubt what Dr. Svensson wrote.

      http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/Svensson-refl.pdf

  5. January 20, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Joe starts every investigation with the assumption, as Randi did, that he can debunk the ‘paranormal’ claim. This is fine for 99 percent of the cases they’ve investigated. But as many have pointed out here, the Shroud is not, necessarily, a paranormal case. It could be authentic and be natural.

    If Joe could accept that premise then the confirmation bias that obviously impedes his research on this topic would be lessened.

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