Born in 1944, Dr. Joe Nickell is currently one of the world's best and most reputable investigators of paranormal phenomena. Nickell holds the position of Senior Research Fellow for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) as well as Associate Dean for the Center for Inquiry Institute. Carrying advanced degrees in English from the University of Kentucky, his curriculum vitae is distinguished by numerous researches into literary investigation and folklore. However, his job resume also boasts a diverse array of professions, ranging from stage magician to blackjack dealer, classroom instructor to author, and private detective to paranormal investigator.
In fact, not only is he one of the world's only salaried professionals to investigate the paranormal full-time, Nickell is among the most frequently enlisted for his expertise in the forensic investigation of historical documents, including the diaries of Jack the Ripper that he discredited as forgeries, and the hitherto undiscovered slave narrative written by Hannah Crafts, which he authenticated in 2002 for American literary critic and historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Besides being a regular contributor to Skeptical Inquirer magazine, Nickell has published dozens of his own books about investigating the paranormal, including The Science of Ghosts: Searching for Spirits of the Dead, an acclaimed, comprehensive book considered the first of its kind to employ a consistently science-based approach to the critical discussion of ghosts, transcommunication, and ghost-seekers.
During his nearly fifty-year career that began as a participant in a radio broadcast sèance to contact Harry Houdini, Joe Nickell’s pragmatic investigative philosophy has set him apart from the spiritualist believers and the dogmatic skeptics, alike. In his own words, Nickell states, “In contrast to many paranormal proponents who are little more than mystery mongerers, or to some skeptics who call themselves ‘debunkers,’ I hold that mysteries should neither be fostered nor dismissed. Instead, they should be carefully investigated with a view toward solving them…whether the mysteries were paranormal or historical or forensic or literary or whatever their nature.” In fact, Nickell continues to be decried by the devoted fans of celebrity paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, whom he denounces publicly as “exploitative and harmful charlatans.”
Because of his inspiring professional and scholarly commitment to the study of paranormal phenomena, and his insistence that paranormal investigators be held to standards of scientific inquiry, Dr. Joe Nickell is a role model for skeptical paranormal groups everywhere, including PPI, making him eminently deserving of our “Jaded Light” Award.
To learn more about Nickell's life, career, and investigative philosophy, visit him on-line at his official website: http://www.joenickell.com/.