Paranormal Investigator Joe Nickell Reveals the Truth Behind Modern Cryptozoological Myths
By Ed Grabianowski
Paranormal investigator and cryptozoologist Joe Nickell has spent 40 years doing fieldwork and research, digging for the truth behind bizarre phenomena like weeping statues and haunted houses. He invited us to his office to talk about the connections between Bigfoot and alien mythology, life as the token skeptic on TV, and why debunkers are just as bad as mystery mongers. Joe Nickell is perhaps the world's only full-time salaried paranormal investigator. "I'm terrible at catching ghosts," he told me with a wry smile. "I have a pitiful record when it comes to catching extraterrestrials." His jovial manner belies the stereotype of the dour skeptic, and he delights in showing off his collection of curios and oddities gathered in the course of his work as senior research fellow for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and author of the "Investigative Files" column for Skeptical Inquirer.He gets very serious, however, when I bring up accusations that he destroys a sense of wonder in the world. "We should look for the truth because the truth matters," he says, "and we should face reality because, well – we can look at the Dark Ages and see where it gets us if we don't. The idea that we shouldn't solve mysteries is foreign to the human experience. The progress of science is a series of solved mysteries."