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A Skeptic's Take on the Paranormal

Date Friday - April 29, 2016
Host George Noory
Guests Joe NickellOpen Lines

Professional paranormal investigator and feature columnist for Skeptical Inquirer science magazine, Joe Nickell, provided his skeptic's take on the paranormal. Nickell has investigated many so-called ghost sightings and experiences, and often is able to explain the anomalies in scientific terms. "What I'm trying to do with my work with ghosts [or bigfoot]... is to actually go and actually investigate... and provide the simplest and best scientific explanation for it," he said. Nickell noted how paranormal explanations are based on an argument from ignorance, or negative evidence—someone does not know from where a strange noise in the home is originating so it is ascribed to a phantom.

"The fact that someone else can't explain it means very little because it may be that there's not enough evidence of anything to explain," he continued. Nickell detailed his investigation of Atlanta's House of Blood, where an elderly couple claimed to have seen blood springing forth from the floors and oozing out of the walls. Working with crime scene photos from the Atlanta Homicide Task Force under FOIA request, along with a nationally-known blood pattern analyst, Nickell determined the blood had been deliberately squirted onto the walls and floor. The police also concluded the couple did it for attention, he added.

Nickell explained why he does not buy into the concept of ghosts as energy left behind when a living person dies. The idea of life energy keeping the shape of a human after death, and sometimes including inanimate period clothes, is not a plausible concept from scientific standpoint, he asserted, suggesting apparitional experiences are closely related to dreams. He disapproved of the use of electromagnetic field meters and other equipment used for paranormal investigations. "I think most ghost hunters are detecting themselves," he said. Nickell also spoke about alien abduction phenomenon, pointing out the typical abductee is easily hypnotized and has a fantasy-prone personality, as well as the possibility of life on other planets. If advanced beings exist somewhere in the universe, it is not practical for them to travel here and buzz our planet, he surmised.

The final hour of the show featured Open Lines.

News segment guests: John M. Curtis / Peter Davenport

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