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Joe Nickell is ‘terrible’ at sighting ghosts and has a ‘pitiful record’ of catching extra-terrestrials. Nickell is perhaps the world’s only full-time salaried paranormal investigator. It is, after all, his job to explain away the paranormal.
When Nickell became interested in magic, his father, a postmaster and amateur magician, taught him some of the tricks that he knew.
He became an amateur sleuth at the age of eight when his parents bought him a professional fingerprinting kit and he turned a room in his house into a crime lab.
This maxim speaks to his lifelong obsession with unraveling secrets.
Growing up in the Appalachian town of West Liberty, Kentucky, Nickell was a curious child whose parents indulged his obsessions.
At various haunted inns, many apparitions have turned out to be due to the person experiencing a common 'waking dream'.
Nickell 'caught' the 'ghost' of Mackenzie House (pictured) in Toronto during the early 1970s when his investigation discovered the haunted footfalls on the staircase were being caused by nothing more than a late-night cleaning crew in the building next door Questioning the supernatural is important, he said.His father was an amateur magician and taught him some of the tricks that he knew Nickell often performed magic tricks and sold magic kits in toy stores, as seen in these undated photos at Simpson's department store in Toronto.He did his last shows as a professional stage magician in 1973 because he began work as a private investigator Nickell’s first séance was in 1969 in Toronto for a CBC documentary called Houdini in Canada.He’s been investigating hauntings since attending his first séance in 1969 and says he has never come across any evidence that would prove the existence of ghosts. He began to consider himself a skeptic of paranormal claims in 1969 when he attended his first séance as part of a CBC radio special, Houdini in Canada.He's held his own séance since 1996Nickell points toward scientifically explainable reasons for why people may think they’ve seen the supernatural.His lack of specific credentials – he has a Ph D in English from the University of Kentucky – is offset by experience and a broad area of knowledge.