Buffalo Rising

Science & Art Cabaret – Investigating ‘Paranormal’ Mysteries

"Triptych" Photo ©2005 Andrew A. Skolnick

When it comes to paranormal activities, it seems as if everyone is an expert. These days, the mere mention of a paranormal disturbance brings people out of the woodwork to investigate. In a world where so many people are eager to sign off on sightings, it’s more of a rarity to come across someone whose job it is to attempt to debunk the myths and mysteries, frauds, forgeries and hoaxes.

Meet paranormal investigator Joe Nickell, a paranormal investigator who sets out to study the whos, whats, whens, and whys of specters, apparitions, and any other phenomenons that might appear to be of an otherworldly nature. By utilizing his skills as a senior research fellow of the Amherst-based Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, his abilities as a former stage magician, and his cunning as a private detective, Nickell is able to strip the facts from seemingly fictional narratives, in order to get to the bottom of a wide range of supernatural cases. 

On Wednesday, February 7, Nickell will be the sole speaker at Science & Art Cabaret, hosted by Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Technē Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies at the University at Buffalo, and the UB College of Arts and Sciences. Nickell will be discussing his ability to see through thin paranormal veils, by use of critical thinking, and his years of experience in studying sightings that range from ‘the ghost at the Mackenzie House in Toronto’, to cases of alleged spontaneous human combustion.

The first Science & Art Cabaret came about in 2009 when Gary Nickard, UB clinical associate professor of art; Will Kinney, UB physics professor; and John Massier, visual arts curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, set out to create an event that mashed up art, science, critical thinking, and creativity. 

As Massier says, “Joe Nickell’s investigative and research pedigree is broad and gigantic, and his knowledge of the field extremely deep. We know his presentation will give great clarity to the tools of critical thinking and skepticism as used in considering subjects many often take at face value or believe in too readily.

“Our cabaret has always had an ongoing theme of the value of critical thinking, and we know Joe’s experiences and insight will give great texture to this theme. It should be a telling cue to our audience that Joe has placed the word ‘paranormal’ within quotations marks. True believers may have their belief systems challenged.”

The event, “Investigating ‘Paranormal’ Mysteries, will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at The 9th Ward at Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo.Admission is free and there will be a cash bar.

Hat tip to Charlotte Hsu, News Content Manager (Sciences, Economic Development) at University at Buffalo.

Lead image: “Triptych” Photo ©2005 Andrew A. Skolnick