I have been called "the modern Sherlock Holmes," the "real-life Scully" (from the X-Files), and other appellations. I am well into my fourth decade as an investigator of historical, paranormal, and forensic mysteries, myths and hoaxes. In contrast to mystery-mongerers on the one hand and so-called debunkers on the other, I believe that mysteries should actually be investigated with a view toward solving them.
Apparently, I am the world's only full-time professional paranormal investigator -- the "Investigative Files" writer for Skeptical Inquirer science magazine who travels around the world investigating strange mysteries at the very fringes of science (see Paranormal Investigator). The role utilizes my varied background: former stage magician (Resident Magician at the Houdini Hall of Fame), private investigator (for a world-famous detective agency), and academic (Ph.D in English, focusing on literary investigation and folklore, and author of some two dozen books -- see Books page).
A major role is examiner of questioned rare documents. I have exposed many forgeries, including the notorious "Jack the Ripper Diary," and I have authenticated many treasures. My books on the subject include Pen, Ink, and Evidence and Detecting Forgery. (See "Historical Documents Consultant.)
And those are only some of my roles. Like everyone, I have done many different things, but I have pushed the envelope. I have made something of a career out of careers-- blackjack dealer, riverboat manager, poet, sign painter.... (Scores are listed on this site under "Personas.") Even in this regard I have been a detective, for it's my way of investigating life.
To see what people are saying about Joe Nickell, click on Testimonials above.