Since as early as 1969 -- when I sat in on a sŤance for CBC Radio in Toronto to contact the spirit of Houdini -- I have been investigating "paranormal" claims (those supposedly beyond the range of nature and normal human experience). With a background as a magician and mentalist, and later as a private investigator with a world-famous detective agency, I began to take on such varied cases as Toronto's Mackenzie House haunting (1972), dowsing for gold in the Yukon (1976), and the notorious Shroud of Turin (beginning in 1977).
In time, my work came to the attention of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), since renamed Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, publisher of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine. My first article appeared in the spring 1983 issue (regarding my recreating the giant Nazca condor drawing of Peru). In 1988 I was elected a Fellow, and in 1993 became a member of the Executive Council. In 1995 I was named Senior Research Fellow, moving to CSICOP's international headquarters in Buffalo. I began my "Investigative Files" column for Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptical Briefs (the CSICOP newsletter), and in 2000 received CSICOP's Distinguished Skeptic Award. I also received the 2004 Isaac Asimov Science Award from the American Humanist Association.
Presently, I appear to be the world's only full-time, salaried professional paranormal investigator. After so many years, I joke that I have been in more haunted places than Casper. I have also traveled around the world to investigate crop circles (England), the Oak Island mystery (Nova Scotia, Canada), the fabled Yowie (Australia), a weeping icon (Russia), an "alien hybrid" (Saxony, Germany), Christian relics (Italy), Chupacabra attacks (Argentina), and many more -- in those and other countries, including Mexico, Belgium, Spain, Morocco, Peru, Austria, Switzerland, and elsewhere. Scores of cases are treated in my books, including Looking for a Miracle, Entities, Real Life X-Files, The Mystery Chronicles and numerous others -- see my Books page.
In contrast to many paranormal proponants who are little more than mystery mongerers, or to some skeptics who call themselves "debunkers," I hold that mysteries should neither be fostered nor dismissed. Instead, they should be carefully investigated with a view toward solving them. I have spent my life trying to do just that -- whether the mysteries were paranormal or historical or forensic or literary or whatever their nature.
From the top, I am examining a statue reputed to have heartbeats, studying "miraculous" rose petals, visiting a "haunted" house (in caricature), investigating crop circles, making a fake UFO (for a demonstration photo), and inspecting a weeping icon.