Campus News

‘Paranormal’ investigator Nickell to headline next Science & Art Cabaret


Published January 30, 2018

“True believers may have their belief systems challenged.”
John Massier, visual arts curator
Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center

Buffalo’s Science & Art Cabaret will feature a single speaker at its next event on Feb. 7: paranormal investigator Joe Nickell, a senior research fellow of the Amherst-based Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a former stage magician and private detective.

Portrait of Joe Nickell, senior research fellow, Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

Joe Nickell, senior research fellow, Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

Utilizing his eclectic background, Nickell has become widely known as an investigator of myths and mysteries, frauds, forgeries and hoaxes.

At the cabaret, Nickell will give a talk that provides a revealing and entertaining look at such mysterious phenomena as the ghost at the Mackenzie House in Toronto and cases of alleged spontaneous human combustion from the speaker’s own case files — all examined from the scientific point of view.

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

The Science & Art Cabaret is presented by Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Technē Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies at UB, and the UB College of Arts and Sciences.

poster for Investigating Paranormal Mysteries, next Science & Art Cabaret

The event series acts as an ongoing conversation about endless topics across all disciplines, typically bringing together artists and scientists to discuss how their work illuminates a common theme. The series’ underlying premise is that intellectual pursuits that appear distinct actually cross paths far more often than presumed and share spheres of interest and meaning.

The cabaret was launched in October 2009 by Gary Nickard, UB clinical associate professor of art; Will Kinney, UB physics professor; and John Massier, visual arts curator at Hallwalls, out of their collective interest in art, science, critical thinking and creativity.

In true cabaret fashion, Nickell’s presentation will highlight the art and craft of critical thinking as applied to areas of investigation and research that are both dramatic and hyperbolic.

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,” he says. “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.”

To date, the cabaret has presented dozens of subjects and speakers across many fields, with such themes as “The Man Machine,” “Modularity,” “Nothing,” “Love Yer Brain,” “Color” and “Are We Special?” A full listing of past cabaret events can be found online.

The cabaret will return to its usual multi-speaker format for its next planned event on March 28, which is expected to tackle the theme of “Death.”