Contributions

Syracuse’s “Haunted” Ancestors Inn
August 16, 2018


It is closed now but in September 2002 I stayed at a “haunted” mansion in Syracuse known as Ancestors Inn at the Bassett House. It was Friday the Thirteenth. The mansion is located in Liverpool, NY, near Syracuse  (where—courtesy of Central New York Skeptics—I was speaking at both the Museum of Science and Technology and …

Mystery of the “Miracle” Stairs
August 6, 2018


“. . . I only saw it because I was looking for it.” —Sherlock Holmes in “Silver Blaze”   A claim circulated on the Internet holds that an antique spiral staircase in a Santa Fe chapel “miraculously” stands despite having “no discernible means of support.” True? This was a case I investigated on site in …

Investigating Claims of Religion
July 26, 2018


I have been a “miracle detective” for much of my half-century “paranormal” career. In the 2007 movie, The Reaping, Hilary Swank played such a character based, in part, on my work; she read one of my books, and Warner Bros. even invited me to meet her and watch some of the filming. Paul Kurtz (1925–2012)—the …

Chronicles of Lily Dale
July 17, 2018


Chronicles of Lily Dale (2017) is a compilation of material from early Spiritualist publications—mostly relating to Lily Dale (the world’s largest Spiritualist village), ca. 1861–1915. It was compiled by Spiritualists (but not mediums) Ron Nagy and the late Joyce LaJudice (both longtime friends of mine). From the Banner of Light (August 16, 1884), we learn …

Traveling Saints’ Relics
July 9, 2018


An exhibit called “Treasures of the Church” is traveling the country. It is the collection of the Rev. Carlos Martins, who accompanies it, using it to evangelize Catholicism. It consists of the supposed relics of saints—a piece of bone here, a fragment of clothing there (as reported by the Minnesota Star Tribune, June 6, 2018). …

Crucifixion Evidence Debunks Turin “Shroud”
June 18, 2018


As if there were not already enough evidence debunking the Shroud of Turin—the historical record, a forger’s confession, tempera paint, multiple carbon-dating tests—now new evidence further discredits the authenticity of the reputed burial cloth of Jesus. The new finding—the 2000-year-old skeletal remains of a crucified Roman—was reported on Live Science (Metcalfe 2018). The article (June …

Fortunetelling Automata
June 8, 2018


In my collection is an old piece of ephemera, a small card folder reading, “Princess Doraldina’s Prophecies.” I’ve had it for several years, stashed with some fortune-telling items. I finally decided to find out more about it. Here’s where my search led. Princess Doraldina was an arcade automaton fortune teller. Made by the Doraldina Corp., …

“Píso’s [Non-] Cure for Consumption”
May 23, 2018


Among the most notorious quack nostrums for consumption (tuberculosis), was “Píso’s Cure,” dating from the Civil War. It was no cure at all, and was cynically promoted by a trio of partners whom one writer terms, “a marketeer, a medic and a moneybags.”

On Demon Schooling
April 27, 2018


As a “skeptical demonologist” for nearly half a century, I would have had much to say at the course on “Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation” held in Rome April 16–21, 2018. I know there are those who would say that—because I have never found a single demon in all that time—I appear to be too skeptical. I beg to differ.

Being Needled by Acupuncturists
April 16, 2018


The Buffalo News (Feb. 16, 2018) reported on the prestigious local Roswell Park Cancer Center’s having embraced so-called “alternative” therapies. My letter to the editor (Feb. 28) stated, in part: “Calling therapies like Reiki, healing touch, and acupuncture ‘unconventional’ or ‘integrative’ or ‘complementary’ does not make them any less pseudoscientific.”