Contributions

Secrets at Oak Island
September 24, 2018

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Among great “unsolved” enigmas is that of a supposed treasure, often called the Money Pit mystery. The site is a shaft or shafts on Oak Island in Nova Scotia’s Mahone Bay, allegedly dating to before 1795. I dared to trespass there in 1999 (ironically after speaking at a forensic conference in New Brunswick), talking my …

Weeping-eye Cons
September 10, 2018


Another statue of Mary is “crying,” this time in Hobbs, New Mexico. Dr. Richard Hempstead asked me for my insights into the case for his column, “Path of the Secular Humanist,” in the Las Cruces Sun-News (Hempstead 2018). Here I place the Hobbs phenomenon in the context of lachrymose effigies generally. Weeping effigies—typically statues in …

Incorruptible Bodies of Saints
September 5, 2018


Although science discredits the so-called “sun miracles” at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, the devout continue to make supernatural claims about the events and the three children “visionaries” who supposedly communicated with the Virgin Mary at the site.  I heard some of these from a caller when I appeared in June 2018 on George Noory’s popular …

Annie Taylor Over the Falls
August 28, 2018


I recently acquired an out-of-print book about Annie Edson Taylor, something of a heroine of mine—and a tragic figure. The title of the work (Parish 1987) heralds her as Queen of the Mist: The Story of Annie Edson Taylor, First Person Ever to Go Over Niagara Falls and Survive. Annie made her famous plunge over …

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 …