Tribute to CICAP

April 26, 2010

I am delighted to have become an honorary Italian! At least that is the conclusion I draw from a wonderful new book on paranormal mysteries by fourteen leading investigators from CICAP ( Comitato Italiano per il Controllo delle Affirmazioni sul Paranormale ). I am honored to be the fifteenth and only non-Italian contributor.

My contribution derives from my appearance at the Fifth World Skeptics Congress at Abano Terme in 2004. I lectured and (as did Richard Wiseman and Ray Hyman) performed a little magic. For the latter I announced to the audience in English that I was going to do my presentation "in Italian" — pausing for dramatic effect, then lifting one foot and continuing, "Italian shoes," then tugging at my lapel, "Italian coat. . . ." The joke got a little laugh, then, after it was translated, a louder one.

So it is only with fitting irony that my CICAP friends have me speaking fluent Italian in their new book-all due to the magic of translation. Adapted from my 2004 presentation, my topics include such "cold cases" as the Flatwoods Monster, the Nasca Lines, and the Shroud of Turin.

Titled Indagatori del mistero ("Investigators of Mystery"), the 2009 book is edited by two famed investigators: Massimo Polidoro, who is familiar to all Skeptical Inquirer readers, and Luigi Garlaschelli, who is especially known for his effective duplications of allegedly miraculous phenomena. The two, with their fellow CICAP investigators, solve mysteries relating to UFOs, crop circles, psychic detectives, "orbs" of ghost "energy," supposed antigravity hills, an eerily moving tombstone, a Philippino "healer," and so on and on.

This publication highlights the continued first-rate work of CICAP over the years, making it unquestionably one of the premier skeptics’ groups on the planet. It has been my good fortune to travel and work with my friends in their beautiful country — in Venice, Milan, Turin, Naples, Genoa, and elsewhere. And I am privileged at last to have become an honorary Italian!