Reading his article
Joe Nickell is a regular contributor to Skeptical Inquirer: The Magazine for Science and Reasoning, published by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), a program for the Center for Inquiry (CFI).  Their website is  

As some may know, these folks investigate all sorts of claims of UFO sightings, Bigfoot sightings and encounters, haunted houses, spoon-bending, and so on.  Although some people think of them as debunkers, they emphatically claim that they are not, but rather are people engaged in critical examination of all sorts of claims.  According to them, the fact that a lot of these claims are found to be false results from the fact that these claims are indeed false, not from prejudice.

The article Jams referred to above is:

Joe Nickell.  "JonBenet (sic) Murder Mystery Solved? (Not by Psychics)." In Skeptical Inquirer, July/August 2017, Volume 41, Number 4, pages 38-45.

The July/August issue can be purchased on line for $2.99 at:

Nickell is “a former investigator with a world-famous detective agency who has been consulted in homicide and question-document cases,” according to a short and probably autobiographical sketch at the end of many of his articles.

A bold claim right under the title on page 38 claims that Nickell's “proposed solution resulted from evaluating the best evidence.”  However, this is most decidedly not the case at all.  Nickell's solution is an absolutely ludicrous BDI or Burke Did It scenario similar to that of James Kolar, Jim Clemente and Laura Richards, and others.

This article begins with an extraordinarily tedious rehash of the events of 26 December 1996, complete with repeated references to not only disgraced former detective Steve Thomas's ghost-written book (I counted five times in this section alone!) but to works by Wecht and Bosworth, Gentile and Wright, Douglas and Oshaker, and even Ramsey with Chapian plus six references to his own work, all within the first page plus a little.

Nickell then proceeds to belittle not only the so-called “intruder theory,” but the now-deceased Lou Smit himself for being a religious person and for praying with the Ramseys.  The language Nickell uses in this section (Search for an Outsider) sounds much like that of Thomas.  Smit is portrayed as a fool with some crazy ideas that have no support whatsoever.

In the next section, Nickell relates sentences in the ransom note to popular movies and discusses the notepad and ink.  

After this dull discussion, Nickell goes on to describe how Gideon Epstein found that there were “no significant differences” between the writing of the ransom note and Patsy's handwriting samples.  It's unclear whether Epstein was referring to right-hand samples or left-hand samples.  Nickell avoided discussing the results of anyone other than Epstein.

In the next section (Scenario of Death), Nickell goes on to describe how JonBenét may actually have been strangled first, then hit over the head AND how this may have been Burke engaged in childhood sexual play with his sister, rather than Burke simply hitting her with a flashlight after she took some pineapple away from him.  Nickell's speculations go on for about 200 lines in this article.

At long last we finally reach the section that is the purported subject and raison d'être of this article, namely the “Psychic Connection;”  however, the first paragraph of this relevant section is actually a continuation of the previous section!  About sixty lines later, Nickell finally starts discussing the claims of Dorothy Allison, then those of Elizabeth Joyce.  Nickell then reverts, in this same section, to summarizing his previous discussion of his own scenario, concluding that “the Ramseys [are] only guilty of protecting their son.”

In my opinion, this is one of the worst articles I've seen published by anyone who claims to have investigated the case.  It's no better than the muck created by Steve Thomas.  I see no mention whatsoever of the DNA evidence, arguably the best evidence.  Nickell's work in this case isn't really any better than that of the psychics he is criticizing because he himself engaged in dramatic and ludicrous speculation, concluding that not only is this ludicrous scenario likely, it is supported somehow (he didn't say how) by the “best evidence.”  Although he never did say what this best evidence was, it can only be the conclusion of Epstein that Patsy wrote the ransom note.  All else comes from this plus some information that leads him to conclude that siblings often (?) engage in life-threatening sex play, it appears.

Evidence of his extreme “cop bias” is provided with the only two sentences repeated in bold print:

1) “This laughably phony ransom note was surely not part of any kidnapping.  It only makes sense as a staged element in a cover-up of the killing.”

That is simply not true.  It may be true that Nickell himself is severely limited in his ability to explain it any other way, but there are an infinite number of rational explanations for any finite set of facts, as most philosophers would agree.

2) “The identification of Patsy Ramsey as author of the pseudo-ransom note points directly to one of the Ramseys.  I have always doubted, however, that either of the parents was the killer.”  

Therefore the only suspect left is Burke???  Is that what Nickell is saying?  Apparently so.

Messages In This Thread
Reading his article - by jameson245 - 06-25-2017, 01:33 PM
Joe Nickell's Ludicrous SI Article - by Dave - 06-28-2017, 12:41 PM
RE: Reading his article - by jameson245 - 09-18-2017, 01:45 PM

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