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Radford color head shot

Benjamin Radford

Benjamin Radford (born October 2, 1970) is deputy editor of the science magazine Skeptical Inquirer, former editor-in-chief of the Spanish-language magazine Pensar, which was published in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a columnist for Skeptical Inquirer magazine Skeptical Briefs newsletter, Discovery News, LiveScience.com and MediaMythmakers.com. He also co-hosts, with Karen Stollznow, Skeptic magazine's audio podcast MonsterTalk, which critically examines the science behind cryptozoological (and legendary) creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and werewolves.[1]


He has written six books, and hundreds of articles on a wide variety of topics, including urban legends, the paranormal, critical thinking, film, and media literacy. In his work with the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, Radford characterizes himself as one of the world's few science-based paranormal investigators, and has done first-hand research into psychics, ghosts and haunted houses;[2] exorcisms, miracles, Bigfoot, stigmata, lake monsters, UFO sightings, reincarnation, crop circles, and other topics. Radford also writes on many other topics, including world travel, science literacy, jungle hiking, sex offender panics, and popular fallacies. Radford has appeared on CNN, The History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, the Learning Channel, CBC, BBC, and others. He also served as a consultant for the MTV series "The Big Urban Myth Show."


A part-time film critic since 1994 Radford has been publishing reviews and film festival reports in the Corrales Comment newspaper (Corrales, New Mexico) and online. Radford has written and directed two short films: Clicker Clatter, a satire of television news; and Sirens, about mythological creatures.


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Radford developed a satirical board game in 2008, called Playing Gods: The Board Game of Divine Domination, allowing up to five players the chance to take over the world as a figurehead of the world’s major religions.[3] The game was released by "Balls Out" Games.[4]


Education and careerEdit

Radford holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in professional writing, both from the University of New Mexico. He was managing editor of the science magazine Skeptical Inquirer from 1997 to early 2011, when he was promoted to deputy editor of the magazine. Until it suspended publication in 2009, he was editor-in-chief of the Spanish-language magazine Pensar, published in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Radford is also a columnist for Skeptical Inquirer magazine ("The Skeptical Inquiree") and the Skeptical Briefs newsletter, as well as online at LiveScience.com ("The Bad Science" columnist) and writes "The Radford Files" column for the alternative newsweekly the Weekly Alibi in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


InvestigationsEdit

Pokémon panicEdit

In 2001, Radford investigated the mysterious 1997 incident in which thousands of Japanese children seemingly suffered seizures while watching "Dennō Senshi Porygon", an episode of the Pokémon cartoon. Though many doctors advanced theories including photosensitive epilepsy, Radford demonstrated that the incident was rooted in mass hysteria. The resulting article, co-authored by Robert Bartholomew, was published in the February 2001 Southern Medical Journal and remains the definitive explanation for the bizarre case.[5]


Santa Fe courthouse ghostEdit

In 2007, Radford solved the mystery of the "Santa Fe Courthouse Ghost," a mysterious, glowing, white blob that was captured on videotape June 15, by a security camera at a courthouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico. While the court personnel who first saw the baffling image didn’t know what to make of it, others soon offered their own explanations, and a ghost was among the most popular. The “ghost video” became a nationwide hit and has been viewed over 85,000 times on the YouTube Web site.[6] What started as a local curiosity soon spread internationally, as CBS News, ABC News, and newspapers across the country from The Boston Globe to the San Francisco Chronicle carried the story of the “courthouse ghost.” Radford did several days of on-site field investigations at the courthouse, and after several experiments duplicated the "ghost" effect, proving the image was not a ghost.[7][8]


The white witch of Rose HallEdit

Rose Hall is a mansion near Montego Bay in Jamaica, once the center of a sprawling sugar plantation covering over a thousand acres (4 km²). It was built in the 1770s, and has a reputation as “one of the most haunted places in the Western Hemisphere,” home to the feared White Witch of Rose Hall. Rose Hall is said to be haunted by a woman named Annie Palmer, who killed three husbands, knew black magic, and was known for her cruelty and sadism. Legend says she was killed in 1831 by a slave, and buried in a tomb not far from Rose Hall. Today, psychics and tourists at the site claim to find evidence of Annie Palmer's spirit in the form of "orbs" and "ghost photographs." In 2007, Radford went to Rose Hall and investigated the story behind the White Witch of Rose Hall. Through careful investigation and analysis, he showed that the stories about Annie Palmer's ghost could not be true, because she was a fictional character. In Fortean Times magazine, Radford published his re-creations of the "ghost photos" taken at Rose Hall, showing that they were instead camera artifacts and reflected flashes, not ghosts.[9][10]


Kansas City gym ghost videoEdit

Radford investigated and solved the mystery of an alleged "ghost video" taken at Anytime Fitness, an all-night fitness club in Overland Park, Kansas in 2008. Surveillance cameras caught glowing, fuzzy light apparently in a workout area, meandering around the weight benches and fitness machines. The video circulated widely on YouTube before Radford found the solution to be merely an insect.[11][12]


The "Champ" (Lake Champlain monster) photoEdit

The most famous photograph of a monster in Lake Champlain was taken in 1977 by a woman named Sandra Mansi. The photo sparked the modern age of Champ investigations and renewed national interest in the creature. Mansi's account of her family's encounter with Champ is the most complete and fully documented of any lake monster sighting in history. The Mansi photo stands alone as the most credible and important photographic evidence for a lake monster in Champlain—or anywhere else. John Kirk, in his book In the Domain of the Lake Monsters, writes that "The monster of Lake Champlain . . . has the distinction of being the only lake monster of whom there is a reasonably clear photograph. It . . . is extremely good evidence of an unidentified lake-dwelling animal".[13] Joe Zarzynski, author of Champ: Beyond the Legend (1984), calls the photo "the best single piece of evidence on Champ."


Benjamin Radford and Joe Nickell went to Lake Champlain, interviewed Mrs. Mansi, and re-created the Champ photographs. After examining the original, rarely-seen photograph, Radford and Nickell proved that all of the previous estimates of the object's size were dramatically overstated. The "neck" is nowhere near the previous estimates of six to eight feet or more; instead, the object is just over three feet out of the water, and both segments together are about seven feet across. Detailed analysis proved that the "monster" in the photograph is almost certainly a floating log or tree trunk. The Champ and Mansi photo investigation were the most complete done to date, and the results were published in the book Lake Monster Mysteries, as well as in Skeptical Inquirer magazine and Fortean Times magazine. Radford and Nickell re-enacted their experiments and investigation for the Discovery Channel in 1995.[14][15]


ChupacabraEdit

Radford spent five years investigating the mysterious monster el chupacabra, and solved the mystery of the creature’s origin in his 2011 book Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore. The investigation included eyewitness interviews, forensic and folkloric research, and "a field expedition to the jungles of Nicaragua" in search of the legendary monster.[16][17]


FilmsEdit

In addition to his skeptical work, Radford has produced multiple short animated films. In Sirens, "A young boy in a small-town library avoids his math homework and is instead drawn into the world of the mythological Sirens, beautiful women who lured sailors to their doom."[18] Sirens is screening at film festivals worldwide in 2009.


Radford's 2007 feature, Clicker Clatter, is a satire described as "an animated short that exposes television and TV journalism for the wasteland that it is. From scare-of-the-week programming to Katie Couric's stupid interview questions, inane drug ads, randy rhinos, 'boob terrorism,' and the frustration of scrambled porn, nothing is safe in this sharp satire."[19]


Board gameEdit

In September 2008 Radford released Playing Gods: The Board Game of Divine Domination a satirical board game based on theme of gods warring over the control of believers. The game debuted at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Georgia. The game is described as a "theological version of Risk" and contains figures based on Jesus, Moses, Buddha and many other religions including satirical religions like the Flying Spaghetti Monster and J. R. Bob Dobbs. The game made its "World Premiere" at the New York Toy Fair in March 2009.[4] Playing Gods is produced through Radford's own company, "Balls Out Entertainment."


Selected bibliographyEdit


ReferencesEdit


External linksEdit


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