Massimo Polidoro is an Italian psychologist, writer, journalist, television personality, and the co-founder and executive director of the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CICAP).
Early life and career
Fascinated as a child in the 1970s by magic and by the hype surrounding claims of psychic phenomena, Polidoro learned in his teens about the work of James Randi and CSICOP through a TV series and a book by Piero Angela investigating parapsychology from a critical, skeptical point of view. He wrote to both Randi and Angela and was invited to a meeting in Rome in 1988.
Angela and Randi agreed that Polidoro, though still very young, appeared to have the talent and the passion to become a good apprentice of Randi. With a grant from Angela, Massimo left for the United States and became Randi's only full-time apprentice in the art of paranormal investigation and psychic testing.
After a couple of years, in which he helped Randi in his investigations, research, writings and lectures all over the world, Polidoro returned to Italy in 1990 where he started CICAP. He later studied psychology, and graduated from the University of Padua with a master thesis on the psychology of eyewitness testimony of anomalous phenomena.
CICAP and CSI
Polidoro became the Executive Director of CICAP, and the editor of its journal, Scienza & Paranormale. In 1996 he became the European representative for the James Randi Educational Foundation. In 2001 he became a member of the European Council of Skeptical Organisations (ECSO), and was nominated as a research fellow of CSICOP, the Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (now Committee for Skeptical Inquiry). When Martin Gardner left his regular column "Notes from a Fringe Watcher" in The Skeptical Inquirer, the magazine of CSICOP, Polidoro was asked to take over, and the column was retitled "Notes on a Strange World".
Polidoro continued to investigate and test alleged psychics, astrologers, clairvoyants, dowsers, mediums, prophets, psychic detectives, psychic healers, psychic photographers, telepaths and many others. He has conducted historical investigations on famous cases and personalities of the past, including Eusapia Palladino, Margery and his childood hero Houdini. Some of this work is collected in his books, two of which, Final Séance and Secrets of the Psychics, have been published in America by Prometheus Books.
Polidoro is the host, special guest, author or consultant of many TV shows, both in Italy and abroad. His latest international series, Legend Detectives, devoted to the investigation of famous European legends, including Dracula, Robin Hood, the Pied Piper, Rennes-le-Château, the Blood of Saint Januarius and the Man in the Iron Mask, was broadcast on Discovery Channel.
In 2006 he created a podcast in Italian titled I Misteri di Massimo Polidoro, dealing with investigation of mysterious subjects both by himself and by other colleagues that participate to the show.
As a journalist, Polidoro is a contributor to the monthly Italian magazine Focus. He is the author of over 30 books in Italian (some of them have been translated abroad as well), dealing with many subjects related to mysteries, the paranormal and historical enigmas: from a critical history of Spiritualism to a dictionary of Parapsychology, from the wreck of the RMS Titanic to a biography of Houdini, from famous unsolved crimes of the past to the legends related to the strange deaths of celebrities. In 2006 he published his first novel, Il profeta del Reich (The Prophet of the Reich), a thriller loosely inspired by the life of magician Erik Jan Hanussen.
In the Summer of 2007 Italian newspaper La Repubblica, which is one of the larger circulation in Italy for daily general-interest newspapers, reprinted six of Massimo's books in a series that was sold in newsstands along with the many local issues of the newspaper.
Both books are published by Prometheus Books, and have been translated into many languages.
- Polidoro, Massimo. Secrets of the Psychics. Prometheus Books. 2003
- Polidoro, Massimo. L’illusione del paranormale. L’inattendibilità del testimone oculare non-competente nella ricerca parapsicologica. Master Thesis, presented at the University of Padua, 1996
- Randi, James. "Polidoro Hitched". Swift, September 13, 2002
- Frazier, Kendrick. "CSICOP Elects Six New Fellows - Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal". The Skeptical Inquirer, July 2001
- Nisbet, Matt (August 31, 2000). "Introducing Italy's Version of Harry Houdini". Generation SXeptic (Ithaca, N.Y.: Committee for Skeptical Inquiry). Retrieved July 29, 2009.
- Polidoro, Massimo. "Una rivista per chi ama la magia". Magia, n. 1, vol. 1, 2004
- Leonardi, Fabrizio. "Intervista a Massimo Polidoro". PsicoLab.net, January 19, 2007
- Kenning, David. "Legend Detectives". Evening Standard, Nov. 25, 2005
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Massimo Polidoro.|
- "Massimo Polidoro's official website"
- "Massimo Polidoro's YouTube Channel in English"
- "Introducing Italy's Version of Harry Houdini"
- "Massimo Polidoro: A Champion of Skepticism in Italy"
- Review of "Final Séance" by David Britland on MagiWeek.co.uk
- "The Gullibility of Conan Doyle" Another Review of "Final Séance" in The Skeptical Inquirer
- A review of "Secrets of the Psychics" on Atheism.com
- A Report on the5th World Skeptics Congress organized by Massimo Polidoro and CICAP
- "No blood, sweat or tears" An interview on supernatural claims on The Guardian
- "Massimo Polidoro. 13 years of research among extraordinary claims"
- "Secrets of the Psychics. Massimo Polidoro"
- "The Art of Deception Revealed" Anecdotes and tricks revealed by Massimo Polidoro during his apprenticeship with James Randi