Massimo Polidoro

Massimo Polidoro
Born (1969-03-10) March 10, 1969
Voghera, Italy
Nationality Italian
Occupation Psychologist
Known for co-founder and executive director of CICAP

Massimo Polidoro (born 10 March 1969) is an Italian psychologist, writer, journalist, television personality, co-founder and executive director of the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Pseudoscience (CICAP).

Early life and career

As a child in the 1970s, Polidoro was fascinated by magic and the claims surrounding psychic phenomena. He 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. Polidoro studied Randi and his publications. Randi, like Houdini, was a magician and investigator of mysteries who employed a scientific approach to his investigations.[1]

Polidoro corresponded with Randi and Angela by letter where they planned a skeptical organization in Italy based on CSICOP’s work in the United States. He was invited meet both Angela and Randi and again later to a meeting in Rome as Angela's guest in 1988.[1][2]

After spending three days with Polidoro in Rome, both Angela and Randi agreed that Polidoro had the talent and passion to become an apprentice of Randi. During dinner at Angela’s house, they asked Polidoro if he was interested in learning how to investigate mysteries as Randi’s apprentice; a proposal which Polidoro gladly accepted. With a grant from Angela, Polidoro left for the United States and became Randi's only full-time apprentice in the art of paranormal investigation and psychic testing.[1]

After several years during which he helped Randi in his investigations, research, writings and lectures, Polidoro returned to Italy in 1990, where he founded CICAP. He studied psychology, and graduated from the University of Padua with a master thesis on the psychology of eyewitness testimony of anomalous phenomena.[3]


Polidoro is the Executive Director of CICAP,[4] and was the editor of its journal, Scienza & Paranormale, from its debut in 1993 to 2006.[5] In 1996 he became the European representative for the James Randi Educational Foundation.[6] 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).[7] 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".[8]

Polidoro continues to investigate and test alleged psychics, astrologers, clairvoyants, dowsers, mediums, prophets, psychic detectives, psychic healers, psychic photographers, telepaths and many others.[9] He has conducted historical investigations on famous cases and personalities of the past, including Eusapia Palladino, Margery and his childhood hero Houdini. Some of this work is collected in his books, two of which, Final Séance and Secrets of the Psychics, have been published by Prometheus Books.[8]

In 2004, Polidoro's passion for magic led him to start the magazine, Magia, devoted to the study of the history, science and psychology of conjuring.[10]

In 2005 he became the first Italian to hold a course on "Scientific Method, Pseudoscience and Anomalistic psychology", as Psychology Faculty of the University of Milan Bicocca.[11]


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[12] and the Man in the Iron Mask, was broadcast on Discovery Channel.[13]

In 2006 he started a podcast in Italian I Misteri di Massimo Polidoro (Massimo Polidoro's Mysteries), dealing with investigation of mysterious subjects both by himself and by other colleagues that contribute to the show. The podcast was broadcast as a radio show for three years on an Italian language Swiss radio station. The podcast was suspended.[14]

In 2014, Polidoro started a new podcast in Italian L'esploratore dell'insolito (The Explorer of the Unusual) which deals with strange or unusual, historical enigmas, unsolved crimes, methods for the exploration and investigation of mysteries and writing.[14]

In print

As a journalist, Polidoro is a contributor to the monthly Italian magazine Focus. He is the author of over 40 books in Italian (some of them have been translated abroad as well), covering a variety of subjects related to mysteries, the paranormal and historical enigmas. They cover a wide variety of topics, from a critical history of Spiritualism to a dictionary of Parapsychology, to the wreck of the RMS Titanic, to a biography of Houdini, to famous unsolved crimes of the past, and 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.[15][16]

In mid-2007, Italian newspaper La Repubblica, one of the larger daily general-interest newspapers in circulation in Italy, reprinted six of Polidoro's books in a series that was sold at newsstands, along with the many local issues of the newspaper.

Final Séance (2001) deals with the strange friendship between Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, their friendly exchanges first and then the quarrels over their opposing views of Spiritualism.[17][18]

Secrets of the Psychics (2003) is a collection of investigations carried out by Polidoro on psychic phenomena, including tests of psychics, poltergeists, miracles and other strange phenomena.[19]

Both books are published by Prometheus Books, and have been translated into several languages.[8]

The James Randi Biography Project

At The Amaz!ng Meeting 2014 Polidoro announced that work on the biography of the life of James Randi is underway.[20] The need for the biography was Penn Jillette’s brainchild, and in 2005 Jillette began interviewing Randi for this reason. Kim Scheinberg helped Jillette with his research for the book which included the search for stories, documents and clippings. This resulted in the collection of hundreds of hours of interviews and a large amount of material covering 60 years.

In 2010 Polidoro was asked to write the biography, and during the past year he spent time looking through the material gathered by Jillette and Scheinberg, along with the material used for the film “An Honest Liar”. The documentary, directed by Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom, tells the story of Randi’s life. In an interview Polidoro stated, “ One of the most interesting things is that going through the research about Randi's life, his stories, when he tells them, that's quite something because many times you see they are different, but the original ones, they're even more interesting, more surprising! And that's how memory works.”[21]

The biography will be co-authored by Scheinberg with an introduction by Jillette. The current goal is to find a publisher by the end of the year.[20] Another possibility that is being considered is to launch a fund raising campaign through a crowd-funding website.

In September of 2017, Polidoro was able to interview James Randi for attendees at the 17th European Skeptics Congress.[22]

Other interests

Polidoro’s experiences investigating mysteries, legends and other paranormal phenomena[23] inspired the main character in a novel by Giacomo Gardumi, L’eredità di Bric (Bric’s Legacy). The character Mark Pollard of the Martin Mystere comic The great Houdini created by Alfredo Castelli was also inspired by Polidoro.[24]

During his teenage years Polidoro started and led a Beatles fan club, Beatles Staff Organization, from 1984 to 1988. The club had approximately 100 members from around Italy and issued, “Help!” a fan magazine whose articles, in-depth reviews, and news were dedicated to the band. At the time, Polidoro didn’t have a personal computer, so he wrote the articles using a typewriter. In order to get the desired layout of the magazine pages, he would physically cut and paste, photocopy and hand-bind the magazine. A total of 24 issues of “Help!” were published.[25]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "SFR 260 – Anomalistic Psychology with Massimo Polidoro". Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  2. Polidoro, Massimo. Secrets of the Psychics. Prometheus Books. 2003
  3. 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.
  4. "Interview with Massimo Polidoro (47:20)". SGU Productions. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  5. "Scienza & Paranormale" (in Italian). Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  6. Randi, James. "Polidoro Hitched". Swift, September 13, 2002
  7. Frazier, Kendrick. "CSICOP Elects Six New Fellows.(Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal)". The Skeptical Inquirer.
  8. 1 2 3 "Bio Notes". Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  9. 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.
  10. Polidoro, Massimo. "Una rivista per chi ama la magia". Magia, n. 1, vol. 1, 2004
  11. Leonardi, Fabrizio. "Intervista a Massimo Polidoro"., January 19, 2007
  12. McMahon, Barbara. "No blood, sweat or tears". Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  13. Kenning, David. "Legend Detectives". Evening Standard, Nov. 25, 2005
  14. 1 2 Polidoro, Massimo. "Riparte il mio Podcast! Si intitola "L'esploratore dell'insolito"" (in Italian). Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  15. "Libri pubblicati" (in Italian). Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  16. "Biografia" (in Italian). Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  17. "Reviews: Final Séance". Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  18. Harwood, William. "Final Séance: The Strange Friendship Between Houdini and Conan Doyle". Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  19. "Secrets of the Psychics: Investigating Paranormal Claims". Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  20. 1 2 Hill, Sharon. "Skeptics in Vegas: The Amazing Meeting 2014 brought cheers, smiles and a call for education". Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  21. "Interview with James Randi and Massimo Polidoro (42:27)". SGU Productions. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  22. Gerbic, Susan. "Skeptical Adventures in Europe, Part 2". Committee for skeptical inquiry. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  23. Polidoro, Massimo (1 December 2017). "The Conspiracy of the Fairies". Skeptical Inquirer. 41: 24–25.
  24. Ambrosi, Viviana. "Il Massimo del mistero" (in Italian). Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  25. "La "Beatles Staff Organization": quando Massimo scriveva "solo" di Beatles" (in Italian). Retrieved 9 August 2014.
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