John Geiger (author)

John Grigsby Geiger CM is an American-born Canadian author. He is best known for his book The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible,[1] which popularized the concept of the "Third Man", an incorporeal being that aids people under extreme duress. The book is the basis for National Geographic Channel's Explorer: The Angel Effect, in which Geiger appears.[2] A book of the same name was published in 2013.

His four other books of non-fiction include the international bestseller Frozen In Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition. He was the editorial board editor for The Globe and Mail, a senior fellow at Massey College, and is currently the chief executive officer (former president)[3] of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.[4] Geiger was born in Ithaca, New York, grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, and studied history at the University of Alberta.[5]

Geiger was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2021.[6]


John Geiger is currently the CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.[citation needed] In September 2014, John Geiger was a participant in the Victoria Strait Expedition that searched for Sir John Franklin's ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. HMS Erebus was successfully located, though Geiger himself was not among the search crew who found it.[7]


In 1987, Bloomsbury Publishing released Frozen In Time: The Fate of The Franklin Expedition, written by Owen Beattie and John Geiger, with a revised edition in 2004 that featured an introduction by Margaret Atwood. The book has been published in seven countries and became a bestseller in the United Kingdom, and subsequently in Canada and Germany. Geiger spent three field seasons in the Arctic as historical investigator for the Knight Archeological Project, a scientific investigation of the 1719 James Knight Expedition disaster, research published as Dead Silence in 1993. Geiger's book Chapel of Extreme Experience: A Short History of Stroboscopic Light and the Dream Machine (2003) was made into an award-winning film FLicKeR, by director Nik Sheehan. It contains a foreword by the writer and socialite Leila Hadley. Nothing Is True Everything Is Permitted: The Life of Brion Gysin was published in 2005.

In 2008, Geiger authored, with Peter Suedfeld, the scholarly study, ‘The Sensed Presence as a Coping Resource in Extreme Environments.’ In 2009, The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible[8] was published in 13 countries. The foreword was written by Vincent Lam. The book is about the Third Man factor where people at the very edge of death, often adventurers or explorers, experience a sense of an incorporeal being—a "third man"—beside them who encourages them to make one final effort to survive.[9][10][11] The experience, which resembles a guardian angel, has been reported by scores of people, including well-known figures like Sir Ernest Shackleton, Joshua Slocum, Frank Smythe, Charles Lindbergh, Reinhold Messner, Ann Bancroft, and Stephanie Schwabe.


  1. ^ "The Third Man Factor". Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-01-06. Retrieved 2011-01-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Walker, Nick. "Ruest named RCGS president... as Geiger steps into CEO role". Canadian Geographic. Canadian Geographic Enterprises. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  4. ^ "A new president for the Society". Royal Canadian Geographic Society. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Bio". Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  6. ^ Canada, Governor General of. "Governor General Announces 61 New Appointments to the Order of Canada". Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  7. ^ Watson, Paul (14 September 2015). "The Wreck Of HMS Erebus: How A Landmark Discovery Triggered A Fight For Canada's History". Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  8. ^ Ybarra, Michael J. (24 August 2009). "Ghostly Companions". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  9. ^ White, Nancy J. (30 January 2009). "Third man theory of otherworldly encounters". Toronto Star. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  10. ^ Porter, Liz (28 June 2009). "Mystery of the third man". Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  11. ^ Shermer, Michael (1 April 2010). "The Sensed-Presence Effect". Scientific American. Retrieved 18 January 2019.

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