Loyd Auerbach has been investigating haunted places for quite a while now. In fact, he was a paranormal investigator before it was cool and all the rage in Hollywood. He gets a gold skull for that in my book. I will give him another gold skull for being a no-nonsense parapsycholgist who takes his job seriously.
His first book, ESP, Hauntings and Poltergeists, was named the “Sacred Text” on ghosts by Newsweek. In fact, he is the author of seven books on the subject. Also, to his professional credit, he has recently taken a position developing an online MA program in Parapsychology for Atlantic University.
Hey, I give credit where credit is due, fiends.
I am also awarding Loyd two more of my coveted gold skulls. One for doing a last-minute interview for little ole' moi (which was a totally kind thing to do, considering he was about to go out of town on business). And he gets another because he loves chocolate, and I mean he loves, loves chocolate...
No, my minions, I really do not think you understand how much he loves chocolate. Loyd loves chocolate so much he is not only in the process of writing a book about it, but he also produces Ghost Drops, specialty truffles and bonbons, and is developing a chocolate fortune system/set called "The Cocoa Oracle." How original is that? If you don't like what the oracle has to say just eat it. You can visit his website on chocolate, www.hauntedbychocolate.com to check it out for yourselves.
Well, my fiends, this interview has made me hungry. I think I need to go whip up something choco-licious.
Lili's Lair: When did you first become involved in the paranormal?
Loyd: In high school. I’d been interested in Parapsychology since I was about 12, and I was able to start a Parapsychology Society in my high school in Elmsford, NY, with the help of the Earth Sciences and Physics teachers – and a really good letter of recommendation from J.B. Rhine. Through a neighbor, who was a Yoga instructor, I got to meet/talk with well known parapsychologists Dr. Montague Ullman (co-author of DREAM TELEPATHTY) and Dr. Gertrude Schmeidler (who did some of the first research on the Sheep-Goat Effect and pioneered some true scientific protocols for researching hauntings). Later in high school, I also got to visit with Hans Holzer at his residence in Riverdale, NY.
Our club did not do any ghost hunting. We did, however, conduct ESP and PK experiments, and created some basic computer programs to test ESP (real time and precognitive).
Lili's Lair: How did you get involved with paranormal research?
Loyd: See above for my first “paranormal research.” In college while at Northwestern University, I volunteered at Dr. J. Allen Hynek’s Center for UFO Studies, then at his home in Evanston, IL. I was fortunate to have conversations with him about parapsychological topics – I started as an Astrophysics major, actually, and he was head of the Astronomy Department. However, I switched over to Cultural Anthropology at the end of my freshman year, and ended up with an advisor who subscribed to the Journal of Parapsychology and numerous courses in that dept. dealing with supernatural beliefs and practices (and observations of odd happenings we’d call “paranormal”). In my senior year, I stumbled across a mini-course on Parapsychology offered by Dr. John Bisaha and Brenda Dunne at Mundelein College in Chicago. That led me to the just started Masters in Parapsychology program at John F. Kennedy University outside of California.
I entered that program in September 1979, and did my first field investigation shortly thereafter as part of my coursework.
I went through grad school generally intending to end up in a research lab somewhere doing more traditional psi research, though I knew I’d certainly continue doing field investigations. By the end of the program, I was as interested in education and media outreach (to promote the field) as I was in lab research.
After getting my M.S. in Parapsychology, I came back to the NY area and began teaching adult ed courses in Parapsychology and considering my employment options in the field. Through a lucky happenstance, on a visit to the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) in New York City to offer some suggestions for connecting with the news media, I was shuffled in to meet with the new executive director who, upon hearing my ideas, offered me a job on the spot. In January, 1982, I became the ASPR’s Public Information and Media Consultant.
While there, besides my media outreach/promotional work, I also aided on occasional research conducted by Dr. Karlis Osis and Donna McCormick, and did a number of field investigations that came into the ASPR. I learned an enormous amount from Dr. Osis, along with research psychic Alex Tanous, about investigations and the phenomena – essentially a post-grad education in itself.
In 1983, I headed back to California to join the faculty of JFK University’s Graduate Parapsychology Program, doing media outreach for the program and conducting investigations as cases came in to our department – as well as supervising students on investigations. When the program ended in the late 1980s (after my first book had been published), Christopher Chacon and I founded the Office of Paranormal Investigations to pick up the slack for investigations left by the university program’s end.
All in all, I come to this subject with an education and experience.
Lili's Lair: In the history of your career what has been your most exciting investigation, and why?
Loyd: There have been so many, most of which are in my book A PARANORMAL CASEBOOK (Atriad Press, 2005). Three cases leap to mind…
First, there was one in 1985 where an entire family was seeing the same ghost – with their 12 year old son conversing with the ghost on a daily basis, but until just before they called had not even discussed this amongst themselves. My visit led to an odd conversation with the boy as intermediary/”translator” between us and the ghost (Lois). We were provided with specific information that let us confirm a number of things about the ghost (when she was living) that the family could not possibly have known, as well as some very interesting perspective from Lois as to what it was like being a ghost.
Second, the Moss Beach Distillery’s Blue Lady case is a favorite of mine. From the first visit, when the ghost opened a door for us on request 6 times, I knew the case would be different. Over the years I’ve had my own personal experiences with her (Cayte), including her apparently following me (and being seen at) some conferences around the country.
Finally, we had an exciting case where the family had numerous phenomena happening, from a “bad” spot in the home that caused headaches and dizziness, to shadows being seen out of the corners of all four inhabitants’ eyes, to floating noxious odors to mysterious fireballs popping up out of nowhere. What was most exciting was how none of it was paranormal – all of it was related to a confluence of environmental conditions (manmade) from the “bad” room being slightly slanted, to low frequency sound from overhead high tension wires, to seeping methane gas (from a nearby landfill) and high static electricity combining to create both the noxious odors and the fireballs (methane on fire because of the static electricity).
Lili's Lair: What is the most frighting experience you have ever had in an investigation?
Loyd: It had nothing to do with the paranormal. Early in my career, before I really recognized it was not a good idea to go on a case alone, I was called in by a woman claiming that some invisible force was beating her up. She also said her husband also witnessed this. When I arrived, she was alone – definitely bruised, and her story raised some serious questions. While I was there, her husband came home, a bit drunk, and immediately was furious I was there – she hadn’t told him she’d even called me, or why. He got a gun and began waving it around (though never pointed it at me).
With explanation, he calmed down. But I have to say it was frightening – and it was clear to me this was a case of spousal abuse. Later she admitted that she knew that there was nothing paranormal, though at first she tried to say her husband was possessed when he beat her (yes, but by “demon rum” not actual demons). I was able to convince her to bring the authorities into it and get help.
An important lesson: Ghosts don’t carry guns and knives. It’s living people you have to be afraid of!
Lili's Lair: Do you consider yourself to be more of a skeptic or believer, and why?
Loyd: First of all, the two terms are not opposites. The term “skeptic” should be applied to those who have not made up their minds, who also examine all sides of an issue. Unfortunately, groups like CSICOP and folks like the Amazing Randi co-opted that term, though they are mostly DIS-believers, not actually skeptics.
I like to call myself a “situational skeptic.” I believe in the phenomena, but take each situation, case, experience, etc. separately AND examine all reported events in a single case separately. One must look at the events and consider any and all alternative explanations before declaring “it’s paranormal!”
Lili's Lair: What projects are you currently working on?
Loyd: Right now, promotion of my latest book co-authored by Annette Martin, the psychic I’ve worked with the most over the last 15+ years: THE GHOST DETECTIVES’ GUIDE TO HAUNTED SAN FRANCISCO. It’s not a typical haunted location book, but more one that gives you a real look at what a parapsychologist and psychic do together on an investigation. We will soon be working on our next book dealing with locations in California’s Gold Country.
I’m also teaching an online Parapsychology course for Atlantic University (next semester to start in late August) and helping promote their Parapsychology and Consciousness Conference happening October 14-16, 2011, in Virginia Beach. It’ll be presenting some of the best researchers from around the country (actual parapsychologists and related scientists) and I’ll be speaking as well. I’m developing a few other courses to teach online for the university as well.
I’ll be back to working on a one-stop website to take folks to the most reliable organizations and websites on the paranormal and Parapsychology, the Psi Portal, quite soon.
I’ll be revamping my two websites over the summer (see links below) and beefing up my online chocolate shop for re-launch in the early fall (after the heat of the summer) with more chocolate products I’m making, including the Cocoa Oracle Chocolate Fortune System. I’ll also be producing special chocolates for the Forever Family Foundation and speaking at their conference on Long Island in November. And hopefully I can finally finish my book on chocolate.
Finally, I’m working towards a replication of Dr. Dean Radin’s experiment in putting intention into chocolate. Think of it as researching chocolate with a special message! Once I get all my (chocolate) ducks in a row, I’ll open it for volunteers.
Lili's Lair: Do you have any links you would like to share with my readers?
Loyd: My paranormal website: www.mindreader.com (note: due to shifting servers, it may be down for a week or two in early July)
My Haunted By Chocolate website: www.hauntedbychocolate.com
Atlantic University for info on my Principles of Parapsychology course (and info on the upcoming conference): www.atlanticuniv.edu
My parapsychological studies courses and certificate program, local and distance learning, through HCH Institute: www.hypnotherapytraining.com/parapsych.cfm
The Forever Family Foundation: www.foreverfamilyfoundation.org
And for excellent info on Parapsychology:
1) The Rhine Research Center, www.rhine.org
2) The Parapsychology Foundation, www.parapsychology.org
3) The Parapsychological Association, www.parapsych.org