“I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts.” –Steven King
Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Loyd Auerbach to Powered by Intuition.
Loyd is a parapsychologist and Director of the Office of Paranormal Investigations in San Francisco, CA. He is also the incoming President of the Forever Family Foundation and one of the foremost experts on the subjects of the paranormal and hauntings in the US today. He is also an author on numerous books on these topics.
What follows is a transcript of our recorded conversation which you can listen to here.
Angela: Loyd, tell us about this explosion of ghost hunting television shows. What’s your opinion of these shows that seem to be all over cable television? Are they staged? Is there any real value to these shows in your opinion?
Loyd: By having these shows on, more and more of the general public are coming out of woodwork and talking about their experiences.
What you see on TV is the product of the producer. It is not the product of the investigator, it also not the product of the psychic on the shows; it is the product of the producers.
Consequently, when we talk about staging, a lot can be done in editing. Let’s say you got a higher reading going near on wall with an EMF reader because of bad wiring, what they cut in instead when they show it is a voice over from a different part of the shoot that says, “Hey somebody is seeing something right now.”
So, a lot of what you may see you cannot take as this is what actually was going on, in some producer’s perspective, it’s not really staging because the things actually happened; they just didn’t happen in that order.
So, if shows can only be taken for their entertainment value, they should not be taken for any resemblance of reality, in fact no reality show should be taken as being reality.
Angela: Everywhere you look, you see ghost hunting groups. What kind of training do they have?
Loyd: None, they watch TV Shows.
Loyd: Seriously, a couple of years ago there was a group that got into New York Post or the New York Daily News because they did a case in the Bronx. It was their second case, big deal. In the article they reported that they said, “We watched a bunch of TV shows.” That was their entire training.
Where this has really gone wrong is that on television shows parapsychologists used various pieces of technology in our investigations earlier than the 80s. We were using this technology to determine if there were changes in the environment when people have experiences, not to detect ghosts, that’s not what they’re for.
Because these things are handheld and not that expensive and because of the TV shows, they made them seem like they were “ghost detection devices” and suddenly anyone can go out and buy one of these things and call it a ghost detector and so it’s a hobby that grew into some of the people calling themselves professionals, which is absolutely absurd.
Angela: The one thing that really bothers me is that all the television show are shot in the dark. What’s the reason for that?
Loyd: There’s absolutely no reason for that and there’s no precedent for that in the field.
The number of times the producers want to shoot it at night even though the events were happening during the day was outlandish. The number of times producers moaned or directors moaned about the fact that it was not spooky enough if the lights were on. Suddenly, night shot cameras come in and all of the sudden, the producers are shooting in the dark. If you think there’s a connection, there is. Before that trend, making scenes that ghosts appear only at night was insane because experiences do happen all the time in fact they happen less at night when people are asleep than they happen when people are awake or the lights on.
Angela: Do you think any of these shows ever actually capture a real haunting?
Loyd: Production people seek out locations that have some kind of reputation for activity. Sometimes they will vet those places, in fact, interestingly enough one of the craziest shows on TV I think Ghost Adventures, really does. That’s the one where this guy locks himself in the location and to me their show is, in some respects, the least offensive in that it never pretends like they’re experts, although lately they’ve been talking that way, which is too bad.
The people on the show, when they talk with it, that’s often edited in such a way that if a producer wants it to appear like an evil location, they will edit out the parts where say the ghost never bothered me, or the ghost never does this; basically making it look like its bad.
Angela: Yes, it makes no sense.
Loyd: Yes, you have to do research on the location and you have to find out if there are current witnesses.
Angela: What are some of the types of equipment that we see them using on these shows?
Loyd: They are using different kinds of electro-magnetic field detectors. We actually have found some interesting correlation between unexplained magnetic fields. There are different forms of those meters, some of them actually work well and some of them actually do not work well, in fact some of them and one of the particular, is a meter that you see so often on these shows is the one that lights up. The actual microphones that these guys are wearing will affect that, cell phone signals will affect that, and a number of things can affect that so in some respects the production personnel wanted to make the thing light up and even though is of no help to the ghost hunters. So, there are issues around that. You also have different types that are actually thermometers that measure air temperature and some are surface temperature thermometers which are often misused unfortunately. There are thermal vision cameras which is something that a couple of us, me and Andy Nicolas first used back in the early 90s in hopes of visually seeing cold spots.
Angela: I see.
Loyd: You have things like digital recorders. People love to get their EVPs – Electronic Voice Phenomena.
Angela: I always wondered about EVP. I know that there is a real big interest in it and there are some people who have gotten something. Tell us about that.
Loyd: Typically if you’re getting voices from the dead, they are using what we call psycho-kinesis, mind over matter, so you affect the device, the recording device or the tape or whatever else is going on. It’s not a voice, in fact the very definition of electronic voice phenomena, the electronic voice piece that means, the voice was created inside the device, it was not the voice that can be heard, you heard it and recorded it, that would be voice phenomena, non-electric.
Angela: I see.
Loyd: It also means that living people can affect those devices. There is always one person, in every ghost hunting group it seems who always gets EVP. The rest of them barely ever get anything. If that one person is always getting under the same conditions and no one else is, there’s something special about that one person and that one person may in fact be a medium without realizing it, they may actually be interacting or acting as the intermediary between the spirit, if there is a spirit there and the device or if the person’s own expectation is causing the voices to happen.
Angela: Can you tell us the difference, you were talking about the residual energy and hauntings and apparitions, I think people find it very confusing, it’s kind of overlapping or fine line, can you just describe that for us?
Loyd: Well, first of all, apparitions are ghosts. The idea that consciousness doesn’t end at the death of the body, so you are dealing with a person who stuck around after the death, that’s an apparition, the traditional ghostly spirit, they’re not tied to a location it seems, even though some of them are seen at certain locations, they are not tied to those locations, where as a haunting, where really a haunt is a place, in fact the word haunt does not occur only to the dead. We haunt places, living people haunt places, the probably that’s the example of the Norman on the television show Cheers.
Angela: I was just going to say like the local watering hole.
Loyd: Exactly, the regulars are haunting the place itself and probably will after they die too. So the idea of when we use the word haunting, we are referring to locations, we are referring to places that hold information about those people or animals or events that happened in those places, even recent ones and those events are recorded by the living and not the dead. So it’s not the ghost who leaves an impression, it is a living person who leave an impression.
A good example with and there are many of these around the world and they reported over the years. People are going to the house that had a murder and whether they knew about it or not, they will see the murder re-enacted and some of those instances they come to find out that the murderer is still alive and what they see in terms of the image or the picture they are getting in their mind on that murder stops when the victim dies or the murderer walks out of the room and that’s because the corpse leaves no impression, living people leave impressions. Consequently you have hauntings where there are foot sounds in the kitchen, footsteps walking back and forth because somebody dead is pacing back and forth there. One of my real cases with the haunts were the impression was to people making love pretty loudly apparently.
Angela: Oh, wow!
Loyd: They were still alive, in fact they’ve been the only owners of the house, they’re still alive and occasionally even get a haunting with sorts of when people see a figure and they come to recognize that the figure is themselves.
Angela: Wow, how does that happen?
Loyd: Well, I mean how people get recorded on video, environment acts like a video camera in that sense.
Angela: Going back to the couple who was heard making love, they sold their home, they moved elsewhere and the people who bought their home just encountered this and over and over?
Loyd: Every night as it happens around 3 o’clock in the morning and I actually talk about, was finally able to get the information from the previous owner and talk to the guy and when I got them on the phone and told them their housewas haunted, this was a new house, relatively 5-years old. That’s ridiculous, the house is not haunted, and I said well, what is 3 o’clock in the morning I mean to you and your wife? And there is dead silence on the other end of the phone and he said what are you talking about, you got to tell me what’s going on and I told them and it said okay, I’m not going to say why because it’s a long story but yes my wife and I wake up almost every morning at 3 o’clock and we made love and we probably were pretty loud in times.
Angela: And so that’s how it happened?
Loyd: They were in their late 20s by the way.
Angela: You need a lot of energy to wake up every night at three o’clock in the morning but, so this was imprinted in the walls of their home?
Loyd: This is where we bring in the idea of magnetic fields, it maybe imprinted in the local field of the house or the land. It’s a little bit of fun, this is actually one of the more interesting pieces of field research.
Angela: Wow, I’ve never heard of that honestly that’s really fascinating and of course this is a subject of great interest that I read a lot about and I have no idea that a place could be haunted people who are still living.
Loyd: I mean, think about it, if you’ve ever done house haunting and you are walking to a house as your house haunting and you got a really bad vibe, that’s what you are picking up, you are picking the owners and you are picking up their emotions.
Angela: I was wondering if you could give some of our viewers a few tips on how to identify if they had a real something going on in their home, you know people will say oh I heard the cabinets opening in my kitchen, what should they look for, what would give you the biggest clues that there is something real here aside from hearing somebody making love that wasn’t in the house?
Loyd: Usually that’s something pretty dramatic if there is a person that shows up and then disappears, those kinds of things that are really evocative, and tend to be more convincing that the place is just haunted. I tell people if they want to know if their house is haunted, the first thing I’d say is think that it’s not and start looking for other explanations, that’s what we do, we go in and first try to find explanations.
So, we see on those shows that they are misusing the word debunking, they said they are going to go in and debunk what people are reporting, that’s not what it is, the word debunking refers to people who are faking you out and being fraudulent. Most people are not attempting that. They misunderstand ordinary occurrences and misplace them and mislabel them very often as paranormal ones especially thanks to TV Shows. A lot of times it’s just simply that the people are not knowledgeable about the construction of their home or the weather or other things, so without being knowledgeable, you may not be aware that certain things are pretty normal but, will happen in random occasions. Depending on where you live, if you live in a place where temperature changes dramatically from day to night, the house makes a lot of noise.
Angela: Yes, that’s true.
Loyd: If you are in a place that has pretty steady temperature, there is no house settling noises. So if you move from a place where there’s no house settling noises from a place where there is and you never experienced that, you might think your house is haunted. If you are in a place that has animals like raccoons suddenly camping around or in my case, we have wild turkeys in the area and summer time they get on the roof in the morning and you might think someone is walking on your roof or attic.
So you try to explain it away first but if you have somebody prop up in front of you and say to you hi and then they disappear, it’s a pretty good kind.
Angela: One confusing term is apparition because maybe you think you are going to see the real person from the head to toe as if they were a physical person but, could it also just be like an energy mass like a swirling egg shape?
Loyd: It can be, it’s typically not and typically people when they see apparitions, it’s really not that they sees the apparitions. They are not seeing with their eyes, they are seeing them in their minds, so maybe the apparition of the person who is the apparition broadcasting a signal and broadcasting a clear picture but, your brain or your mind is not picking up a clear picture, so you see a fuzzy blob of energy or you see dark shadow.
One of the things that I’m really annoyed by on these shows and the folklore is that when you see that dark shadow, suddenly that’s something evil. It just may mean that the person can’t come into the light, they can’t be seen properly and I’ve also seen this shows were they walk in and they get an EVP and the EVP and somebody yelling get out, If you are here show yourself or we will do this, this and this” So suddenly they get this message from the spirit that says, Get out,” and they immediately declared that the spirit is an evil spirit.
Angel: Yes, anti-social.
Loyd: Right, which actually the spirit is to me is acting in true kind actually less rude than they were. They’re the evil ones for going in and trying to provoke someone.
Angela: What should a person do when they think they’re being bothered? On these shows people are always being “pushed.”
Loyd: Yes. I think a lot of it is b.s.
Angela: What should someone do if they wake up and there is a person there and they are not threatening? Would you just live with them and say, “Well that’s cool my house is haunted?”
Loyd: You try to communicate, you say hi, I mean the real thing to do is say, hello, my name is Lloyd or whatever your name is, what can I do for you, who are you, what do you need, what do you need from me, what can I do for you and what’s really been interesting is when people have the presence of mind to do that, in some cases we actually get reports back like the ghost suddenly looked at them like in surprise and disappeared and never showed up again.
Angela: As if, maybe they didn’t think that they were being seen?
Loyd: Right, right and then another case is they got people to get a communication but there is this fear element that’s been generated to so often, but it’s really not for the shows but it’s kind of engraved in the culture that ghosts are bad and really the funny thing is if you look at the movies, if you really look at the history of motion pictures and even TV shows are already of ghost portrayal, what I’m talking about is ghost of people who used to be alive, not demons or other things almost all of the ghost movies, almost all the TV shows are comedies or dramas, rarely ever do anything bad to people. They are actually there to communicate because they don’t want to leave their home, these are often very normal things going on, sometimes they want to party and sometime they have unfinished business that you can help them with and some sort of thing that is very normal in human beings. Most people are not nasty, some people are, I mean some people just by nature are really rude and most people are not. The vast majority of human race is not evil. I’m thinking perhaps, rude perhaps, uncaring but not evil.
Angela: So ghosts are the same, they don’t change once they die, that’s their personality?
Loyd: Not while they still sit here with us.
Angela: Right, they evolve with time. But, I have felt, in my own experience as a medium it’s not scary at all. It’s pretty normal in fact but, these TV shows make it out to be as if every spirit is evil, and they are up to get you and they are going to push you down the stairs, which I think rarely happens.
Loyd: Yes, actually I had a case where the family were seeing, the day before I got there, the family saw the apparition at the top of its corridor and one of the family member, the father got so freaked out, he turned around and ran right into a wall and knocked himself silly. The first thing that came out of his mouth when he came to a moment later was the ghost threw me into the wall. The rest of the family saw the ghost over on the stairs and they said something to the effect, “No you are just an idiot.
Angela: He was embarrassed and trying to cover his tracks, right?
Loyd: Yes.And in fact, when we got there, they were very afraid before that because they weren’t able to communicate with the ghost. But when that happened and when I got there, they were not afraid anymore because now they knew that the ghost didn’t do anything to them.
Angela: Right, yes, that’s pretty cool. So then you just try to communicate with them and then you don’t need to call an exorcist?
Loyd: No, if you really need to get rid of the ghost, I would say, annoy them out of your house?
Angela: How do you do that?
Loyd: You figure out what kind of music they might not like and you play it over and over again with the intention that they should leave and you tell them that they should leave at that point. You read kids riddles over and over and over again until everybody is sick of them. Certain music does seem to work very well, if you recall the movie Ghost, Patrick Swayze’s character got Whoopi Goldberg to pay attention to him by singing, “I am Henry the Eighth I am,” over and over and over again.
Angela: I forgot about that.
Loyd: That actually came from my first book because what I suggest is you pick a song and you play it over and over again to get rid of the ghost.
Angela: Right, and they used that to get her attention, the medium, I didn’t know that, how cool, wow. What if you fill the house with the odors of foods that the ghost doesn’t like, does that work?
Loyd: Yea, psychically, you got to pick up on those odors that would probably work too. Think about it this way, if you have this neighbor who just drops in unannounced and won’t leave unless you physically throw them out, how do you possibly get that person out of there without physically throwing them out? You think of those kind of things and try them out.
Angela: You’ve got the strategy for the guest that wouldn’t leave.
Loyd: Exactly, I got the idea from the old SNL skits about the guest that wouldn’t leave with John Belushi.
Angela: Right, you have to stop feeding them. What about your own personal belief now that you have been doing this for 30 years?
Loyd: Over 30 years.
Angela: Do you believe in the continuation of consciousness after physical death as far as beyond haunting?
Loyd: I do, I definitely believe in it, not everybody sticks around is a ghost, it seems although we have thousands of thousands of cases, its kind of a disproportionate numbers of reports about apparitions that are here to say goodbye to family members. So they do a very quick time, sign or they show up or they say goodbye in some way, then they’re gone. There are few of us a very, very tiny percentage of people who die who stick around for quite some time and it’s that really small percentage of apparitions but to me the evidence is clear that something survived. There’s “something” that can live without or outside the body without the body and without the brain.
The brain may have actually created that “something.” I don’t know that if it is something that came before people were born and then there’s evidence of reincarnation reports as well but, it maybe that the brain generates consciousness, generates this reality and after the brain dies, that thing could stick around, can be coherent. I don’t know, we have the conference to Forever Family Foundation about the after-life and I do believe that mediums are communicating with somebody. Where we go after we die is something very different.
Loyd: Very different platform that when they communicate back to us, they can only communicate in certain words that we can understand, so describing, I know that when couple of the astronauts were far away from earth and looking back on earth, the had an experience or had a feeling that is very difficult to put into words.
Angela: Yes, it was indescribable.
Loyd: Like saying, what love is? How do you describe love, you can describe actions around there, like how do you describe what that feels like, so it maybe that they have been stuck with terms that we can recognize and constantly we get the picture of the afterlife based on a filter, and the filter is probably the medium himself, he could be alive.
Angela: Yes, limited consciousness that you have, yes because I mean I’ve read so many things about the after-life not being a place but a frequency and I have trouble understanding.
Loyd: I got a problem with that word.
Angela: Yes, I mean, how do you exist within frequency? I guess it’s like you’re just like a radio wave that just keeps going on and on and on.
Loyd: You know, you maybe some form of energy and energetically connected with other things but is there a physical existence the way we think of it which is what we hear about? I tend to think that it’s not same kind of physical world. We can’t describe it.
Angela: Where can viewers contact you if they want more info?
Loyd: I have 2 websites, one is mindreader.com which is the best one to go and get this, that’s my parapsychology stuff and my other site of my life, my chocolate life you go to hauntedbychocolate.com.
Angela: Yes, you are also a chocolatier. You actually make chocolate.
Loyd: Yes, I make my own chocolate and right now I’m selling that chocolate for the holidays. And for the paranormally inclined, we are offering “Ghost drops.”
Angela: Are they chocolates shaped little ghosts?
Loyd: No, they have little ghosts on them.
Angela: Great. I love it.
Loyd: Also, I’ll just mention that I teach distant learning courses at HCH University in Parapsychology. I also teach an online course in Parapsychology for Atlantic University and I’ll be teaching an investigation class with the Rhine Research Center which is rhinecenter.org. starting in late January that will be an online class as well.
Angela: Oh good, so people interested in getting trained to be ghost hunters should take this course, right?
Angela: Thank you Lloyd, it has been a pleasure, I really appreciate you’re shedding some light on this topic because it has been one of some confusion. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you and thank you so much.
Loyd: Very welcome.
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Loyd Auerbach, M.S. holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology (though he started out in Astrophysics!) from Northwestern University (1978), and an MS in Parapsychology from John F. Kennedy University (1981). Lloyd is the author of numerous books on the paranormal. You can find them all here. He is the director of “The Office of Paranormal Investigations,” a professor at Atlantic University, an instructor at HCH Institute, Parapsychological studies and an adjuct at JFK University, on the board at the Rhine Research Center, incoming president for 2013 for The Forever Family Foundation, on the advisory board of the Wind Bridge Institute and a member of the Psychic Entertainers Association.
He can be contacted via email at email@example.com or by phone through the Office of Paranormal Investigations at (415) 249-9275. His websites include: www.mindreader.com and www.hauntedbychocolate.com
Visit Loyd’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/loyd.auerbach
Photo: MSN Living