Loyd Auerbach, Paranormal investigator, author, speaker, and professional psychic entertainer and mentalist. Loyd Auerbach is the director of the Office of Paranormal Investigations, an organization he founded. Auerbach grew up in Westchester County, north of New York City, where his father worked for NBC on its coverage of the Mercury and Gemini spaceflights, and subsequently for NBC Sports.
His early interest in television shows such as The Twilight Zone and One Step Beyond, science fiction novels, and comic books expanded into other areas like psychology, anthropology, mythology, physics, and folklore. In the 1970s, serious study of parapsychology was practically nonexistent, so Auerbach received a bachelor of arts degree in cultural anthropology from Northwestern University, Chicago, in 1978.
He then completed a master of science degree in a new program of parapsychology from JFK University in 1981. Formerly in Orinda, California, the school relocated to Pleasant Hill in 2004. He remained on the faculty at JFK University as an adjunct professor in Integral Studies, previously called Interdisciplinary Consciousness Studies. Auerbach worked in New York from 1982–1983 as the public information/media consultant to the American Society for Psychical Research, facilitating media coverage and information about the parapsychological field.
He belongs to the California Society of Psychical Study, where he served as president twice. Auerbach also taught at Rosebridge Graduate School for Integrative Psychology from 1996–1998; the school is no longer open. Over his professional career Auerbach has taught classes and seminars in such topics as parapsychology, anthropology, altered states of consciousness, science fiction, magic, ghosts and hauntings, and psychic charlatans.
In February 2005, in conjunction with HCH Institute in Lafayette, California, Auerbach launched a certification program in parapsychological studies. In its August 1996 issue, Newsweek magazine named his first book, ESP, Hauntings and Poltergeists (1986), the “sacred text” on ghosts. Auerbach had wanted to call the book I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost, but the publisher was unable to secure permission for that line from Ghostbusters, which opened in 1984.
The film helped cement his career as a paranormal investigator. One of his favorite experiences was a case in New York reported in Playgirl as “The Sexorcist.” A couple living in a five-year-old house were awakened every morning about 3:00 A.M. by the sounds of the previous owners engaging in very noisy sex in another bedroom. Auerbach described the situation as comparable to a “recording” played over and over.
He suggested the couple have sex at 3:00 A.M. in that bedroom, thereby making their own psychic recording. It worked, and the couple even changed bedrooms. In 1989, with Christopher Chacon Auerbach, Loyd 29 (no longer affiliated), Auerbach founded the Office of Paranormal Investigations—a group available to consult with those who believe they have had a paranormal experience or possibly ghostly contact.
OPI also serves as a resource center for people in business, media, science, government, and law enforcement about parapsychology. Auerbach is interested in the way the media and popular culture portray paranormal phenomena. Most of his consulting work deals with providing correct information about the supernatural and guiding authors, television and movie producers, and the general public in their understanding of the subject.
Auerbach also has served as a consultant and expert witness for attorneys and law enforcement agencies. In 1991, Auerbach joined the staff of Fate magazine as consulting editor, a post he held until 2004. He coaches individuals in the art of public speaking and was featured in (and was technical editor for two editions of) Malcolm Kushner’s book Public Speaking for Dummies. Auerbach’s second book, Psychic Dreaming (1991), examined the current understanding of dreams in general but especially psychic dreams.
His third book, Reincarnation, Channeling and Possession (1993) covered those topics. His fourth book, Mind over Matter (1996), focused on the self-limits a person imposes, as well as on psychokinetic phenomena. Other books are Ghost Hunting: How to Investigate the Paranormal (2004); Hauntings and Poltergeists: A Ghost Hunter’s Guide (2004); Paranormal Casebook; Ghost Hunting in the New Millennium (2005); and Haunted by Chocolate: How to Go from Chocoholic to Chocolate Gourmet (2007).
Auerbach recorded some of his more interesting paranormal investigative tales on a two-CD set called Ghost Stories in 2001. Auerbach produced a documentary in 1991 on the haunting of the USS Hornet, a World War II–era carrier docked in Alameda, California. He served as president of the Psychic Entertainers Association, an organization of psychic and mentalist performers from 2001–2005, and continues to perform a magic act as Professor Paranormal for private groups.
In 1991, Auerbach formed Science Fiction Theater to present seances and other “spiritual” entertainments. Auerbach is one of the few parapsychologists also active in mentalism and magic; he was president in 1989 of Assembly 112 of the Society of American Magicians and has been chairman of the Bay Area Club 53 for magicians and mentalists. He remains active with the Psychic Entertainers Association. He was the first parapsychologist to serve as an officer in both psychic research organizations and magicians’ guilds.
FURTHER READING :
- Auerbach, Loyd. ESP, Hauntings and Poltergeists. New York: Warner Books, 1986.
- ———. “Randi’s Challenge: A Big ‘So What!’” From http:// www.victorzammit.com. Available online. URL: http:// www.skepticalinvestigations.org/controversies/Auerbach_ Randi.htm. Downloaded May 24, 2006.
- “Loyd Auerbach.” The Paranormal Network. Available online. URL: http://www.mindreader.com/loyd/. Downloaded May 24, 2006.
- “Loyd M. Auerbach, Mr.” Zoominfo Web SumMary. Available online. URL: http://www.zoominfo.com/directory/ Auerbach_Loyd_419726.htm. Downloaded May 24, 2006.
- McManus, Sam. “The X-Files of Contra Costa: Paranormal Investigator Loyd Auerbach Shares Tales from the Dark Side.” SFGate.com, San Francisco Chronicle, October 30, 1998. Available online. URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgibin/ article.cgi?fle=/chronicle/archive/1998/10/30/CC93000. DTL&typ e=printa. Downloaded June 2, 2006.
Paranormal Investigator Profile Loyd Auerbach :LOYD AUERBACH is the director of the Office of Paranormal Investigations and the author of Ghost Hunting: How to Investigate the Paranormal (Ronin Publishing, 2003) and Hauntings & Poltergeists: A Ghost Hunter’s Guide (2004). His first book, ESP, Hauntings and Poltergeists (Warner Books, 1986), deals with the ways parapsychologists investigate psychic phenomena outside the laboratory and the misconceptions of the phenomena held by the public. It was named the “sacred text” on ghosts by Newsweek.
Q: What drew you into parapsychology?
What drew me into the field was really an interest that came out of science fiction. I used to watch the old Topper TV show in the 60s, and Star Trek certainly got me there too. Comic books, science-fiction literature, really all of that kind of put me into the interest. And then Dark Shadows and a show in the early 70s called The Sixth Sense all kind of really formalized my interest into parapsychology.
Other than knowing who was on the phone occasionally [before picking up] or things like that, I really didn’t have any sort of psychic experience until I got into graduate school.
Q: Did you actually see something?
I actually saw folks move some objects in college. This was a series of seminars run by a couple of folks at Mundelein College in Chicago. They brought in some parapsychologists and did some work on PK (psychokinesis). So I did see some movement of objects that way.
Q: What kind of evidence do you consider credible in determining if an area is haunted?
Evidence is the right word. We’re really talking about peoples’ experiences here, so when you’re talking about a ghost experience or a ghost sighting, it’s a person who has that experience. There’s no technology involved. For a place to be haunted, you’re typically talking about a history of peoples’ experiences, but most important are current experiences. There are many places that are no longer haunted— they were, at one point, according to the local histories, but it doesn’t do any good for anybody who’s doing an investigation, or who is even interested, unless the folks who witnessed the phenomena are still around or if the phenomena are still happening. The experience can vary quite a bit depending on the phenomena, so we’re talking about mainly two different types of things. One is the idea of an apparition or ghost sticking around after their death for quite a long time, which seems to be pretty rare. More common are the imprints, or place memories. That kind of thing is fairly common all over the world—not just in specific places we call haunted, but even in peoples’ homes people experience things.
Q: Do you put much stock in spirit photography?
They can support the human experience, certainly, but when it comes down to it, none of the technology has been designed to pick up the things that we experience. There is no technology that is designed to pick up human consciousness in the body, let alone outside of the body. The problem with the camera is that cameras are not better than people think they are. I have a lot of friends who are in photography and a couple of folks who work for some major companies, and the reality is that cameras do not take pictures of things that are invisible to the human eye—unless it’s infrared, in which case we’re doing something that is heat-sensitive and not what people typically think. If it’s invisible to the human eye, it’s going to be invisible to a flash and to a camera.
With ghost cases, we’re talking about the ghost somehow affecting the camera—affecting the film, or the mechanism of the camera. We certainly have a lot of evidence that people’s consciousness can affect computers. And if an object can move, certainly a camera can be affected. There are many other explanations regarding spirit photography. This could be an effect of a ghost on the camera, but it’s not a ghost. The image itself is not a ghost.
Q: What is your favorite haunt?
My favorite place, where I’ve probably had more experiences than anyplace else, is the Moss Beach Distillery restaurant, which is just south of San Francisco. It’s haunted by a woman who was murdered in the early 1930s. Local historians have collected stories from people even as far back as a week after her death. She was murdered as part of a lover’s triangle, so it’s one of those classic ghost stories. People saw her ghost fairly regularly through probably the 70s. Since the late 70s, she hasn’t been seen as much as she has been felt. What’s interesting about this case is that a lot of things have happened on the investigations we’ve been on—including with a lot of the TV crews. Although the biggest problem with TV shows is that the crews tend not to want to include themselves in talking about the experiences. So if something happens while the camera is turned off, they’re not willing to talk about it if they see it. So we’ve actually had a lot of really good witnesses to evidence that have occurred there, except they’re not willing to talk about it because they don’t want to become part of the story. And then, of course, they complain that we have nothing on camera. I’ve worked with about five mediums or psychics over the last 14 years at the Distillery. At the restaurant, they all had not only encountered the same person, but each psychic was able to add to and pick up different information that was later confirmed by some of the other folks as well as by some of the witnesses. So, in other words, we’re getting psychic sensitives who are picking up information that the people living in the area or people who are working there can also confirm by their experience. That’s very positive for us. She [the ghost] is pretty cooperative, generally.
Q: Where is parapsychology going?
For one thing, the funding in the United States has been drying up, and a lot of the organizations have been in danger for quite a while—partly because of the skeptics’ movement more than anything else. It’s a shame for people who are psychic practitioners and the ghost hunters—nobody seems to want to support the research. Because the research is not just in the lab, it’s also outside the laboratory. But in general, I think it has gathered a little bit more momentum with some mainstream scientists who are more and more willing, at least amongst their peers, to discuss these experiences. And especially with physicists, the quantum physicists who are more interested in physics of consciousness. I think that’s where it’s been heading—looking at consciousness, which is extremely important when you’re talking about ghosts, because that’s what a ghost is by definition.