I want to start blogging here a little more regularly. That’s probably wishful thinking on my part. But in an effort to at least make an attempt at it, I’d like to post an occasional few thoughts on the more interesting interviews we do on Strange Frequencies Radio. So here, then, is a quickly put together several paragraphs on our recent talk with Professor Paranormal, Loyd Auerbach.
I’ve been interested in the paranormal since I was a little kid. I’ve never had the traditional “experience” so many others have had that made them want to find answers though. For me it was just reading ghost stories, watching Unsolved Mysteries (Robert Stack’s voice alone made everything a little scarier sounding) and Sightings on television and checking out Time Life: Mysteries of the Unknown books from the library.
One of the many personalities I would come across during my media consumption was the parapsychologist and professor Loyd Auerbach. In many ways, Loyd helped fuel my early interest in ghosts and psychics. So, it has been a special treat for me to have him on Strange Frequencies Radio off and on over the years. I may be more skeptical now than I used to be, but I’ve retained a respect for Auerbach because he has always been very charitable with me, and his insight into parapsychological matters comes from an academic perspective. I like Loyd, both personally and from a professional standpoint.
Recently, he came on Strange Frequencies to discuss a few topics I’ve had in mind lately. One, the idea of EMF hypersensitivity. It strikes me as odd that shows like Ghost Hunters and amateur ghost hunting groups around the country are telling people that their paranormal experiences are being brought on by “high EMF.” There’s so little data to suggest EMF hypersensitivity is a real medical condition. In fact, the vast majority of evidence points to the conclusion that it is not. And yet there are ghost hunting teams misleading people by telling them it is.
We also talked with Auerbach about the experimenter effect, specifically as it pertains to psi experiments. The experimenter effect here is generally said to be offered as an explanation for why a pro-psi experimenter will achieve positive results while perhaps a more skeptical psi experimenter will not. Could it really be that the mere presence of a skeptic interferes somehow?
Me, I tend to doubt that. For one thing, it seems like a very convenient excuse. Believe in psi, but get negative results from your experiments? Blame the skeptic! And secondly, it begs the question. If we don’t know what psi is and cannot prove it exists, how can we offer psi as an excuse when psi experiments produce negative results? It’s just a logically invalid circular argument it seems to me.
Later, we talked about my idea of why so many parapsychologists give the benefit of the doubt to children in cases where clear instances of fraud are involved. For instance, the Enfield and Columbus poltergeist cases both involved young girls who were caught faking activity by the investigators present. And yet, both these cases are held up as legitimate instance of poltergeist activity by parapsychologists. It is certainly true that there were some elements of these cases that have not been explained by mere fakery. My question, however, is if these same parapsychologists would have given the benefit of the doubt to adults had they been caught faking evidence? Or would they, as I suspect, have felt their time had been wasted and walked out? It’s a topic I want to explore more in the future, possible for a blog here or an article. But for now, I want to withhold further judgment until I learn more.
One of Professor Auerbach’s most interesting statements came toward the end of the interview when we were talking about the “dumbing down” of paranormal conferences. He made the point that many of the people who attend these conferences aren’t really interested in the paranormal, but are more intrigued by the idea of meeting television stars. I agree with him. And it’s for this reason, he says, he has cut back on donating books to events that have solicited him for giveaway materials.
I hope you’ll give a listen to the interview if you are interested in these topics and let me know if you have any thoughts.
Thanks for reading!