Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Supernatural studies in the material world

user posted image rReyhan Harmanci: One doesn't typically get the chills during a PowerPoint presentation in a well-heated conference room. But ghost stories were the hot topic at a two-day event in San Francisco's Cowell Theater billed as the first scientific conference on the afterlife for a general audience. Take, for example, a tale spun by "Professor Paranormal" Loyd Auerbach, a former teacher in the now-closed parapsychology department of Pleasant Hill's John F. Kennedy University, about a ghost named Lois. The story is set in the mid-'80s, when a family moved to an old Victorian house in Livermore. Soon after settling in, they became aware of a ghost named Lois, the former owner of the house, who was developing a relationship with the 12-year-old son. The boy told his family that he spoke to Lois daily. "Apparently," Auerbach said, "Lois even helped him with his homework." Auerbach was intrigued. He and two students piled into a car with some rudimentary recording equipment and headed to Livermore, casually discussing stuff like one student's former dance career and Auerbach's thoughts on purchasing a new car. When they got to the house, they met the boy. He said Lois was distressed. They had just watched "Ghostbusters" on television together, and she was worried they'd bring equipment to vaporize her. Auerbach assured him this wasn't the case. Well, the boy said, then Lois wants to know whether the student would continue dancing and what color car Auerbach wanted. They were floored. Auerbach said he checked the tape - the three didn't mention anything they had discussed in the car with the boy.

He also checked the car for bugs. Nothing. The story, from Lois, was that she had been nervous about their visit and didn't believe they wouldn't try to hurt her, so she rode with them in the car. Auerbach and his team also investigated details of Lois' life relayed by the preteen. It all checked out. Auerbach holds a master's degree in parapsychology, has written seven books on the subject and has been a fixture on the paranormal lecture and television circuits for more than a decade.

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