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A VISIT DOES NOT AN INVESTIGATION MAKE

Comments on the Moss Beach Distillery “investigation” by GHOST HUNTERS,
which aired June 4, 2008.

Loyd Auerbach
June 4, 2008

I just got finished watching tonight’s episode of GHOST HUNTERS on SciFi Channel. The second half of the episode was their “investigation” of the Moss Beach Distillery, and her long-time apparition, most often referred to the Blue Lady.

The episode did a great disservice to the restaurant, but more importantly, to the hundreds of people over the years who have experienced something paranormal/psychic at the Distillery since the early 1930s.

Keep that in mind – phenomena has been reported since the early 1930s, through multiple owners, including some who lived on property, and through a complete teardown and rebuild in the late 1990s (for seismic retrofit).

No disrespect to Jason, Grant, Steve and Kris, but “investigation” includes MUCH more than merely going to the place, checking it out, setting up tech, and reviewing the “evidence” caught (or not caught) by the tech.

Investigation of a location, especially one with decades of history of reported paranormal encounters, involves interviewing witnesses, historical research, reviewing prior media coverage of the place, and contacting (if possible) other investigators who have gone before (or at the very least reading their published reports of their investigations).

It would appear that none of this was done for the Moss Beach Distillery.  At least, there was no indication of it on the show.  Of course, the producers cut the segment from many many hours down to less than 30 minutes, so there might have been some of this done.  But there was no indication of this.

Nor was there any indication of this when Jay & Grant talked about the lamps, etc. at UNIV-CON in October 2007. They indicated there had been an attempt to fool them – they were less than thrilled that neither the chef (who appeared on camera) nor the owner warned them about the special effects – though I got no indication that they’d actually spoken to John Barbour, the owner.

I spoke with Kris Williams at Ghost Rush in February.  She, too, expressed her displeasure with the restaurant for not indicating there were special effects before they arrived or when they were there.

However…

1) Much has been written about the Moss Beach Distillery in books, magazines, newspapers and on the web.  Many articles since the late 1990s mention the special effects.
2) Dozens and dozens of TV shows and segments have featured stories on the Moss Beach Distillery and its resident ghost, the Blue Lady.  I have been the person/investigator most associated with the restaurant, with psychic Annette Martin a close second (and often featured in segments with me).  Many of these repeat endlessly on A&E, the Travel Channel, Biography, the History Channel, etc.
3) Several segments have mentioned the effects, and there’s been one that prominently featured the effects and my discussion of them. This show recently reran yet again.
4) I’ve discussed the Distillery on hundreds of radio (broadcast mostly, and internet lately).  In a majority of the interviews since the late 1990s, we’ve talked about the effects.
5) There were NO effects at the restaurant prior to that (other than the occasional effects at performances by magicians and mentalists for entertainment.
6) My 2005 book A PARANORMAL CASEBOOK: GHOST HUNTING IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM (Atriad Press) contains the longest write-up of the case to be found.  It’s nearly a sixth of the book.  It extensively discusses the experiences of so many witnesses (myself included), and the history.
7) The week before the TAPS team visited the Distillery, I got a call from a producer identifying himself as with the show.  He was asking for names/contacts for witnesses for the Presidio Officer’s Club in San Francisco, which he’d learned I’d investigated.  Before we got off the phone, I asked him where else they were going in the Bay Area.  He mentioned the Distillery.  I offered to provide him with any info about the place and folks experiences there, and specifically mentioned my book.  He indicated they had what they needed.  I asked him if they were aware of the special effects.  HE SAID THEY WERE AWARE OF THE EFFECTS!!!

That the producer at least tacitly acknowledged his awareness of the effects, my book, etc., and yet by all indications none of the team were informed of them points ANY finger of blame at the production staff, not the restaurant.

8) The folks at the Distillery don’t go out of their way to tell people about the effects, that’s true.  The fact is (and yes, it’s a fact) that it’s so easy to find out that there are special effects there before visiting that no one thinks to do so.  Had the chef been allowed to stay while they “investigated,” the outcome would have been very different. 

As to no phenomena happening while they were there, guess what?  Ghosts, if we define them as people essentially hanging around after death, have free will too.  Perhaps the Blue Lady (who we have known as Cayte for several years) was someplace else, or was annoyed by the attitude of the folks.

By not speaking with any prior investigators, or witnesses, there’s no way to find a pattern, to find out what’s been going on or try to learn what would be the best times to experience things, and under what conditions.  There are certain things we’ve done prior to visiting and when there to encourage Cayte to “come out.”

Just reading my book would have given them everything they needed to know.  But here’s an important note: Cayte’s hardly ever there lately, based on the decline of good reports and my own (and Annette’s) experiences when visiting.

Now for a few more specific comments about what aired.

At the beginning, it was mentioned there was a “Guy who washed up on shore all dismembered.”  NEVER heard that in all my years of research, interviewing witnesses, etc.

Steve mentioned he had not heard much about the MBD?  So….he doesn’t watch other paranormal specials/TV shows?

The chef is not the person who has kept really good track of past events or even special effects.  What chef is?  WE (and locals) have been collecting info, getting responses from people, hearing experiences, etc.  Had they spoken with anyone associated with longer term investigations (me, Annette Martin, always on TV with the place), they would have had a full report on what’s gone on, what’s going on lately, and the effects. 

I’d love to have seen/heard all that the chef reported had gone on.  So little was mentioned on the show, it’s hard to know how informed/uninformed he is. 

Yes, in the Torres room (main/original dining room), the apparition has been seen and felt in room.

It was mentioned when in the bar area that her husband stabbed her.  We’re actually not at all sure who did it, but the general feeling is it was the husband due to him having shown up earlier in the evening she was killed. (Note: she had left him a while before and it took him some time to track her down; in the meantime she’d begun an affair with the piano player).  When he showed up, he caused a ruckus and was ejected from the place (it WAS a Speakeasy at the time).  We assume he was the killer as when she and her boyfriend were on the beach, he was conked over the head and she was stabbed.

“We really want to be able to capture/catch her on the bluff.”

Nope – She used to be seen on the bluff, but it’s been many, many years since this was the case.  However, folks have seen her on the beach below. 

Steve’s attempts at communicating with Cayte were actually a good try.  Always worked for folks to be friendly and light with her rather than serious.  His attempt to scare Tango (for fun) was good.  Cayte likes having fun.

Bathroom area: While the ladies room was a primary focus for experiences for so many decades (including her image seen in the main bathroom mirror many times), no real sightings or experiences have been reported since place was torn apart and rebuilt – the ladies room is in a different location from where it was for most of the place’s existence.  This is one reason there’s no problem with the effects in ladies room.

“Look for projectors.” 

Hey, various folks have tried to come up with a good projection system for the place (I worked with a few several years ago), but no one’s had any luck designing something to project the apparition that’s not incredibly expensive.

Grant got hurt – that certainly wasn’t going to make him “friendly” to the place.  It was also no fault of the restaurant, as no restaurant in their normal course of business expects people to attempt to get into the ceiling.

It was mentioned that this was “fake evidence.”  Nope.  Not evidence of anything paranormal at all, or even evidence to do anything but give the patrons a more reliable (though non-paranormal) experience.

Hey, but what about places that make up stories?  I’ve known of numerous historical locations that have either inflated the “haunting” or flat out made up a story, which is believed.  Impact of this is even more pervasive than physical special effects. 

At the end of the show, Jason mentioned “People who truly have problems” and “wasted time on a place like this.”

This leads me to ask, WHO chose the place to begin with????  Who did the due diligence research on the place?  Spoke with witnesses? Watched video/read interviews with past witnesses? With the local historian? With ANYBODY other than the chef who’s only been there a couple of years?

Yes, there are lots of people with problems and yes, they should spend their time on such cases.  Yet week after week we see the TAPS team going to places like the Distillery, where no one needs “help” or has problems. 

Folks … It’s a TV SHOW!  On the SciFi Channel. 

What is the “Fi” short for, anyway???

A bit more…For the full skinny on the paranormal experiences/happenings at the Distillery, read the section of my book A PARANORMAL CASEBOOK.

[Before you ask, I’m not posting the write-up on the web/MySpace.  Just like Jason & Grant et. al. are making $$ with their TV show, I sell my books.  Yes, I said it.  I am trying to make a buck from selling my books.  Wish I could say I’ve made as much money on that book since its release as either Jason & Grant make on a SINGLE episode of the show.  I haven’t.]

Visit the web page on my site dealing with some of the encounters at the Distillery at http://www.mindreader.com/fav_mossbeach.html

I was involved in the initial set up of the special effects at the Moss Beach Distillery in the late 1990s -- which are computer-controlled/recorded recreations of some of the reported phenomena at the Distillery, phenomena which began in the early 1930s.

The effects were deliberately set up with specific lamps that were not previously reported as moving (it was other lamps).  In fact, I’ve witnessed the lamps NOT rigged moving (and not as a consequence of the others moving). 

In the ladies room, the effect is in a different mirror (different from the main mirror where the ghost's image has been seen multiple times before the place was rebuilt).  The laughter of the woman that plays when the door to the ladies room opens (only sometimes) is a clear indicator that this is an “effect.”

The effects are computer controlled.  The computer records all simulated effects, and individual activations. In that way, if there's any question as to whether 'the ghost did it' or not, there's a record to check.

No effort to hide the effects has been made. Run searches on Google.  Find recent articles on the place. As every prior TV crew that’s visited since the effects were installed already knew about them (they did research), and it’s SO easy to find out that they’re there, it’s no surprise that the chef didn’t go out of his way to let them know about the effects.

Finally, the reported phenomena has been occurring since the early 1930s. The effects were installed starting in the late 1990s.

I got involved in 1991 and have conducted numerous investigations there before any special effects were installed. There have been real, documented physical phenomena at the Distillery prior to the installation of the effects.

I have personally had numerous experiences there -- something I can't say about a lot of places I investigate.

To be clear:  I helped with that installation (consulting, helping to get the initial contractors, and more). The phenomena is real. The phenomena went on for over 65 years before the effects were even conceived of. The effects are fun, to add to the “experience” of the restaurant.

And the effects are no secret.

It’s a shame that there was a pronouncement that the place is not haunted.  Even if they had not had the experience they had with the effects, what happens when they don’t experience anything IN A SINGLE VISIT? 

Does this invalidate the hundreds of witnesses who had experiences?  Does it invalidate the prior investigations and conclusions? 

If so, you would likely have been among the scientists who stated emphatically, on hearing of the Wright Brothers’ flight at Kitty Hawk, that such a thing was flat-out impossible, that it was fraud.

Or amongst the scientific community that denied the origin of meteorites as falling to Earth from outside the atmosphere.

Or amongst the scientific community which denied the existence of Gorillas.

And so on…

No disrespect to Jason and Grant. The producers are going to do what they want, regardless of them and their desires.  Including not warning them about the effects which at least one staff member knew about.  [Note: Yes, it is possible that the person who called me was not a member of the production staff, or even connected to the show.  But highly unlikely given the conversation and timing]

Jason and Grant need to be honest and up front on this one -- just admit they were not informed, that due diligence was not done on the place. Perhaps they researched the history of the place and had not checked into what other investigators had to say (or restaurant reviews, which generally mention the effects as well).

But clearly, this is a mistake, and a lesson learned for future investigations – whether televised or not.  It’s a lesson for ALL who call themselves “ghost hunters.”

Remember:  The operative word here is “investigation.” 

I encourage you to visit the Moss Beach Distillery.  Not because you might experience something paranormal – most people don’t (which is partly why the effects are there to begin with). 

It’s a great place, with an incredible view of the coast and Pacific, and absolutely terrific food (though upper-end prices).  It is, without a doubt, my favorite haunted place.

By the way, Cayte (the Blue Lady) says “Hi.” 


Loyd Auerbach, M.S.
Instructor, HCH Institute Parapsychological Studies
Director, The Office of Paranormal Investigations
Paranormal Research Organization
Adjunct Professor, JFK University
Advisory Board, Rhine Research Center
Scientific Advisory Board, Forever Family Foundation
www.mindreader.com
www.hypnotherapytraining.com/parapsych.cfm


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