Rick Moran: Beating a Dead Source

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“…the “true story” of the Amityville saga has been embellished with half-truths and self-serving twists and turns.”—Rick Moran, “Amityville Revisited,” Fortean Times, 2004

Rick Moran knows what he’s talking about. Not only was he one of the first to research The Amityville Horror case, but he is a master at embellishing stories with half-truths and self-serving twists and turns. Moran proudly labels himself a journalist with the integrity to seek out corroboration in an effort to get an unbiased story – and yet when it comes to the Amityville case, he spits in the face of accepted evidence, his sources seem dubious at best, and some of his claims seem downright laughable.

Earlier this year, Rick Moran gave an interview to White Noise Paranormal Radio, an Internet-based radio program. I’ve read his previous articles on The Amityville Horror case, so I thought I knew what to expect; but as it turned out, the statements I heard Moran give were way more outlandish that what appeared in print. One ridiculous statement after another. I felt compelled to phone-in.

Though the radio hosts let me argue my points with Rick for a fair amount of time, we never really got anywhere. Rick has been playing this game for quite some time, and he knows how to stall, ignore and switch topics on people. Still, I transcribed the interview for my website and included my arguments against Moran as endnotes (click here to read).

So who is Rick Moran, and why are his claims outlandish? Let’s start by examining a summary of Moran’s involvement with The Amityville Horror case, which appears on his ASUP website (which, by the way, is a direct copy of his 2004 Fortean Times article).

book-coverIn 1977, Rick Moran and his colleagues at the Association for the Study of Unexplained Phenomena (ASUP) were given a draft of Jay Anson’s then-unreleased book The Amityville Horror, the story of the Lutz family who claimed their lovely Long Island home (the scene of a recent grisly mass-murder) was haunted. Moran was given this book by Peter Jordan, a field reporter for the Psychical Research Foundation (PRF) loosely connected with Duke University. Jordan and his PRF colleagues were very upset that Anson’s book seemed to be using their organization to falsely give credence to the Lutzes’ claims of a haunting, when in reality the investigation the PRF did on the house was inconclusive.

From the summary Moran gives us, it seems evident that Anson’s book was looked upon as being a wild pack of lies before any member of the ASUP bothered to crack it open. Here they were being presented with a book that lied about their friends and colleagues at the PRF. Surely such a book – which felt it necessary to use false information to support its case – would be suspect. Given this, I believe Moran and his team dove into Anson’s book not in the spirit of fairly investigating its claims, but rather with the intention of finding as much fault with it as humanly possible.

Moran and his fellow investigators wasted no time in listing all the various incidents of paranormal activity contained in The Amityville Horror. Out of 103 paranormal incidents, the ASUP claimed to have found 83 that were proven false. In a book with 207 pages, that works out to one false claim for every 2.5 pages! Could there really be that much lying going on?

We might never know. As luck would have it, Moran’s only copy of this master list was lost in a fire. That’s unfortunate – it would have been interesting to examine. Moran claims this list had been published, but out of the 200+ related articles my colleagues and I have collected, we haven’t seen any proof of that – and honestly, its unlikely anyone would print such a long list in full. A few articles make reference to this list, but provide little, if any, details.

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