Archive for January 2010
The weekend is supposed to be for resting and shopping for shoes, right? This weekend is going to be super hectic for me though as tomorrow (Saturday 30th Jan) I am heading to Bristol at around 9am to take part in a mass overdose of homeopathic medicine as part of the 10:23 campaign being run by the Merseryside Skeptics society and being run in Bristol by the Bristol skeptics society.
As soon as this event is over I’ll be hopping back on a train and rushing home to get ready to head off to Swindon to lend a hand as a member of the Weird crew (shut up) at the first ever ‘Weird Talking event’ being held in Old Town, Swindon where we will be listening to Maria Wheatley and Busty Taylor talk about some of Avebury’s allegedly best kept secrets. Not exactly my cup of tea but well worth a listen I should think.
Very kindly my fellow crew members Tom & Liz have offered to lend me and another crew member their spare bedroom for the night and a lift home! I’m so glad to have met such lovely people.
This is the first of many talks taking part over 2010 so if you’re interested you should visit the Weird Events website and click on the ‘Weird Talking’ button for more information.
I’m also hoping that once I get home on Sunday I can pop over to Avebury to start preliminary work on the first of Wiltshire Phenomena Research’s 2010 project pied piper case studies.
There truly is no rest for the wicked. I’m not complaining though because these last few weeks have been incredibly fun!
Though, one down side is that I’m doing all of this whilst battling with a throat and ear infection, tension headaches and a possibly compacted wisdom tooth. If you see me this weekend and I looked down it’s because I’m in constant pain. No fun.
Ooh. Also worth a mention is that it has now been five days with no meat for me! Today I did my food shop and bought my next lot of vegetarian dishes and snacks etc. and some of the stuff out there truly is scrummy looking.
Oh, and another 2000 words in the bag for my story today. Rock on.
I’ve been quite busy since the new year and I thought I ought to share some of the things I’m up to because I’m told that if you hold your exitment inside for too long you explode. I don’t want to explode.
Basically, I’ve been working on a book which is the majorly exciting thing that I aimed to do in 2010.
No, don’t judge me. It’s NOT a paranormal book and has nothing do to with the paranormal, paranormal research or bananas. (Only my team mates will get the bananas thing, for those of you who don’t, it’s hysterical.)
My book is a supernatural thriller fiction book based in modern day Britain. I like to think it’s kick arse but then I’m biased.
I’ve been writing articles for a long time that have been featured on numerous websites about numerous things. I even co-authored my very first magazine article with local ghost guru Dave Wood last year that wound up in Paranormal Magazine which I was immensly proud of.
However people don’t tend to know that I’ve been writing fiction stories since the age of fourteen. None of them have ever been published because I’ve never tried.
Whether that be down to a lack of confidence or because I liked them being my secret I don’t really know, but speaking to a friend last year inspired me to actually write something that I intend other people to read. Talking to another of my friends online today made me think about announcing it on my blog.
Perhaps in a couple of decades time I will put my pen to paper and write about my time as a paranormal researcher. Yet, as it currently stands I’ve only been researching the odd for five years which hardly gives me any authority in the subject at all – I’m still learning.
I’m going to stick to my fiction at the moment and as the story progresses I’ll be updating this blog with how it’s going. I may never get published, and that’s not something I’m really worried about because I’d rather finally stand up and try to get one of my stories published and fail rather than never have tried in the first place.
This year things are going to change for me that are completely out of my control. Somebody who means the world to me more than any other living person is going to be going away for a long time to start an amazing career that will set him up for success for the rest of his days.
This makes me so happy for this person, but at the same time it makes me wonder what else life is going to chuck my way. This ground I stand on is unsteady, always shifting and turning me into surprises. Sometimes I like surprises – “ooh, shoes? for me?” and sometimes I don’t – “What do you mean when you say ‘tumor in my ear?”
Whatever it brings, I guarentee you that I’ll be ready for it. I’ll make the most of it, as this year is for living. I sit here, feeling very happy and I’m blogging this as a reminder to myself that no longer shall I accept the bullshit some people like to throw my way. Seriously, it’s old now.
If you have a problem with that, or if you have a problem with me then slap yourself on my behalf biatch as I really, don’t, care 🙂
Not holding a personal belief in the existence of ghosts or an afterlife does not make me a bad paranormal researcher because all aspects of research are meant to be unbias and belief shouldn’t come into it anywhere.
I was recently questioned during a live interview why I was a paranormal researcher if I didn’t believe in ghosts. It honestly made me want to scream because so many people seem to miss the point.
Paranormal research isn’t about ghosts/spirits or whatever it is you choose to believe in. It’s about taking the claims made by people who have witnessed something seemingly unexplainable and trying to work out exactly what happened. It’s a hard task and one that many people don’t seem to grasp very well at all.
Unfortnately there are a lot of people in the field of paranormal research who actually just want to prove that their belief in ghosts or spirits is justified. They do this by using some very odd techniques that don’t really work at all.
They use gadgets and misintepret the readings – or, in the worst case scenario don’t even understand that which the gadget is designed to read. These people use theories that don’t actually make sense and go against scientific evidence. However, because it suits their belief system they use it, even if it means twisting the facts to make it sound like they know what they are talking about.
Of course, this is a form of cherry picking and as we all know that’s a logical fallacy. Sadly, the field of paranormal research is flooded with such illogical thinking.
What annoys me the most though is the fact that Wiltshire Phenomena Research, the organisation that I work with, work really hard to stay up to date with our facts and our research and people who think illogically, or who preach about unproven, unscientific theories dare to tell us that we have no place in paranormal research when in fact it’s very much the other way around.
As a skeptic I am always willing to be proven wrong and to update my understanding of what I know to be right. I never assume that I am better than anybody else or that I know more. Yet, so many people refuse to give up the belief they hold in sill things such as orbs, or EVP, or a photograph they took that has a supposed ghost in it, or an eye-witness testimony that has been debunked by others but is still proof to them.
There are things I have witnessed in the past that I thought we ghosts, but I’ve been big enough to hold my hands in the air and say that people have shown me how I was wrong about that.
It’s not so scary to have no conclusion about what we’re dealing with.
I’ve seen numerous skeptical bloggers writing about why they are behind the 10:23 campaign and why they are taking part and I felt it would be a neat thing to write about from a personal POV.
Clearly, one of the main reasons I am taking part it because Michael Marshall of the Merseyside skeptics society who has been heavily involved with the organisation of the campaign happens to be one of my cohosts for the Righteous Indignation Podcast and I’ve watched and listened from the sidelines (so to speak) as the campaign has come together in the hands of the MSS and it proved to me that great things can be achieved by holding a passion for something and the determination the guys from the Merseyside Skeptics Society held for this campaign and everything it stands for rubbed off on me a little bit.
It made me stop and consider just how outrageous it was that Boots – a brand we trust with our health, were selling homeopathic remedies that don’t work (I should point out now that if your name or pseudonym is Nancy Malik you can sod right of before posting a reply to my blog, got it?)
The thing that set me apart from most other people I knew who supported the 10:23 campaign was the fact that I didn’t have a personal experience with any type of alt med. I mean, sure, I go on enough about how conventional medicine saved my life twice and how I will always be thankful and I believe this is enough of a reason for me to take part – yet, I read the blog posts from others who had experienced close shaves because of homeopathy. I’ve even reported on stories about people dying because they, or their parents used homeopathy to cure their illnesses or conditions rather that medicine that actually works.
However some weeks ago I was having a discussion with my mum as we made a cup of tea about the campaign and how I felt it was important that misinformation wasn’t allowed to just be spread around without somebody challenging it. The discussion was mainly focused on my challenging an article published in a local magazine by a local homeopath.
My mum told something that I had never been told before and it really made me think and realise just how right we are to challenge misinformation as we do.
My nan died in 1995, she was extremely ill and her health had been deteriorating for such a long time.
In fact, I’ll share a secret with you. I used to sleep at my Grans house (my dad’s mother) all the time and being the emotional child I was it made me feel guilty that I never stayed at my nans house (my mothers mum) as often. I slept at her house for one night and on the second occasion that I was supposed to sleep there my gran threw up violently and it scared me be more than I’ve ever been scared by someones health and I demanded my mum take me home.
It wasn’t even a year later that she died and from the day she died, when I realised just how ill she was, I had a dirty lump of guilt in my stomach because I refused to stay over at my nans house because I was a scaredey cat. It brings tears to my eyes right now because if I had known how little time I had left with her, I would have slept over. It’s silly, but it made me feel terrible for years and years…
Anyway, back to the story. About a year before my nan died she visited her GP because she was suffering from pain – I can’t remember where the pain was, but her GP recommended that she took pain killers very four hours.
He forgot to tell her that once the pain had gone she could stop taking the tablets.
This resulted in my nan, who at this point was very ill and, as my mum put it ‘going slightly senile’ taking pain killers every four hours for roughly three or four months. Non stop.
This is when she started to throw up for ‘no apparent reason.’ It was after these months had passed that my mum one day asked my nan why she was taking pain killers, she questioned whether she was in pain or not and my nan told my mum she had been told to take them every four hours.
That’s how easy it is for information that might seem harmless to become harmful by becoming misinformation.
When my nan went to see her GP he didn’t know she would mistake his instructions as she had done. If she had taken the tablets as instructed just until the pain went away it wouldn’t have made her even sicker – but it did, because she didn’t fully understand what she was being told.
She was vulnerable and was misled.
That is why whenever I see somebody offering or promoting a health service that is quackery at it’s worst I think of my nan. I think, if Mr local homeopath had written his article when my nan was alive and she had read it, she would have probably believed that her flu vaccine didn’t work and that homeopathy would have helped treat flu should she catch it.
If Mrs Spiritual healer told my nan she could cure her illnesses using a special magic power that she reckons she has my nan might have believed her and may have parted with her cash to receive this healing.
That’s why I always speak up when I see something that is wrong.
I do it for nan, I do it Muriel Dunne.
Last night from 10pm until Midnight I was interviewed by the White Noise Paranormal Radio show – live online to answer their questions about my paranormal research, Righteous Indignation and all other sorts of questions you might ask somebody like me.
Despite being quite nervous prior to the interview, when we got going I started to have great fun. For a while now I have been involved in the skeptical podcast – Righteous Indignation and all the tasks that come with it. So, to be able to step back and discuss my paranormal research with people whose first interest is paranormal resarch and all that comes with it was a very nice change.
One thing I have to credit Jason & Kelly – the hosts of the show – for, is the manner in which they put the questions across. I didn’t get grilled for being a mean skeptic and I wasn’t made to feel like I had to prove myself as I was made to feel on a prior paranormal radio show I was interviewed on last year.
The highlight of the interview though had to be the quick-fire questions towards the end where I was asked to sum the questions up with brief answers. When asked what I thought was behind internal-human combustion my answer was “Fire.”
Brief enough? Yes. True? Yes. Funny? Well… I like to think so 😉
Thanks to Jason and Kelly and all the folks who made White Noise work, and thanks to everyone who sent questions in. Yes, even those of you who sat in the chatroom, sent in questions and listened to the show despite the fact that they cannot stand me. That was humourous to say the least.
Another thing worth mentioning is how a member in the chatroom at one point was reported to me to have said that I sounded knowldgeable and brave on the show but they would like to see me spend the night in a well known haunted location to see how brave I would be then.
Bring. It. On.
There is one thing you can be sure of with regards to my mothers family, and that is that when we have medical dilemas – we have proper, serious, scary medical dilemas.
Another thing, I guess you could say, would be the fact that no matter what wrongs have happened in the past, what opinions may be held, when something goes wrong for a member of our family as it has this week, they become the priority for the entire family.
One of my aunts is currently very, very ill in hospital. She went in for a routine check-up due to her diagnosis of bone cancer a while ago and whilst in the room with the consultant she has a sezuire and has continued to have them whilst still in the hospital. She has fluid on the lungs and irregularities in her brain. Yet, rather than dissolving into panic, my family united in support for my aunt and the phone hasn’t stopped going as we all keep each other updated.
However, over the last few days that have been hectic with visits to hospital, and with moments of worry as the seriousness of her illness sunk in, one thing has stood out in my mind as something quite prominent.
It’s really silly though and something quite insignificant and so I haven’t shared the thought with any of my family because I just know the look I’d get and so I’ve decided to blog about it.
It’s all about a cup of tea.
On Saturday my mum visited my aunt in hospital with two of her three brothers and her younger sister. When she arrived back home my mum mentioned to me that as she had been sat at my aunts bedside a nurse had brought my aunt a cup of tea.
She told me how it was a poor excuse for a cup of tea or, in my mums words ‘a wish washy cup of tea’ – a cup of boiling water that had only briefly met the tea bag before it was cruelly snatched away before they could become proper aquaintences.
It’s sad because, as though that wasn’t torture enough they then threw sugar into the cup and drowned the essence of tea in milk. Tragic.
Even more tragic is the fact that this was then given to a lady who is currently suffering from a very serious illness. In a cup, with a straw.
Yes, the straw was there so she could drink it through her oxygen mask – but the point I am trying to make is that if it had been a decent cup of tea the fact it was through a straw wouldn’t have been a problem.
I honestly think that the NHS do a wonderful job. Yet, don’t they realise that sometimes – when you’re at your lowest and feeling sicker than you ever have before all you want is a decent cup of tea?
Is that so much to ask for? Really?