Hayley is a Ghost

Archive for February 2010

The following are a small number of general observations that I have made throughout the week. You should note that most are made with great irony or sarcasm. I’m very much a people watcher and I’m laid back with my opinions in the sense that I wont tell you that you are annoying me to your face if I don’t know you – I’ll store it in my head and it will probably end up here. I will tell you if you are annoying me if I do know you, I will also probably take the piss out of you and things you do, but it’s because I love you. I’m going to try and post a general observation blog every week.

My quote of the week has been:
“Don’t let the bastards get you down!” — Great gran 1990

* If I am wearing what appear to be sunglasses when it’s cold, rainy and generally not sunny then the chances are that they’re actually reaction lenses on a normal pair of prescription glasses and that I’m not an idiot wearing sunglasses when it’s not sunny. So making general snarky comments about me wearing sunglasses when it isn’t sunny actually makes you look a bit dim. Har har. 

* When your train pulls into the station and there are four of you waiting to get on said train and you can see that it’s completely empty there is no need to push in front of everyone else using your fat arse as some sort of a crowd control device because there isn’t going to be a problem finding a seat. This is what happened to me on Monday. I don’t like being shoved aside by someone elses butt.

* When your train has pulled into the station and there are those few seconds where you wait for the light next to the door to illuminate, crowding around the door is only going to lead to further problems when people try to get off of the train. Problems such as you getting my shopping bags in your face as I push past you. 

* If you stand in the wrong line in a store and get told to join the line that I am standing in, trying to join the line half way into it isn’t going to be looked upon very well by the people you are pushing in front of. Don’t be shocked if they tell you to move. 

* When you go to a lecture called ‘Disinformation within UFOlogy’ don’t get offended when the talk is about disinformation within UFOlogy. If part of that same lecture is about the down side of ad hominem attacks and logical fallacies the worst thing you can do is then ad hom the person giving the lecture, or structure your argument on logical fallacy after logical fallacy.

*If you are mean and nasty and a bitter old woman and you wear red shoes, I will name you ‘The wicked witch of the East prior to Dorothy’s arrival’ in my head. Forever.

* As I sat in my local doctors surgery waiting room on Friday I was shocked to notice on the wall a poster advertising homeopathy, reflexology and other alt med therapies. When I went into the doctors room he had a collection of old tools used in medicine within the last hundred years – some of which actually looked rather scary. He noted ‘It’s interesting to see how far science and medicine has advanced over the years’ and I guiltily couldn’t take him seriously because of the homeopathy advert I had seen just outside of his office.

Last, but not least:

*When you tell people you have social anxiety they’re more likely to understand you than you might think. I have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of people I’ve never really spoken to before who have sent me supportive messages in the last few days. It’s really appreciated.

I recently read a blog post for the CFI that spoke of how the television show ‘Ghost Hunters International’ had, on one of their shows made contact with what they claimed was the spirit of a woman reputed to haunt the location they had visited. The strange thing was that the woman said to haunt the location was actually a fictional character meaning that GHI had either:

a) Done the impossible, or,
b) Not done their homework (naughty, naughty them…)

The episode was called ‘The legend of Rose Hall” and it aired last week as the thirteenth episode of the second season. Rose Hall isn’t a person but in fact a place and the building is said to be haunted by the ghost of an evil woman named Annie Palmer who is often referred to as “The White Witch of Rose Hall.”

According to Ben Radford who wrote the revealing article for the Fortean Times and the Centre for Inquiry blog:

Annie was “beautiful beyond compare; she had a rich throaty voice with black penetrating eyes… Her complexion was smooth, and she could shift from a gentle smiling creature to a haughty, cruel, sensual, cat-like woman, gracefully exuding both anger and sensuality. Annie had strength besides her cruelty. She had the power of a mind trained in sorcery. She believed in spirits and had the ability to project death fears in her slaves.” As a young girl living in Haiti she had apparently become the favourite of a high voodoo priestess.

Apparently, she made her way through four husbands who all died in mysterious circumstances Annie not only left a trail of dead husbands; she also delighted in acts of unspeakable cruelty and perversion. Annie’s sadism was legendary, her wrath feared by all. She was said to enjoy watching the slaves being whipped from her balcony. Once, when a servant displeased her, Annie had the poor fellow’s head cut off and placed on a bamboo stake, left to rot in the tropical sun as a warning to others.

During their time at Rose Hall the GHI team claimed to contact a spirit they believed to be Annie Palmer through the various pseudo-scientific methods that they use and pass off as scientific. However it isn’t the pseudoscience involved in their show that I want to focus upon in this case. It’s actually the supposed ghost and Annie Palmer who is in reality a fictional character.

Apparently, Annie Palmer is in fact the title character in a famous Jamaican novel, The White Witch of Rose Hall, published in 1929 by Herbert G. de Lisser. Annie Palmer never existed, thus they presumably could not have found any evidence of her ghost. Rose Hall, “the most haunted house in the Western Hemisphere” and indeed one of “the world’s most haunted places” is in reality merely myth passed off by careless writers as fact.

What is does call into question though is how thorough television shows really research their cases before representing them as ‘true haunting’ to the viewing public.

Reading the blog made me recall a time when I visited The Black Swan hotel in Devizes in Wiltshire which is reputed to be one of the most haunted places in England. During a tea break at our time in the building the then landlady (who was terrified to be there and wouldn’t stay anywhere on her own) admitted that the back story to the supposed haunting had been made up by a local historian (who at the time did local ghost walks) and some local guy who claimed to be a medum (who also led ghost events in the building for a price a few years ago.)

What interested me the most about the admission was that the television show ‘Britains Most Haunted’ had visited The Black Swan for one of their episodes and had ran with the supposed back story that was admitted to us to be fake.

“But surely…” I pointed out, “Most Haunted have Richard Felix, the historian with them, wouldn’t he have known the story was sham?”

The landlady had laughed. “Richard Felix didn’t do any research, he simply went with the information we gave him and held a big book in front on camera to make it look as though he was studying from it.”

Surely both of these stories prove that you really cannot trust what you see on television – even if it seems convincing.

I honestly thought I had battled my social anxiety disorder/panic disorder/agrophobia but it seems not. It is 1am in the morning and I’ll be truthful, I’m sitting in bed unable to sleep thinking up the best way to quit the job I started two days ago because I can’t cope with it.

I went from working part time in a supermarket to working full time as a supervisor in an outdoor lesuire store and I can’t face going back. I need to go to the doctors I think because I refused counselling the last time around because I genuinely felt the tablets they put me on had helped me, but I’m back in square one again and I feel ust as bad as I did last year when this all kicked off.

The rational part of my brain is saying that I’m overreacting, but with SAD it’s never that simple. Unless you’ve suffered with this problem it’s impossible to understand how this feels. I want to run away and hide from everyone, forever.

Today I started work in a store in Trowbridge that for a long time has been at the centre of one of the most reputable hauntings in Wiltshire. The Shires shopping centre is said to be one of the most actively haunted locations in West Wiltshire and the store in question was reputed to be the most haunted because of a poltergeist like entity named George.

The store sells camping gear and it is said that staff would often enter the store to find all the zips on the coats undone despite them having been zipped up before closing, the stock room would be messy with stock flung on the floor and on one occasion they entered the store to find a tent fully built in the middle of the store where no tent had been before which was pretty cool seeing as though only the store management have keys to the shop and nothing was caught on CCTV going into or out of the store.

This had completely slipped my mind when I applied for and got interiewed for the job until it came up in coversation today and I was curious to see if the place is as active as it is reputed to be.
The answer, in a nutshell is that no it isn’t. The staff have heard of the ghost and yet despite most of them working there for a year or more, none of them have experienced it. Amazing what word of mouth can do, isn’t it?

Many people involved in paranormal research in Wiltshire will happily tell you of the events that happened in that store and yet there is no actual material proof that they did. It seems that it’s just an elaborate story that got out of hand (as many do) or it could be that something odd did happen and the events got exagerated beyond recognition into the legend that they are today.

I often think that many famous hauntings that I know of locally are probably the same, which is a shame really, though it’s a great example of how people will readily accept something as true without questioning it if it fits into their belief system or their way of thinking. Something that I was guilty of until a few years ago. Sad really…

For a while I have been really bugged by the amount of misinformation spread around in my town of Bradford-On-Avon that relates to alternative medicine and therapies. For someone who is skeptical of such things it seemed like an uphill struggle everytime I tried to challenge any claims made locally that I felt were dangerous or very misleading.

This led me to launch a website called: A brighter Bradford-On-Avon

When I have enough money I am going to buy the domain for the site and over time I hope to add more and more content. my intention is to create a website that is a source of rational information whilst acting as a counter to all the nonsens claims made locally.

I am planning on launching the site via local media and I hope to be able to buy advertising in local magazines who are prone to printing articles that are full of nonsense information regarding general health care & medicine.

In my recent complaint to ‘A local life magazine’ for publishing an article that promoted the use of homeopathy in place of flu vaccinations I asked the editor if I would be able to write an article pointing out the benefits of flu vaccinations and conventional medicine. I was told in no uncertain terms that it was not possible – I quote:

I am sorry that you were not happy with the article in issue 2, however I would like to explain that as a free magazine that we build relationships with local businesses and advertorial is paid for as you can see the article is accompanied by an advert. In the article it does not state that this is a cure – I would be happy for a doctor to write an article, however people are intelligent and able to draw their own conclusions. I personally have no firm view from wither side other than whatever works for the individual is positive, it’s great that you take the time to comment but the article is not one that requires a counter comment , my aim for  the magazine is to promote local business, community events and causes that affect the local area. 

 So, as you can see, as founder of ‘A brighter Bradford-On-Avon’ I will be eligible for advertising. I haven’t done this just out of spite though – that’s just a plus side to it. I made the website to spread information about alternative medicine because as a town where even the local doctor surgery promotes alt med, it’s about time someone took a rational stance on these topics.

On January 31st I wrote to my MP, Dr Andrew Murrison, asking him to sign EDM 423 in support of libel reform which is a topic I have followed very closely over the last few months. I sent him this:

Dear Dr Andrew Murrison MP,

I am writing as one of your constituents who is deeply concerned about the effect our libel laws have on medicine, science, journalism and literature. I believe English libel law cripples free expression both in the UK and abroad.

Firstly, I would urge you to sign cross-party EDM 423 Libel Law Reform to send a clear message from Parliament that you are committed to reforming these unjust laws.

Freedom to criticise and question, in strong terms and without malice, is the cornerstone of argument and debate, whether in scholarly journals, on websites, in newspapers or elsewhere. Our current libel laws inhibit debate and stifle free expression. They discourage writers from tackling important subjects and thereby deny us the right to read about them.

The law is so biased towards claimants and so hostile to writers that London has become known as the libel capital of the world. The rich and powerful bring cases to London on the flimsiest grounds (libel tourism), because they know that 90% of cases are won by claimants. Libel laws intended to protect individual  reputation are being exploited to suppress fair comment and criticism.

The cost of a libel trial is often in excess of £1 million and 140 times more expensive than libel cases in mainland Europe; publishers (and individual journalists, authors, academics, performers and blog-writers) cannot risk such extortionate costs, which means that they are forced to back down, withdraw and apologise for material they believe is true, fair and important to the public.

The English PEN and Index on Censorship report has shown that there is an urgent need to amend the law to provide a stronger, wider and more accessible public interest defence. Sense About Science has shown that the threat of libel action leads to self-censorship in scientific and medical writing.

I would urge you to back the campaign by English PEN, Index on Censorship and Sense About Science for a Libel Reform Bill.

Yours,
Hayley Stevens

He emailed me back soon after saying he would reply to me via post and just the other day I recieved his response in the post. I was disappointed to read that he would not be signing the EDM.

Click this picture for a full & readable size image.
 
I’m not entirely sure what sort of ‘middle way’ he refers to and I can’t help but feel this is a bit of a cop out? 
Needless to say he hasn’t necessarily lost my vote over this – he didn’t have my vote in the first place.
*update* I have since had it pointed out to me that the response I recieved is a template response that many people have had sent to them. I don’t feel this is acceptable. I may have sent my MP a template letter – but I’m a civilian who doesn’t have the necessary knowledge about libel law, or the libel reform campaign to write a worthwhile letter outlining my concerns. This man is an MP who is paid to represent people, he should be able to write a letter from scratch in reply so I emailed him saying:

Hello,

I recently recieved your letter in the post and would like to thank you for taking the time to reply to me. However, I couldn’t help but notice that your response was exactly the same as the responses a number of my friends recieved from their MP’s from various parts of the UK. Why is it that you have replied to me with a template letter?

Thank you.

– Hayley Stevens

Have you written to your MP with regards to libel reform? Have you signed the petition? If not, you should pop over to here and help make a difference. Free speech is not for sale. I also do not think it should be up for debate either, but then that’s just me. Ho hum.

Following on from my last blog about the incorrect reporting in the Daily Telegraph that eating cooked rhubarb could help fight cancer I have contacted the Daily Telegraph editorial asking why they haven’t ammended or revised the original article in light of the fact that they basically got it wrong on such a bad level.

I’m not expecting a response, but I feel it’s important that people are held responsible for the things they promote and their ignorance as the real facts emerge. Watch this space.


Hayley is a ghost

Hayley Stevens is an advocate for science-based research into seemingly paranormal experiences and occurrences. With a background in the pseudo-scientific research into ghosts, Hayley offers a unique insight into the strange world of ghost hunting through her experience.

She describes herself as 'a ghost hunter who doesn't hunt for ghosts' and this is her personal blog where she writes about ghosts, people, and other interesting things. Read more here.

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