Hayley is a Ghost

Archive for February 2010

Whenever I write a blog or an article I always try to remain as factual as I can because I’m aware of the damage and problems that misinformation and bad reporting can have. So when I see really bad reporting by professional journalists who get paid to write what they do it really annoys me because it isn’t exactly difficult to find things out about what it is you are reporting.
Is it lazy reporting, or jumping to conclusions? or dressing things up a bit for effect? I’m not sure, but it not doing your homework first can have a terrible effect – especially if what you are reporting is misleading about a very important subject.

This is something that is going to be discussed in great detail on Episode 37 of Righteous Indignation which is out on Monday 22nd. You should definetely listen in because it was one of the best discussions I’ve had in a long time.

On February 12th the daily telegraph incorrectly reported that Rhubarb could help treat cancer under the headline ‘Rhubarb crumble – the new cancer-busting super-food.’
They claimed, and I quote:

“Researchers have found that the traditional favourite, like many red vegetables, contains cancer killing chemicals. And baking the plant for 20 minutes – like in a crumble or pie – dramatically increases their concentration.”

Although researchers at Sheffield Hallum university did indeed find that baking British garden rhubarb for 20 minutes in certain conditions before eating led to a significant increase in the levels of polyphenols, a chemical that has been shown in some tests to destroy or prevent the growth of cancerous cells, they certainly did not reach the conclusion that eating it could cure cancer.

Cancer Research UK released a statement in which Ed Yong, Cancer Research UK’s head of health information, said: “Certain methods of cooking rhubarb may increase levels of polyphenols in lab tests, but it’s a big leap to say that this will have a noticeable impact on the risk of cancer in real people. Rather than relying on a single food, our advice is to enjoy rhubarb as part of a varied diet high in fibre, fruit and vegetables and low in red and processed meat, saturated fat and salt.”

The NHS also released an article on their website, saying:

“The Daily Telegraph today said that rhubarb crumble is the “new cancer-busting super food”. This news story was based on research to determine how cooking rhubarb would affect the amount of antioxidant chemicals it contains. Some scientists believe that antioxidants offer protection from diseases such as cancer, although it should be noted that this research did not directly look at any aspect of human health.

It will take further research to assess how cooking affects the breakdown of these antioxidant chemicals and how this may affect any health benefits from the food.

This research was inaccurately reported on by The Daily Telegraph. The published research did not investigate the effect of rhubarb extracts (or polyphenols) on cancer cells or human health in general. The study only looked at how the concentrations of these chemicals in rhubarb were affected by different cooking methods.”

Unfortunately, although these statements were issued in response to what can only be described as terrible reporting on the part of the Daily Telegraph, the story has spread around the web and a simple google search for the words cancer & rhubarb drums up many results that promote the idea that eating rhubarb will cure cancer. This is the damage that bad reporting can have because now this misinformation has spread.

People who suffer from cancer may cling to the idea that rhubarb will cure their cancer because the article released by the Daily Telegraph has given them false hope at a time when they are desperate for anything that will help them.

Why is it that journalists are allowed to report such incorrect information without being held accountable for it? It makes me so angry that people willingly promote ideas that have no fact to them, or twist the facts to make a headline – is it really that hard to get your facts straight?


I’m feeling under the weather (again) and so every little annoying thing has really been bugging me today and I’m going to get it off of my chest because this is my blog and I can.

I am a nice person, or at least I try to be. Most people who know me describe me as laid back, calm and approachable. I don’t let things wind me up because I’ve come to the conclusion that letting things get you into a stress and a bad mood isn’t worth it in the long run. However, today was different.

Today, I asked one of my colleagues how to do something on the till and she quickly showed me and I apologised for interrupting her and said ‘I get confused as we did it differently where I used to work.’ She thought she would be clever and mean and said ‘Yeah, well this is Iceland.’ Well. Wow. I mean, I only went through the interview process, the induction week, the training and the countless weeks of working there like her and yet boy am I glad she let me know it was Iceland because I’d been thinking I worked in Wilkinsons.

This woman is so mean to everyone, she belittles other people in front of customers as though she gets off on it. I swear, today, all her snipey little comments put me in a foul mood. I’m normally a calm person who lets any little thing like a colleague who is a bitch go over my head but today I was planning on how best to throw my chair at her head.

What do people really achieve from being complete bitches? I’m only ever a bitch when there is a reason – for example, if you’ve screwed me over you’ll meet that side of me. What’s the point of being a bitch for no reason?

Last year I completed the Bath race for life with a group of workmates from Sainsbury’s. We walked around the course because you have the option of walking, jogging or running. It was the middle of summer and on that particular day it was supposed to rain but the rain had held off and instead it was scorching sunshine the whole way around the course – the rain set in just as the last of us crossed the finishing line and I so was glad to see it.

It hadn’t been a challenging walk, but i had felt kind of lazy because I saw so many people running and jogging around the course and I didn’t have any excuse not to do that. I’m a pretty healthy 22 year old. I’m not obese and yet I can’t run very far without pretty much starting to die. It’s shameful.

I ran for my aunt Sandra who, although she didn’t die of breast cancer, died of secondary cancer of the lung and brain. It had been the second time she got cancer – the first time she’d had part of one of her lungs removed as a result and the second time around it beat her. I also ran last year for my friend and ex-collague Carol who was diagnosed with breast cancer literally a few weeks before we were due to do the race for life.

I can remember being at work when everyone found out and those of us (below) who were doing the race for life suddenly found we had even more reason to be doing what we were. Thankfully Carol is still with us to this day and the good news is she is beating her cancer! The strength that I saw both Sandra and Carol show in the face of such a gloomy outlook made me realise that if they can be as strong as they are when they are seriously ill then I have no excuse not to haul my lazy arse around that 5km course.

I’m third from the right, number 6081. Yes. I was blonde. 

So this year when one of my work colleagues at the very cool Iceland (see what I did there?) pointed out that they had signed up for the Race for Life in June of this year I decided that I too was going to do the race for life and this year I would jog around the course.

I know. I’m going to kill myself. However, I have put a plan together. I have been granted permission by my brother to use his treadmill and so every other day I am going to practice on it until I can get up to the stage at which I can happily jog for 4km or so. The race for life circuit is 5km so if I can make it 3km – 4km around the track jogging I will be more than happy with myself.

As it currently stands I have done one session on the treadmill for ten minutes. I did 2 minutes of fast paced walking and 1 minute of running and then 2 of running and 1 of walking and so on and I nearly died. Honestly, I didn’t realise I was so out of shape.

Therefore I will need motivation and the best motivation is to have people believing that I can make it around that track jogging. So, if you’re a kind hearted soul perhaps you could spare a few pennies by sponsoring me?

I honestly do not expect a lot, even £1 would make a difference. If I can reach my target for this year and can jog around the race for life track, then next year I am going to do the moon/sun walk in Bristol. Please help me beat my target! 

It’s 50 minutes into Valentines day and I just want to remind people to go to my post on Ornithomancy for valentines day and to look at a bird and to then report back to md and let me know if you find your true love. Hah.

Valentines day is one of those ‘marmite days’ because you either love it or you hate it. Single people like me either despise the day because it reminds them of what they don’t have, or they get depressed because it reminds them of what they don’t have – or both. In worst case scenarios.

I can remember when I worked for a certain large, successful supermarket chain in the department that oversaw all the pricing and advertising for the store I worked in. Valentines day would start in January and finish on the 15th of February and it wouldn’t be until the 12th that things really started to kick off with the sales. I wonder if it is down to pressure and expectation that people buy gifts and cards in their masses. If it was purely because they loved somebody, wouldn’t buying them gifts and treats be a normal thing rather than an annual occurence? Or am I being naive again?

Happy valentines day, whether you choose to celebrate it or not. I’m willing to travel to pick up the chocolates you all bought me. Just let me know where to! 😉

I don’t get it. I just don’t understand why the leaders of different religions think that I would be interested in what they have to say.

As I type this I’m wearing a T-shirt with the words ‘There’s probably no god so stop worrying and enjoy your life’ across the front of it. This is recognisable as the slogan from the Atheist bus campaign. This is because I’m atheist and therefor don’t give a flying f**k about religion in my life. Well, I say that, I do care about it’s effect on other people (which can sometimes be negative) and I do care when it tries to have an influence in my life where it has no right to even consider treading.

I just read a story on the BBC website about the Archbishop Vincent Nichols and how he will use a future homily to criticise the NHS and the campaign for assisted death.

He will say calls for assisted suicide and euthanasia reflect a society that does not know how to deal with death. The archbishop’s comments will be delivered at a special service of healing at Westminster Cathedral.

What I don’t understand is why the hell it is thought that I personally care about what he has to say. I also don’t believe this guy has any right to comment to the general public about people who call for assisted suicide and euthanasia from his so called point of authority in society. He can preach to his congregation all he likes – that’s what he chooses to do, but to openly and publically criticise people who campaign for assisted sucide is none of his business as a religious leader.

Perhaps society doesn’t know how to deal with death, it is pretty much one of the topics we all face at some stage in our life that has no answers. However, I’d like to point out that Nichols also doesn’t know how to deal with death himself. He might think he has the answers from the religious position he holds and because made up stories tell him what to believe about death and what happens to us but that’s just his opinion, and a weak one at that. To look down on other peoples call for assisted suicide and say it’s because they don’t know how to handle death is quite insulting because those people are either living a life full of pain and restriction, have been diagnosed with a condition that means that in the future they might be living such a life or know and love people who are in that position.

They have their reasons for asking for assisted suicide to be made legal just as the Archbishop has his reasons for believing it is wrong. However, his argument is a weak one because it’s essentially based on fairytales whereas people called for Euthanasia to be made legal are living in reality. A very scary reality.

I am godless and I believe in evolution but this does not mean that I have no sense of greatfulness or wonder. Every night I lay in bed and look up through the sky light windows in my ceiling and I look at the stars and I know that I am linked to them – not through an invisible magician who made the entire universe appear from nothing – but because the stars and I all came about through a series of random events. The unpredictable nature of the universe, and indeed, the planet we live on is what makes it so beautiful in my eyes.

Today is Darwin day, the birthday anniversary of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. I think it’s incredibly important to recognise the world as it is rather than taking the volatile beauty around us and turning it into the product of a fairy tale creature that is worshipped. Evolution rocks, quite frankly, it’s fascinating because it makes sense. Happy Darwin Day my homo sapien friends.

I’m not really fussed about valentines day and the only time I ever recieved a card was from a boyfriend who made it out of scrap paper in front of me because he’d forgotten and only remembered when I gave him his card.

I read an article in the Daily mail today that made me chuckle. It’s called: Who’s your lovebird? Our feathered friends are Valentine’s Day fortune tellers

Ornithomancy* is the Ancient Greek practice of reading omens from the actions of birds and according to the Daily Mail is the best way to work out who ‘is destined to set your heart aflutter’ on February 14th.
Apparently, the first bird that a girl sees on valentines day indicated what sort of man her suitor will be, sounds like a theory doesn’t it? Or not.

The mail say “Glimpse a goldfinch, for instance, and you’re destined to tie the knot with a wealthy chap, while clapping eyes on a canary means you will wed a doctor. Those who like a man in uniform should hope to spot a robin as this may indicate a life of future happiness with a naval officer. 

They use a blatant appeal to antiquity and tradition in their article by stating:

It might all sound like a flight of fancy, but the practice of reading omens from birds – or ornithomancy, as it is called – dates back to ancient times and was practised by the Greeks and Romans. After consulting with experts on folklore, tourist chiefs in Worcestershire compiled the list of 26 birds and what they signify based – they claim – on various sources, including Celtic, European medieval and native American Indian traditions. They hope it will encourage singletons to take up the less than romantic sounding hobby of birdwatching as an antidote to loneliness.

Well, if the Romans and Greeks did it, it MUST work, right? The reason it might sound like a flight of fancy is that it most definetely is a flight of fancy.

The Mail don’t say it has to be a living bird, they just say it has to be the first bird you see on Valentines day.
I will point out now that if this experiment doesn’t work, please don’t sue me for ruining your love life – it’s the daily mails fault. Not mine**.

So here goes. Anyone wanting to take part in this mini experiment must:

a) be female (for some reason it doesn’t work for men? )
b) Simply come to my blog on Valentines day
c) choose the bird in the list below
d) click on the relevant link
e) look at the bird for, say, ten seconds
f) Let me know if it works.***

– If you want a wealthy ‘chap’ you need to look at a goldfinch

– If you want to ‘wed a doctor’ you need to look at a canary

– If you like a man in uniform you need to look at a robin
(this may indicate a life of happiness with a naval officer!) 

– If you want a man who cares about the environment you need to look at a turkey

– If you want a man who will return home you need to look at a pigeon

– If you want a spiritual, charitable guy you need to look at a blackbird

– If you want a quick thinking business man you need to look at a magpie

– If you want to marry a farmer you need to look at a sparrow

– If you want a partner for life you need to look at a swan
– If you want to marry a politician look at a bird of prey 
– Be warned! Looking at a peacock means he’ll be vain,
– looking at a woodpecker means no marriage will take place.

– If you want a happy marriage look at a dove.
– If you want someone who makes people smile look at a bluebird.
– I you want a homely, stable relationship look at a duck
– He’ll travel a lot for work if you look at a gull
– He’ll be driven by material possession if you look at a wren
– He’ll be a very sociable person if you look at a finch
– If you want to meet a scientist/mathematician look at a nuthatch
– If you want to meet a man who is academic look at an owl
– If you want him to be hard working and tenacious look at a pheasant
– If you want to meet a man who has done well or has inheritance look at a kingfisher
– If you want to meet a man who works in communications look at a goose
– If you don’t want a relationship look at a crow
*If you are religious, the bible actually bans this because evilvoodoodevilworshipbirdsareevil
** I don’t believe in this bullshit, and I don’t think you should either, but this is fun.

*** I know this may mean coming back in 20 years when you finally meet Mr Right, but hey, dedication ladies! It’s all I ask for!

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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