Hayley is a Ghost

Holier than thou?

Posted on: May 31, 2010

I have just finished watching another excellent episode of Derren Brown investigates that focussed upon a chap called Lou Gentile and his beliefs in ghosts, possesions and demons.

He worked with exorcists and referred to himself and a demonologist and truly believed he had proof that ghosts existed in the form of filmed posessions (more likely to have been pseudoseizures known to be brought on by stress), Electronic voice recordings (more likely to be recognisable as answers or words due to audio pareidolia and a will to believe), and ghost photography that to me appeared to consist of lots of illusions.

It made him seem silly, and it made me want to laugh and a year ago I would have and I would have said he was stupid. However I wouldn’t say such a thing now because in the last year my involvement with the Righteous Indignation podcast has taught me one very important lesson that I will take to the grave with me, and that is that nobody is safe from fallacial thinking and leaps of logic. Nobody.

I came away from watching the episode with three pages of notes I had made that proved to me that in the last five years as a researcher I have developed my ability to think rationally about what I am presented with.

I called the autogain circuit, the pseudoseizures, the priming before it was even mentioned on the show because I’ve allowed myself to open my mind up to the bigger picture of what is actually happening around me, rather than what I would like to be happening around me.

However, in 2005, Hayley Stevens was a very different person who would have taken Lou’s side against Derren. It’s incredible how we, as people, can learn and adapt if we put our minds to it.

It’s difficult though when you have so much invested in your beliefs being right, to just drop them. Which is why when I hear of a pseudoscientific paranormal researcher making really outlandish claims I think about how easy it is for anyone to make leaps of logic because they’re desperate for their beliefs to be validated and I usually don’t mock them (unless they’ve proven themselves to be ignorant.)

Perhaps Lou Gentile was ignorant despite having the facts placed in front of him. Perhaps he was just misguided and hopeful.

I’ve been pretty disgusted to see some comments posted by people I respected as paranormal researchers that are extremely disrespectful of Lou’s position and beliefs.

If we were to take away the fact it was Lou they were talking about and were to place their comments with anyone out there who believes EVP are ghost voices, or that posessions really are demons it crosses the line from being an ethical, respectful investigator to being someone who comes across as having a “holier than thou” attitude.

That’s not an attractive attitude for a skeptic to have. It’s not proactive in any sense and achieves nothing.

Sure, I know I regularly make sarcastic comments on Righteous Indignation about people and the claims that they make, but I’m always willing to see things from their perspective because I’ve been the believer who had nonsense ideas.

We interview some people on the show whose theories and ideas are completely out there but we never mock them for it unless they prove themselves to be truly ignorant because we know that anyone can mess up with their way of thinking rationally at any moment.

We wouldn’t like to be mocked, in fact we’d probably become instantly defensive of the illogical position we took and wouldn’t listen to a word that people who were skeptical of our beliefs said.

So for people I respected as researchers to openly mock Lou for his beliefs despite the fact that at the end of the show it comments that he sadly passed away between filming and broadcasting the show has really made me lose my respect.

Sorry, but if you call yourself skeptical and yet your actions lose you the chance to explain your stance to people who aren’t as rational then you’re doing more damage than good.

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2 Responses to "Holier than thou?"

I completely agree with you. We need to be sensitive to why people believe what they do. Of course, if they are being disingenuous, inflexible or outright dishonest, then that’s one thing, but if they truly believe, it’s important to understand where that belief, or desire to believe comes from. Only then can we have a real conversation with them.

How can that doctor diagnose the man being exorcised without an medical exam or looking at his medical records like the Catholic Church did?
Darren Brown did not tell all the facts.

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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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