Hayley is a Ghost


Posted on: July 12, 2010

In episode 56 of righteous indignation we opened by discussing the way that skeptics approach people who don’t have the same rational approach to topics such as alt-med, ufo’s, psychics etc.

I just wanted to write a brief post to say that I hope it didn’t come across as though I was preaching in any manner about how people should act, and I don’t presume that listeners don’t already know how to have a good attitude.

The only reason we got around to talking about the issue is because of the comments a few people have made about our guests being stupid, insane, morons etc. when this is inappropriate language to be using as it doesn’t achieve anything other than a sense of smugness.

I hope nobody felt like was looking down on them or making out as though I am better than others, because that isn;t the case at all.


14 Responses to "smug?"

I waffle on this topic. I like Dr Mark Crislip’s attitude that sometimes ridicule is the only appropriate response when confronted with outright nonsense. On the other hand, I see no reason to be unnecessarily antagonistic.

I suppose it in large part depends on the attitude of the purveyor of woo. Sylvia Brown warrants one approach, a well meaning but self-deluding friend warrants another.

I’ve never felt that the podcast, Marsh excepted and I love him for it, is ever rude or dismissive to guests or people being covered.

Hayley, I hope you don’t mind if I analyze a quotation from this post of yours slightly out of context. I find it an interesting description of a common philosophy. The quote is:

“I hope it didn’t come across as though I was preaching in any manner about how people should act.”

I find it interesting that one of your greatest fears is being too suggestive about correct and incorrect behaviour. Of course part of what drives you skeptics (especially the friendly ones) to adopt this kind of an attitude are the common assertions by theists like myself to have discovered ultimate truth. Nevertheless, How can one live in this world without “preaching in any manner how people should act?” After all, do you not have ideas on what kind of behaviour is preferrable? There are admittedly many things wrong with this world (rape, war, starvation, etc…) and if you are unwilling to suggest how people should behave, then how can you expect to contribute to solving these problems. Of course you could always lead by example, but even this is a “suggestion,” just not a verbal one.

I, for one, am not afraid to preach how people should act, although I try to be careful, knowing that any mistakes in what I say will have consequences. I believe that human beings are sinners, and that the sin problem needs to be addressed on the individual level. So that is why I “preach” to people. Sitting around and asking questions to which we are afraid to submit answers doesn’t get us anywhere.

The rest of what I have to say is simple and predictable, but I will say it anyway, simply because I believe it to be true and worth saying. This sin “problem” is the result of choices we make again and again, and they’re wrong. We are not innocent victims here. People are special, created in God’s image, and every sin against them is a sin against the One who made them. So He will definately punish is for our individual crimes, and none of us are worthy of escape. Except… and here comes the part that you’ve probably heard a million times… God sent His perfect son to die for us. God is willing and able to save the soul that believes in the name of Jesus Christ, and proves this sincere belief through leading a repentant life.

Anyway, thanks for your patience. I’m sorry I couldn’t make my message and more sophisticated for you, but that would have defeated the purpose. Every person, from the most sophisticated to the least sophisticated is required to submit to the same simple message. Otherwise, if they resist, I literally believe that they will go to hell.


Okay two things I want to say in response to your post:

1) I’m an atheist, and everything you just said about sin and god is something I believe is nonsense.

2) I will never tell another human being how they should act. It’s arrogant. If you feel you have the right to tell others how to live in accordance with you view of life then that’s your choice, but I still think it’s arrogant.

Sorry to disagree with you Hayley, But your second point is not true. You say that you “will never tell another human being how they should act.” You, like everyone else in the world, do this all the time. Here’s an example from your post entitled “Being Nice Really isn’t a bad thing.” The emphasis is mine.

“Thinking that to be heard, or to get your point across you have to be loud IS WRONG, you can be heard just by being there and providing the information people need.”

If you read on in that post, I go on to say:

“Of course, I’m not big headed enough to think I’m only one of few people who understand and know this. I’m not smug enough to start preaching at people because they’re doing it “wrong”, I’m just wanting to get my thoughts across.”

Throwing a disclaimer on the end doesn’t change the fact. I appreciate the care and humility you display in that quote, but at the end you still admit that your goal was “to get my thoughts across.” Why do you need to get your thoughts across if you aren’t hoping to convince someone else to change their actions and/or thoughts?

It’s a simple fact that the point of communication is to try to get other people to change their behaviour or thinking. You obviously have a lot to say, so I’m guessing that there is a lot of things in this world that you wish were different.

It’s not wrong to have an opinion. It’s only wrong to have the wrong opinion.

A disclaimer? I was writing my thoughts and opinions. I didn’t put a disclaimer, I don’t need to… it’s my thoughts and opinions!

“It’s not wrong to have an opinion. It’s only wrong to have the wrong opinion”

That doesn’t even make sense. This is personal blog and I write my thoughts and ideas here. If people read them and take something from it then good for them, but I’m certainly not ramming my ideas down peoples throats.

I would suggest that if you didn’t like what I write here, you stop visiting the blog.

I just want to add; there is a huge difference between preaching at people on how they should act and live, and sharing ones opinions and thoughts.

You have hugely misunderstood what my blog is about.

“It’s a simple fact that the point of communication is to try to get other people to change their behaviour or thinking.”

That is one function of communication. But it’s also a way to solicit information for our own purposes. “Should I wear this tie or that tie?” I’m not trying to get my friend to changes her thinking. I’m trying to get an opinion. My friend may have no desire whatsoever to change my thinking about tie selection. Sometimes we solicit opinions to change our own way of thinking. “She waited three days to email me, does that mean she doesn’t like me?” “No. It could mean she’s just playing coy.”

Hayley may have no end goal to change anyone’s opinion. But she knows people out there like a broad range of opinion. So she is merely offering hers.

Even if a large part of communication is about changing opinion (a reasonable assumption given our evolutionary roots…warning the rest of the primate troop to get out of the grass because a lion is approaching), that doesn’t mean all attempts to change opinion are justified or appropriate.

Trying to get me to change my opinion about the non existence of god while I’m trapped on a subway car and you’re shouting at me about your bronzed aged sky god myth, is not, in my opinion, appropriate.

In light of Karl’s statement, I am forced to backtrack slightly. I said that “It’s a simple fact that the point of communication is to try to get other people to change their behaviour or thinking.” In light of his remark I must admit that it would be more accurate to say “It’s a simple fact that the point of communication is to try to get other people to change their behaviour or thinking or to ask them to help you change yours.”

Again you almost got it.

It’s a simple fact that the point of communication is:

to try to get other people to change their behaviour

to ask them to help you change yours

to ask them about the best course of action you have no opinion about or no behavioural predisposition (I’ve never worn a tie before. I have no clue what looks good. I ask Hayley to teach me how to match ties to my eyes.)

You will admit since you missed two other “facts” there’s a possibility communication takes on other roles you or I can’t immediately conceive of off the tops of our heads.

Sorry, Carl, but I can’t concede this time. I would say that “to ask them the best course of action you have no opnion about or behaviourual predisposition” still falls into “changing viewpoint” since changing from nothing to something is still a change.

I still hold to my statement as last revised.

I have one final thing to say. When I wrote my comments, I did not anticipate that they would cause you to be so offended. So I’m going to cut this discussion short, even though there are lot more interesting points that could be made. I was simply sharing my opinion, which I knew was different from yours, but I was not trying to make anyone angry. Perhaps my manner was a bit too abrupt, for which I apologize. You all have the right to believe, or disbelieve as you wish. My goal is not to ruin your day.

Thank you for offering your viewpoints although they differ from mine.

Take care.


If you’re not wearing clothes, we don’t say you’ve changed your clothes. I see having no opinion the same. Having no opinion and deciding between alternatives is a different process from having an opinion, buttressed by some form of rationalization, and then abandoning it for another position.

If I want to change someone’s position I have to argue why my ideas are good and why the person’s currently adopted position’s good ideas are bad or outweighed by the advantages offered by my position.

If someone had no opinion about a position, I might just simply explain the benefits of my position.

For example, I moved to Seattle. Seattle was experiencing a great influx of new residents due to the tech boom. New comers had to decide on their morning drive time radio station, their bank, their daily newspaper, etc. There were a huge range of choices and all of these companies knew they had a chance to capture the business of a new comer. They did so by simply stating the good things about their offerings.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

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.

Recommended Posts

Question.Explore.Discover. Back for an encore. Only £89

Those looking for the 'QED Rebel Dinner' click here.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 40 other followers

%d bloggers like this: