Hayley is a Ghost

Archive for August 2010

After my last blog post I’ve recieved a lot of feedback on the blog and via twitter and facebook. I love blogging because of the points people make.

I’ve realised I have probably overreacted in the last blog post because although there are some serious image issues within skepticism as a movement or as a community or however you want to refer to it, there are good points as well and in my annoyance and anger I over looking these completely.

I apologise if I offended anybody, especially the decent skeptics out there that I am proud to be associated with and call my friends because that wasn’t my intention.

I was just gutted that last week people I thought of as my friends chalked me up as the bad guy in their minds because that isn’t the way I want to be seen. I saw a video from an antendee who said “I realised at the conference that not all skeptics are stalkers or trolls on forums…”

what a horrendous way to be viewed! I realise that a lot of the time we cannot help the way that people view us because in their minds anyone who opposes their beliefs is a bad guy.

But for people I think of as friends to think I was a skeptic and that meant I was mischievious was a bit upsetting. Since last weekend I have been a lot quieter on twitter and facebook and my blog because I been watching people and the way they talk about (and to) people who have beliefs or ideas that aren’t evidence based and it’s annoyed me to see some instances where skeptics (some of whom are the noblest of the noblest of skeptics) have been really quite nasty in their attitude and behaviour.

It’s really not my place to tell people how to act and I’m certainly not writing this and intending it to be part of the ‘don’t be a dick’ meme because that has been done to death.

However, I think it’s worth pointing out at this point how I came to be involved in skepticism. Somebody asked me if I had written about it and I couldn’t find anything on my blog.

In 2005 I started ghost research from a very belief orientated point of view (even though I didn’t think I had). I held beliefs in ghosts, an afterlife, reincarnation, angels, demons, possession, mediums, psychics, dowsing, seances, table tipping, glass divination, psychic protection curses…

Then one day a prominent skeptic pointed out that some things on the website of the team I belong to were factually incorrect and that if I went to some certain websites or read some certain books I would see how we’d come to the incorrect conclusions.

That’s a brief summary of the conversation, but there was no mocking – just a discussion.

To begin with I felt quite insulted but (thankfully) the seed of doubt had been put in my mind and a few days later I went back to that email and I started visiting the recommended websites and I bought or borrowed the books and I started to see that they were correct and I was wrong.

It wasn’t a nice feeling, in fact I felt stupid and I kept my findings between me and my co-founder until I could decide what we should do with the team. In the mean time we carried on investigating as we had done before. With all the silly methods and theories, and I saw first hand how we had deluded ourselves all along.

Is suddenly became clear that it was us moving the tables and the experiences we were having were influenced by our beliefs and expactations.

That was in July 2007, and here I am today.

There is a serious problem with skeptics as a collective, and that is that some people don’t know how to behave properly when dealing with people who don’t believe the same as they do. It’s a shame because they do harm for anyone who identifies themselves as a skeptic.

I’ll round this blog post off with some comments I recieved on twitter that are food for thought. You should also read the responses on my last blog post.

Although I overreacted, the points I made still stand. Skeptics have a real image problem and sometimes I am embarrassed to be associated with certain people who refer to themselves as skeptics.

EvilEyeMonster: @hayleystevens My skepticism is a method, not a position. Even the best skeptics have to remove their hats to truly enjoy a sci-fi movie.

HelenRBrennan: @hayleystevens I read your blog. I wonder if it could be summed up as “being right is no excuse for being rude”? 🙂

endless_psych: @hayleystevens it’s a difficult trick to manage to continue to criticise or challenge someones beliefs without generating some conflict

Ben_Hardwidge: @hayleystevens Your post has just shaken some sense into me and prompted me to apologise to someone I called an idiot last night. Thanks 🙂


The Rather Friendly Skeptic

The title of this blog is not a guarantee. I have been known to be a complete bitch at times, I can also be quite rude and abrupt. However I usually try to be nice and polite and was once described as ‘intellectually sympathetic’ regarding the way I talk about (and to) people who hold beliefs that don’t have evidence to support them.

My aim isn’t to change peoples beliefs, my aim is to use skepticism in my own life. I will discuss beliefs and topics with people who hold opposing beliefs to mine but I will not ridicule them or shove my beliefs down their throats.

Changing your beliefs is a gradual thing, for any skeptic to ridicule somebody because of what they believe is disgusting. Yet it happens and it gets justified and that makes me angry.

The Rather Friendly Skeptic

I no longer identify myself as part of the “skeptical community” or the “skeptical movement” that is so vocal on places like twitter, facebook and on various blogs and forums. This is because there are people in that “community” whose behaviour and attitudes are disgusting and if I remain part of that “community” alongside them then they are representing me.

I am a person who uses the tool of skepticism in everyday life. I am not a skeptic to be popular or cool or build my ego. I sometimes think the way people idolise some skeptics and hang on to their every word is quite farcical.

It’s also weak and pathetic. There are some ‘skeptics’ who make my flesh crawl with disgust. I would truly love to let them know what I think of them but then I know what the backlash from their followers would be like.

How scary is it that skepticism is sometimes similar to religion?

Earlier this year somebody who I regarded as a bit of a skeptical hero revealed their true colours and I was forced to regard them in a completely different way. Embarrassingly enough, prior to me finding out about certain beliefs they held that I opposed I would have supported everything they did or said.

How disgusting of me.

The Rather Friendly Skeptic

On August 20th, 21st and 22nd I was in Warminster, Wiltshire helping to set up, run and participate in the Weird ’10 paranormal & UFO conference. One thing I noticed a lot there was that people held certain views of skeptical people. Bad views that actually made me quite sad.

I regard a lot of people who were there as my friends and yet only some of them understood where I stand with my skepticism and that shocked me into realising I was going wrong somewhere.

My first love has always been paranormal research and ghost stories, yet that very community that I belong to don’t understand where I stand on the topics I love because of the misrepresentation from other skeptics they’ve had dealings with.

First and foremost I am, and I always will be, a paranormal researcher. It doesn’t bother me if my skeptical friends don’t understand that or “get it”. Often, people involved in the skeptical field see my ghost research as quirky or quite funny and yes, after I get into a discussion about it they do find it interesting but they very rarely “get it”.  I do though.

Therefor I have decided that from now on I will be focusing more on my ghost research and less on the skeptical community. Some wont understand by that because they don’t have a true understanding of what skepticism is but that is their loss.

I will still be part of the Righteous Indignation podcast and I will still blog and be around on twitter and facebook etc. but I will not partake in the circus that the skeptical community has become simply because a lot of people who call themselves skeptics are representing me and other people who also call themselves skeptics, and they’re not painting a pretty picture.

& that is that.

Me and my mum with the alien at Weird '10

Today is my mums 53rd birthday, yesterday she told me that the card I have given her was the only one she would get from anyone which made me feel really sad.

So I am writing this blog post to say:

Happy Birthday mum!

If you could leave a happy birthday message for her it might just cheer her up. Who needs birthday cards?

As somebody who has worked in the retail industry since the age of fifteen I have always prided myself on being the ideal sort of customer. Someone who doesn’t bitch, moan, feel the need to be arrogant, condesending, awkward, aggressive or mean.

I’m not overly fussy, I’m always willing to try an alternative and I always say “hello”, “please”, “thank you” and “that’s fine, I can wait”.

However, since starting a vegetarian diet at the beginning of this year there is one thing that has slowly started to bug me. Every time I go out shopping it bugs me, it eats away at the calm patience that I try to keep while shopping and I can take it no more. I need to vent.

Not all vegetarians like cheese or egg. Okay?

Is that really hard to get? I’m a vegetarian and I don’t want a damn cheese or egg sandwich.

It’s not cool to simply offer cheese or egg sandwiches as vegetarian options. Quite frankly, it’s a shit thing to do considering 99% of the time I ask the person in the shop selling sandwiches if the eggs are free range or if the cheese is veggie friendly THEY DON’T KNOW!

How, in the name of all that is quite nice, can you class two types of sandwich as vegetarian friendly IF YOU’RE NOT SURE THEY ACTUALLY ARE?!

Cheese. Cheese & onion. Cheese Ploughmans. Cheese and Pickle. Four cheese. Egg. Egg and Mayo. Egg and lettuce. Aaaaarrrggghhh!!!!

What if I’m a vegetarian who doesn’t like egg or cheese? Would a meat eater have this problem? No! They have beef, ham, turkey, and chicken sandwiches galore!

Seriously, next time you are at a sandwich shop or a shop chiller cabinet just feast your eyes on the amount of dead and cut up chicken there is. It’s, it’s CRAZY!

What the giddy fuck is wrong with someone, somewhere, in a sandwich making environment (I’m looking at you Greggs….) coming up with a sandwich or panini that has no meat or animal ingredient that differs from cheese or egg?

And NO! Taking the ham out of that ham salad sandwich WILL NOT SUFFICE YOU BARBARIAN!

You are all crazy.

In a good way though.

I genuinely cannot believe the amount of hits I recieved on my previous blog post and I didn’t mean to worry anyone.

I will be back next week.

This weekend is the Weird ’10 paranormal & ufo conference that I am attending as a crew member and a “merchant” on the Righteous Indignation stand.

I am taking a break from social networking until next Monday because of the reasons previously mentioned. As always, you can email me by using the link in the side bar to the right.

I am not quitting my blog or the podcast as a lot of people have questioned. I will be back, on Monday, with a blog about my adventures at the paranormal conference. (I’m doing a sky watch! On cradle hill! Madness.)

Over & out.

Dear internet,

I wish to let you know that I am taking a break with immediate effect.

The last two weeks have been really good because I’ve started an awesome job and I love being at work and being productive with the things I do. Having been on Job Seekers allowance for 13 weeks it’s a nice change.

However, all that positivity stopped as soon as I came online because I have recieved abuse from lots of different people that has, quite simply, accumalated to the point that I can’t be bothered to deal with it anymore right now.

See, if it hasn’t been personal abuse from people who believe in something paranormal and lacking in evidence who didn’t like it when I said it’s probably not likely to exist, it’s been criticism for editing the podcast in a certain way or something I’ve said in a throw away comment that I didn’t intend to be taken a certain way, but was.

All in all, in the last two weeks I have been attacked for:

– being female,

– for being young,

– for living at home with my mum,

– for being skeptical

– for speaking out about things I don’t agree with

– for being right.

Quite frankly, it disgusted me when a lot of the abuse came through the facebook account of a person who is highly respected as a “paranormal researcher” when, in my opinion, they talk out of their arse 99% of the time.

It’s a disgrace to be told that I know nothing because I am young when the person telling me this is the one who doesn’t know what a logical fallacy is, or how they are contradicting themselves and making themselves sound stupid by telling me that certain things exist when it’s clear that the evidence doesn’t weigh up that way.

There is more to life than ‘turning the other cheek’ to rude or abusive comments, to having to just accept that I’m an “easy target” because I’m:

a) female

b) on a podcast that people listen to

c) online and accessible via social networking and email

You know, today I was accused of ‘loving the drama’ that comes my way. I’ve never been accused of being a drama queen before. It’s not who I am.

I will not apologise for being female, I will not apologise for being younger than some people, I will not apologise for being skeptical, I will not apologise for being right when you are wrong and you can’t admit it, and I will not apologise for being outspoken and vocal.

Thus, I am taking a break from the internet because it’s not fun anymore.

I wont apologise for that either.

Speak to you soon,

Hayley Stevens,

– The rather friendly skeptic, xxx

In Britiain grey squirrels are considered as a pest, mainly because they damage trees. They gnaw the bark of hardwood trees, such as beech and sycamore, to get at the sapwood below. The raw scar left on the trunk encourages fungal attack and may lead to distorted growth which I can imagine is terribly annoying if you are a forester or park keeper or somebody who generally just loves trees.

When it comes to squirrels I’m not racist. I think squirrels are typically very cute animals despite the trouble they may cause people. I mean, it’s not as though they’re being malicious in their actions, they’re just doing what they do to survive. It’s within their nature.

So I was rather saddened to read in The Metro (a free newspaper you can get on the bus or train here in the UK in case you didn’t know) that a man called Norris Atthey, who is the founder of ‘The Morpeth Red Squirrel Action Group’ had captured a grey squirrel in a small cage and drowned it in protest of the recent prosecution of Raymond Elliott who was found guilty of animal cruelty when he drowned a squirrel himself. The RSPCA brought action against him and it was upheld in court and he was made to pay oer ÂŁ1,500 in fines.

Norris Atthey says that he drowned the squirrel in protest, and to show that drowning is a humane way of culling the animals.

“It was dead within 30 seconds, of some 250 grey’s I’ve killed, that has been the quicket method. The usual method is shooting them – but it is still possible you might miss or not kill it properly.”

Personally, I don’t believe that drowning can be considered humane at all. When I was in my teenage years I almost drowned in a swimming pool in Spain while on a family holiday. I struggled for about a minute to get out of the water and it was the scariest thing I have experienced and I haven’t been in a swimming pool since. I genuinely thought I was going to die and I was fighting for my life in the water.

I would imagine that being trapped in a cage is scary enough. Imagine being trapped in a tiny cage you can’t move around in, you don’t know what is going on, you’re terrified of humans anyway because they’re your biggest preditor.

It’s actually hard for me to imagine how scary that would be. I don’t know about you.

Then imagine that suddenly the cage is being lifted up and you’re being put into water, you’re probably struggling to get out of the cage, you’re terrified because you don’t know what’s happening and now you can’t breathe, and then you die.

It may only take thirty seconds for the squirrel to die, but I can imagine that those thirty seconds are the most terrifying seconds imaginable.

I would imagine that if Raymond Elliott was prosecuted for animal cruelty for drowning a squirrel (which was probably in breach of the Wildlife and countryside act) then what Norris Atthey has done is also in breach.

The title of the small article in the Metro that covered what he had done showed an image of Norris holding us the cage he had used with the headline ‘I drowned a squirrel, so sue me’ and I seriously hope that the RSPCA accept his invitation.

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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