Hayley is a Ghost


Posted on: September 29, 2010

My trip into Longleat forest was the first time I had ever looked at research into tracking supposed “big cat” sightings in the UK. I know there have been lots of sightings in the past in the county of Wiltshire but I never really got past reading about them and speculating about other possible causes such as misidentification, confusion or outright lying.

I met Colin Stott, who is a member of ‘The Four Teans’ who are heavily involved with cryptozoology as a hobby earlier this year and I started to learn about different weird sightings in my local area. Then came the news that a cat sighting had bee made in the Longleat Forest area. Then it became two or three and I suggested that because it was so close to us we ought to go along and see what we could find, if Colin and anyone else from the four-teans were willing to help us do so.

As you know, this decision has led to a “he said, she said” online argument all because I have said that I am not 100% certain that a hair found in the forest by Colin, Perry and Nadia (& my younger brother) was a leopard hair as has been claimed.

This bitter experience with people involved in cryptozoology has taught me a lot about the people involved with cryptozoology that I suspect isn’t representative of all involved with that research field.

The crypto-people I have met have all had an obsessive need to discover proof that backs up their initial belief that there are big cats living in the wild in the UK.

From the car ride to Longleat forest with Perry & Nadia during which Perry told me that the government were probably covering up big cat discoveries, to the way that the four-teans have, since, found what they class as evidence of big cats every time they go tracking. (See here for a video in which they say they found a possible carcuss from a cat kill that displays no signs of being a cat kill.)

The reason that wanting to prove yourself right is a bad practice is because you are introducing your personal biases to the case you are involved with, and that is always a recipe for disaster. Your personal biases will always influence your findings.

For example, the “cat kill” in the video displays all the tell-tell signs of an animal that was eaten and dragged around by smaller predators such as foxes or dogs or similar. That’s certainly a more plausible explanation that instantly jumping to the conclusion that it was a cat…

I have also learnt that if you openly refer to yourself as a skeptic; as somebody who used skepticism when dealing with research or claims, you are the bad guy and it makes you evil.

There is an underlying mistrust and misunderstanding of what skepticism truly is amongst the researchers that I have come into contact with. There is also a mistrust of organisations such as the CFZ who accidentally gave credit to someone else for finding the hairs in a wooded area near to where the CFZ hold their conference.

Once that happened the bitching that came from the Four-Teans and other crypto-researchers and bloggers was shocking. I was told constantly by Colin that the CFZ were claiming credit again.

Yet, after having a long discussion with Jon Downes, the founder of the CFZ,  it seems that things just hadn’t been communicated to him properly and he was sincerely sorry about the mistake that had been made. There was nothing sinister and evil about him at all! Funny that…

In fact, it’s my emails to and from Jon that have convinced me that the crypto-researchers that I have had contact with are not representative of the whole field. Then I remembered people like Paul Vella (best known for his bigfoot research) and Nick Redfern who I have met before, they too were rather decent people.

In fact, it’s very much like the ghost research field – there are bad eggs in all research fields and you just have to maneuver around them and look for like minded people who’ve got it right.

I found people who appear to have an agenda. Whether that involves jumping to wild conclusions that have no really strong evidence to support said conclusion, ignoring opposing evidence or admissions of fraudulence and maintaining that sightings or discoveries in the past were the real thing because it suits the way you view the world, or just bitching about anyone who dares to have an opposing belief and trying to throw their weight around as though they are going to achieve anything past the feeling of smugness it brings them.

I wish I hadn’t because it’s left me with a very bitter taste in my mouth and, although I don’t like to judge, a sour view of cryptozoology researchers. I hope that will be changed when I visit the Weird Weekend next year and I am pretty sure it will be.

I think I’ll stick to BARsoc (of which I am very proud) and I will stick to my scientific method of investigation and my skepticism and my ghost research because, truth be told, they’re much more interesting and less highly strung than blokes wearing camouflage who get excited by animal poo 😉

No offense.


1 Response to "Crypto-People"

> if you openly refer to yourself as a skeptic; as somebody who used skepticism when dealing with research or claims, you are the bad guy and it makes you evil.

That’s the way it is with most fringers — reality is a conspiracy.

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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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