Hayley is a Ghost

Can you repeat that? I’m young…

Posted on: December 19, 2010

I often find when I challenge a claim someone has made, or try to point out the error in what they are saying there will be one of three possible replies from them and/or their followers.

1) They will listen to what I have to say and consider it.


3) They will refuse to talk to me but will talk about me and mention how when I grow older I will see the error of my rebellious ways, bless me and then laugh at my youthful ignorance.

Here’s the thing that gets me about number 3 (which, by the way, is the most common response I get from other paranormal researchers or paranormal believers who stumble across things I have written – especially “researchers” who have a lot to gain from keeping their ‘believer’ followers happy), in the five and a bit years I have been researching paranormal phenomena, ghost reports, supposed hauntings and everything else that comes along with such things,  it is most likely that I have spent more time researching the very things they choose to believe in than they have.

My age has absolutely nothing to do with what I happen to believe, in fact, I have belief systems that make more sense and are formed with a more mature outlook on life than those of the people who gave birth to the people who gave birth to the people who gave birth to me.

I am Twenty-Three years old, to liken me pointing out the flaws in what you are saying to a strop being thrown by a teenager is not only insulting, logically wobbly and a weak argument, it’s also quite inaccurate because I’m not a teenager. Even if I were a teenager it wouldn’t matter – see, I know teenagers that have more common sense in their little fingers than some adults have in their entire bodies (Yes, Rhys, I’m talking about you…)

So here is the deal, I work with facts. Cold, hard facts and I always have an open mind. Everything that I choose to believe in is based on the best understanding of the evidence that supports my belief and I am always willing to change my beliefs and opinions when more correct information comes my way.

If I question or doubt something you have said, a claim you have made, or something you choose to believe in don’t give me any of that ‘you’re young, you’ll understand one day’ bullshit because it’s weak. In fact, I’d rather you just came out and called me a bitch because calling me a bitch is less patronising and more direct.

Never assume that being older than me automatically makes you correct on a subject. Ever.

If I (or anybody, for that matter) questions a claim or statement you make, be sure to have something to back up said claim, be sure to have points that work in favour of that claim because us skeptics, no matter what our age, just want to see evidence. That isn’t too much to ask for, it doesn’t deserve patronising replies, it just deserves the evidence being asked for.

In summary, ask yourself this: If you have ever been challenged over something you say or a belief you hold and you have belittled the person making the challenge, does that make your argument for your case stronger, or does it actually mean you didn’t have an argument in the first place and simply had to resort to childlike insults? Weak…


14 Responses to "Can you repeat that? I’m young…"

Honestly, you need to develop a thicker skin. The people you talk about are people who will not take criticism from anyone. Look around you in the world of skepticism – skeptics are regularly ignored, discarded or ridiculed, and it has nothing to do with being young, or old, or a man or a woman, it has everything to do with not believing in their particular form of nonsense, and pointing out the errors of their ways.

These people simply cannot take criticism – by anyone. Look at Michael Shermer, or James Randi, or Richard Dawkins, or PZ Myers, or Eugene Scott, or Carl Sagan, or Harry Houdini, or…or…or

They are all regularly and repeatedly ignored and cast aside by people who believe in woo. When they can they point out lack of academic credentials, when they can’t they point out a lack of research in the field in question, or having a “closed mind” or anything whatsoever that lets them ignore the critique and go on with their idiocy.

This is what it’s all about – their inability to accept that what they believe in is trivially wrong and stupid.

Don’t assume it’s about you. It’s not, it’s about them

Yes, I know ‘how it works’, however, I’m simply pointing out those with the flawed arguments who read my blog (and I know they do…) how they’re wrong and how I know they know it.

OK, I’m sorry if I was knocking in an open door. It just sounded as if you thought it was age-related and that it would go away as you get older, which of course it won’t.

It wont go away and it is age related. Neither of these things are acceptable or ok.

Very true, Hayley. On a similar note, it drives me insane when I’m trying press someone for facts and they put it down to “fears” or “emotion” and talk to me about that instead. “So you think the NHS is rubbish – OK, you’re entitled to think that, but what would you actually change about it?” “Oh I’m so sorry I upset you.” Or, on a visit to Sellafield, and having been told to cover our whole bodies very carefully but to leave our hands and faces free, “If we’ve got to cover the rest of ourselves why can we leave our hands and faces free?” “DO NOT WORRY! I WILL ALLAY AAAAAAALLL YOUR FEARS!” (and no more discussion of the subject – and for the record I wasn’t remotely frightened, just being annoyingly picky!).

So you’re not the only one 😉 When you’re older, they will find some other way to reject what you say without addressing it.

Great blog, Hayley!

I’ve often noticed that those with irrational arguments try to justify those arguments with all manner of silly things, and pointing to the age of the person telling them they are wrong is a good example.

An argument stands on its own merits. If it is a good argument, it is a good argument no matter what the age of the person making it.

The flip side of this is automatically granting credence to an argument simply because the person is older and those benefits from the notion of with age comes wisdom. Which is not at all necessarily true. With age *can* come wisdom. Wisdom comes from concentrated study, experience, research. I frankly think I was smarter at 22 than at *gulp* 40, as I had more free time to keep up with the literature and learn new things. As John Cage said “I’m not afraid of new ideas, I’m afraid of the old ones.”

Dismissing a legitimate question based solely on the questioners age is utterly stupid. Then again many believers in and practitioners of the various species woo don’t really seem to be the brightest buttons in the box, or they probably wouldn’t believe what they do. So, it’s not really that surprising that it happens. Even so I can see why it would be come extremely annoying after a very short time.

I am not young (I have had grey hair for over 20 years, been married nearly half my life and have two rugger-playing sons one of whom is now able to beat me in a fair fight, which is why I always make fights unfair) .

I have, however, experienced exactly that patronising “oh, one day you’ll see it my way, like all sensible people” attitude many times, usually when discussing cycle helmets. That’s a subject that is surprisingly controversial, and the more you dig into it the worse – and more assiduously misrepresented – the science turns out to be. I have hundreds of research papers and have spent countless hours reading and analysing them.

Ditto cycle safety generally. I ride a bike every day, it is quite literally a matter of life and death to me, I have read extensively and know the author of the standard work for the UK’s national cycle training standards.

And still people come along with one ill-informed prejudices straight out of the Daily Mail and tell me that I am *obviously* wrong, in the sneering superior tone used by particularly inferior schoolmasters when thoroughly out-thought by their charges.

It must annoy you beyond measure. I admire you for taking your revenge through patient analysis rather than flame wars.

Before I had kids, I constantly heard from parents that “when you have kids you’ll understands xyz”. My eldest is now 7, and all those things I questioned before I had kids I still question. I think all too often people use that sort of thing (age, lack of kids, etc) as an excuse to avoid addressing arguments they have no response to .

Was it Bill Bailey who did the “speaking as a parent” thing? The way people say “speaking as a parent” as if that somehow nullifies the obvious fact that they are talking complete twaddle?

Logical fallacies and statistics should be core subjects at school. I wonder of we could get the lottery to find the teaching of stats and the newspapers to find the teaching of fallacies?

Thanks Hayley. This post is actually really inspiring. I’m 21, studying philosophy and political science and consider myself a skeptic. I often feel overpowered by those who appear to be more confident than myself, this stops me from fully engaging them. Even when I can see their arguments are flawed I tend to assume that I’m in the wrong, that I’ve misunderstood. I assume they must be older and wiser. It’s really good to know that there are others out there who do ask more bold questions than me.
As with everything repetition is the mother of mastery, I’ll keep practicing my scepticism.
P.S. From your post I’ve also started listening to the Righteous Indignation Podcast. So far I’m halfway through the Christmas episode and despite some unnecessary Christmas pessimism I’m enjoying the new features.

You rock. Thanks for being an adult who actually believes that age does not matter when it comes to wisdom.
I loathe being blown off because I’m young. People seem to think that I believe in everything I believe in either because a) my parents believe it or b) I’m rebelling. And every time I say something with emotion (that’s what humans do, we emote) I get told I’m being “angsty”. Sigh…

Any form of ageism drives me up the wall. I think you’re right that people use it as a way of maintaining their positions, keeping up appearances, but IMO it’s not just about that. Most people don’t like being questioned by their inferiors, of any kind. Btw, I really like your blog. You’ve got some truly unique content here 🙂

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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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