Hayley is a Ghost


Posted on: January 1, 2011

So, from my ‘Happy new year’ post to this one. It’s five hours into 2011 and I am wide awake as I cannot sleep because the whole situation that shouldn’t have, but did arise with the SAVN and AVN, from my original blog post about being a disillusioned skeptic has been bugging me ever since the comments started rolling in. I realised people didn’t get what I meant to say – probably my fault for not understanding their confusion.

Also, another one of my blog posts got featured on the front page of wordpress and I was flooded with comments to that (over 200 in one day, which for me is a huge amount) so I wasn’t able to focus fully on what was being said on my other blog post.

The original blog post (the disillusioned skeptic one) wasn’t about the AVN alone, it wasn’t about people like Meryl Dorey who are the cause for the things that skeptical people work against. I know such people require an extra effort (so to speak) when being handled as they are the source of the problem.

I know because I’ve interviewed such people (not Meryl), but I have also interviewed people who simply believe in the things they hear that, to me don’t make sense, but to them do. Alt-Med practitioners who clearly haven’t thought their ideas through and stumble over simple questions about their theories, people who believe they’ve seen alien spacecraft shooting lasers at cows and things – these are the people I was referring to when I spoke of not being able to mock people or look down on people for what I think are nonsense ideas.

I only wish I had clarified this in that original blog post, but I don’t have a time machine, and it’s too late as I’ve already made the mistake and, clearly from comments and communication with people over the last couple of days, lost the respect of many and made myself look like an idiot – but I can cope with that.

However, I wanted to share this email exchange between myself and Meryl after The S.A.V.N have taken it into their minds that I’m some sort of a hypocrite and idiot. I also should point out that I deleted comments off of the ‘my blog and the AVN?’ post because of information I received via email from someone who had read my blogpost about the Andy guy that was posting – you can email me if you want the info that made me delete the comments. I’m happy to share it.

received 30/12/10

Dear Hayley,

I didn’t want to post to your blog because I fear that you are already a target for those same people in SAVN who have been targeting me for the last 2 years and I already feel guilty about inadvertently causing you any problems.
I just wanted to say a great big thank you to you (in private 🙂 for so clearly stating what your vision of scepticism should be and how it should not include abuse and vilification.
In the 21 years since I started researching this issue, there has been opposition to my stance, but it has always been respectful – we agree to disagree and that sort of thing. We never try to tie a noose around anyone’s neck and tell them that they must look at both sides – we are just there for those who are searching.
It was a great shock to me, therefore, to be the target of such vile, in some cases violent, in others pornographic – and many times outright threatening contact from people who didn’t know me, had never spoken to me and yet wanted me dead, maimed or in gaol because we disagree on one subject.
You are a breath of fresh air Hayley.
All the best,
My response


Firstly, yes you have caused me problems with the people from that facebook group for the S.A.V.N because they think that I am somehow being more civil to you and, I guess the AVN as well, and taking your side in a debate that I’m not really much involved in, and I am not taking your side at all.

I’m not going to include reasons here because you’ve heard it all before from skeptical people who are also a ‘breath of fresh air’ too. Not all skeptical and rational people who campaign against the AVN are rude and vile as you have described, just as not all skeptical people and rational people are as I described in my blog post/s.

Today I was gutted to receive a personal message on facebook from the parents on Dana McCaffery telling me that they had read the whole situation my blog post had caused and wanted to explain to me why people from the S.A.V.N had a mixed view and interpretation of my blog.
Around this time last year I proudly nominated and awarded them the ‘skeptic of the year’ award from the podcast I cohost because even though it wouldn’t and couldn’t make a difference, it showed that I admired their bravery and courage in the face of disgusting oppositional behaviour.

I didn’t want my simple observation about the skeptical community to drag me into some sort of uncertain middle ground between the S.A.V.N and AVN supporters, but that is what has happened.

My criticism of the skeptical community in my first blog post was not the same as your criticism of the skeptical community – I can see that now and only wish I had realised that sooner because it would have stopped a lot of decent people thinking that I’m some sort of heartless idiot.

It took a message from two people who inspired me a year ago to make me realise that a terrible mistake has been made here and, although this email may seem harsh and to the point, I need you to realise that you and I have no common ground, and we probably never will.

I respect your right to believe what you personally want, but I do not respect what you believe and the ways in which you promote those ideas. Not one bit.


Hayley Stevens

If you still think I’m ‘doing it wrong’ or still don’t understand where I stand on the skepticism ‘thing’ then feel free to ask.


6 Responses to "Meryl"

Hayley… This was a concise and level headed post… Good on you…

I felt I had no choice due to the comments being made about me, but thanks.

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Reasonable Hank. Reasonable Hank said: RT @hayleystevens: That blog post is up for those who don't like me very much 🙂 http://wp.me/sTazw-meryl // #StopAVN […]

Hayley, I wouldn’t get too worried about this. This is yet another example of people seeing what they want in a piece of writing and going off on one. You’ve been here before as have I, which is why I don’t blog these days or use Twitter and Facebook as much as I otherwise would. The only difference is that a high profile anti-vaxxer has picked up on your post and tried to manipulate the situation to score points against certain other individuals. It’s why you are catching it from both sides. I think your email says it all but this will probably rumble on for a few more days. I wouldn’t be surprised if Meryl now gets all upset and paints you out as a red eyed monster…along with the rest of us!

As for the skeptical community, it’s a very broad description. I can’t think of any other people who use skepticism as a decision making process with whom I agree with entirely. It’s the same as any other “community” – you get good people, bad people, slackers, pedants and 98 year old Mexicans called Craig.

Yeah, I think this whole episode has just reinforced what I was saying in the first blog post.

I’m a bit confused as to all of this. Your original post was in my view a well presented explanation of how your approach to skepticism has changed over time. Why a large number of people so misunderstood this fairly conceptually simple article I’m quite perplexed. Regardless, this is an excellent expansion of the topic and your letter to Meryl in particular is nicely written.

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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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