Hayley is a Ghost

Taking Lapiss

Posted on: June 13, 2011

Warning: Swearing

In August 2010 I was asked, alongside my podcast co-host and friend Trystan Swale, to speak at the 2011 LAPIS paranormal conference as they were “trying to introduce a skeptical element to the conference”.

Whenever an opportunity to encourage people to think critically about the paranormal arises I take it, and I agreed to deliver a talk called ‘Scooby Snacks & Proton Packs: The Modern Ghost Hunting Phenomena’ and it was inspired by Ben Radford’s Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries.’ and Richard Wiseman’s ‘Paranormality‘ as well as my own experiences as a ghost researcher over the years.

It was going to provide an overview of the common mistakes and assumptions made by paranormal researchers, and sum up how everyone can be fooled – even those who consider themselves to be scientifically minded – we’re all fallible.

I didn’t deliver the talk in the end for three reasons:

1 – the organisers messed my train tickets up and, despite telling them I needed to get home as early as possible on the Sunday (yesterday) as I was starting a new job early Monday morning (today), they booked me onto a train home that would have seen me arriving home at gone 6pm which would have left me with little time to prepare for my new job. It just wasn’t doable.

2 – They removed a good friend of mine from the speaker line up because he suffers from depression.

3 – I was the only female speaker on the final line up, and when I asked why this was I was told that the organisers choose their speakers based on merit and not gender, and that they’d had loads of female speakers before.

Point 1 needs no further explanation, but in an odd fashion I want to address point 3 first.

Firstly, the last female speaker the LAPIS conference had, was a decade ago. Had I spoken at the weekend I would have been the second female speaker to appear at that conference in a decade.


Secondly, to tell me that speakers are based on merit and not gender when I enquired about the lack of female speakers suggests two things:

1) that you don’t think there are any women (besides me?) in the paranormal research field, or related fields, who hold enough merit to be worth asking to speak.

2) that I am suggesting you should ask people to speak based on their gender over what they have to offer and what they have achieved when this is not the case.

There are so many women who speak about the paranormal who are accomplished in their research. Let me name some off the top of my head:

Nicky Sewell, Ann Winsper, Teresa Cox, Deborah Hyde, Emma Louise Rhodes… not difficult when you look.

Onto point 2.

It has been claimed that Trystan is exaggerating things when he tells people that he was removed from the speaker line up because of his depression, but I have seen the emails (as have others) and I can tell you that he is not lying.

The organisers of the conference told Trystan that whether he felt up to it or not, they removed him, WITHOUT TELLING HIM, from their conference, because THEY didn’t think it would be a good for HIM to speak for them as it might risk his health.

Not a judgement they can make for him, and the fact that they did sat very uncomfortably with me and with every other sane person who heard what had happened.

It’s unethical to treat somebody differently because of a physical or mental illness. The fact that the organisers of this conference then tried to make it seem an okay thing to do by pointing out that one of their members suffers from depression is a crappy thing to do to their member who suffers from depression because no two people suffer in the same way. If they did doctors would be able to prescribe one treatment to fit all.

What might seem impossible for one person who is depressed wont for another.

I hope Trystan wont mind me sharing this, but he was using speaking at that conference as a goal to help with his recovery, and having it taken away without even being asked whether it would make him feel worse or not was a crap thing to happen.

Today a speaker from the LAPIS conference has accused me and Trystan of being unprofessional because we have spoken out about our disgust with the LAPIS conference, and had advised that we shouldn’t because it makes us seem like speakers who couldn’t be trusted.

I also made Jon Ronson aware of what had happened via Twitter because I felt he had a right to know how a person suffering from mental illness had been treated. According to the critical LAPIS speaker, this was me trying to sabotage the conference.

It wasn’t a case of this at all. Jon has recently launched a book that touches upon mental health and I knew he’d want to know.

I don’t give a crap if this makes me look unprofessional, but shall we just weight things up here?

Who seems the most unprofessional?

Those who dismiss someone from their conference for suffering from mental illness, or those who speak out against such a thing having taken place?

It’s not difficult…

It would have been better if I hadn’t written this and if I had kept things to myself, but I’ve had just about as much as I can handle of people speculating as to why I pulled out of the conference.

Now you know. Any questions, you know where to fucking find me.


33 Responses to "Taking Lapiss"

It is absolutely reprehensible that they bumped your friend from the speaking engagement due to his depression. As you say, no two people are affected by the condition in the same way. I’m quite certain there are tons of successful speakers, actors, singers and others in the public eye who deal with treated or untreated depression on a day to day basis. This was pure discrimination. Lapiss on them!

I personally suffer from Anxiety attacks yet I can speak in public perfectly well. We all cope differently.

I suffer from depression and stage fright, and currently post traumatic stress, this has not stopped me from singing solos including Schubert lieder and the baritone solos in the Fauré requiem. It’s absurd to cut someone from a schedule because they have depression.

Going to agree with you about bumping a person that has depression or, has suffered from it, from speaking.

Going to have to make a point about the Gender issue.

You did go on a rant about not having a female speaker. But do you know all the facts? Did they ask the others you mention? Did they know about them? Did anyone or has anyone of the planners acted in such a way that you think they have a gender bias? You didn’t give any information other then there has been no female speaker for a decade. So I checked the line up.

Malcolm Robinson
Oll Lewis
Trystan Swale
Juliette Gregson
Rob Whitehead
Mike Oram
Hayley Stevens
Paul Vella
Jon Ronson

2 Ladies, 7 Men. OK so? You bring this as your point and the fact that they had no female speakers for a decade. This is not proof of gender bias. It does show that you are being shallow though. To choose someone because of their Gender is very shallow. Speakers should be chosen on the merits.

You normally write great stuff Haley but I believe at times you do let your own gender bias get in the way.

Unless you heard or know of some-one making gender bias comments making a blog against a group because they wont pick someone do to some special non-related to the subject reason is not a way to run anything. You did not speak of this at all. Your whole argument is on the fact that there are no females and have not been in a decade.

Unfortunately it shows a side of you that could be disliked by some. It also shows a lack of being able to see a point of others without your own filters.

Maybe you should have someone who will be blunt with you, show you how to read your posts from another point of view.

PS: I can feel your displaced anger in the post. Maybe you should take a look at that.

I think Hayley’s argument about not enough women is a valid one, wether it is intentional bias or not. There are plenty of female speakers available for these type of events able to give fantastic talks. I am staging a three week event and have about 15 women involved in various performance and presentaiton capacities. Although women seem to be under-represented in comparrison to their male counterparts on the skeptics speaking circuit, they are not under-represented to the extent where it would not be possible to get at least 2 women for every conference. And as LAPIS is not a skeptics conference there are even more women who could give talks due to the sheer number of women involved in psychic and supernatural trades.

Tehre simply is no excuse for not having more women.

“Not an exclusively skeptics conference” I should say.

Two things:
1) I think no female speakers in ten years is pretty clearly an indicator of gender bias. That doesn’t mean necessarily that they did it intentionally, but it’s a bias nonetheless.
b) Maybe it’s just me, but I find your tone incredibly condescending. “it shows a side of you that could be disliked by some”? No. Not some, you don’t like it, so say so. And the Counsellor Troy-like advice in the PS is even worse.
Again, maybe it’s just me…

I believe your post is the epitome of “mansplaining.” You might begin by reading the “Male privilege” entry in Wikipedia. “Unfortunately, I shows a side of you that could be disliked by some” – really…that’s just the most patronizing thing I’ve read in a while. That’s right, Frank. It’s a woman’s duty to be nice and try to be liked.

Sorry Hayley, we obviously have a LONG, LONG way to go.

In a small group, chance alone can lead to a gender bias. a group of 2-4 men could come about by chance or sociological factors without need fo bias to necessarily be present.

Not having any women in a decade in a lrge conference, however, is a good sign that there are almost certanly biases in your selection procedure. This can easily beunintentional: perhaps you’re just lookiing at other conferences which hav the same problems to find your speakers. Perhaps a boy’s club only brok down recently, due to the march of equality, and so most of the old names in the field aremen, but the younger generation is more evenly distributed. Perhaps it’s all completely innocent.

Perhaps. Bt unless you carefully check thngs, and make sure you’re aware of the female talent out there you’re dismissing as not good enough, you are far more likely to be maintaining institutionalised sexism. The solution? Judge by merit. But make sure women are well-represented on the list you’re considering the meris of. If a woman genuinely isn’t as good, fine, but if you don’t even bother to consider women…

In every case I know of where women are genuinely considered, excellent ones can be found on their merits.

I am not a lawyer, but I find myself wondering if the organisers of LAPIS are fully aware of their duties under the Equality Act 2010.

LAPIS is and look at my post…Hayley hasn’t got the full information such as me being a on and off member of LAPIS…..Does she know that making false claims that LAPIS dicriminates as one member is disabled with depression and she hasn’t bothed to ask!!

Thats a little like saying “I’m not racist, I have black friends”

To Ash Pryce

Indeed what you have said, but if LAPIS is discriminater they have never done it to me in anyway, discrimination can only be discrimination if you are discriminate by all mental illness, I know all about discrimination because of being disabled, for example I went for a job interview and the interviewer out right said “can’t employ you as you have a walking problem”, never forget those words. This was before the Equal Opps.

Apart from all this; I hope your new job goes well … and happy birthday!

If what you say is true Hayley, and I have no reason to doubt you, then there is a case here for discrimination under the Mental Health Act 2007 (amending the Mental Health Act 1983).
I will talk to you privately further on this matter.
Ross Hemsworth

Please see my comment on here please (this states I myself have suffered from mental illness and LAPIS have not discriminated me!!!!! the friend who LAPIS was “Discriminated” against had mentioned that he wasn’t up too it as he felt ill, no mention of mental illness at that time – had to replace the person because how short the time was to the conference, I suffer from mental illness and I helped at the conference doing the stall, if LAPIS was so discriminating I would of not been there, would I. Hayley also mention (emails have been kept) that the friend was not going to make his talk…so LAPIS had to replace the person. If people are going to make a discrimination please use all emails from each party so it would of merged that Hayley and the other person have sent emails to cancel.

you’re showing that you don’t know anything about the situation of which I have written because Trystan did not state, at any time, that he wasn’t going to speak.
Whether you feel they have discriminated against you or not in the past, they HAVE with Trystan.

If Trystan’s exclusion was on the grounds you say then they’ve likely committed illegal discrimination under Disability/Mental Health section of the Equality Act – as Richard above says. In fact under the Equality Act it would be incumbent on them to make provision to ensure Trystan was able to give his talk by making reasonable adjustments according to his needs, if they were required. Just as they would if they had a speaker in a wheelchair. The fact Trystan didn’t, as I understand it, request any such adjustments speaks for itself.

Clearly it’s Trystan’s decision how he addresses this, but in my opinion the more people who bring cases under this Act on the grounds of depression, the better it is for people with depression.

Your comments
1. Train tickets problem – fair does with that.
2. LAPIS pulled your friend – The gentleman did say he was ill (illness not given at the time) and that he was not going to make it, you also said to LAPIS he wasn’t going to make it and so LAPIS had to fill the gap.
3. Only female speaker – Well, you were not the only female speaker at the 2011 LAPIS conference. The female speaker had to pull out also due to illness but did make part of the conference. Female speakers in the paranormal such as ghosts and UFOs are a few and a excellent couple of them I can think, one has sadly past away and the other is a carer.

LAPIS has alway been excellent to all speakers, I have heard that people in the paranormal subjects are wanting to coming and talking as well as speakers who have already spoken!!

PS, I do go to LAPIS on and off with their meetings…I have recent had depression and they had no problems with that and also I am disabled with walking problems with clear signs to see (deformed feet with special shoes) and to say LAPIS discriminated is totally false….I wouldn’t say false things without evidence like some people. Before any1 thinks I am not a really person or I am helping/saying good things about and I am not disabled with depression I am gladly to meet the person in public to prove it.

Jason, Trystan did not say he couldn’t make it at any time.
I overlooked the other female speaker whom I didn’t see on the line up… so 3 female speakers in a decade. Wow…..

I was told that you had sent a message he couldn’t, if this is wrong I appologise. However I have to say that LAPIS didn’t discriminate against him, all it was that LAPIS need to get a speaker in, I know Trystan had emailed LAPIS on the I think the Friday before the conference that he was coming.
I have on and off be going to LAPIS meetings for 11 years and I have not been offend or discriminated against by LAPIS members, I have had arguements with members but nothing discriminating, in fact the group has to be caring as we have had people coming to group who have had abduction experiences and they are frightened to be laughed at.

I was told he might be pulling out and I mentioned that to someone who apparently USED to be a conference organiser. If I got in touch to say Jon Ronson or Malcolm Robinson wasn’t speaking, would my word have been taken as fact? No! So why was it with Trystan? I’m not his mum or his wife. They could have contacted him as they knew he has a couple of FB accounts, plus, he’s the host of a popular podcast which has its own email.

Not many female speakers in the paranormal, most that I can see are alternate subjects like herbal which I have no problem with, but PROBE seem to have them when they have their conferences twice a year in St Annes….LAPIS try to do other sujbects not related.

there are LOADS of women speakers in the paranormal. You’re ignorant. Now, please stop spamming my site with comments.

PS in the last reply I mentioned arguements, the subjects were to do with the subject of the paranormal…..for instance there was an arguement that 2 objects in the sky were insects to me because the footage was filmed through a window.

?? How can I be ignorant, as I thought I had good explaination and I thought we were having a good chat, I will stop replying now as I think your blog is only one sided.

Jason, this story is growing taller by the minute!!!! I did not state that I would not be speaking at LAPIS. This is a new one on me!!!!!! If I had wanted to pull out I would have spoken to Janet directly. I’m not just going to leave the organisers hanging on a Saturday morning of the conference and not just turn up. By agreeing to speak I made a committment to them and any changes would be agreed in direct correspondence.

Janet stated two reasons for ditching me in her correspondence:

1. I was uncontactable which, frankly, is rubbish. She knew I have been having issues with certain people on Facebook and was fully aware of my secondary account – because I contacted her just a few weeks before and added her as a friend with a message detailing my identity! The alternative version to this that Janet subsequently threw in writing to Hayley is that I had not returned her emails – well, how can I return something I never received?

2. My depression…for whatever the ‘group’ considered talking may make my depression worse. That is not LAPIS’s call. LAPIS are not my healthcare provider and know nothing about my symptoms.

For the record I believe that the LAPIS conference organisers were attempting to act in my best interests but, in doing so, behaved in a manner that demonstrated ignorance, arrogance and misunderstanding of what my illness is and does. Whatever way you look at it they fucked up. I was pissed off and now I’ve got my point across I’m moving on. End of.


Clearly there is a misrepresentation of women at this conference because there are plenty of women interested and as qualified as any others. I’ve organised academic conferences where there has also certainly been a gender imbalance (sadly because of remaining imbalance in certain fields in higher education). This is sometimes inevitable, but anyone running a real conference will have submitted abstracts peer reviewed (preferably blind peer reviewed) and ranked by multiple reviewers. I realise that this doesn’t always happen with popular rather than academic conferences, which is a shame.

The ditching of Trystan doesn’t sound very nice, to put in mildly. I hope that things look better for him soon. About the train times… most of the conferences I go to I have to make my own arrangements, even in the cases where I’m an invited speaker. Usually I’d have to find funding to cover it as well. Getting home at 6pm doesn’t seem that bad to me, but that is subjective I guess.

I’d ignore Jason, he doesn’t clearly answer the points you raise and seems to have problems communicating in English. Frankly the more I find out about this conference the less I think I’d ever want to go. Even just looking at the website it seems juvenile and poorly organised. I know one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and it is useful to understand opposing points of view…but it just seems like a waste of time in this case.

I would like to say I have two GCSE in English – English with Grade 4 in Oral Communication and English Literature. Your comment could be called discrimination as you have in so many words have learning difficulties and yes I have some learning problems, I only got upset because Hayley & Trystan have said that my friends have discriminated Trystan has Mental Illness, I suffer from mental illness, learning problems and disability (walking difficulties) problems and I have never had any problems from they because of my illnesses.

I know that this reply might not be posted as Hayley has said she has put a spam on my replies and two of my last replies never appeared….however if this reply is not put on I think Hayley has discriminated against people who make replies to people who have discriminated against other people as she thinks LAPIS has done with herself and Trystan.

Also I think if people who have posted replies on here, Hayley & Trystan with LAPIS members should put emails and comments to people who wish to see them to make their own opinion in this.

I would like to apologize to Hayley & Trystan because I do suffer from paranoid problems and I need to do things like the replies on here, need to explain things

Yours Jason

Jason, I think you’re missing a subtlety here and it is one that is important. Janet used my depression as an excuse to ditch my talk whereas Hayley has used your ‘spamming’ as an excuse to block yours. As far as I can tell she was not aware of your disabilities. And that is the difference.

If Hayley was to say ‘I’m blocking Jason because he has an illness’ you would be right in your accusation of prejudice. But that isn’t why she’s done it. Likewise, even if Janet and co wanted to ditch me because of my depression anyone with half a brain would have contacted me and said ‘Trystan, we don’t want you to talk because you’re not what we now want/you’re a twat’ or something that doesn’t leave them wide open.

Just to clarify, nobody has been blocked from commenting. All comments left by Jason have been published 🙂 I think he was mistaken that because it didn’t get approved straight away it had been blocked, when in fact I was away from my blog.

I don’t know what happen, the two replies had the line underline my name, if anyone puts a reply up, please check their reply and they will see what I mean. It could of been too long for it to be posted and I think it is now been deleted by the website and not Hayley I apologize. I also apologize to Hayley as I thought when to Hayley put “….Now, please stop spamming my site with comments.”, Hayley had put a spam on my. However I do feel that Hayley shouldn’t put this on because you can’t had a one side of the talk.

This will be my last comment I will make, we have 4 women out of 9 regular members of LAPIS who go to the meetings and 1 of the woman member went to the talk Hayley did with another group and it was this member who suggest Hayley to speak at LAPIS talk.

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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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