Hayley is a Ghost

Ideas, not people

Posted on: July 4, 2011

It was a few years ago that I realised that I was atheist and had been for most of my life without realising it, it was as I made this discovery that my eyes were properly opened to the world around me and I began to develop the humanist approach to life that I so proudly hold today.

I started to not only be able to form opinions and beliefs based on facts because I had learnt to approach things with a properly opened mind, but I began to also be able to communicate my thoughts in a much more confident manner without being afraid of what others thought.

Those few years ago I became a “skeptic”, and I continue to be one right through to today and tomorrow and the day after than and so on…

I’m not just a skeptic who sits in her house mumbling about how people are wrong and stupid, I try to make the difference I want to see in the world. A cause isn’t lost when one person still stands for it..

I actively get involved in tackling the claims made about alt-med and, just recently through complaints to the ASA, got two local practitioners of “healing energy” to remove claims they could cure cancer from their website. I speak to people who make extraordinary claims in the hope that I can learn more about their world views and, in the process of doing so, can help others to do the same.

I actively investigate supposed ghostly phenomena by going into businesses and local places to investigate what has been witnessed, trying to provide people with the answers they seek by using my accumulated knowledge in the best way I can (and filling in the gaps by picking the brains of those around me who know a little more than I do.)

When people ask me to speak for them at public events I try my best to make it happen because, although I’m not an expert in any subject, I guess my life is a little different from most people’s, and that can be interesting for others to hear about. I also like meeting other skeptics too… and sometimes they bring me cake.

I support numerous humanitarian charities because the world around me doesn’t just inspire me, it also makes me weep. These last few years of my life have opened my eyes to just how privileged my life is, despite all the health and financial troubles I have had.

These last few years have really defined me as a person and I have grown to be more independent, more open-minded, more grounded and stronger and happier. Yet, as I was climbing to my feet with my newly opened eyes, I did so because certain people inspired me to do so and, through their words and their work, cultivated a chance to help me do so – they aided me in my “enlightenment”. The last year or so has seen a number of the people who indirectly challenged me to truly think about who I am and my place on this little, tiny, insignificant yet deadly beautiful planet have done things that have disappointed me and left me feeling let down.

I, who thought she knew what to think, have learnt a very valuable lesson about the people who inspired me to become who I am today – that lesson is that people are people, and no matter how clever, how witty, how charismatic they may be, they also have flaws. For me to hold them to ideals they’d never claimed to hold themselves to, was unfair of me.

In 2011 I have had one point reinforced in my mind – skepticism is about ideas, not people.

People inspire us to think and to act, but those people come and go, and change and do things wrong and let themselves down, yet the ideas they promoted – the things we feel strongly about, they live on. They remain.

Ideas, not people. They’re what truly inspire me. They’re what are important and what I shall focus on in the future.

image credit: ieshraq

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6 Responses to "Ideas, not people"

I see what you mean, but I’m not sure about there necessarily being a binary choice between ideas and people.

You say that ” to hold them to ideals they’d never claimed to hold themselves to, was unfair” and this is a fine point. But are you not doing just this when you decide to damn people as a whole for failing to live up to ideals that were never truly real? Humans are inherently flawed, but they are also inherently brilliant – it is people that produce ideas after all! I think you’re being a little unfair to them by dismissing “people” as a whole when it turns out that they are indeed as flawed as they always have been.

Sure, you’re free to change your mind about people in the light of new evidence and you can hold individuals to account when they let you down, but extrapolating from these instances to the conclusion that people don’t matter is a bit like someone saying all men are bastards just because their boyfriend was a bastard.

You’ve read too much into what I’m saying. I’m not saying “screw everyone based on the actions of a few”. I’m simply pointing out that ideas should take a priority over people. We all get too focussed on the who and not the what, and when dramas unfold between people they take centre stage over the things we should be focussing on – the ideas.

Fair enough, in a discussion you’re dead right – I wish more people would focus on the ideas. I didn’t realise you were being so specific. When I’m tired, I should go to bed – not respond to blog posts!

It’s wrong to make medical claims that are not backed by provable science. To do so simply to make money is scurrilous. It’s nothing more than selling snake oil to victims who are so desperate for hope they are willing to try almost anything, no matter how ridiculous it sounds. To me, that’s almost as low as it gets.

I appreciate that there are like-minded people like you out in the world who are motivated to do good. We’ve seen the crap you sometimes take for it, too. Keep up the good work.

I just wanted to repeat what I’ve said about you for a while now. Specifically, a lot of us really appreciate your efforts and activism. This community has beaucoup podcasts and blogs but few, like you, who go out and take real action. I think you also inspire people with your works as well as your brutal honesty.

Keep it up!

Yep, I agree. There’s nothing wrong with admiring people you respect, but it’s the ideas that are important. (And oh god has the trouble with putting to much stock into people rather than ideas been on display this week.)

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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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