Archive for December 2011
I bet some of you are already spoiling for a fight in the comments of this post simply because of the title.
How ridiculous of you.
I was going to write down my thoughts about the recent ‘Reddit makes me hate atheists’ article written by Rebecca for Skepchick, but it seems so many people have summarised what I wanted to say in a much better way than I could.
I am truly saddened to see people I count as friends completely dismissing a genuine problem (sexism, and rape comments aimed at a 15 year old) because they don’t like Rebecca Watson. I think the below articles are important.
Greta Christina – Why ‘yes but…’ is the wrong response to Misogyny
Jason Thibeault – Why is Rebecca Watson so damn polarizing
Skepchick – Why chicks gotta be so dumb?
Also worth a read, is ‘Not a touch’ by Ophelia Benson
Poster Child for Skepticism.
These are some of the things I have been called this year. I have also often been told I am wrong, silly or stupid for writing my thoughts on various topics, and for speaking out when I think something is wrong.
To the people who have belittled me, ridiculed me, tried to silence me, have harrassed me at home and at work, and who have tried to scare me…
HaHa! Try harder!
I launched Project Barnum, I continued with The Ghost Field Guide Podcast, I launched the Vigilantes Blog, I continued to contribute to the Righteous Indignation Podcast, I spoke at QEDcon in Manchester alongside Chris and Trystan, I spoke at Skeptics in the Pub events in Newcastle, Birmingham, Bath, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Bristol and Westminster (and Cork, via Skype!), I travelled to Zurich – flying on my own for the first time ever – to speak as part of a panel about blogging at Denkfest, I helped to launch Bath Skeptics in the Pub, I was interviewed by loads of interesting people and I interviewed interesting people, I wrote numerous articles as requested – including my first article for The Skeptic magazine (which even my dad read and said ‘was good’ which is pretty awesome).
I also found a full time job after many months of unemployment and part time work, and I love the work I now do. It’s been over six months already! I finally decided to enroll on Social Sciences and Psychology courses with the Open University and I have made (and finally met) so many lovely friends both online and in person too.
At times, this year has been daunting and depressing, there have been times where I wanted to quit everything and fade away and times when my emotions got the better of me and I acted irrationally. A lot of the things I have done haven’t necessarily been flawless, but the important thing is that I tried to be the change I wanted to see – and I think I have been successful in some cases.
Change doesn’t happen with the click of your fingers – it takes time and sacrifice and frustration. It takes determination and effort. It’s not all about gaining publicity and attention as some would have you believe. It’s about holding on to your aims and moving forwards in any way that you can.
2012 is another year and who knows what it will bring. Well, I know it brings me lots of studying with the Open University in my pursuit of a Bachelors degree in Psychology (eventually), and it brings ‘Beyond the Veil: A closer look at spirits, mediums and ghosts’ on January 14th, oh, and Project Barnum and Righteous Indignation stuffs too… but apart from that, who knows what is around the corner.
I like it that way.
There was an interesting article published by ‘The Weston Mercury’ today about some of the stranger things people have reported to the Avon & Somerset Constabulary over the past few years. Things like:
Aliens – including UFOs, lights in the sky and little green men – prompted the most calls, with 32 such reports.
One caller claimed to have been abducted by aliens, one reported ‘aliens across the road’, and another said they had seen an alien ‘trying to breathe everyone in’.
Lights in the sky were said to have slowly circled one caller’s town, while another person said they had seen 23 UFOs fly in formation down the Bristol Channel.
Big cats were another common cause, accounting for 31 calls. The creatures are described by various callers as pumas, panthers, leopards, and even a lion.
One caller told startled 999 operators they had seen ‘a large black cat the size of a donkey pass the house’, while others reported seeing a leopard sunbathing on top of a bridge and a panther killing deer.
And ghosts and mischievous spirits were spotted by plenty of 999 callers too.
One person said a ghost was ‘chasing’ them, another casually claimed to have seen a ghost ‘the other day’, and one said a poltergeist had ‘moved things around and deleted files from the laptop’.
I thought it was rather interesting to have such figures released. It was, however, something in the comments section that caught my attention. Someone by the name of T-bone commented:
I’m not sure this sort of thing should be made public…it might encourage some other childish person to copy them.
It isn’t childish of somebody to not be able to explain something they’ve witnessed. It also isn’t childish for them to phone the local police force if they are genuinely concerned or scared by what they have witnessed.
To be perfectly honest, if I saw what I thought was a puma or leopard I too would phone the police!
I have only been investigating paranormal claims and reports for a short time, but in that time I have met people who are truly puzzled, and sometimes petrified by what they’ve witnessed. Quite often, eye witnesses are embarrassed because they think they’re stupid or weird. Not everyone who witnesses a ‘ghost’ or a ‘UFO’ believes them to be possible. Quite often they’re stumped for an answer and they know that other people would say it was a ghost or a UFO.
If we dismiss them as childish or stupid or weird because they can’t work something out, it would be cruel. Sometimes all people need is someone to believe that they’ve had such a strange experience – leaving all possible causes to one side – telling someone you understand that they’ve genuinely been confused or spooked by something can help them a lot.
If you can then include them in the process of trying to determine what it was that caused what they witnessed, it can help them learn new facts and understand similar experiences in the future.
So many people think they are stupid for being scared of something spooky that happened. That isn’t the case at all.
Back in February I was on a panel with Professor Chris French and Trystan Swale at the QED conference in Manchester. The panel was called ‘Ghost Investigations Today’ and that was exactly what we were talking about.
The QED team have made the talk available via Youtube and it can be watched below. I cannot watch myself talk so I have no idea what it’s like. I was great fun though and I just want to say thanks again to Mike, Marsh, Janis, Andy, Rick and the rest of the team for the chance to take part. I can’t wait until QED in March.
Photo credit: Gammy
Sometimes it’s wrong to keep people believing in delusions. They’ll often work you out and make you feel guilty… damn it! Sorry, Lucky!
I have no idea where graphic A originated from, but I’ve seen it numerous times in my Facebook feed as it is shared by my friends. It has always bothered me because up until a few years ago I didn’t know who Carl Sagan was either. Yet, I don’t consider myself to have been what was wrong with society.
People are capable of learning, and rather than being smug and blaming then for being “stupid” enough to not know who Carl Sagan is by sight, we could instead explain it to them. Share the knowledge we have and inspire people with the amazing things that we, ourselves, have learned. So I’ve redesigned it.
Don’t just embrace the cosmos, spread the love!
*edit* After posting this on Facebook I discovered that some people would prefer to punish people and call them out for being unaware of Sagan/science than just, you know, sharing. Punishing people for not being aware of things is wrong and offending them wont make them listen to you when you tell them they need to learn more. Trust me – I’m a ghost hunter who has been told she is stupid and pathetic for the beliefs I held. I didn’t listen to those people.
*update Dec 19th* I have now opened this up to everyone, disability or not. Please apply if you are interested, and I will draw the winner on Friday, Dec 23rd.
The very generous Chris Hofstader recently got in touch to offer me two free tickets to QEDcon next March to give away to someone who needs them. Chris was supposed to be attending with his friend Mia, but unfortunately, due to suddenly needing a new boiler he can no longer afford the trip over. Chris says:
I would like to ask that my pair, The Gonzo Giveaway, go to persons with disability but, if we can’t find any, hand them out as per the previous procedure.
Rather than getting people to apply for these tickets that’ll be won by someone who is selected at random I am simply opening this up to the first person that would like them. I would ask that right now only those with a disability apply as per Chris’ request. Perhaps you need a carer to assist you and couldn’t afford to buy a ticket for you and your carer? Here’s your chance.
If I cannot find someone then I will open proceedings up for people to apply for the free tickets as I did previously. I will add new applicants to the ones who didn’t win last time and then draw the winners on a selected date.
So yes. If you have a disability and want the free tickets please get in touch now and we can get this sorted. If not, watch this space – I will update what is happening with the tickets on Monday Morning (December 19th).
Thank you, Chris. This is really generous of you and it will be a shame to not meet you in person.