Hayley is a Ghost

Leave the ghosts alone Part II

Posted on: December 13, 2011

An earlier blog of mine titled ‘Leave the ghosts alone’ has caused some confusion with some who have read it. I have seen a number of replies on my blog and elsewhere, where people can’t understand how I can think it is unethical for people to be disresepctful towards what they believe to be ghosts when ghosts don’t exist.

If ghosts aren’t real you can’t disrespect them, after all.

This is true, but you can disrespect their memory. Not to mention, the behaviour I wrote about goes much further than just taunting ghosts who aren’t there.

I should remember when writing about things like this that most people who read my blog have no first hand experience with the world of paranormal research and don’t understand the things you are exposed to when you are involved in the field. In my time as a paranormal researcher I have seen other groups conduct ‘investigations’ at venues where someone has killed themselves, or has been killed in the past ten years.

Personally, when dealing with a reported case I consider a death in the last 50 years to be ‘recent’ with the potential for living relatives to be effected negatively by the slightest wrong move on my part.

One instance that stands out in my mind was one occasion where the deceased still has family members living in the local area to this day. When the group in question (not my group), conducted their investigation in the building where this person had killed themselves they went to the newspapers shortly afterwards with the findings of their time spent there with their medium. They also posted a report on their website in which they detailed how this person was stuck in the building and still anguished, sad and angry over what it was that had made them kill themselves. It was horrible to read and I didn’t even know them.

Sadly, the family of the deceased still lived in the town and saw the newspaper report and the team report online. I don’t know how that made them feel as I don’t know them and didn’t get to speak to them – but I can imagine how awful it would be to hear that a paranormal team had done that. Whether they believed in ghosts or not.

One comment left on my blog by a visitor called ‘G T Hogg’ read:

…just because descendants living today are ‘woo’ and believe in ghosts/spirits, doesn’t mean that any real harm is done. It mattes not whether anyone today believes that they are related to any distantly deceased person, woo is still woo. For any offence or harm to be ‘felt’ by any descendants means that they are lacking in logical, critical thinking and hold crazy woo beliefs, in short they need to get real.

I do not agree with this. You don’t need to believe in ghosts to be disturbed by the intentions of unethical paranormal researchers. Everyone goes through grief in their own way. The sentiments expressed in this comment are extremely unsympathetic.

When Simon Singh was present at a Psychic Sally Morgan show, he witnessed her telling an audience member that their deceased loved one had tried to kill themselves numerous times. The audience member had been unaware of this, and I saw lots of skeptics (myself included) reacting in horror and disgust that such an awful thing would be said by someone unable to prove their claim.

I believe that ghost hunters who do the same sort of thing – just not on stage – are guilty of the same disrespectful and unethical behaviour. They too make claims about the deceased, often uncaring of how long ago the deceased died and what effect their claims will have on those around them.

The Pendle Witch case in the original blog post is a very old haunting and isn’t the best example of this behaviour. However those ghost hunters who go up on the hill and goad the witches into doing something – who take their cues from Yvette “Come on, you bitch. Bitch! Come on you bitch!” Fielding, are very likely to exhibit exactly the same behaviour and attitude in all of the venues and locations they visit. Most of them will be public buildings where minimal harm can be done to the general public, where hauntings are based on folklore stories that are really old. Yet some of those locations will be private houses, they will be places where employees will be too scared to work alone, where children live in fear of shadows, (as I once did).

To behave in this manner doesn’t just disrespect the deceased and potentially upset still living relatives – it scares the crap out of people. It misleads them and makes them live and work in fear of something they don’t understand. Sure, the person who is upset or scared may be wrong in the long run because of the lack of evidence that ghost exist, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ok to put them into that situation in the first place. Nobody deserves to be brushed aside just because they’re not aware of certain information because after all, they’re not the ones claiming to be experts in paranormal research.

One bad habit, like goading a dead witch into throwing something at you, can have serious consequences further down the line if left unchallenged by those who know better.

That. That’s unethical.

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6 Responses to "Leave the ghosts alone Part II"

[…] A follow on to this post: Leave the ghosts alone part II […]

Well explained Hayley

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I think it’s unethical, whether ghosts exist or not. I tend to stay away from these sorts of argument and try to stick to the the ‘science’.

However, I do find it disrespectful if ‘third parties’ start delving into dead family members if they are going to spout all sorts of dubious statements without any proof.

I also think it a cheek that Mormons try to ‘sign-up’ dead relatives to their church. I don’t believe that there are ‘souls’ out there (somewhere) to ‘sign-up’ …. it’s just the barefaced arrogance of them making assumptions that my dead relatives would want to join THEM! That is VERY disrespectful to my ancestors.

I’ll add a comment, having not read the article properly, which is a terribly dangerous thing to do. Only the fact I’m off out in two minutes leads me to do it.

Long, long time ago I was writing a book on the folklore of a county. I came across a ghost sighting of a chap in a “Saturday Night Fever” style white suit. The incident had occurred a few weeks before, and the witness was adamant as to what he saw.

Later that evening I discussed it with my family. My sister knew a chap who had died on the road outside the building in question, in an accident. So had two of I believe her other friends. She made the connection not me ; it was immediately clear that while the only thing linking the tragedy and the apparition was the mode of dress if I was to write more on this I could cause considerable grief to the bereaved.

It does not matter if ghosts exist or not here. What matters is the ethical issue. When others made the connection and it was discussed in the press some time later, I felt able to mention it in passing, as I am now.

Another case I was called upon to investigate involved a sighting of a young girl in a raincoat: she was seen in the middle of the road, a classic “road ghost”. Subsequent enquiries revealed a girl died, probably committed suicide, by throwing herself in front of a lorry on the spot. You might have thought “wow, I’m really pleased, here is evidence linking the apparition and tragedy.” actually I was mortified: her brother was still alive, and I had no desire to bring more grief to the family. I still do not know if the apparitional experience and the death are connected. To most sceptics clearly they are not: ghost experiences are explicable in other ways. Yet I hesitate – whether there is a connection or not, I was unwilling to discuss the case in the public domain for almost twenty years. Even now you will notice I have not given identifiable details.

A final thought: in the past I was happy to reveal details of cases like this in peer reviewed journal articles. However the explosion of easily available access through the web, a wonderful thing, leads to the issue of the fact that people who access the databases might not share muy concerns, and may in fact actually publish the salient details in a way that they are easily and accidentally uncovered via Google. So nowadays I am even more concerned, and routinely use pseudonyms in accounts, but make sure that records of the real identities are recorded and will be available to researchers of the future. In fact some of the sealed reports the CPRG placed with the SPR fifteen years to twenty ago will soon be available i guess, if not thrown out in spring cleaning!

I can think of a lot more to say, but I have to dash, I will write properly later. But believe in ghosts or not, the ethical issues remain, and Hayley is very right to be concerned.

Another excellent article, Hayley.

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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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