Hayley is a Ghost

Posts Tagged ‘stevens

I’m sometimes accused by other paranormal researchers of being an arm chair skeptic and of “being able to talk the talk, but not able to walk the walk”. So I thought I’d make this post to lend some clarity for those who are uncertain about what it is I actually do, and how I go about doing it when it comes to ghosts and other odd things.

Six years ago I would have visited a reputedly haunted building every other weekend to try and find proof of the ghosts there. The building didn’t even have to have anything happen there – if it looked spooky then that was good enough.

Today I don’t conduct as many on-site investigations for many reasons:

1 – There are certain situations I don’t want to put myself and others into for security reasons
2 – Not all reported phenomena is investigatable (often, eyewitness testimony cannot be replicated)
3 – It is very rare (in my experience anyway) for a case to come along where things are currently happening, rather than a case where things are reputed to happen and have been for a long time.

I guess I could be accused of being too picky when it comes to deciding whether to investigate a case or not; but even though some people seem to think I don’t, I do actually visit locations and conduct onsite research into things that have been witnessed. I don’t always publish the details of these visits for privacy purposes. I always fear that if I were to publish details of places we (the WPR team) have visited, that location would be bombarded with requests for visits by numerous other teams in the Wiltshire are whose practices are ethically questionable.

Not only that, but this year we’ve visited mainly businesses who have odd things happening, and they don’t always want that sort of information being made public. I will, however, work out a way in which to share our findings in the future just so I don’t get accused of being an arm chair skeptic who doesn’t ‘walk the walk’. 

When dealing with a case, the Wiltshire Phenomena Research team will look at what has been witnessed and will then try to find the most likely cause. This is often done through replicating the situation the phenomena was witnessed in. We don’t try to prove a ghost did it, and we don’t try to convince people ghosts aren’t real – we just look for the logical causes.

I would invite anyone who has accused me and WPR of being arm chair skeptics or not ‘walking the walk’ to ask, rather than speculate. Anyone who considers themselves a good researcher should surely know that before reaching a conclusion one must have all the facts, afterall…


When I began to co-host the Righteous Indignation podcast with Trystan it was the first time I had really started to get involved in a wider group of people who all identified themselves as skeptics. Prior to that I had posted on a few internet forums for skeptics and I used skepticism in my paranormal research and knew others that did. That was the extent of my involvement with skepticism up until we recorded and released episode one of the podcast.

I’m writing this because I’ve just edited down episode 74 and it’s waiting to be released as I type this and in those 74 episodes I have learnt a lot about who I am and being a skeptic. I’ve made some great friends and allies and I’ve learnt a hell of a lot of stuff and I continue to do so even today.

Not only that but I’ve started to do public talks at ‘skeptics in the pub’ events that in turn have led to me being asked to speak at even more paranormal conferences. I have loved becoming a part of numerous skeptical communities and getting involved with various projects.

However, I speak personally here, it has also had a negative side too. I guess it’s because I’m an outspoken person (for which I’ll never apologise) and I suppose the fact that my voice and what I have to say is broadcast to thousands of people each week that caused the negative things to emerge quite quickly and consistently.

When you have a collective of that many people there are always going to be those who you don’t get on with or who don’t agree with you, it’s life, it happens.

However, early on it became clear that being the female host on the podcast earned me attention that led to me writing a blog entitled ‘A meaningful rant about being a female skeptic who doesn’t like being the cute one.’

I was probably over-reacting to what had been intended as compliments, but it didn’t work out that way and recently I found out that we still get similar emails sent to us by listeners which, quite frankly, annoys me but I think I’ll live.

The most recent ‘hoo-hah’ to have kicked off was on the Righteous Indignation facebook page where a listener posted an image depicting an advert for ‘gentlemen who do skepticism’ after hearing about ‘Ladies Who Do Skepticism’ on the podcast. He said he was shocked at the lack of critical thinking we had shown to such a thing.

The thread became a huge discussion and debate and ended with me being called sexist and the poster in question sending Trystan what I gather were quite rude posts and accusations in private (which led to another admin banning said poster.)

I don’t for one minute consider myself to be a sexist person at all and I am always open to the suggestion that I am (that way I can change my behaviour and ideas, because that’s what skepticism is, right? Scrutinizing yourself as much as other people…), however this persons opinion that I was sexist was based on the fact that I supported ‘Ladies Who Do Skepticism’ and that I write for a website called ‘SheThought’.

Although I don’t think fracturing larger communities by making events completely exclusive to a certain gender is overly healthy, I don’t think that ‘Ladies Who Do Skepticism’ or ‘Shethought’ do that at all. Both are open to men and neither were set up with the sole intention of excluding male skeptics. This is what I felt the guy accusing me of being sexist was assuming and he wouldn’t back down on that accusation and went on to nickname me ‘The queen of bad thoughts’ in his personal blog, just after complaining that some other people had attacked him through ad-hom’s in the initial debate on the facebook group.

It made me angry and upset to begin with, but then as so many people pointed out, it isn’t worth getting wound up over the comments of a few because those few don’t represent a larger number of listeners to the podcast.

Before that incident though, over the last year or so, I have often felt that my gender and age have been seen as a weakness by some people who I debate with or interview. I know of one interviewee who, during our interview, got quite irate with me because I was asking questions that showed his lack of understanding of logical fallacies, yet all this time later refuses to acknowledge that it was me that wound him up, choosing instead to say it was my male co-host despite the fact that the episode can be listened to online and you can hear him getting wound up with me and snapping at me.

Also, in challenging a local homeopath I was actually referred to as ‘a silly little girl’ and quite often believers in ghosts and mediums (including a medium called Kirsty Stevens whom I had a huge debate with that you can read about here) comment that I am “only twenty-something” and that I have a lot to learn.

My age and my gender aren’t issues for but they do seem to be issues for other people. I can accept that I can be a bitch at times and that I often make mistakes with my reasoning – we all do, however, when debating with me it makes more sense for people to use my bitchy behaviour or my flawed logic as points to debate rather than my age or gender that have nothing to do with the situation at all.

If I have a lack of knowledge in a subject it might be because I’m younger than other people, but then I know more about some subjects than people who are much older than me do – so being young doesn’t instantly make you stupid and unqualified to comment, even if some people believe it does.

I have for a long time now understood that for some people the fact that I am young and female will always be the things they take note of rather than, say, what I am discussing or the debate taking place. The above examples are just a few of many, and I have voiced these points various times in the past and I’m often contacted by other female skeptical types who say they feel the same or have experienced the same and I think it’s a real shame. It’s also very frustrating when you are trying to debate a point but the person you are debating can’t see past who you are and think that your age and gender in some way defines how seriously you are to be taken – because they don’t.

All in all I think it’s important to remember that being judged for our age and gender is something that happens to everyone at some point. I often see the “skeptical movement” being refered to as a “middle-aged white mans movement” and I think that’s terribly unfair on middle-aged white men, I certainly would be made to feel guilty if I fit that stereotype and I don’t think it’s right for anyone to be made to feel guilty or wrong because of how old they are, or their creed or gender.

What is so wrong with people just being people, people who are doing what they want without being judged for doing it because of the social stereotype they fit into?


Over the next few months I am giving my final two talks of 2010 and I’m really excited about both.

The first event is in two days time at The Swindon Ghost Fest. I will be talking on Tuesday 26th at 7:30pm at the Swindon Central library.

The event is completely free of charge and you can just turn up on the evening, I will be talking about my exploration of Wiltshire’s paranormal folklore – from hellhounds with no heads to the ghost that haunts a bus stop…

It’s certainly going to be interesting, especially as I’ve never done this talk before. Eek!

Find more information here.

Event number 2 is taking place on December 16th with the Merseyside Skeptics Society for their ‘Skeptics in the Pub’ event. I will be delivering my ‘I’m a ghost hunter; get me out of here!” talk, with added footage and content.

The talk looks at the paranormal research field and the stuff most people don’t see like the paranormal politics, the dreaded paranormal curse, fake ghosts and the people who talk to them and THE GHOST BOX!

You can find out more here.

I’m really looking forward to these events and I hope to see some of my blog readers there!

I have loads of interesting events coming up in 2011, from skeptic conferences and ‘skeptics in the pub’ to various paranormal conferences.

Many of the talks I will be giving in 2011 will be brand new and I really cannot wait. I will add more detail on here as the events approach. It’s also worth mentioning that if you should want me to deliver a talk for your event I will certainly consider it whether you are a skeptical audience, or one that is more likely to be “pro-paranormal”.

Update: Since posting this article in my defense on the 28th September I have gone on to write a more detailed and precise breakdown of exactly why I don’t accept the leopard hair in question as proof of a leopard being in Longleat Forest when so many others do.

You can read the detailed article on the BARsoc website by clicking here.

Thank you.


I am highly amused that I am having to write this blog post. It was with great surprise that I clicked on a link that led to this blog post that basically screamed at me and WPR and BARsoc and anything that was to do with my involvement with a) skepticism and b) leopard hairs.

I thought it might be useful to make some things very clear about this. I also think it’s probably useful if I write this very, very clearly because certain people seem to be very, very confused.

1 – I have nothing to gain or lose if there are or are not big cats of any kind roaming the Wiltshire country side.

2 – I do not, and have never said that members of the group called ‘The Four Teans’ planted or faked the leopard hair that was discovered in Longleat Forest. If I were to say that, I would also be calling my own brother a fraud as he was with them when it was found.

3 – It was not solely WPR team members that were present in Longleat forest when the hair was discovered. Not that I feel this has any difference on the overall discussion here.

I originally wrote this blog post on the WPR blog (that has since evolved into the BARsoc site) but after it clearly did nothing at all to bring clarity to the situation I took it down. However I have now (today) put it back up in it’s full original form before I edited the details I got wrong but they are back in there now as I reverted it back to the very original version. So yeah, don’t bother saying “this is wrong, that is wrong” as though you’re being clever…

In the blog post by the tiger person they claim that, & I quote:

…laying the blame at a small 4 man crypto group known as the “Four-teans”, (nice pun and name).

Now, by saying ‘laying the blame’ tiger person is saying that something bad happened that somebody was to blame for. Go and read the original blog post, nobody was ‘blamed’ for anything, so…


Tiger person goes on to say:

The WPR are very much a sceptic based orgnisation.


This is of course very different from a sceptical organisation. The last thing sceptics want is evidence to prove them wrong.


Nice misunderstanding of skepticism there, buddy 😉 WPR used (and those members of WPR who continued on to BARosc still use) skepticism as a tool of investigation. It is essentially a way of questioning and processing information. Skepticism isn’t a belief as both believers and non-believers in something can be skeptical and can use skepticism.

If you are going to accuse me and my fellow researchers in WPR of being closed minded then say so, if you are going to accuse us of being dirty non-believers then say so. Get it right!

Tiger person goes on to say:

The fallout of all this is a lot of messy accusations aimed at the Four-tean group from the WPR,


The people involved in the Four-Teans group took what I said in THE ORIGINAL BLOG POST out of context. I made no accusations. This was even clarified to Colin from the Four-Teans in person, in text, message, on facebook and in email.

Turns out he doesn’t listen or they have a victim complex or something. They also go on to say:

Leading to a rebranding of the WPR to the BARsoc and a distancing of them from the finding of the hairs…

WRONG… well, sort of right.

See, things hadn’t been working out for WPR for a month or so prior to the leopard hair exploding (not literally), and the shit storm that erupted after the article in Fortean Times helped us (my co-founder and I) to finalise a decision we had been making for quite some time.

Please don’t let the leopard hair people think that they and their little paddy had anything to do with “bringing down” WPR.

Even insinuating the hairs were deliberated placed there by the Four-teans.


As mentioned before, we never made that accusation, the Four-Teans took our blog post out of context and were even TOLD that but chose to remain ignorant of our true meaning. Let me elaborate here… I said, and I quote:

I cannot rule out cross contamination. I am not suggesting for one minute that the hair was planted or swapped. However, because I have not observed the whole process, from the hair being collected to the hair being tested I cannot say with confidence that somewhere along the way the hair got mixed up by accident – or, indeed, as I was not at the testing, that a mistake was made (again, I am not commenting that it was, I just cannot rule it out).

I actually wrote ‘I am not suggesting for one minute that the hair was planted or swapped’ and somehow the Four-Teans took that to mean I meant exactly what I said what I said I wasn’t saying… confused? Yes, me too…

I’ve never been one to hold back when making accusations about people – the difference between me and the tiger person and the Four-Teans is that I always make sure my accusations are based on facts 😉 Take note Mr Highland Tiger because your accusations are anything BUT based on fact. Fact.

Tiger boy (or girl…) goes on to say:

the Four-teans have actually done nothing wrong here.

CORRECT! Except… throw their toys out of the pram if you happen to question them or disagree with their position on a case.

Tiger person goes on to comment about the change of name to ‘British Anomalistic Research Society’ which, frankly, has nothing to do with the leopard hair case and, after reviewing my earlier posting of this blog, I decided to not even reply to what they had to say about BARsoc as it was just childish goading on their part.

You can read the “defense” given by the Four Teans by scrolling down the blog post by the tiger. I was also sent this “defense” by email by Colin from the Four-Teans and it simply consists of more “boohoo” and accusations about things that WPR supposedly did and said.

It’s all rather pathetic and boring and tit-for-tat.

This blog post has been very tongue-in-cheek and probably a bit rude but I really do not care because the stink this leopard hair case has caused is unreal. Really.

My biggest issue with accepting that the hair discovered in Longleat Forest was a leopard hair was that I wasn’t there when it was discovered and I wasn’t there when it was tested. If somebody asked me “Hayley, are you 100% sure that everything happened as it is told it happened and no mistakes were made?” I could not and can not say “Yes I am 100% sure of that indeedy-doo” because I wasn’t there. I would be lying.

I know that Colin says I should trust his testimonial because he was a team member of WPR, but the fact is I don’t and didn’t – it’s nothing personal, but I  never accept someones testimonial of what happened on a case as being 100% factual because WE’RE ALL FALLIBLE.

It’s as simple as that. I didn’t make myself very clear when I originally wrote about why I couldn’t say for sure that nothing went wrong, however, this was clarified numerous times since that original blog post went live and yet Colin and Perry and the others from the Four-Teans refuse to understand that. Talk about holding a grudge…

It makes me concerned at how they perceive evidence and proof if they don’t understand where I was coming from. Scary!

Instead of being adult about this and just letting it lie and accepting that people have different beliefs and opinions, the Four-Teans went behind my back and moaned at The Highland Tiger who, quite frankly, has been extremely (and oddly) confrontational in their blog post about how evil WPR and its founder (yours truly) is.

My advise would be to get both sides of a story before you reach a decision on something.

As for the Four-Teans… you continue doing what you do, how you do it, but please accept one thing – not everyone will agree with you on everything, and when they don’t agree with you it doesn’t make them evil. Stop making conspiracies. It’s tiring 😉

Signing out,

The not-so-friendly skeptic.

“Brilliant people talk about ideas. Average people talk about things. Small people talk about other people.”

A long, long time ago (about five years to be perfectly exact) I commented on my (then woo) paranormal research teams page that I was not involved in paranormal research for fame and fortune and never would be, like some people were.

It’s a comment that some use to lambaste me with because these days I am involved in some rather public projects. The podcast for one, speaking at ‘skeptics in the pub’ another. I often get accused of going back on that one statement I made five years ago and it’s used by my critics to show how I have ‘changed as a person’, or ‘have no morals when it comes to personal gain.’

Both are comments that have been said about me in the past either to me personally, or to family members or friends of mine.

The second of these is wrong because I do have morals and would keep to those morals no matter what somebody offered me. For example, I wouldn’t suddenly start touring as a medium just because of the money I could make as I would feel bad doing so after I have learnt so much about the effect it can have on people.

The first accusation is spot on though because I have changed in the past few years, a lot (and that isn’t a crime, actually).

When I first made the comments about fame and fortune I was a clueless ghost hunter who has since become a rational, skeptical researcher who rarely visits locations to “hunt fer ghosts” because I know better.

My aims and goals have changed; back then I wanted to find out if ghosts existed, why they existed, how they did etc. and now I have a much better understanding of how ghost phenomena and odd experiences work.

My aims have changed to wanting to help other people understand the same and to show how some people make fallacious arguments regarding their beliefs and use the wrong research methods. To do this I have to be vocal – either via the podcast or by writing about it. Lots.

I’ve also been presented with great opportunities to become involved in projects such as the podcast or talking to audiences and I haven’t turned them down because I am happy to be vocally skeptical of that which I used to believe was true.

Does that mean that I have gone against my statement of “I’m not in this for the fame and fortune?”

Well, maybe it does in a way, but I’ve never made a single penny from the talks, the podcast, or the articles and stuff I write so the whole “fortune” bit out of the window.

With regards to the fame side of the accusation, well, yes I’ve become more well-known amoungst skeptical bloggers and people who listen to the podcast – but that’s going to happen. Myself and Trystan who started the podcast both said that we never thought the show would make it past ten episodes and the fact that is has is wonderful and it really makes all the work we put into it seem worth it.

I’m not famous, nothing even near to famous, but I, just like numerous other folk, try to do my bit to get a valid point of view across to people who are misinformed (take the ‘A brighter Bradford-on-Avon’ site as an example.)

I can remember a local self-proclaimed paranormal celebrity asking, during a live interview I did with White noise paranormal radio, whether I would ever do a television show if I was given the opportunity. It was clear that this person was forcing me to take a position on a decision I have never been asked to make, probably so that in the future it could be thrown back in my face; just as the “i’m not in this for fame and fortune” comment has over and over again – “You said you’d never do that in the interview” and that is such a pathetic thing to do (if you want to learn more about paranormal politics you should come along to one of my future talks.)

The message that I hope to get over in this blog post is that none of those people can hold me responsible for anything I have ever chosen to do because all of the people who have criticised me that I know of have no moral high-ground as far as I’m concerned. Especially that so called paranormal celebrity 😉

It’s not enough to just accuse someone of going back on something they said a long time ago, you have to ask why and what has changed. I hope this blog post explains that for you.

If not then I’m sure you’ll get over it.

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.

Recommended Posts

Question.Explore.Discover. Back for an encore. Only £89

Those looking for the 'QED Rebel Dinner' click here.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 40 other followers