It would seem that I have really annoyed Alex Botten who is a host for the Fundamentally Flawed podcast that I was interviewed live for this evening (Sat 16 Nov). You can watch it here. The quote that makes the title of this blog post is what Botton wrote on the public Youtube thread for the show as it was broadcast, shortly after he suggested during the live show that I was simply validating peoples delusions by giving their experiences of a ghostly nature the time of day.
Botten also spectacularly missed the point when he commented
I don’t think she actually said anything of substance – she talked about a whole lot of nothing that she herself stated she didn’t believe in
It’s always nice when a host for the podcast you are invited onto as a guest researches what you do before they interview you about it, but enough sarcasm from me. I want to address the two accusations from Botten (one on air and off air) that he didn’t “get” what I do and thinks I just validate peoples delusions.
It is important to firstly point out that we are all delusional in one way or another and that not all delusions are bad and damaging things. I pointed out during the show, for example, that studies have shown that believing you have seen or sensed the ghost of a loved one can help with the grieving process. Not harmful. That isn’t to say that all belief in ghosts or an afterlife isn’t harmful because there is potential for harm, but I pointed that out too and spoke about the complicated ethics of ghost research.
…and if people believe in ghosts and it isn’t harming them, then so what? You might consider it a silly thing to believe in, but what’s the deal? Is that really such a bad thing?
The answer, in case you were wondering, is no…
Unless, of course, you are the kind of someone who cannot accept that other people have a different version of reality to yourself. Unless, of course, you’re also the kind of someone who simply cannot abide people accepting nonsense as sense. Unless, of course, you are the kind of someone who insists that your view is the correct view and you will not listen to alternative points of view, and unless, of course, you’re the kind of someone who has made their mind up way before discussing the issue with people who hold opposing views than those you hold.
But I digress…
I don’t believe ghosts exist as a supernatural phenomenon but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in them as a cultural and social phenomenon, and by listening to people tell me about their weird experiences and offering potential alternative explanations I am not going to validate any delusions they may or may not have.
Giving ghost phenomenon the time of day, as a skeptic or as a non-believer, does not validate the idea that ghosts exist. I am simply acknowledging that people report having weird experiences that they sometimes believe to be ghost-related.
More often than not the people who come to me with their sightings or photos are just genuinely interested to hear what they actually might have seen or photographed. They don’t necessarily believe it was a ghost, but they’re curious and think I might be able to tell them. Those who do believe in ghosts have usually already made their minds up about the matter and nothing I say is going to convince them otherwise, or further what they already believe (and I’m always honest about my non-belief).
When I appear in the press time and time again uncovering ghost hoaxes I don’t validate delusions, when I debate pseudo-scientific ghost hunters live on radio I don’t validate delusions, when I host “ghost busting” workshops teaching children how to uncover ghost hoaxes and photographic mis-identifications and illusions I don’t validate delusions, when I analyse photographs and work out what is really in them I don’t validate delusions, when I visit haunted locations and work out the real cause for the alleged ghost sightings I do. not. validate. delusions.
Alex Botten would have known this had he researched me as a guest for his podcast before interviewing me, he would have known this had he asked good and probing questions during the interview, he would have known this if he had asked those questions because he was genuinely curious… but he didn’t research what I do, he didn’t ask good probing questions and he wasn’t genuinely curious.
He had already made his mind up about me before the show had already started, and that is why it ‘was simply the worst show‘ they’ve ever done.