If you believe in ghosts and you base that belief on ideas that are not rooted in evidence or facts then the chances are that somebody at some point is going to question you about them. If you start making factual-sounding claims based on those beliefs that aren’t evidence based, then it’s very likely somebody is going to question those claims.
When your claims are questioned because they do not seem to be logical and you are not providing evidence to back them up you shouldn’t be surprised, and it is not out of order for someone to question you like that. The ‘burden of proof’ always lays with the person making the claim. It is arrogant of anybody to expect other people to simply accept them at their word without providing any other evidence to support the claims they are making. If your claims are questioned then you should be willing to either back your claims up by providing the evidence they’re based on (and if there is none, perhaps that should speak volumes to you), or be open minded and be willing to accept that you might be wrong.
After all, if you provide the evidence that your claims are based on – and it isn’t flawed or illogical evidence, then that is all the questioner was after and that’s a great outcome.
Asking to see evidence of something is not a bad thing and nobody should be treated as the bad guy for questioning somebody elses claims.
The worst way to react to someone questioning your claims is to go on the attack and to try and censor your attackers. Yet, among belief-led ghost hunters, going on the attack and trying to scare people into shutting up, with threats of legal action, seems to be a very common reaction to any criticism or questioning of their claims.
This is not healthy, and this is not open minded.
I have on numerous occasions been as the receiving end of threats and abuse simply for writing critically about specific ghost hunters and their behaviour or actions. The threats are normally about apparently libelous comments I have made, or about how I have infringed their copyright.
The comments that are allegedly libelous are normally the things I have written that criticise the ghost hunter/s, and the copyright infringement accusations stem from me using photos, footage, audio or similar presented by the team as part of the claim I am criticising.
Although it is possible for critical comments to be libelous, in the context I write things I always try to ensure that my criticisms are based upon available facts, and if not then I will readily admit that I have made a wrong assessment of the available information.
When, and if, I use photos or footage or similar to demonstrate the points I am making I do so knowing that I can use such materials – even in they’re copyrighted – because the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 states that ‘fair dealing’ can be attributed to the use of copyrighted materials for research and private study, criticism, review, and news reporting.
The problem that I want to write about here though isn’t whether or not I break the law when criticising ghost hunters, but the fact that such accusations are the reaction that I am faced with time and time again.
The most recent case of this happened yesterday when Don Philip reacted abusively to an article I wrote weeks ago for the Vigilantes Blog that I co-author. The article was ‘The Worst Ghosts of 2011‘ and Don and his team were mentioned twice in the countdown because of the ludicrous claims they have made in the name of ‘paranormal research’ without any good evidence to support them.
GSI Paranormal appeared at Number 5 for their investigation of a case called ‘The Braunstone Ghost’ in which their behaviour was psuedo-scientific, illogical and ethically questionable. They also appeared at Number 2 with footage called ‘The Wilton Ghost Horse’ in which they claim to have captured an EVP of what is alluded to be the spirit of a horse.
Unfortunately these videos no longer exist on the ‘ Worst Ghosts of 2011′ article as yesterday, in reaction to the article, Don Philip removed the videos from his youtube account so that they would no longer appear on the Vigilantes Blog.
Don also threatened on the Facebook group for ‘The Vigilantes Blog‘ that I had ’24 hours’. I presume he meant 24 hours to remove the article, or the videos.
“Having an embedded youTube video on your online article or website is exactly like having an embedded image – thus permission must also be given from the owner of the youTube video,”
When I didn’t react back or cave in and remove the article or videos Don became even more abusive in his comments.
”Haley (NEWS FLASH CHICKEN) there are no shortcuts do some fecking work of your own live life and then you may have grounds to comment on work of others whilst also having the benefit of a small degree of experience instead of trying to trade on the work of others. (P.S) If i was you id go seek an easier target trust me”
“learn about life before you dare to comment on that of which you dont have a clue with ur underhand tactics. Ive no time more idiots and it would a appear i have a prize one here silly little girl you need to live life before you are qualified to comment on it. You are far from qualified to comment on anything other than your guessed opinions.”
His friends and supporters were also abusive on pages that I could not see, but people who are mutual friends told me about the comments being made about me. Another person who posted on Don’s site offering other possible causes for the oddities they had captured was also treated to abusive and rude comments. With one person threatening to ‘splatter’ him ‘with a lorry’.
This is not acceptable behaviour. It’s not mature and it certainly isn’t open minded.
Threatening people, and trying to censor people simply because they do not agree with you, or have criticised your ideas is not a rational response.
Similar behaviour was displayed by another paranormal team who sent me numerous threatening emails and, when I didn’t respond in fear and remove my criticism of them, they too removed the material I had referenced in my original criticism.
Those who cannot stomach constructive criticism, and would rather hide the offending claims being called into question must ask themselves why it is they are reacting in this way.
I can remember a number of years ago when I believed it possible that people could speak to the dead. I watched a live television show in which a man was on stage delivering a psychic reading to a member of the audience. He was so accurate that it was really impressive, and then suddenly it was revealed that his name was James Randi and he was actually a skeptic.
My reaction was to say that he was stupid and closed minded. I dismissed his criticism of what I believed by attacking him because I wasn’t willing to asses my own close-mindedness and because I had accepted my belief in psychics for no good reason – and based on no good facts, I didn’t have a good argument to offer in reply to what James Randi was saying. So I attacked him as a person.
It was all I had.
I should probably explain that when I say ‘attacked’ I mean that I swore at the television. Now I am able to look back and see how illogical I was being, but I can also see why people respond to my criticisms like they do.
If you have to resort to name calling, abuse and threats of legal action in response to valid criticism then it’s a good indication that you might not have a very strong argument in defense of your claims and beliefs.
I may not have been involved with paranormal investigations for as long as Don claims he has (30 years) but that doesn’t make any difference. My criticisms are based on the best understanding I have on the reality of seemingly anomalous experiences and spontaneous phenomena. If my criticisms are incorrect then prove them so. I will happily admit I’m wrong, but that is yet to happen and I will not hold my breath.
Incidentally, Don ought to review his own practice regarding the use of copyrighted materials before accusing others of breaching copyright laws. A quick visit to the GSI website reveals two still from movies that I’m pretty sure he doesn’t own the copyright to being used as banners on the homepage.
However, that’s neither here nor there, and I’m not childish enough to use that in attack against Don. It does however demonstrates hypocrisy.
My original criticisms still stand, and in fact I believe that my criticisms have been strengthened by Don Philip removing the videos I had used to demonstrate my points.
Time and time again people threaten me with ‘legal action’ and time and time again I invite them to get a legal representative to make contact with me should they be serious about their accusation. To this date this has never happened.
I believe that speaks for itself.
Paranormal Activity 3 belongs to Paramount Pictures.
White Noise belongs to Universal Pictures