Leave the ghosts alone

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

I don’t believe in ghosts because of the lack of supporting evidence. I also don’t know what a ghost is because of the lack of supporting evidence for any one particular definition (and there are many definitions.) One thing I am certain of is that the majority of people who go ghost hunting believe they are communicating with the ‘spirits’ of the deceased. It’s evident in the apparent conversations they hold with what they think are spirits.

This raises numerous problems. The biggest problem being that most ghost hunters are being disrespectful and unethical with their intentions to communicate with the dead. I have had this problem with ghost hunting for a long time, ever since I first realised in 2007 that I was acting unethically. I’m writing about it now because today an article over at The Guardian about the discovery of a buried cottage and entombed cat discovered in the Pendle Hill area has brought out the Yvette Fielding wanna-be’s, who are drooling over the potential of chasing the ghost of a witch.

It’s strange behaviour considering that no paranormal activity has been reported at this discovery – and the only thing to link it to a ghost is outdated and inaccurate folklore. To investigate such a thing as a ‘paranormal researcher’ is illogical.

Pendle Hill has long been a focus for ghost hunting groups because of the folklore and the infamous witch trials and executions that took place there.

I don’t know how the two examples, Don Philips and Richard Case, operate and the ways in which they work – but the fact they’re investigating a ‘case’ where there’s nothing to investigate calls into question why they’re even bothering and is an excellent example of the eagerness of thrill seeking ghost hunters to jump on the potential of a spooky story simply because of associated folklore.

It’s not just that though. Many other teams and individuals (not necessarily the two mentioned above – I don’t know…), go crawling all over Pendle Hill trying to challenge the ghosts of the witches to do something to them in vain acts of ghost hunter bravado. It’s horrible, especially when you consider the fact that the majority of them truly believe they are speaking to the spirits of the deceased.

Even though they’re being illogical they’re also being extremely disrespectful.

I used to behave in a similar manner… when I was 18 and 19. Then I grew up and stopped trying to be some sort of paranormal super hero. It’s not okay to behave this way, the potential thrill and confirmation bias is not worth more than some respect for the deceased and their surviving family. It is not worth more than the ethical behaviour a ghost hunter owes the location owner and those they are misleading through their behaviour.

I do not believe that the spirits of the so-called witches are still on Pendle Hill. I do not believe they do exist, I do not believe they can exist, but those who go looking for them do. I think there is something very wrong with this behaviour – to pursue what you genuinely believe is the earth-bound spirit of a person who was executed, or died in such horrendous circumstances for no real crime is horrid. To taunt them and challenge them is even worse. It doesn’t make you very special. In fact, I think it makes you a bit of a coward.

Not only that, but it makes potentially makes you a closed minded and illogical researcher. 

If you genuinely believe that the spirit of a deceased person is still here they should be left to rest in peace, or at least treated in a respectful manner.

Leave the ghosts alone. 

Published by

Hayley Stevens

Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

12 thoughts on “Leave the ghosts alone”

  1. Not only illogical, but rather ghoulish in the social sense; the Pendle trials were a mishmash of neighbourly feuds and vindictive testimony that actually got people killed by the credulous state for obviously non-existent crimes. I find it (personally) distasteful that someone could treat that tragedy like a visit to a high-adrenaline amusement park.

  2. What’s the problem?

    No evidence that ghosts exist, no evidence of an afterlife, who or what are they supposed to be offending? The memory of the dead? Can anyone trace their bloodline back to a non-existent ghost?

    If people are stupid enough to spend their spare time sitting around, mostly in the cold and dark, talking to the dead, then let them waste it, it is their life to waste. I do find that these days, that perhaps, some former and current ‘ghost hunters’ are becoming a bit elitist in their ways and outlook.

    These ‘thrill seekers’ are people that are only doing what the OP admits to doing long ago. I would have thought as a ‘convert’ to scepticism that Hayley would understand the general ghost hunters dynamic and flawed thinking. Was it other people criticising you that eventually led to your conversion?

    So as I see it, the dead are the only ones without a voice to represent them, and that is for good reason. We die, we get eaten by worms, there is no afterlife, there are NO ghosts to offend.

    1. You don’t get the point. Hayley doesn’t believe in ghosts. She is simply pointing out that these “ghost-hunters”, *by their own standards*, are behaving unethically (as well as stupidly). If their poor, unfortunate, tortured-to-death souls existed, it would be cruel to go baiting them. All superstitions have their glaring contradictions: this is theirs.

  3. My first thought when I heard about this cottage was: whatever you think about the famous witches, or whether their spirits can be contacted, any link with this cottage is going to be tenuous because this cottage was clearly in normal domestic use for 250 years after the witch trials. Sure, the people who lived in it back in 1612 will have known the Nutter family, but that is probably as far as the link goes. People have this strange tendency to compress the past and think that “all old is equally old”, when it’s the equivalent of connecting a house that became derelict this month with a news event from 1750.

  4. You don’t get my point, ghosts/spirits DON’T exist period, so there is no harm done to them, regardless of the “ghost hunters” beliefs. The only harm done, is done to the ‘ghost hunters’ themselves, spending hours sitting in the cold and dark may cause them a mischief later in life, plus of course the hours of their lives wasted looking for none existent ghosts.

    Judging them unethical “by their own standards” is erroneous, as with belief, comes hypocrisy. Do we judge the ethics and actions of religious fundamentalists “by their own standards” or do we judge their ethics and actions with rational/critical thinking, science and reason?

    The dead are not talking, have no voice and no harm is to become of them or their none existent spirit, no matter what a bunch of people do. The “ghost hunters” can get a Ouija board out or attempt to commune with Satan Himself, no one is harmed and the world will go on.

    1. I know ghosts don’t exist – I think that’s pretty clear from my website.

      I know no harm is done by people challenging the ghosts directly as they don’t exist. I pointed this out in the post. My problem is with the intention, not the outcome.

      The harm is done when the alleged ghosts have living family still in the area.

      This isn’t just about Pendle Hill. This is an attitude and a problem that occurs in most cases that ghost hunters show an interest in. This is just the latest.
      Descendants of the ‘witches’ still live in the Pendle area.

    2. Sorry but my post was meant for “anarchic teapot” but the website lost my original posting 🙁

      Yeah I get what you say but 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. You did, why should it be so hard for others?

      No one with a fully functioning, rational mind can have any harm done to them just by people attempting to do the impossible, that is talk, insult or even attempt to wake the dead. Anyone who is feeling ‘harmed’ needs a reality check, wake up, smell the coffee and live in the real world…a world where ghosts/spirits do not exist by any known science.

      It is about time sceptics stopped worrying about the sensibilities of delusional woo people. What next, treading carefully when decrying unicorns, just in case we upset someone? No, woo needs to be stamped out, not nurtured in any way.

    3. It is fair to point out inconsistencies in a believer’s internal logic. It is done with the religious as well as believers in other improbable things. If there is any chance of changing someone’s mind it is by pointing out the flaws, not my ignoring them. As a former believer in many things woo-ish, it was coming to terms with pointed out flaws that led me to become a skeptic. I think this is true of many of us who have held strange beliefs. As it has been pointed out before, there can be great harm in irrational belief. People have been seriously injured or died in the pursuit of ghosts. Not to mention that an irrational belief in one area can lead to irrational beliefs in other areas. Some of those beliefs have a negative impact on others besides the believer.

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