I was invited to speak at the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena’s [ASSAP] upcoming ‘Seriously Strange’ conference at the University of Bath in September 2017. I accepted the invitation and planned to deliver a lecture titled ‘Ghost Hunting: What I’ve Learned So Far’ which would detail my approach to paranormal research and the most interesting things I’ve discovered and learned – both about the paranormal and also about researching it, too.
I am always keen to speak to an audience of people who hold different opinions and beliefs than I do. I think that we all have a lot to learn from one another and I like to demonstrate that when you remove the ‘skeptic’ and ‘believer’ labels from people you’ll find that our commonalities outnumber our differences (e.g. we probably all hate psychic scammers, don’t like ghost hunting TV very much, have had spooky experiences, and are genuinely curious people.)
I sent the details of the talk across to the organisation one week ago after accepting the invitation a little over two weeks ago. At the time, I was asked to send across the synopsis of my lecture ‘in two weeks’, but did so in half that time. This is why I was so surprised to find that on the ASSAP conference website the photo and bio I had provided were being used, but the talk title had been changed and the synopsis was entirely missing.
‘Ghost Hunting: What I’ve Learned so Far’ was now ‘How People Can Be Good: Ethical Paranormal Investigators’. This made me cringe because a) anybody visiting the conference site would infer that I was planning to tell the audience how they too could be good people if they just followed my advice, and b) although I write and talk about the ethics of ghost research a lot, this isn’t what my talk was going to be about as the synopsis made clear. The new title of my lecture- which had not been discussed with me at any point -made me sound egotistical and condescending and was misrepresenting my intentions.
As soon as I discovered the misleading details I contacted the speaker liaison and requested that the details be updated to those I had provided well within the agreed timeframe. An apology was made and it was explained that the details were sent ‘over to the webmaster, he must of changed it.’ Yet, two days have passed since and the misleading details are still available on the website for the conference.
Because of this, I have today decided to withdraw from the conference. I have been speaking at conferences and events across Europe since the age of 21 and in all of that time, I have never experienced anything quite as bizarre as a web master deciding to completely change the title of my lecture while omitting the synopsis completely. I think it shows a lack of respect and although I am always willing to give up my free time to speak at events- even happily waiving my speaker fee when there is no budget to cover it -I won’t do so under such circumstances. conference organisers do a disservice to their organisation, as well as their staff, guests, audiences, and sponsors when they don’t have enough respect for the event to get even the basic details correct.
It suggests a lack of forward planning, accountability, and structure and doesn’t provide confidence of a quality event.
I hope that I might figure a way of delivering the lecture online via my Youtube channel in the future. If I manage to do this, I will update readers here and on my Facebook and Twitter accounts with the details. For details of other upcoming lectures and events please visit this page on my website.