Turning your back on nonsense

In reflecting my previous blog post called ‘When claims of authority fall flat on their face’ I realise I was too quick to judge the Bomber County Paranormal team. Since writing my criticism is has been brought to my attention that Kerry, who is the founder and organizer of the group, is attempting to turn the team into a rational one after splitting from what is described as a less rational former team. I applaud that attempt, however the original blog post was written based on my initial impression of their team website and that’s an impression that unfortunately no amount of good intent can change.

The impression was based upon the claims the team made about being objective and rational coupled with photos of them, and reports of their investigations, demonstrating behaviour that wasn’t rational or objective. For example, on the front page of their website are photos of table tipping and glass divination. This is the problem that is faced by most paranormal researchers who want to change from being belief-led, biased and pseudo-scientific researchers into those who are objective and reasoned in their actions and investigations. I know now that the Bomber County Paranormal Team used the ASSAP logo on the front of their website to say ‘look, we’re trying to do this right’, rather than to say ‘, yeah! Look how good we are!’. Yet all of that effort is undone by those methods used that make no logical sense, that are justified in the name of fair balance and keeping people happy.

I get that. I’ve been there.

In fact, I recently wrote about my own experiences with this transition and about the lies you tell yourself when you try to defend the irrational things you do despite knowing deep down they’re not rational. This is normally done in the name of trying to keep everyone within your team happy and it puts immense, and unfair pressure upon a team founder or leader. It’s like an internal tug-of-war and you know that at some point someone is going to end up falling into the mud defeated. As the founder of a paranormal research team who went through the same transition I have one piece of advice for any team founder trying to make their team into a rational one, but struggling to stop people doing table tipping, séances, glass divination and other such methods: Put your foot down.

I did.

It was ugly because most of my team members left, but I don’t regret it because I wasn’t being selfish by wanting to change the team into a more rational and less unethical team, but those members who left were being selfish by wanting to continue to act irrationally and unethically for the sole purpose of validating their own belief in the paranormal, ghosts and an afterlife. They didn’t stop to consider how their desire to validate their beliefs could negatively effect those they came into contact with.

Although it is illogical and irrational, there’s nothing wrong with someone wanting to do table tipping or a séance in their own home or in private, but it does become a problem when they take that behaviour into property owned by somebody else in the name of ‘research’.

When I explained to the team I formed and ran that we would no longer be doing glass divination, table tipping and séances, nine out of twelve members of the team left and formed their own irrational team (which lasted a grand total of 3 months before splitting).

Sabotage: This text message was sent to a location owner our team were working with by a former team mate with a grudge.

When those nine people left I was called names on paranormal forums and in email. People sabotaged investigations I organised and I was threatened over the phone by people I considered as friends. One ex team mate even attempted to get me fired by telling my boss at the time that I was secretly filming people for BBC’s Watchdog (shortly after the company I worked for was exposed on Watchdog). To this day I get abuse from people I used to be friends with because I turned my back on irrational belief-led behavior and attempted to stop the team I formed in my name from continuing with unethical behaviour.

I wouldn’t change a thing though. If I was offered the chance to go back in time I’d do exactly the same because ultimately the decision to right your wrongs and stop irrational behavior that has a potentially unethical outcome is a good thing.

You should never expect the members of your team to let go of their beliefs, but you’re certainly entitled to ask that they don’t bring those beliefs into your investigations and research. Anyone who cannot respect that is being slightly selfish.

The Wiltshire Phenomena Research team is still going, by the way. We hardly do investigations as a group, but there’s about ten of us on standby should anyone get in touch for advice or an answer. We don’t do investigations every Saturday night like the old team did, but those odd rare cases are still fun and interesting. A successfully rational paranormal research team know that not every case is possible to investigate, that you don’t need more than a few people at a time, that you don’t need to turn the lights off to research experiences, and that the most valuable research often happens over a cup of tea.

I genuinely wish Kerry and any other team founder trying to turn their team into a more rational team the best of luck, if anyone needs advice, you can get in touch via this site. It’s not easy making a change, but trust me, it’s worth the effort.

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.

7 thoughts on “Turning your back on nonsense”

  1. In our defence, making the transition to the team we want to be is taking its time. It is true we are still carrying out experiments that seem irrational but we are trying in our own way to prove to the believers in our team that these experiments do not work as other teams would have you believe, we arent trying to convert anyone merely showing that the results are down to something other than what other teams have put it down to, such as automatism. These experiments are necessary to our development at the moment, but we should point out these experiments are carried out at our public events where activity has been reported by other teams etc not private cases. Much of the website is under development and has been for many months since our lead investigarors began training with ASSAP and sadly Hayleys favorite, ‘time filler’ piece was written back in October 2011 quite near to the start of the team. Of course we cant rewrite the site daily so much of what is on our site regarding experiments and reports is outdated now and being rewritten in a more rational fashion. Unlike many other teams we are freethinking and always developing ourselves, we dont always get it right of course but feel that we dont need to justify that to anyone and thats why we reacted badly to Hayleys blog, mainly because she failed to contact us about it to see what we thought, instead we feel she used as as a naming and shaming exersize and we felt she was speaking as if she was an ASSAP spokesperson, the ASSAP know we use their logo and why and at no time was it to appear trustworthy or superior, we just wanted people to know we had taken the time to train with ASSAP and that for private investigations we had backup if required.

    1. Fair comment, but when I spoke to ASSAP chairman, Dave Wood, he told me personally he hadn’t heard of your team so I don’t believe they knew about your use of the logo.

  2. We were using Louth Paranormal Research Team until just a few weeks ago Hayley, he has heard of us as I email him fairly regularly. Its just one of those things, we left the (incorporating LPRT) on our website for that reason, but Im sure he will agree he has heard of LPRT.

  3. On Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 9:43 PM, Dave Wood wrote:
    Hi Kerry

    Thanks for your email.

    We are currently reviewing the ways groups affiliate to ASSAP in light of the big announcement (assap.ac.uk/consultation). The current procedure includes one lead investigator being a trained AAI, but this may change.

    Speak soon,
    Dave

  4. I have been on a public event run by Bomber County, then known as Louth Paranormal and I have to say that they did not research, no scientific base at all. Though I did enjoy the evening as a piece of carefully constructed entertainment.

    If they are now doing a rational and science based research then they will have had to do it a lot differently then I witnessed.

    There were no readings / recordings taken (or that we saw taken) and no controlled conditions. This is Science. Not just turning up and turning on a few cameras and having a few pieces of equipment.

    I’m not in a team and don’t particularly believe in the paranormal, it just bugs me when someone says they are doing research when in fact they’re just sitting there waiting for an experience. This is not research!

  5. sorry Geoff but you have never attended an event with us when we were Louth paranormal research team but may have attended an event with Louth Paranormal group, my old group. I know this because I have the names of everyone who has ever attended with us on our last 8 (only 5 as LPRT) public events and there are no Geoffs funnily enough that have ever attended with us, we have had a geoff on a training evening, maybe that was you but from your comment it does not seem that way. As explained on our website, we only carry out scientific research on Private cases, our public events still have a degree of experimentation we dont deny that fact. We also dont construct our events, its all very ‘this other group reported this so we will try to replicate that’ and thats what we do. If you had indeed attended, you would have said that we do this. Louth Paranormal Group however do a more constructed event with a larger amount of members. We compared to them are very boring indeed. Public events are being phased out in favour of member only events now we have grown as we find way too many people come expecting to be scared or given an experience we cannot offer such as a reading. We are only 8 months old and cannot get it all right overnight so a break would be appreciated.

  6. If it was the other group and not yours then I offer my full apologies to you and your group.

    I have been on another ‘hunt’ with another group calling themselves UK Ghosthunters in Spalding.

    Though the location was fabulous and the group members were themselves very good and some extremely knowledgeable, the problem I had was with the team leader, a total know it all and it seems like she was a show woman, wanting to talk about herself all the time and not letting others have opinions or theories.

    This kind of attitude is what gives ghost hunting and research a bad name. The team were really good when they had split into smaller groups but they all seemed intimidated when she was involved with anything.

    Just my opinion. sorry to rant a bit!

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