“What are you so afraid of?”

Those not familiar with Don Philips and the GSI Paranormal team can read past posts of mine about them by clicking this link here. To summarise, Don and his team often demonstrate pseudo-scientific techniques on their ghost hunts and make outrageous claims about spirits they encounter and then “exorcise”. Whenever anybody has criticised or questioned such practices and claims, or when it has been pointed out that what this group does has the potential to be very unethical, Don goes on the attack (as you will see if you read back through my posts).

Recent media coverage of Don Philips and GSI’s investigations have set Don on the defensive again after many people have been openly critical of his work, behaviour and the claims he and his team members make. Criticism from people who believe and don’t believe in ghosts alike. This defensiveness is behaviour that many have come to expect of Don who refuses to consider anything said critically of what he and his team does.

Today it was pointed out to me that on the GSI Paranormal UK Facebook page the Admin (who I presume is Don) made the following post:

GSI are happy to put our working practices / evidence out in the public domain for all to see, some may like it others may not but after all we have nothing to hide and as such are totally transparent. But for those few who like to criticize other groups including those who claim to have been paranormal investigators themselves who now don’t believe:I, have seen lots on your blogs and websites about how scientific & great you are and indeed that you may be, but unfortunately apart from lack of anything other than the odd photo of you on location with some equipment or pics with buddy’s & lot’s of writing, there does seem to be a distinct lack of any video’s of you actually doing an investigation. A cynic may therefore conclude you either fail to produce anything worthwhile, or maybe your concerned of letting others see and comment on your own working practices & conclusions, after you have been so free with your comments towards others.

I presume (possibly incorrectly) that this is aimed at me as well as others, as did the person who sent me the link to it. I’m not sure of any other non-believers that Don Philips so openly dislikes. I know of many people who don’t identify as non-believers that he dislikes – The Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena, the Society for Psychical Research, Steve Parsons of Para.Science and many others, for example. With that in mind I felt it was only fair to be able to respond to the accusation that I may be too scared to share my research.

Firstly, I work with quite a few eyewitnesses who are scared or confused, but you wont find anything in the public domain about this because I respect their privacy before anything else. You’ll only find my research regarding public cases (those that have been in the media, or are already documented publicly) written about on my websites.

Secondly, I’m quite fussy about cases I take on. Possibly too fussy, to be honest. If I can’t replicate things or I don’t have a good idea of what might be happening then it’s likely I will decline the case or ask for assistance from someone with more experience. I am always aware of how easy it is for my conduct as a researcher to become unethical so that is always at the front of my mind.

Thirdly, you can find writing about many of my cases here, here, here and here. You can ask me about others if you are that interested. The idea that I have something to hide is humorous, to say the least.

Fourthly, the idea that you have to visit someones house under the cover of darkness and spend hours at a time there and provide videos of you doing this to successfully investigate a paranormal claim is nonsense.

In another post on the Facebook page I noticed that Don Philips wrote an open invite to Professor Chris French, Professor Richard Wiseman and Derren Brown to work with the GSI team. He wrote:

I & my team will be doing many more investigations this year, Id like to invite, Professor Chris French, Dr Richard Wiseman , Derren to join me in an attempt to find / offer an alternative explanation or debunk my spirit replies, you will be made most welcome and work together as a team.

I can only hope that these respected individuals do not work with Don and his team for fear that they would give these ghost hunters credibility that they do not deserve. If there was one piece of advice I could give to Don that I knew he would listen to, it would be to listen to his critics, but that will never happen. Instead I predict there will be a condescending blog comment left in 5… 4… 3… 2…

About Hayley Stevens 442 Articles
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.

2 Comments on “What are you so afraid of?”

  1. Interesting… I found the Philips comment that the lack of video evidence is a flaw, rather strange. Seems to me a remarkably “first world” problem – a few years ago videoing anything would have been quite expensive!
    Of course things should be documented, as is clear you do: Scientists routinely write everything down in a notebook, dated and often signed or initialled to indicate what was done, when, where, with what equipment, and by whom, and often with sketches. (“If it ain’t written down, it never happened.”) Video and photographs, yes, by all means, IF they add sensibly to the quality of the documentation. Otherwise, no point.
    I guess however also, that if he (or anyone else!) regards any criticism as personal, then it will be very difficult to make any criticism, constructive or otherwise, without undue offence being taken. Well, scientific papers are subject to peer review prior to publication and often also mistakes or other shortcomings are found AFTER publication; sometimes the referee’s reviews and any post-publication comments are quite hard and will seem harsh: We would be inhuman if sometimes our pride was not hurt. But it’s part of the job, and it’s how science progresses. (I have been on both ends of the refereeing process!)
    For “ghost hunts” in that sense to be taken seriously, tough legitimate criticism indeed needs to be taken on board, and responded to if possible, objectively and without rancour.

  2. A refreshing perspective, seldom presented – and critically urgent. Please accept resounding applause.

    The history of science exploitation reflects again and again, the naive unwariness of researchers. The general lack of boundaries, of alert awareness – and the consequences – are staggering, I find. Most scientists seem never to have considered how easily they can be solicited, the need for ‘street smart’ mindset. Nor what some of the interests targeting them with friendly collegial overtures – actually have in mind.

    Sir Arthur Woodward, British Museum early 20th century – should never have allowed that amateur fossil hunter enthusiast scammer Dawson – to assist in his research. There are so many examples, and at some point I find myself asking – perhaps you’ll understand – why and how are so many scientists, apparently, asleep at wheels of ideological intrigue and ambitions? A con is what he is – what about his marks? Fool us once, shame on that con. But fool us again and again?

    Of course, the forged Piltdown fossil(s) were carefully contrived – to give Woodward exactly what’d excite him, appeal to his theories. Just like the Talosians gave the Enterprise crew (under Capt Pike) a perfectly crafted deception, an illusion of exactly what they’d have wanted to see: “people who’d survived for years, with their dignity and humanity intact.”

    There are too many aspects highlighted in your perspective, to comment on in brief. The anti-social aggression that explodes in reaction to application of normal review processes and standards, critical rigor, as a minimal basic of research, inquiry – is a telling indicator. That is a 100% constant feature, I find, of anything that imitates research, dressing in clothing of some kind of scientific interest, to try and infiltrate the herd. Its like a litmus test, see how it acts when its put to cross exam with no partisan preferential treatment.

    Last month’s uproar over TED, for sequestering talks by Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake – both of whom come from, and pitch to, a ‘woo woo’ (Twilight Zone theme) constituency – seems like a significant, instructive example too.

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