When I first set out as a paranormal researcher all that time ago in 2005 I made the promise that I wouldn't "sell out" to fame and fortune over my research and investigation cases. This was because a high number of people have carved themselves a career from ghosts and ghost investigation and spreading misleading ideas about what it involves and equates to. That's their choice, but it was something I always promised not to do. I never have.
Wiltshire Phenomena Research was formed to help me to answer questions I had about phenomena I witnessed during my younger years; questions I was unable to answer from watching television shows or reading books, and five years later I feel that I am at the stage from which I can look back and understand what it is the led me to experience what I did. This didn't mean I was then going to fold the team because there was much more to explore.
This year we have launched 'project pied piper' in which we're going to explore a lot of the local myths and legends that have survived time - such as little peopl being seen at Avebury, and local woodlands that are supposed to house banshees. Not many paranormal research teams look into this sort of phenomena - certainly not any that are local to me. That's our contribution to the field of research; That and the fact that we help promote critical thinking within the field through our website and local events that we help to run. Oh, and talks.
This is something that I know some people don't like, and quite frankly it's tough shit. I spoke at Weird '09 last August about skepticism in ghost hunting and I was questioned about why, when I originally said I didn't want fame and fortune. Well, sorry to disappoint my critics, but I still don't want fame and fortune from what I do. The reason I spoke is because I hoped that maybe some people would listen to what I said and take away with them a better understanding of how skepticism worked in the research field.
I have agreed to talk at Nottingham skeptics in the pub about ghost hunting and possibly the female role in skepticism because they asked me to. Not because I asked them if I could, but because they wanted me to. It's in no way self serving; I make no money from it, and my talk will be trying to clear up some of the misconceptions that skeptics can have about ghost research because believe me, they can have some HUGE misconceptions about it.
I whole heartedly support the skeptics in the pub events and when I was asked by the Nottingham organisers to talk at their event I said yes because I wanted to help them, and secretly, I've never been to a skeptics in the pub before and I've never been to Nottingham before and it was appealing and I'm looking forwards to it.
The key to critical thinking in all walks of life is that it needs to be continually promoted; this can be done through writing articles (which I do), talking to people face to face (which I do) and also through other forms of media such as websites, newsletters or podcasts and videos (all of which I do.)
I'm no expert, I'm not a genius and I have never claimed to be; however, I do understand how important it is to be skeptical and to spread the importance of skepticism. I was asked in May last year if I would like to cohost the Righteous Indignation podcast with Trystan because he said I was direct with my opinions which would work well for the show. I accepted and with a hell of a lot of hard work and effort on all parts the show has become more sucessful than either of us could have imagined (with help from Jamie, Marsh, Pete, Dr*T, Gav and of our guest hosts and friends and promoters of course.) Does this mean I'm a terrible investigator or person for agreeing to do the show? Well, I don't think it does but of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I don't consider myself to be famous from the podcast and I certainly don't make any money from it; but I have had numerous emails and messages from people about how Righteous Indignation made them feel it was okay to be vocally skeptical without being a qualified expert on something, and that's a great effect for us to have. Righteous Indignation rocks and I'm glad that Im part of the team behind it.
I also write numerous articles and posts for numerous websites; the main being BadPsychics - for whom I also contribute podcast segments because, no matter what personal issues the members of badpsychics have with other people, the underlying lesson to be learnt from the 'bad network' is a good lesson and I wholeheartedly support it. Does that mean I'm fame hungry because when Jon Donnis asks me to write and article or contribute a podcast story I do it? Hell no. I'm just helping out where I can and I have no reason to say no.
Quite frankly, I don't need to explain myself or my actions to anybody but I've become tired of being treated as though I have done something wrong by seemingly becoming more involved in the world of skepticism than the paranormal research field. I haven't. Only the members of Wiltshire Phenomena Research know exactly what is going on within Wiltshire Phenomena Research, nobody else does.
I don't have an ego big enough to even consider the idea that what I do is important to phenomena research, and I don't care if other people don't believe that I do enough because there are people out there that do a lot less than I do - do far worse than I do, and don't care about it. If by spreading critical thinking and skepticism by doing a podcast that reaches thousands of people, and doing a few interviews that reach no more, and writing an article that will only be read by a handful of people it makes you feel that I am a bad person, then so be it. My friends and supporters far outweigh my critics.
If my fellow researchers feel that what I "have become" or "what I now do" is "laughable" and embarrasing to the paranormal research field, then so be it. They aren't being forced to think of me as a fellow researcher. I've become tired of having to think that "if I do this, so and so will think..." - to hell with what so and so thinks. I'm Hayley Stevens, and live my life by my standards and nobody elses. Deal with it.