Uninformed Flying Off the handle

Last night’s Wraithscape column in the Shields Gazette was a classic.  I enjoyed it immensely, but probably for the wrong reasons.  A yawning checklist of logical fallacies and flawed reasoning, all in reply to one disgruntled reader but taking the opportunity to try and have a go at sceptics who dare to challenge the preconceptions and biases of the X Files crowd. It’s laughable and a great example of how not to air your anxieties in public.  So much so that I’ve had to rewrite this to remove my instinctual response to pour on buckets of scorn.

Normally if I see something in the Gazette I disagree with, I’ll write a letter, but once I started shaking the tree of this article I realised that there was no way that I could answer Mike Hallowell’s  extra terrestrial apologetics in the 250 word limit of the Have Your Say page.

Here’s a ‘brief’ dissection of the word spew that formed the article in last night’s Shields Gazette, broken down into the paragraphs, with my response following.  But before you read on, please read the original first for context, just to make sure I’m not cherry-picking.

After telling his readers he was contacted by one angry individual:

“In an extremely aggressive manner, they suggested that anyone who was broad-minded enough to believe in the existence of UFOs was a crank.”

The reader’s reply does sound a bit nasty, but I call shenanigans on this straight away. I don’t think there’s  anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the existence of unidentified flying objects. Hallowell should know that a UFO shouldn’t be confused with something that’s claimed to be extra terrestrial in origin.  If that’s what Hallowell is really referring to, then any self respecting critical thinker wouldn’t use the term ‘broad-minded’ to describe someone who uncritically believed in an unproven and extraordinary proposition.  I suspect this trope was of Mike Hallowell’s own creation to put his own position in a good light. In logical fallacy terms, this is what is called a ‘straw man’.

The following comment misrepresents/assumes UFOs as extra-terrestrial.  To keep things simple, I’ll use his definition.

“Well, I’ve a few questions I’d to put to those who aren’t just content with denying the existence of UFOs, but also vilifying those who do.”

Does an editor actually read Hallowell’s submissions?  Is this a grammatical blunder or does Hallowell want to put questions to those who deny the existence of UFOs AND vilify those who deny the existence of UFOs?

“The universe is a big place, and as far as I’m aware, we earthlings haven’t yet explored every nook and cranny of it.”

As far as I’m aware no-one is suggesting that the universe isn’t really really big, and most physicists agree that at our current understanding of the laws of physics, humans are unlikely to get to see more than a tiny portion of it.

“How the sceptics can then say that there isn’t life in outer space is beyond me. How could they know?”

Again, I’m not aware that this homogenous band of ‘the sceptics’ that Hallowell is conjuring say any such thing.  I certainly don’t.  Maybe one or two who fit Hallowell’s skewed definition of sceptic do, but by making any such claim it’s difficult to comprehend how they can be classified as sceptics.  Scientists and probability suggest that extra-terrestrial life is out there.  I’m calling this as a straw man.  Or clumsy writing.

“Have we been visited by more advanced lifeforms from other worlds?”

Let’s see what the evidence says: No.

“The only cogent (but not necessarily correct) argument I’ve ever heard is that the vast distances between star systems would make travelling to them impossible.”

Agreed, it’s a reasonable position to take, based on our current understanding of the laws of physics.  But that may change as new discoveries are made.

“Well, NASA and other bodies have been looking at several theoretical possibilities as to how this could be accomplished for some time.”

Yes, but you know what?  Their work is based on mathematics, science and experiment.  Also, calling NASA in on your side seems a little ironic, when it’s not clear if NASA’s boffins agree with Mike Hallowell’s assessments of visitations by little green men.  I suspect the consensus of NASA doesn’t fall in his favour.

“The general consensus seems to be that it would be at best difficult, and at worst impossible.”

Didn’t he already say that?

“Of course, as our knowledge of the sciences advances, history tells us that what seems impossible today may simply be difficult tomorrow, and what is difficult today may prove to be as easy as falling off a log next week.”

And it’ll be through proper science, not from presumptions borne out of little more than cultural bias and wishful thinking.

“Any pronouncement that interstellar travel will never be possible is very presumptuous indeed.”

Yes it would be.  That’s why very few physicists or sceptics actually make such a claim.  We’re back into straw man territory.

“Whether we have actually been visited by extraterrestrial life is another matter, of course.  Again, how do the sceptics know?”

They don’t.  And neither does Hallowell.

“Were they personally present at every alleged UFO sighting or alien encounter?”

Nope, and neither was Hallowell.  Now he’s just being absurd, as well as employing what looks like a warped relativist fallacy.  However, that’s not to say that sceptics haven’t seen UFOs.  I have, but my only safe conclusion was that it was unidentified, not that it came from another planet.

“No; therefore they simply have no way of establishing that the witnesses were either mistaken, hallucinating or lying.”

And neither does Hallowell, but those explanations he’s supplied seem very reasonable and rational, and much more probable.

“If interstellar travel is possible, then it is highly likely that a number of advanced civilisations have engaged in it and visited other worlds, including ours.”

No, it’s not ‘highly likely’.  Its idle speculation with a healthy dash of begging the question.

“Seen in this light, it actually makes more sense to believe in UFOs than not to.”

No it doesn’t, it’s utterly flawed logic and still idle speculation; a false conclusion based on an unproven premise.

“Sceptics (well, the rabidly cynical ones, anyway) are the first to shout, “Where’s the evidence?” when confronted with an alleged paranormal encounter.”

And rightly so.  What’s ‘rabidly cynical’ about that?  Oh, and here’s another debating tool, the ad-hominem, whilst deftly switching between cynic and sceptic. Ooh you nasty rabid sceptics!

“They’re missing the point. How many sceptics out there have evidence that they ate breakfast yesterday? None, more than likely, but we’d have no reason to disbelieve them.”

No, they’re not missing the point, they’re still waiting for evidence while  Hallowell uses the fallacy from absurdity.  No one would challenge the mundane claim of eating breakfast unless there was evidence showing otherwise.

“They might even have the eyewitness testimony of their spouse who shared breakfast with them.”

Yes, they would have some physical evidence too: their poo.

“Sceptics would argue that eating breakfast is a mundane event which is perfectly believable, while claiming you’ve seen an extraterrestrial craft and its occupants is not.”

Wow, Hallowell gets it right. But does he understand?  Clearly not:

“Actually, what this demonstrates is not that UFO sightings are false, but that the sceptics just don’t possess the vision to accept they might be true.”

‘Possess the vision’?  What on earth does that mean?  It’s utter nonsense.  And a bit new-agey.

“The witnesses were there at the time, the sceptics were not, so whose testimony would it be more logical to believe?”

The ones with evidence.  Oh, and as the sceptics weren’t there, they would have no testimony to produce.

“I can sympathise with moderate sceptics who do not accept the existence of UFOs, but who at least reached their conclusions after a period of sober reflection and research.”

What’s a moderate sceptic?  Someone who only partially thinks critically?  Or is it a sceptic who thinks ‘idiot’ but is too nice to say it?  What about someone who believes the testimony of an extraordinary event at face value and without evidence?  Does that count as sober reflection?

“Unfortunately, the rabid sceptics out there aren’t satisfied with this, and for some reason feel the need to decry those who claim to have seen UFOs as cranks and those who believe them as idiots.”

Uh-oh, there’s those pesky rabid sceptics again.  Agreed, it would be less than charitable to say that those who’ve seen a UFO are cranks or idiots, but the issue is a lot more complex than Hallowell’s black and white approach.  And sometimes, people are cranks and idiots.

“Why? Let me tell you; Deep, deep down they’re scared. They’re scared that we really have been visited by alien lifeforms, and so enter a state of denial which they reinforce by launching vicious, personal attacks on anyone who thinks differently.”

Now Hallowell is demonstrating psychic powers and seeing into the minds of people who don’t exist.  Now that is worrying.  Or is he just projecting his own anxieties?  Given the tone of this whole article this doesn’t look all that unlikely.

“That way, they can kid themselves that there are no UFOs and therefore there’s nothing at all to worry about.”

‘They’ don’t have to kid themselves about anything for which there’s no evidence.  Therefore, nothing to worry about.  Well, apart from the poor souls taken in by the ‘I want to believe’ culture, parted from their money or encouraged to believe they’ve been abducted and raped by aliens.  Now that is sick.

“If the only way they can maintain their shaky stance is by heaping abuse on those who think differently, then I pity them.”

I’m sure they’ll be heartbroken.

Okay, so I’ve possibly been a bit harsh. Or rabid even.

I’ve actually seen an unidentified flying object before.  However, my first thought wasn’t to jump to the conclusion that the object was from another world or dimension, but to try and work out what the UFO was.  I don’t think that it’s unreasonable for me to expect that others would apply the same level of critical thinking.  Even though I couldn’t work out what it was, I still couldn’t make the extraordinary leap that it was an extra-terrestrial vehicle.  Without evidence, I could just as easily speculate it was time-travellers from the future, angels, or fairies on their evening commute from their fairying work.

That way lies the void of ignorance, where all propositions are equally valid in the melting pot of bizarre beliefs and paranoid conspiracies.

To this day, I don’t know what that UFO was, but to presume it as extra-terrestrial is intellectual laziness.

From the argument presented by Mike Hallowell though, such critical thinking makes me a ‘rabid sceptic’, a bogeyman character so loosely defined it can mean what ever he wants it to mean.  It’s reminiscent of the Christian apologists’ mythical nemesis, the ‘militant atheist’, a lazy all-purpose ad-hominem which can be called upon when they are reasoned into a corner and they want to weasel an easy way out.

I read Mike Hallowell’s column every week.  Mostly it’s enjoyably harmless, but this week it had a nasty bitter taste of someone trying to make a point against a group of people who are possibly a significant chunk of his readership.  Because sceptics like puzzles and weird stuff too.

Let’s hope that Michael Hallowell gets his mojo back for next week and returns to his usual affable self.

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33 responses to “Uninformed Flying Off the handle”

  1. Mike Hallowell says :

    I was going to pen a detailed response to this impressive blog (well, the length was impressive, but size isn’t everything) and address some of the errors, non sequiturs, false assumptions and other mistakes – oh, there were many – but then, just by chance, I glanced down towards the end and noticed something.

    The review of my article said that it had a “nasty, bitter taste”, and I realised then that this must be a completely different Brian Paget to the one who, at various times past, has described his anger as being at “DefCon 1”, and employed (if I recall correctly) such colourful epithets as dickwad, fuckwit, numbnuts, etc. when talking about others who simply dared to disagree with his firmly-held opinions. That other Mr. Paget has thrown a few acerbic epithets my way over the years (piss-poor and witless are two relatively mild ones that come to mind. I’ve actually kept a list, but I can’t be bothered to go and get it).

    Now as that other Mr. Paget has, I would opine, taken the concepts of nastiness and bitterness to dizzy heights that I could never dream of achieving, even he, I think, could not have been so nauseatingly hypocritical as to accuse me of penning something, “nasty and bitter” when I have never said anything remotely as obnoxious as he in some of his rants and diatribes. One of the Mr. Pagets – it must be you, surely – has spoken from time to time about how upset he was that certain ones did not receive the “dignity and respect” they deserved in one circumstance or another. Such a noble thought could not have materialised in the brain of someone who would stoop to labelling others as fuckwits, twats and dickwads, obviously, so I was wondering if one or both of the Mr. Pagets would comment as to how they view the other? Can one in all seriousness label others as fuckwits and twats, and yet call my inoffensive column as bitter and nasty? Surely not. Will the real Mr. Paget please stand Up? And will the offensive, boorish one pleases shut up? Fat chance, I fear…but if the nice Mr. Paget is up for it I would like to interview him for one of my columns. Alas, I suspect his towering intellect, incredible vocabulary and all-round grasp of everything will make him conclude that such a thing would be futile. Still, hope springs eternal, etc…

    • brianpaget says :

      Hi, thanks for popping by to comment, and kudos to you for replying directly. There are some fair points in your response and I’ve enjoyed the good ribbing you’ve given me. You’re right, I can be quite forthright at times.

      Sorry I can’t respond in much detail (I’m being visited by an eye infection), but I’ve read your follow up comments on the Gazette site and your classification of ‘rabid sceptic’ seems somewhat fluid, so much so that it’s open for misinterpretation. It seems like an attempt to dismiss the sceptic (or skeptic) method. If that’s not your intention, would you accept that the term is unwise? Rather than an epithet like rabid sceptic, wouldn’t just describing someone as unreasonable (like the reader who contacted you) suffice?

  2. Mike Hallowell says :

    I knew it. Underneath that exterior of stone there is beating heart. Kudos to you too for acknowledging that you may have been too harsh at times. Re. my phrase, “rabid sceptic”, on reflection you’re right. Although some sceptics do believe rabidly at times – honestly, you have no idea – the phrase is emotive and not very constructive. I will henceforth abandon it, and think of a more accurate, less inflammatory one.

    I guess what annoys me – and I’ve got to be honest here – is the way you and other sceptics dismiss stories rather scathingly. Let me give you an example. A few weeks ago you criticised a story I wrote up as “rubbish”, “tripe” and “piss-poor”. Now I fully accept that you’re entitled to your opinion, but the woman concerned, although her story was odd, genuinely interpreted it in the way I described and saw it as a series of vignettes in her life which affected her deeply. It took her a lot of courage to write to me with her tale, and if you’d seen the correspondence between us I think you’d have been moved by the traumatic experiences she’d has as a child and also her genuine, sensitive nature. I don’t know whether she’s seen your comments – I hope she doesn’t – but I suspect she’d be deeply upset. Her story may have been “tripe” to some, but, bizarre though it was, it meant a lot to her and I just think a more sober, restrained response would have been kinder.

    I certainly don’t want to dismiss the sceptical method. I actually have good friends who are sceptical – but they manage to voice their scepticism in robust terms without being offensive. Its not the scepticism which bothers me, but the vinegar which it is so often marinated in that I find unpalatable. Actually – I hope you’re sitting down, as you need to be – I’m regarded as too sceptical myself by some of my colleagues. For example, you’ll see in this week’s WraithScape column that I take a light-hearted but decidedly sceptical look myself at some allegedly paranormal events with a sporting theme. Also, in this month’s edition of UFO Matrix (its in WHS if anyone wants to get a copy), which devotes many pages to a rather contoversial set of pictures from Poland, I’m the only one (that I recall) who leans heavily towards the idea that they are faked and I detail at great length why. Other colleagues of mine are quite impressed by them, but we wouldn’t fall out over it.

    I have a reputation for being thick-skinned and not running away from awkward questions, but I prefer for them to be submitted in a civilised, sober manner and not loaded with inflammatory rhetoric. That, in a nutshell, is the only problem I have with sceptics or scepticism. Every year I’m invited to lecture to the psychology students at Northumbria Uni, and although many of them are sceptical they are always polite and respectful, so no matter how forceful their criticisms are I never have a problem with them.

    My offer of an interview was meant in all seriousness. I’d genuinely like to let my readers see the opposite side, so to speak, and I’d give you a copy of the final draft for approval before submission. Sometimes, we paranormalists can be as lop-sided in our approach as the sceptics can, lean too far in the “I want to believe” direction, and it might be good for them to reflect on the views of those like yourself who are not so easily convinced. At the end of the day its the editors of the papers I write for who have the final say about what is published, as you know, but I’d sincerely like to give it a bash.

    Thanks for publishing my response and for being so fair.

    • brianpaget says :

      Hi,

      I think we’ll probably disagree over my tone, perhaps that’s something that will change over time, who knows?

      I stand by the mocking tone of criticism of your haunted fire alarm article in my Piss Poor Paranormal post. That column was awfully contrived. To take the series of events presented and imply a paranormal significance to them really is stretching the credibility of what you’re trying to champion, and compared to some of your other tighter work it did you no favours. Clearly this is just my opinion and again, we’ll probably agree to disagree.

      I enjoy paranormal folklore as much as the next person. It threads through our society and history. I was brought up with the mythos, with stories of omens, apparitions and mediumship. As a young Christian I thought such things were as likely as the stories of the Bible. Ironically, as an atheist I think the same. Like most people I like to ponder the unknown, but always come down to earth, with what you might consider a natural-materialist approach.

      I do appreciate your offer of interview, but I discovered several years ago to my embarrassment that I’m no good at being on the receiving end of media interviews. And as you suggest, I’m hardly representative of what you would consider as sceptic.

      However, there is a Skeptics In The Pub group in Newcastle, and I suspect that one of the nice folk there would love to have such an opportunity to describe the sceptical method for your readers, and probably deliver it in a much more professional manner.

  3. Mike Hallowell says :

    Re. the fire alarm story – the point was that the paranormal interpretation of it wasn’t mine – it was hers. I never question a reader’s take on their own story in WraithScape – its just not big enough to do that. As long as they’re sincere in their belief about what happened and what it meant to them (as far as I can tell, anyway) then I’ll do my best to represent their experience. In other columns with a bigger word budget I have more latitude.

    Re. the interview – I think I’d have preferred a page of undiluted Paget (well, not completely full-strength, perhaps) but one of your friends from the Sceptics in the Pub group sounds like a good idea. Do you have any contacts there? If not, I’m sure I’ll find one on the grapevine.

    Thanks for the tip…

  4. Mike Hallowell says :

    Thanks Brian – I’ll let you know what happens.

  5. Mike Hallowell says :

    I never knew you had formal qualifications in logic, Skeptic, I can only suggest you take a refresher and start using them. I’ve browsed the Internet looking to find what they may be, but alas could not find them. What are they? I’m intrigued.

    I never thought you and Brian were one. I know for a fact you aren’t.

    “I wasn’t going to comment here, but I got the impression from Mike Hallowell’s first comment that he might think that you and I are the same person. Let me assure him that we are not”.

    No assurance needed. I already knew who Brian was, and although it took me a while to suss out who you were I got there in the end. Brian used to be anonymous, but eventually named himself – credit to him for that. You’ve still got so much to say – nothing has changed, I see – so I reckon you should stop hiding behind a monicker and let South Tyneside see the name behind the genius that is Skeptic.

    You say, “I might possibly have made a mistake in one of my comments”, and then even back-track on that! Are you for real? I challenge anyone to read your comments in the Gazette and my responses and see only “one” mistake that you “possibly” made. You made a warehouse full, and I demolished every one of them with clinical accuracy. You didn’t like the fact, and so have thrown another of your childish tantrums. Its never pleasant when someone who prides themselves on being so logical gets “busted” is it? To date you’ve never countered ONE, SINGLE rebuttal I made of your inaccurate diatribe.

    By the way, for those who haven’t read Skeptic’s drone in the Gazette, you may not be aware that if you make a litany of false statements about someone and you get called out on them, the way to wriggle out of it, apparently, is to claim that your errors and inaccuracies don’t actually count as long as you aren’t penning “a formal research project” at the time. According to Skeptic, if someone makes false assertions about you and you catch them red-handed, you have only scored – and I quote – “a hollow victory” because unless they were penning one of those “formal research projects” their inaccuracies and false allegations pretty much amount to diddly-squat!

    I’d be interested to hear from other readers whether they agree with Skeptic on this point. Is it really true that you only have to check your facts when making allegations about someone if it falls within the context of a “formal research project”? Its a new one on me. But then, I don’t have the “qualifications in logic” that Skeptic apparently has.

    Instead of accusing me of ranting, and instead of repeating the same inaccurate statements, and instead of making sweeping allegations without a shred of specific evidence to support them, try this – if you can. Go through my comments on the Gazette site and answer each one specifically and directly. No sweeping generalisations; direct, specific responses to each point made – particularly regarding the hairdresser farrago. If you can answer EACH SPECIFIC POINT DIRECTLY without resorting to bland, sweeping criticisms then I’ll credit you with a modicum of intelligence. If not, then everyone will see you for what you are; a hit-and-run merchant who loves to dish it out but collapses when put onto the back foot.

    If you can rise to the challenge and answer ALL of my questions DIRECTLY – in other words, put your money where your mouth is and come out with some FACTS instead of vague, inspecific generalisations – then I may respond if you’ve made any points worth responding to. If not, then I’ll have better things to do with my time.

  6. Panama corporation says :

    1969 sneers at traditional metaphysics no system of logic yet devised can resolve the inconsistencies and paradoxes inherent in the belief that man is inhabited by a mystical supernatural and immortal something called a soul..Turning to the Bible what is to be made of the miracles recorded there? Dione can find no reason to doubt the Bibles accuracy if it were not for the references to miracles the Bible would stand unchallenged as a monumental achievement in historical reporting..The possibility of supernatural powers he finds absurd therefore the only explanation is that flying saucer technology was at work. After that everything becomes simple Adam and Eve were created by genetic engineers working under the direction of God who is the leader of the master technologists angels were spacemen Ezekiels vision was of flying saucers as to the Immaculate Conception it is reasonably certain that Gabriel was a biological specialist who artificially inseminated Mary with a hypodermic needle and it may well be that the sperm used was Gods making Jesus the Son of God just as the Bible teaches..Yet in the end Diones super-technological God is hardly different from the supernatural one of the Catholics.

  7. i-dont-suffer-from-confirmation-bias says :

    Very interesting to read that last paragraph of Mike’s there. If you didn’t know who wrote it, you wouldn’t be able to tell whether it was Mike addressing the skeptic or the skeptic addressing Mike.

  8. Mike Hallowell says :

    The point is this: Both here and on the Gazette website, Skeptic has made a string of allegations and assertions. I’ve called Skeptic on every one of them and offered numerous opportunities to post an apology or provide evidence to back those statements up. Skeptic has done neither. I. on the other hand, have specifically and directly addressed every point made by Skeptic. I answer Skeptic’s questions, Skeptic simply runs away from mine. Skeptic’s one diluted (almost homeopathic) attempt was to suggest that the copious errors really weren’t of any significance as they weren’t part of “a formal research project”. My understanding of this daft excuse is that its okay to write any old bollocks about anyone or anything, as long as it isn’t part of a “formal research project”. Somehow, I think if I’d came out with a line like that you’d have had my guts for garters. But then again, Skeptic is a skeptic so perhaps you give him a little more latitude.

    And while we’re on, I noticed that you posted on the skeptic Hayley Steven’s website (http://hayleyisaghost.co.uk/2011/03/24/a-guide-to-ghost-science/) regarding my interview with Trevor Brown.

    Your thoughts:

    “You’ll love this then. A guy called Trevor Brown has started a business, Haunting Evidence, taking people on ghost hunts “using scientific and spiritual equipment with the support of highly skilled and experienced staff”.
    “According to Mike Hallowell’s article in tonights Shields Gazette, staff at Haunting Evidence are experienced in ‘disciplines’ such as Electronic Voice Phenomena recording and using electromagnetic field meters”.
    “Perhaps Brown’s customers should be told beforehand that there’s no evidence that his scientific and spiritual equipment actually provide evidence of anything paranormal”

    My comments:

    Firstly, Brian Paget has never met Trevor Brown and Trevor Brown has never met Brian Paget. Or at least, Trevor has no recollection of ever having met you, as I’ve just checked. One wonders, therefore, how you can be capable of making any objective judgements on Trevor Brown’s abilities, experience or expertise. You have, as far as either of us are aware, never seen either Trevor or his team as they go about their business. I wonder how you would feel if someone who had never met you and never seen you in your place of employment was to pass such pronouncements upon your skills as a senior analyst programmer.

    With the carefully-crafted argumentation for which entrenched skeptics are legendary, you then state that,“Perhaps Brown’s customers should be told beforehand that there’s no evidence that his scientific and spiritual equipment actually provide evidence of anything paranormal”.

    For the record, Trevor is one of the most skeptical people I’ve ever met; even more skeptical that you, in some respects, I suspect.

    The only piece of equipment mentioned in my column was an EMF meter. No details were given about a) how Trevor uses this piece of equipment, or b) what significance he does or does not give to the results he collects. The other pieces of “scientific and spiritual equipment” were not even specified or described. Yet, despite an almost total absence of the information needed to form any objective judgement on the matter, you assert with great confidence that,”there’s no evidence that his scientific and spiritual equipment actually provide evidence of anything paranormal”.
    You don’t know what this equipment is, how it is used, what it does or how the results are interpreted. But somehow you just know that there’s no evidence that it works. Amazing. If Mystic Meg ever retires and a replacement is sought after, you’ll definitely get my vote.

    • brianpaget says :

      Here’s the content of my post back in March:

      “You’ll love this then. A guy called Trevor Brown has started a business, Haunting Evidence, taking people on ghost hunts “using scientific and spiritual equipment with the support of highly skilled and experienced staff”.

      According to Mike Hallowell’s article in tonights Shields Gazette, staff at Haunting Evidence are experienced in ‘disciplines’ such as Electronic Voice Phenomena recording and using electromagnetic field meters.

      Perhaps Brown’s customers should be told beforehand that there’s no evidence that his scientific and spiritual equipment actually provide evidence of anything paranormal.”

      I wonder what you find so offensive about my comment; I referred to your article about Trevor Brown’s business which advertised the use of such equipment on it’s website. Where did I make “objective judgements on Trevor Brown’s abilities, experience or expertise”? The short comment I made was in the context of the original blog post about the use of equipment for paranormal investigations. I made fair comment in wondering whether Trevor Brown’s customers should be told that the equipment used is not proven to do anything remotely useful in paranormal investigations. If his company does clearly describe to customers that the equipment is unproven (although it’s not evident on his company’s website) then I’ll accept it was a cheap shot and gladly take it back. But then that raises another question: if his company knows that the equipment is of no practical evidential use, then why instruct customers on their use when they are looking to be ‘a paranormal investigator for the night’? To a casual observer it would seem that they are little more than stage props.

      Of course, if you have any scientific evidence that equipment like EMF meters or EVP recorders provide clear evidence of the paranormal then I’d appreciate it if you would point me to it.

  9. Mike Hallowell says :

    “I wonder what you find so offensive about my comment; I referred to your article about Trevor Brown’s business which advertised the use of such equipment on it’s website. Where did I make “objective judgements on Trevor Brown’s abilities, experience or expertise”?”

    You said, “Perhaps Brown’s customers should be told beforehand that there’s no evidence that his scientific and spiritual equipment actually provide evidence of anything paranormal.”

    Well, if Trevor was claiming that his equipment did do this, then it would reflect badly upon his abilities as an objective researcher, his experience in using such equipment correctly and his expertise in organising such events without trying to load his clients with a biased mind-set.

    “I made fair comment in wondering whether Trevor Brown’s customers should be told that the equipment used is not proven to do anything remotely useful in paranormal investigations”.

    But this is exactly my point. How can you justify this comment when, with the exception of EMF meters, you do not know what equipment he uses, how he uses it,what his purpose is in using it or how he interprets the evidence or data he accrues during the process? I just can’t see how you can assert that, “the equipment used is not proven to do anything remotely useful in paranormal investigations” when you don’t even have a clue as to what that equipment is.

    “If his company does clearly describe to customers that the equipment is unproven (although it’s not evident on his company’s website) then I’ll accept it was a cheap shot and gladly take it back”.

    But this is predicated upon your previous assertion that the value of such equipment is unproven, an assertion which you just aren’t in a position to make considering you don’t know what that equipment is. Further, you say, “unproven”, but unproven to whom? And by what standards or criteria? One researcher may believe that such equipment has indeed proved its worth, whilst another may not. Its simply a matter of personal opinion.

    “But then that raises another question: if his company knows that the equipment is of no practical evidential use…”

    Again, you’re working on the assumption that it IS of no practical evidential use, but its hard to see how you can justify this idea when you know nothing about either the equipment or the purposes behind its use.

    “…then why instruct customers on their use when they are looking to be ‘a paranormal investigator for the night’?”

    Over to Trevor:
    “It is an evening of entertainment and the customers draw their own conclusions from any alleged happenings. I do explain to customers how to use equipment and what it is used for. Having over 20 years research within the paranormal field I have witnessed probably only a handful of things which could be deemed paranormal. I am an open minded sceptic who has RESPECT for other peoples methodologies and beliefs.

    Personally I do not get involved with the spiritual aspects because of the ideomotor effect, which I do explain to customers but there are always at least 2 or 3 who do not believe it to be true. Instead of getting into a heated debate I tell them to go home and Google it and, days after the event, I usually get an email thanking me for helping them understand.

    The same applies to the ‘orb debate’. I show customers good vantage points for them to use their cameras and get the result they want; then I explain to them the reason they [the orbs] are there; dust, moisture etc. They argue, convinced they have caught the first stages of a manifestation, until they Google it and once again I get emails saying thanks”.

    Far from using his equipment merely to get proof of the paranormal, then, Trevor actually demonstrates to people that what they interpret as paranormal phenomena when they use that equipment is actually nothing of the kind.

    “To a casual observer it would seem that they are little more than stage props”.

    Mmmm…but to a true observer, present at the time, these “stage props” would be seen as valuable aids in helping customers determine the difference between genuine paranormal phenomena and mundane, explicable events. Nothing wrong in that, surely? I’ve actually seen Trevor in action and can tell you that he is decidedly skeptical in his approach. In all the years I’ve known him, I can only recall two incidents off-hand where he acknowledged that possibly – just possibly – something paranormal “may have occurred”.

    “Of course, if you have any scientific evidence that equipment like EMF meters or EVP recorders provide clear evidence of the paranormal then I’d appreciate it if you would point me to it”.

    But it isn’t the evidence that convinces people, but the interpretation of it. For example, I could refer you to mountains of material which, to my mind, should convince any rational person that our planet has been visited by extraterrestrial civilisations; statements from high-ranking military officers, astronauts, politicians, etc…leaked government documents…but for some reason skeptics conclude that all these people must be deluded or lying. Personally I think that stance is at best misguided and at worst completely bonkers, but – and this is the point – I have to acknowledge that no matter how clear the evidence is to me it simply isn’t that clear at all to others. Therefore, although I’m happy to point you in the direction of evidence, I suspect that your inherent skepticism will automatically lead you to interpret it differently. If you really want to look at the evidence objectively, then you’ll need to suspend your disbelief and at least open your mind to the possibility that some paranormal phenomena may exist. I’m not optimistic, Brian, as your scathing attacks on the paranormal contain a lot of heat and
    lack objectivity. It seems to me that you don’t simply disagree with the paranormal, but hold it in absolute contempt. With those specs on, I’d have to remain pessimistic that you could give pro-paranormal arguments a fair hearing. Still, you’ve surprised me before…

    • brianpaget says :

      You haven’t pointed me to the scientific evidence proving that EMF meters and EVP recorders work as indicators of paranormal activity. I can’t find any literature describing the scientific theory, so please, so I would love to see it. I wrote simple i/o programs for metering equipment, including EMF meters, back in college so it would be interesting to know what criteria is used to ‘interpret’ particular EMF fluctuations to be paranormal in origin, and how that would transfer into program logic. I could make a mint manufacturing ghost detectors.

      In terms of the comments about the equipment used by Haunting Evidence I see nothing to answer why such equipment is being used. Either the equipment is used to prove or disprove paranormal events, or it’s there to lend an air of authority to the proceedings.

      “to a true observer, present at the time, these “stage props” would be seen as valuable aids in helping customers determine the difference between genuine paranormal phenomena and mundane, explicable event”

      But this relies on assumption that the equipment is proven to serve such a purpose. A ‘true observer’ would surely only use tools that have been shown to work. If the organisers of Haunting Evidence know that such equipment is not proven, then if they are responsible and ethical people they should not use such equipment and be very clear to their customers why they don’t use it. On the other hand, if the whole enterprise is just for entertainment, for thrills, then I can understand why they would want to use such trappings.

  10. Mike Hallowell says :

    “You haven’t pointed me to the scientific evidence proving that EMF meters and EVP recorders work as indicators of paranormal activity.”

    I’m sorry Brian, but I think you’re still missing the point. Ask some researchers whether they provide evidence, and they’ll say, “absolutely”. Others will say, “absolutely not”. As I said in my previous post, its not so much about the evidence but rather the interpretation of it. To my knowledge there is no universally accepted argument one way or the other, so no matter what I point you to, you’ll interpret it as you wish. and reject it if it doesn’t fit your preconceived ideas. Skeptics often talk as if there is some cosmic list of absolutes out there, providing definitive answers regarding what has or has not been proven. Hayley Stevens does this repeatedly. There isn’t. The best I can do is point you to the following link which provides a basic primer in EVP from the time of Raudive onwards. The article contains links to other sites which may provide you with the answers you seek.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_voice_phenomenon

    “it would be interesting to know what criteria [sic] is used to ‘interpret’ particular EMF fluctuations to be paranormal in origin, and how that would transfer into program logic. I could make a mint manufacturing ghost detectors”.

    To my knowledge, there are no universally accepted criteria. However, as a general rule, anomalies in EMF readings at allegedly haunted locations will be studied by the experimenter, who will then simply use their own judgement as to what they represent. This is why I’m not a big fan of EMF meter usage on investigations, as it is virtually impossible to prove that anomalies are of paranormal provenance.

    When it comes to EVP, however, I’m much more impressed as an anomalous voice or group of voices that simply shouldn’t be there give you much more to work with. I’ve recorded several myself. Forget the finer points of scientific data gathering and interpretation; the simple truth is that if you record a voice that to all intents and purposes couldn’t have actually been there, further investigation is required. If no rational explanation can be found, then one may well have recorded something truly paranormal. Dr. Barry Colvin is probably the leading expert in the UK, in this general area and after many years of work discovered a reliable method of separating mundane noises from those originating in poltergeistry. A paper on this appeared in the SPR Journal, I believe.

    “In terms of the comments about the equipment used by Haunting Evidence I see nothing to answer why such equipment is being used.”

    Again, that was my very point. As you didn’t know what equipment was being used, how, or why, I can’t see how you could say it wouldn’t work.

    “Either the equipment is used to prove or disprove paranormal events, or it’s there to lend an air of authority to the proceedings”

    Or, as in this case, neither to prove or disprove, but simply to provide results which members of the public can interpret as they wish.

    “to a true observer, present at the time, these “stage props” would be seen as valuable aids in helping customers determine the difference between genuine paranormal phenomena and mundane, explicable event”

    “But this relies on assumption that the equipment is proven to serve such a purpose”.

    Which brings me back to the same argument again; who has the authority to determine just what that proof would consist of? Who has the skill or expertise to lay down a universal standard by which such equipment could be judged as a success or failure?

    “A ‘true observer’ would surely only use tools that have been shown to work”.

    But “shown” by whom? The university that you prefer, or the one that I favour? The author you like, or the one that I trust?

    “If the organisers of Haunting Evidence know that such equipment is not proven…”

    But how could they know this? Without a universally recognised standard, it basically comes down to bones personal opinion.

    “…then if they are responsible and ethical people they should not use such equipment…”

    Fine, if they don’t believe it works, but if they do sincerely believe it works, what do they do then? Refrain from using it simply because someone else happens to disagree? Who has the authority to make a final pronouncement on the matter?

    “…if the whole enterprise is just for entertainment, for thrills, then I can understand why they would want to use such trappings”

    Why use the loaded word “trappings” instead of “equipment?

    • brianpaget says :

      I’m glad we agree that emf meters can’t be relied upon as evidence of paranormal activity. I do see where you’re coming from on allowing people to come to their own conclusions and seeing what they will in EMF readings, but it still doesn’t amount to evidence and remains without any objective value. It’s like finding meaning in tea leaves or clouds. ‘Personal proof’ is probably a useful phrase for what you’re trying to describe.

      I’ve read your link on EVP and followed it through to other resources. There’s a lot of material out there. I’ve listened to some of the recordings out there I’ll admit they’re spooky. However, I’m keenly aware of the human mind’s ability to fool us, and that there doesn’t seem to be a standard definition of how the technology works. After this brief assessment I think EVP may have merit if two things can be established:

      1. There is any basis for the proposition that EVP represents the communication of dead consciousnesses. This means a testable hypothesis.

      2. All of the more likely causes of the phenomena, such as psychological and technical explanations (and from my own understanding those linked with the problems of signal corruption caused by high gain) can be eliminated.

      Other people thinking sceptically may come up with more.

      Considering the EVP proposition further from a technical perspective, I wondered if we could construct larger scale devices for mass filtering of the background noise from across all the electromagnetic spectrum wavelengths to try and isolate messages. It should be possible to do this and employ search algorithms to pick out speech and language patterns and separate them from background environment chatter. Surely we should be able to pick up something.

      Then I realised we already have a multi million dollar project for this, and it’s called SETI, Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. Multi spectrum radio telescopes around the world, which so far have picked up nothing. Sadly no extra terrestrials (which would be cool) or dead people (which would be cool too).

      So far, all I can conclude is that the use of EVP equipment is as bogus as using EMF meters. However, I’m happy to be proven wrong if you’re able to provide any better evidence.

      In the context of there being no clear framework and evidence collected under controlled conditions to support that model then I think my use of the word trappings is fair. If you’re using equipment to detect the dead but you know it doesn’t work, then they are stage props. If you believe the equipment works without reason, then that’s faith, making the equipment ritualistic in nature. Trappings is apt.

  11. Mike Hallowell says :

    “but it still doesn’t amount to evidence and remains without any objective value and remains without any objective value”.

    The problem is that when it comes to EVP there is no universally recognised set of criteria which establishes just what constitutes “evidence”. As what constitutes evidence is basically down to personal opinion, the statement, “it still doesn’t amount to evidence” in itself becomes subjective.

    “It’s like finding meaning in tea leaves or clouds. ‘Personal proof’ is probably a useful phrase for what you’re trying to describe”.

    Quite agree.

    “I’ve read your link on EVP and followed it through to other resources. There’s a lot of material out there. I’ve listened to some of the recordings out there I’ll admit they’re spooky. However, I’m keenly aware of the human mind’s ability to fool us, and that there doesn’t seem to be a standard definition of how the technology works”.

    If you’re referring to the technology by which the voices are “picked up” there are a number of different processes, some better than others. Personally, I go for the simplest technique.

    “After this brief assessment I think EVP may have merit if two things can be established:

    1. There is any basis for the proposition that EVP represents the communication of dead consciousnesses. This means a testable hypothesis”.

    The problem is that there are several different hypotheses already in existence regarding the EVP, not all of which involve the concept of talking to the dead. Although there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that a) voices are recorded, and b) that they can interact meaningfully in real time with witnesses, thereby demonstrating sentience and intelligence, I’m becoming increasingly skeptical of the idea that it is the spirits of the dead we’re communicating with.

    “2. All of the more likely causes of the phenomena, such as psychological and technical explanations (and from my own understanding those linked with the problems of signal corruption caused by high gain) can be eliminated”.

    Agree with most of this, with the possible exception of “psychological”, unless, of course, you’re referring to the way in which we interpret the sounds later, in which case I’d agree.

    “Other people thinking sceptically may come up with more”.

    That’s quite possible. However, as has been demonstrated to I and others just recently, some revered skeptics (not you, I hasten to add, and not even Skeptic this time) are quite capable of doing what some paranormalists do; spouting absolute nonsense.

    “So far, all I can conclude is that the use of EVP equipment is as bogus as using EMF meters. However, I’m happy to be proven wrong if you’re able to provide any better evidence”.

    Whatever equipment one uses, the fact remains that anomalous sounds and voices are regularly picked up and recorded. For instance, I recently picked up the sound – distinctly – of footsteps in an empty room, what clearly sounded like a man coughing consumptively and the sound of papers being rustled. I have no idea what they were, but they were recorded. I’d argue therefore, that any equipment that can pick up such noises can’t be “bogus” because the sounds are genuinely enigmatic. I’m not arguing that they are the sounds of a dead person, but merely that they are “real”.

    Just last weekend, during an investigation, I left a digital recorder running in a room for 36 minutes. There was little of any substance to be heard until the end of the tape when, to our surprise, the first name of the female householder can be heard spoken clearly three times. When you know that there were only three people in the house at the time, including oneself, and that everyone was downstairs at the time, its hard to come up with a rational explanation and no amount of academic commentary is likely to dilute the strangeness of such an experience in the minds of the witnesses. No matter how many times one is met with the request, “I need better evidence”, the answer will often be the same; “someone in an empty room spoke my name three times – that’s good enough for me”.

    I think part of the problem is that skeptics so often work on a huge presumption; that experients have a want or need to prove the reality of their encounter to others. In my experience, the majority of witnesses demonstrate little or no interest in “proving” their case to anyone. They know what they’ve seen or heard, and don’t give two hoots whether the skeptics believe them or not. Its pointless for the skeptics to keep shouting for evidence when they can’t agree just what shape such evidence should take.

    “In the context of there being no clear framework and evidence collected under controlled conditions to support that model then I think my use of the word trappings is fair”.

    Well, maybe, but I think your use of the word “trappings” also has the same effect as Hayley Stevens’ repeated use of the word, “gadgets” and Carl Owen’s use of the word “gizmos”; It subtly cheapens the value of the account in the way that some skeptical journalists insist on calling paranormal investigators “ghostbusters” or “spook hunters”. Such phraseology is, I reckon, geared to devalue reports of paranormal activity, and its telling that such ones never use the same demeaning terms when talking about skeptical scientists.

    “If you’re using equipment to detect the dead…”

    But we don’t know that its the dead we’re picking up, and not all investigators work on that presumption.

    “but you know it doesn’t work…”,

    Except that often it does, at least in the case of the EVP.

    “If you believe the equipment works without reason…”

    No, its just that sometimes we don’t know the reason why equipment works; not the same thing.

    “…then that’s faith”.

    Not really; I might not understand how a nuclear reactor works, but its nothing to do with “faith”; it just boils down to accepting that things can actually work even if we don’t understand how.

    • brianpaget says :

      Mike, I think we’re going to fundamentally disagree over what constitutes objective vs subjective evidence. My position is probably more textbook definition, yours seems to be much more flexible, with personal perspective playing a more significant part than the quality of the evidence, which risks being victim to confirmation bias.

      I don’t question that the EV phenomena exists. I don’t think that it has any value if there is no clear basis of how or why it works, or as you have acknowledged, if it even represents communication from dead personalities. Which brings me back to the point of why use EVP equipment on paranormal investigations? If, as you suggest, that people use it precisely because it gives them an experience supports my assertion that as objective evidence it’s useless, but ‘works’ for the experient at an emotional level.

      Your argument that it doesn’t matter that equipment works without knowing how or why is faulty reasoning. It depends on who uses the equipment and why. Most people don’t know how radar works but it doesn’t matter to them, it’s simply something that stops the aircraft they’re travelling on from crashing into things. However, aircraft pilots and engineers need to know how radar their works to use it properly. A similar case in point is your use of the nuclear energy analogy. You may not know how and why it works or the theoretical basis for it’s use, but the people who design, build and maintain nuclear plant do. Nuclear energy has a sound theoretical basis, which has been repeatedly tested by many different people. EVP equipment doesn’t have a sound theoretical basis, so can’t be tested in any way approaching a scientific manner.

      But I guess we’re going to continue to disagree on this.

  12. the skeptic says :

    Mike Hallowell could do worse than look at this link:

    The first ten minutes won’t interest him (it’s about commonsense things he probably won’t believe).

    And the last five minutes or so will just annoy him.

    Backmasking is similar to the interpretation that EVP believers put on extraneous noise that can happen with many electronic pieces of audio equipment.

    But for sensible people who are interested in how we can all be fooled, here is a great link:

    http://jeffmilner.com/backmasking/index.html

  13. Mike Hallowell says :

    Sorry you didn’t have time to answer the specific points I’ve repeatedly challenged you about and you’ve continually ignored. They won’t go away. Regardless, its also interesting to note that your psychic powers are developing nicely and you are now able to read my mind, predict my reactions, etc.

    Putting aside your evaluation of my common sense, which completely lacks common sense, I’m fully aware of back-masking. I’m also aware that it bears absolutely no relationship to many aspects of the EV phenomenon. So, while I found Shermer’s talk interesting (if completely predictable), in many respects it was also irrelevant.

    Moving away from the subject of the EVP, and returning to the original point of this thread, sensible people may be interested in the following:

    http://www.ufoevolution.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7531

    The footage will hearten the anonymous (to most people) Skeptic, for it proves the point that sensible people can indeed be fooled – fooled into thinking that there is no case to answer when it comes to the possibility that we have been visited by extraterrestrial life-forms. One assumes that even the Skeptic counts astronaut Gordon Cooper amongst his list of “sensible people”, although this is admittedly an assumption of truly galactic proportions.

    Should the Skeptic wish to view a website that bears the same relationship to the truly enigmatic aspects of the EVP as the one readers are referred to, the following may be of interest:

    http://www.ukdfd.co.uk/pages/thimble.html

    Skeptic: Instead of raising new points for discussion, could I suggest that you try something truly different, and address some of the points I’ve raised in previous ones instead of just ignoring them? By simply raising arguments and then completely ignoring my rebuttals, some might get the impression that all you really want to do is engage in verbal fisticuffs and haven’t the faintest interest in having a meaningful, civilised discussion, and we wouldn’t want that, would we?

    Toodle-pip – I’ve an interview to carry out with a resident of Zeta Reticuli 4 and my carriage awaits…

  14. Mike Hallowell says :

    “Mike – the points you say you are challenging me about are nothing more than a list of claims for which there is no substance. I will, however, be tackling them all in due course”.

    At last. Let’s see if it happens. Why you haven’t tackled them up to now is a mystery.

    “Anyway, you are only trying to divert the discussion away from the fact that for a long time now I have been asking you to justify claims you make, but which you, yourself, avoid. That isn’t going to go away, either”.

    Actually, its the other way around. YOU made false claims about me which I’ve repeatedly asked YOU to justify, and you have signally refused to do so. If you specifically name the “claims” you’ve been asking me to justify, then I’ll do so. Straight away. Without any vague promises to do so at some time in the future or “in due course”.

    “As for the development of my psychic powers I am happy to confirm that I am now as psychic as anyone else, i.e., not at all”.

    Then you may wish to refrain from attributing thoughts and motives to me which I neither hold nor embrace.

    “Shermer’s talk is, in fact, very relevant, because it illustrates the point that people can easily perceive things that aren’t really there”.

    Which I don’t have a problem with, except that Shermer’s explanations do not comprise a “one size fits all” answer for many EV phenomena.

    “Your link to what might loosely be called “UFO footage” is palpable nonsense”.

    The objects in the footage are, well, objects. Almost all of them are flying. They are all currently unidentified. Ergo, they are unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. How you can only describe the footage as only “loosely” attached to the UFO phenomenon is beyond me.

    “It shows some spacecraft in fine detail, but those craft belong to NASA; the rest of it is blurred and out of focus shots of things that could be anything at all”.

    True, but this presents you with a problem. Although they could be “anything at all”, no one is able to offer the faintest clue as to just what they are. Further, some bits of the footage show objects traversing through space and across the surface of the moon. These objects are travelling at great speed and, significantly, can also be seen to change trajectory. If these objects, whatever they are, are not under intelligent control, then can you provide me with a “rational” explanation as to what they might be?

    “The fact that Gordon Cooper was a NASA astronaut did not make him immune from false perception or optical illusions. Quoting him is merely an appeal to authority and useless in terms of evidence”.

    Well, it depends what you mean by evidence. If you’re talking in scientific terms, then the verbal statement of one person – even if he is a highly-trained and highly-respected astronaut – means little. However, the testimony of not one but several such persons would certainly be given weight in a court of law.

    “It would be much better if you would provide a link to a NASA web page where they confirm what Cooper had to say about the reality of extraterrestrial vehicles and their crews”.

    Well, you just might have a point there. Now of course, you’ve probably already worked out that NASA is hardly likely to say. “Yes, its true, UFOs are real and they are extra-terrestrial spacecraft visiting our planet”. I’ve e-mailed NASA on numerous occasions for responses to specific questions and, like many other researchers, have never received a reply. What would probably help, though, is if you could actually hear with your own ears a respected astronaut state publicly that UFOs are real and that our governments have been covering up the fact for years. Then you wouldn’t need NASA to confirm that the astronaut had/had not said anything, because you’d have heard it yourself. Well, guess what? You can do that very thing by going to:

    Now some years ago I was a staff writer for a magazine for which Dr. Mitchell was an editorial consultant, and can confirm that this is indeed his belief. Notice in the interview that Mitchell says “there are quite a few of us” who have been briefed on the reality of UFOs. Is the good doctor lying? No, he’s not, and the “scientists” and “intelligence people” he refers to, who “know the inside story” are real. If you’d like to see who just some of them are, then you might also want to visit:

    http://ronrecord.com/astronauts/

    and:

    http://wemustknow.net/2010/06/ufo-quotes-from-presidents-astronauts-senior-military-and-more-ufo-cover-up-these-people-say-yes/

    Incidentally, NASA’s hilarious response to Dr. Mitchell’s comments can be heard at:

    “Uncorroborated claims are just claims, and can be safely dismissed”.

    Well, the claims have been corroborated by the astronauts themselves, and by people like Maurice Chatelain, former chief of NASA Communications Systems who said the following regarding astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon: (Armstrong had apparently reported seeing two UFOs nestling on the rim of a nearby crater).

    “The encounter was common knowledge in NASA, but nobody has talked about it until now….all Apollo and Gemini flights were followed, both at a distance and sometimes also quite closely, by space vehicles of extraterrestrial origin – flying saucers, or UFOs, if you want to call them by that name. Every time it occurred, the astronauts informed Mission Control, who then ordered absolute silence.”

    You can read the full statement at:

    http://www.syti.net/UfOSightings.html

    Maybe Chatelain was lying as well, then? And all the others?

    Gordon Cooper on UFOs:

    Buzz Aldrin on UFOs:

    The advantage I have over you, I think, is that I’ve been studying the UFO phenomenon for over forty years, I’m currently an investigative columnist with UFO Matrix magazine and personally know some of the best researchers in the field and have interviewed a great many witnesses, including former military personnel and government officials. Now you can posture all you want from your comfortable little Tower of Ignorance – and I have to say that you are stupendously ignorant when it comes to the UFO phenomenon – but the fact is that there are scores of people who occupy or formerly occupied positions of great influence and importance – people who know “the inside story” as Dr. Mitchell put it – who have openly acknowledged the reality of the UFO phenomenon. Here’s just a short quote that might just open up your locked and bolted mind (well, I suppose we can live in hope):

    “When the interview with Gordon Cooper comes out in which Cooper talks about back-engineering alien craft, the cover-up will surely be near its end. And the astronauts have been sidling up to this for a while.

    Three years ago Cooper’s 1978 letter to the UN calling UFOs “extraterrestrial vehicles” was published; and in 1991 Edgar Mitchell talked about government extraterrestrial secrets on Oprah Winfrey. Now comes Maurice Chatelain. His article details 9 separate occasions when UFOs observed, stalked, or assaulted US spacecraft, including the exact date, names of the astronauts on
    the mission and what occurred”.

    http://www.textfiles.com/ufo/nasasecrets.txt

    Cooper’s 1978 appeal to the UN calling a full investigation into the UFO phenomenon – “I believe that these extraterrestrial vehicles and their crews are visiting this planet from other planets” –
    can be seen at:

    http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc961.htm

    If you took the time to study the enigma in depth, instead of just pontificating about something of which your knowledge is so scant, then you would see that a growing number of people who should know whether UFOs are real – and are in a position to know – are now openly acknowledging it. In this light, Your following statement, “It would be much better if you would provide a link to a NASA web page where they confirm what Cooper had to say about the reality of extraterrestrial vehicles and their crews” becomes almost laughable.

    “The term UFO should be abandoned and replaced with something more apt – BS, say (Blurred Smudges)”.

    Or Bollocks-talking Skeptics.

    “Your link to a web page about thimbles was a bit of sarcasm, of course, but you missed the elephant in the room – it is a web page about things that actually exist”. No one disputes the existence of thimbles, and that page just adds to knowledge about them. It may be of practical use to some people. For me, less so, but then again if I come up against an obscure question about thimbles in a pub quiz I might just win some cash with that bit of new knowledge.

    But you haven’t offered a single shred of evidence that thimbles exist. It would be much better if you would provide a link to a thimble web page where they confirm what you have to say about the reality of thimbles and their owners.

    “As I have already said, I will be dealing later with your smokescreen about what you think is my failure to answer points you have raised”.

    Smokescreen? How is pointing out your false assertions and repeated refusal to either acknowledge or answer them a “smokescreen”?

    “But you are missing one very big point – you make very big claims yourself and then ignore or evade questions raised about them….”

    So you keep saying, but whenever I ask you to provide specific examples to back up your allegations you never provide any. Look; either put up or shut up. Come out with your alleged proof that I’ve done what you say – you’ve had long enough now – or stop making the allegations and apologise. Just WHERE did I ignore a question? Just WHEN did I evade one? Just WHEN did I promise to write a “follow-up article” detailing “startling results? Just WHEN did I say that I had sent a photograph away for analysis? These are all completely false allegations that you have made repeatedly and I have lost count of the number of times I’ve challenged you to provide evidence that I’ve done so. You haven’t. You have had more than enough time to prove your case and provide your proof, so lets have it. It won’t take much time. All you have to do is provide a link or a reference to the supposed “follow-up article” comment, or to any of your other allegations, and we’ll be done. If you can do this, I’ll apologise. If you can’t, then I’ll await a humble apology from you.

    “…and then attack those people who query the claims you make”.

    Look, the only people I “attack” are bloviators like you who keep making false, damaging allegations but never provide any evidence. Its not so much an attack, then, but rather a justified defence.

    “Your book, The South Shields Poltergeist, for example, is filled with unsubstantiated claims…”

    Well, yet again you simply generalise and give no specific examples – your usual tactic – but when talk of “unsubstantiated claims” comes from you I find it absolutely hysterical. Mind you, you’re an expert in that field, if no other, I’ll grant you.

    “…that you feel it unnecessary to support because of “copyright” issues…”

    Skeptic, I’m sorry to sound rude, but I’m finding it hard not not conclude that you’re being either deliberately ignorant or that you’re an absolute idiot. Let me point out some simple fact of which you seem to be blissfully unaware.

    Firstly, regarding materials to which we own the copyrights, we have the right to decide whom we supply them to and when. Regarding materials to which other people own the copyrights, we have no rights at all. It is up to them when they release such materials, if at all. Secondly, if one wishes to use materials in either a book or documentary, for example, then it is important that one doesn’t lose control over the distribution of such materials for publishers are not keen on using material which has been distributed liberally across the globe. They prefer fresh, exclusive material which, for obvious reasons, has never been released before. Therefore, Darren and I will not publicly release our material – we have already had to threaten legal action against breaches of our copyright on numerous occasions, and have every right to – when to do so would compromise future projects regarding the case. Its ironic that such breaches of copyright could reduce the chances of producing a documentary on the case – the very medium by which we could present some of the evidence you seem to be obsessed with seeing.

    “…or you have presented your “evidence” to “people you trust,” etc.

    You seem to have a real problem with this. What do you want us to do; open up our files to people like you, whom we wouldn’t trust to boil an egg?

    “I’ll ask again about something you have pointedly ignored: the alleged wounds inflicted upon “Marc,” which you claim were the result of the so-called poltergeist attack, and which you implied that two nurses confirmed as paranormal. On page 232 you describe those wounds this way: “It was she [Marianne] who had watched it slash her partner’s back to ribbons…”

    That’s slashed to ribbons, not scratched or marked. Very graphic and very precise. And on page 206 you say, “Later, two highly-qualified and experienced nurses would say that it was physically impossible for wounds such as those Mike filmed appearing to disappear like that in less than forty-eight hours.”

    That sounds like the “bottle and scratch” footage you had removed from the internet because of alleged copyright infringement…”

    Okay, let’s just stop you right there. I didn’t “ignore” your question; I hadn’t even seen it till today and will deal with it directly and unequivocally in this posting. The breach of our copyright was not “alleged”. It was real. We filed Breach of Copyright complaints with YouTube, and THEY removed the footage because our claims were found to be correct.

    “and not because everyone – including believers in the paranormal – were laughing at it”.

    Well, it seems your psychic powers have reached yet another level. So “everyone” was laughing at it, were they? President Obama? Lady Ga Ga? The Dalai Lama? Actually, the only people who sneered at it were people like you, who hadn’t been given the opportunity to examine it. One would have thought that an intellectual genius like yourself, with a breathtaking grasp upon the importance of scientific analysis and methodology, would have reserved making any judgement on the footage on the basis that you were not able to analyse it. Are you normally in the habit of making pronouncements on things you have no detailed knowledge of? It is interesting that those who have had such an opportunity have been far more impressed than the skeptics out there who think that its fine to rubbish material they have not even had the chance to examine. You should also be aware that you have merely seen a few short minutes of the footage, of which there is several hours of. Now I appreciate that it isn’t your fault that you haven’t seen all of the evidence – hardly any of it, actually – but you’ll just have to live with that for the time being. This leaves you with a choice; refrain from making any judgement on the material due to your inability to examine it, which would be the sensible thing, or loudly pass judgement upon something that you have absolutely no knowledge of. You’ve made your choice already, I see.

    “So – what qualifications do nurses have to diagnose paranormal injuries…?”

    The injuries – “paranormal” or mundane – were what they were. Are you seriously suggesting that experienced nurses are unable to diagnose the nature and extent of physical trauma even if they do not know the cause? In my opinion this has to be the daftest questions you’ve ever asked.

    “…from indistinct video footage?”

    Here you go again, jumping to completely unjustified conclusions due to your complete lack of understanding and knowledge of what actually happened. As well as the video footage, a series of good-quality photographs were taken of the wounds. It was on the basis of these pictures, as well as the video footage, that they made their comments.

    “Or did they examine the injuries first hand?”

    If you actually read the book you’ll become aware that they didn’t.

    “Did they provide a written medical report?”

    No, they didn’t, as they weren’t there at the time. However, any idiot could see that the extent of the wounds were such that they could not, under normal circumstances, disappear within a couple of days.

    “Why did they not… – like others in the book – give a written testimonial as to what their (medical) opinions are?”

    Well, the first thing to point out is that, contrary to your assertion, none of the witnesses who provided statements gave a “written testimonial as to what their (medical) opinions” were. Secondly, you might wish to note that those who provided statements were described as “witnesses” in large, emboldened letters; that is, people who – unlike you – actually SAW what happened with their own eyes and therefore were qualified to describe their experiences. The nurses were not there, and so we declined to ask them for written statements.

    “Was their advice to wait 48 hours for these serious injuries to heal rather than dial 999 immediately?”

    I apologise. I described one of your questions above as, “the daftest you’ve ever asked”. It wasn’t. This one is. The simple truth is that the nurses couldn’t advise Marc to either, “wait 48 hours” or to “dial 999” because they weren’t there at the time – as the book makes clear – and did not examine the photographs and footage till after the incident was over. Again, if you read the book – properly, this time – you’ll become aware of certain facts which completely contradict your line of thought.

    Firstly, just after the cuts had appeared – and I’m quoting from the book now – Marc went, “to the bathroom and splash[ed] himself with cold water…he had doused himself liberally with cold water and his wounds, despite their terrible appearance earlier, had now faded remarkably quickly. The scratches and cuts were still there, but the redness had disappeared” (p. 186). So there was no need to “dial 999”, then, as the cuts, bad as they were, were, were rapidly beginning to fade. Had you read the book properly, you’d have realised this, of course. In any event, how on earth could the nurses give any at-the-scene advice when a) they weren’t there, and b) they weren’t even aware of the incident at all until well after it had concluded?

    Secondly, in your previous question you ask whether the nurses were qualified to make any diagnosis on the basis of, “indistinct video footage”. However, in the following question you ask why they didn’t advise “dialling 999”, which they could only have done if they were there at the time. The problem, of course, is that had they been there at the time they wouldn’t have needed to pass their opinion only on the basis of video footage as they would have been physically present!

    “Later, two highly-qualified and experienced nurses would say that it was physically impossible for wounds such as those…to disappear like that in less than forty-eight hours” (p. 206).

    Did you notice the first word in that sentence? “Later”! Let me spell it out for you: The book makes it clear that the cuts were inflicted in the early hours of Sunday, August 27. The book also makes it clear – crystal clear – that my inspection of Marc’s back – and subsequent filming and photographing of it – took place at 6.16pm on Monday, August 28. The book THEN goes on to detail how, “Later, two highly-qualified and experienced nurses would say that it was physically impossible for wounds such as those…to disappear like that in less than forty-eight hours”.

    Are you totally incapable of reading anything without completely confusing the facts? Read the book! Its difficult for me to comprehend how anyone with even a modicum of intelligence could introduce so many non-sequiturs and false assumptions into one incident. If you’d read the account in the book properly, you’d have seen that the answer to every one of your questions is clearly stated in the text. Pity you didn’t bother.

    “Were they just humouring you?”

    No. Why would they?

    “But I won’t bother to list any more questions right now…”

    Don’t let me stop you; I’ve answered all your others.

    “I’m sure you will attack me…”

    I won’t attack you, but I will defend myself against your inane, inaccurate and at times completely incomprehensible criticisms and allegations. Don’t forget, YOU started this ball rolling when the book was first published, not us. We weren’t even aware of your existence then – Oh happy day – but for some reason you decided to launch an attack upon both Darren and I and our book. Criticisms launched at us included such earth-shattering issues as the colour of our shirts, the way we folded our arms, the way we looked at a camera lens when a publicity shot was being taken….riveting stuff, eh?

    “…but you won’t bother to answer them…”

    Your psychic powers are failing. I’ve answered all of your questions clearly, articulately and in detail whilst addressing all the relevant points. Unlike you.

    “And just in case anyone thinks that I am the only one criticising, I would suggest that readers look at this criticism of your failure to provide evidence of your claims:”

    http://www.ghosttheory.com/2009/06/18/a-year-later-where-is-the-south-shields-evidence

    And then your bleating about their nasty criticism:

    http://www.ghosttheory.com/2010/02/11/south-shields-poltergeist-a-letter-to-ghosttheory

    Well, to be fair to GhostTheory, they did post all of our rebuttals which readers can see for themselves, although their responses to them were in our opinion weak.

    “(My comment – ignored by you – is number 30, going all the way back to September 2010)”

    Actually, readers will notice that yours is the last comment posted, by which time Darren and I had simply grown tired of repeating ourselves and were no longer visiting the site. Regardless, we truly appreciate you drawing our attention to it once again, for, had you not, we would have remained completely unaware of both the nature and extent of some of the criticisms levelled against us by your good self. Here are my responses to some of them:

    “I therefore always assume that those who claim that the paranormal is real are people who are honest and sincere in their belief, even if I think they are wrong. And that is my position regarding Messrs Hallowell and Ritson”.
    Good start…
    “As is obvious from this and other blogs, Mike and Darren cannot take criticism, and their threats to institute legal action rather than supply robust evidence to support their claim just reduces their credibility”.
    First of all, our “threats to institute legal action” had nothing to do with the supply of evidence. They were to do with breaches of our copyright, so you’re wrong.
    “But threatening to prosecute because someone has linked to something that might actually be classed as evidence is just absurd”.
    Maybe, maybe not, but we’d like you to supply evidence that we’ve done this. We didn’t. I argued with GhostTheory that it was morally wrong to post the link in question, and I never threatened them with legal action. The threats of legal action were aimed at those who directly posted our material illegally, not those who simply posted links to them. So, it is your comment which is “absurd” and we’d like a retraction of this erroneous statement.
    “When the new laws are put into place next year, I think the authors are going to find out what real criticism is all about. Let’s see them reap that whirlwind”.
    Sounds like you were really looking forward to that happening, eh?
    “The witnesses to the alleged phenomena (who gave written testimonials at the end of the book) included members of the NEGRT (North East Ghost Research Team). Team leader: Darren Ritson; Team patron: Mike Hallowell. The team itself consisted of six people, each of whom had a profile page detailing their belief in the paranormal, their ambitions to develop their psychic abilities, and their favourite films (The Exorcist, for instance, and other horror stories). In other words, the witnesses were Mike and Darren’s own people who are committed believers – hardly an unbiased and objective set of observers”.
    Actually, the team was brought in not for their “beliefs”, but for their abilities. And you conveniently omitted to mention the other witnesses, who certainly did not fulfill your criteria for being biased.
    “And I am writing about them in the past tense because NEGRT and all its web pages have mysteriously vanished from the Wraithscape web site, although there are cached copies if you know where to look”.
    Don’t try to create mysteries where there aren’t any. We simply updated the site and rebuilt parts of it. There was absolutely nothing on there we didn’t want anyone to see. All those pages contained were profiles of the team members.
    “In the book, Mike states that he thought “Marc” might be playing a hoax and he therefore decided to test him by creating the appearance of poltergeist activity. And Mike is quite clear about this: he knows how to set up fake paranormal stunts without being detected; but he is also clear that he is not going to tell the reader what he did, or how he did it. This, he says, is because he does not want people to have the ability to fool ghost hunters who might genuinely be trying to track down paranormal happenings”.
    Fair enough on the face of it, perhaps, but he also says that he is not even letting his close colleague Darren in on it either”.
    Which I’ve explained previously to those who have asked. By withholding that information my motivation was also to prevent a) allegations being made against Marc that he was either stupid or lying, and b) to forestall allegations that somehow Darren and I conspired together to fool him. Remember, he wasn’t there at the time.
    “I think Darren could do worse than ask his boss (oops, I mean co-author) why not?”
    And the point of this juvenile and inexplicable statement – “boss (oops, I mean co-author)” – is what, exactly?
    “Is Mike happy to see Darren possibly made a fool of by pranksters because he is not allowed to have the information that would help him avoid such pitfalls?”
    No, Mike is happy because Darren’s absence of knowledge about that particular incident makes it MORE difficult for idiots to criticise him.
    “What sort of partnership is it where one party keeps crucial information from the other?”
    Its called a professional relationship, something which you possibly have little or no understanding of. Strange that Darren himself is perfectly happy with my actions and completely understands them, and if anyone had a right to complain it should have been him. If Darren understands and accepts my reasons, then you, as a complete outsider, shouldn’t really have any reason to whinge at all.
    “Interestingly, the NEGRT team members attended the alleged poltergeist house individually and on different occasions”.
    Really? Its news to me. To my recollection the team attended as a group, with one exception, when Darren and I visited the house with one other team member.
    “And they each had the extraordinary luck to be present when a “manifestation” happened”.
    Well, seeing as they were all in the same place at the time its difficult to imagine how it could have been otherwise.
    “And so was Mike. Who can produce fake paranormal phenomena. Without being detected. Of course, I’m not suggesting that that was what happened, but those less charitable than me might have another opinion”.
    You’ll forgive me if I don’t take your statement at face value. Its crystal clear to me what you think. Not that I’m suggesting that you’re suggesting anything other than what you say you’re suggesting , of course, but “those less charitable than me might have another opinion”.
    “What Mike and Darren have to face up to is the fact that sceptics are not claiming (as Mike always asserts using a straw man argument) that if a phenomenon can be duplicated using trickery then it means that all paranormal phenomena “must” be faked”.
    Well, we’ve never suggested that “sceptics” are “always” going down this road, but that some skeptics have gone down this road on some occasions. (I’ll hand the Straw Man back to you, then, as its you who deserves it, and not me). One we know duplicated some footage as an example of how it could be done, and then claimed that that was how we “did it”.
    “What sceptics are saying is that when someone else can reproduce an alleged paranormal phenomenon, investigators of the paranormal have not eliminated trickery as a possible explanation”.
    Well, if that’s what some skeptics are saying then they’re wrong, for the context in which an event occurs may make the concept of trickery impossible.
    “They have to understand that what they think is strong evidence of their poltergeist is actually no more than an anecdotal account and therefore worthless in terms of evidence”.
    Hang about; for weeks you’ve been whining on about the fact that we haven’t released our evidence, but now, without having even seen it, you somehow know that it, “is actually no more than an anecdotal account and therefore worthless in terms of evidence”. I’d love to know how you can make such a statement when you have not, by your own droning and constant admission, never even seen the evidence concerned.
    “Even more interesting is the claim that two qualified nurses confirmed that the injuries to Marc were paranormal in origin. These alleged nurses have not, like the other witnesses, made statements in the book to confirm their opinions, nor have they been identified by name”.
    Because they didn’t want to be identified, and we respected their wishes.
    Anyway, whilst we’re on the subject of people “not being “identified by name”, you still haven’t responded to my challenge to “out yourself” and stand up and be counted. If you really have the courage of your convictions, you’ll let people know who you are. I do, but its up to you to display the fortitude you show when you’re hiding behind a keyboard and stand up and be counted publicly. Tell you what; let’s organise a public debate for skeptics and believers alike. You and I can go head to head – in a civilised manner, of course – and let people make up their own mind. You should win hands down; an educated, Honours Degree-holding researcher like you up against an unlettered oik like me. Well, how about it?
    “Nurses know how to write up a medical report, so would the authors care to publish it?”
    No, the authors wouldn’t, because the nurses didn’t write one as they weren’t there at the time (See above, yawn….)
    “Even if the nurses want anonymity, the report could still be published with their names withheld”.
    Hello! There IS NO REPORT!
    “But more importantly, I would ask: did these nurses actually examine the physical injuries to Marc that they say are paranormal in origin? Can we see the evidence? Why weren’t they included in the list of testimonials?”
    Again, see above…
    “As a trained researcher with an accredited honours degree from an accredited university…”
    Now you really do have me scared. And by the way, now who is “appealing to authority”?
    “I read this book with some bewilderment”.
    That’s not your fault. You can only go as far as your capabilities will allow.
    “Do either of the authors actually have a recognised research – or any academic – qualification?”
    Not sure about Darren, but I have a teaching qualification. In any event, we’re both deemed good enough to be asked to lecture at universities from time to time – and we get asked back. We also get asked to lecture at numerous conferences every year (By the end of July I’ll have done five in the space of as many weeks) so we can’t be that ignorant.
    “Their standard of research suggests not – but I am happy to be corrected by them if I am wrong”.
    Yet again, see above….
    “Had I submitted my dissertation without references or citations, or if I had ensured that none of the claims could be verified, or if I relied on anecdotes, threatened my tutors with legal action, or if I otherwise produced a piece of “research” matching the standards of the South Shields Poltergeist, then I am sure it would have been returned to me with a boldly written comment along the lines of, “You are a credulous clod. Leave this university campus and don’t come back.”
    Well, I’m glad you brought this up. First of all, our book was not “a piece of research”; it was an account of a protracted incident of poltergeistry. That aside, let’s have a look at your own “standards” when it comes to getting things right. You’re the person who, only a short time ago, made a string of completely unfounded statements about me regarding an investigation at a hairdressers at South Shields. Comments I never made, promises I never uttered, events that never happened, photographs being sent away for analysis when nothing of the sort was suggested, “startling results” that I never claimed to have but which I was accused of speaking of anyway…I could go on. Now, when I pointed out these gross errors you at first ignored them. Then, when you were backed into a corner, you came out with a truly extraordinary excuse. You said that my pointing out of this string of fictional statements was a “hollow victory” because you hadn’t been writing “a formal research project” at the time! And you have the nerve to question OUR abilities and research standards! If you can’t even get it right when you AREN’T writing “a formal research project”, how the hell can we have any confidence in your abilities when the bar is raised and you ARE penning something academic? Our opinion? You’re an absolute joke.
    “As a sceptic, neither rabid nor pseudo, I have no argument with qualified paranormal researchers – parapsychologists, for example – who are trying to prove that the paranormal is real. In fact, I wouldn’t mind being the first to offer such proof myself (a Nobel Prize on my CV would be useful)”.
    I’m sorry…I’m going to have to read that again. Surely you didn’t say…? Yup, you did.
    “But the so-called research offered by the authors is nothing more than a list of unverifiable anecdotes…”
    This is the research which you’ve neither seen nor examined, presumably.
    “…which only serves to set back whatever real research into the subject might be going on…”
    Of course, never having had the opportunity to examine or assess our research, you can’t say whether its “real” or not, can you? But then again, I’m forgetting you’re psychic.
    “…if the average reader thinks that this is as good as it gets”.
    I don’t think you’re even an average reader, but carry on…
    “A common theme in a lot of the stuff Mike writes is this business of evidence being sent away for “expert” or “scientific” analysis…”
    Woah, here we go!
    “…and according to him, these things are always returning “startling” results”.
    Wow, and here’s me thinking that it was just at the hairdressers where this was supposed to have happened, but it wasn’t. This is something that happens “always”! Can’t WAIT to see the evidence you’re going to produce for this, Skeptic. Go on, just dig yourself in deeper and deeper…
    “The only problem is that we are never shown these startling results”.
    No; the only “problem” is that I never promised to produce such “startling results” in the first place.
    “Don’t expect to actually see this evidence…”
    Name the evidence.
    “or find out who the experts/scientists are…”
    Are these the same “experts” you said I’d sent a photograph of a face off to for analysis – you know, the face that never was, the non-existent photograph of which was never sent to the experts who never existed, who then never produced the “startling results” which were never sent to me, and which I never claimed to have in the non-existent “follow-up article” which I never promised to write? Tell me; I’m intrigued. “If we could be classed as “credulous clods”, what would that make you? Anyway, I won’t rabbit on because I know you have work to do; organising the decade’s worth of evidence we now know you claim to have which will prove all your allegations true. Can’t wait.
    “…or in which scientific journals their results are published…”
    I’ve discussed this with a number of journalist colleagues (I’ll tactfully refrain from mentioning their comments about your post) and all of them agree that non-existent experts or scientists rarely if ever get their results published in scientific journals. Its a bugger, I know, but I suppose we’ll just have to live with it.
    “…and expecially [sic] don’t expect to ever hear anything about it again…”
    Well, you got that wrong. You ARE hearing about it again, and your completely unfounded comments have now come back to haunt you (no pun intended). And I haven’t finished yet.
    “This kind of claim has been going on for over ten years in the dire “paranormal” column Mike Hallowell inflicts on the readership of the Shields Gazette every Thursday evening”.
    Makes you wonder how I’ve managed to keep penning the same column for all these years – its now the longest-running column of its kind in the UK – and how, considering its so dire, why so many people keep reading it.
    But my, aren’t you the lucky one. You’ve actually got TEN YEARS WORTH of evidence you can bring forth to prove that my sending of material away for analysis is a “common theme” in my writing and that I’m “always” claiming to get “startling results” back from such analysis. This just gets better.
    “In all that time I cannot remember any of these claims of “analysis” and “startling results” ever being referred to again”.
    I wonder if that could be because I never made any such claims in the first place…
    “Maybe Mike will be kind enough to supply any examples I might have missed…”
    No can do, my friend. I’m good, but even I can’t produce examples of things that never existed.
    “…if I am wrong, I am willing to admit it”.
    Except that I’ve proved you wrong repeatedly on these very points, and, despite numerous requests, your apologies have not yet materialised. You see, its not me who doesn’t keep my promises, Skeptic, its you.
    “And now I see that Mike Hallowell has had the “bottle footage” removed (“This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Michael J Hallowell”)”.
    When you file a Breach of Copyright claim with YouTube you have to supply the name of a claimant. There was only room for one. Darren and I both own the rights to the footage.
    “Yes, Mike and Darren seem determined that no tangible evidence of their poltergeist can be examined by anyone”.
    “By anyone”? What about the Society for Psychical Research and the others we’ve shown it to? And how just do you know that Darren and I are determined not to let our evidence be examined by anyone? Psychic powers again? Or are you just happy making unfounded insinuations about people without the slightest shred of proof, and when we’ve said and proved consistently that just the opposite is the case?
    “How on Earth can they expect any rational person to take this book (or them) seriously?”
    Well, it could be because, unlike some posturing skeptics, we check our facts before opening our mouths, don’t make unwarranted accusations or baseless assumptions and write in a rational manner.
    “The boys are in a huff and have taken their ball home”.
    Actually, “the boys” are glued to their computer screens in eager anticipation of all the evidence you’re imminently going to post about my ten years of promising “startling results” which never then materialised. I truly hope for your sake that you can come up with the evidence, Skeptic.
    “Mike says:
    “So, how would you suggest that we do release the full facts for people to read if not in a book? [The point here, of course, is that they have NOT released the full facts at all – as Mike has said, the evidence belongs to them and they don’t have to share it with anyone.]”
    Actually, “the point is, of course”, that you are confusing facts with evidence. Strange, coming from a brain-box like yourself. What we presented in the book were the “facts”; details of what happened and when. How much of this factual material can be classed as “evidence” in the sense you speak of is an entirely different matter.
    After being criticised for essentially engaging in a money-making racket by some critics – several suggested we we even “conning” the public by charging for the book – I made clear the following:
    “Since the dawn of civilisation people have written books. This is how the system works:
    1) Someone writes a book.
    2) Someone buys the book and reads it.
    3) They tell someone else about the book.
    4) That person then buys the book themselves, whilst simultaneously running the risk of not enjoying it as much as his or her friend did.”
    But your take on it was somewhat different:
    “But as Mike seems to have found out, the harsh reality is different: here is how the system really works:
    1) Mike and Darren write The South Shields Poltergeist.
    2) Someone buys the book and reads it.
    3) They tell someone else it’s baloney.
    4)No-one else buys the book, hence the very modest sales”.
    Okay, so now we know; only one person has ever bought our book and everyone thinks its baloney (really? See the comments left on amazon.co.uk and other sites). Just how Skeptic knows about the sales of our book isn’t stated, and the sales have not been modest.
    “I think that if the authors have really found believable evidence of poltergeists, but had actually published it, their book would have hit the bestsellers lists, and they would have been feted around the world, rather than fending off the criticism they are receiving, not only from sceptics, but even from believers in the paranormal”.
    Okay, we’re in it for the money. We’re not in it for the money. We are in it for the money. Now we could have made some money but didn’t, erm…because we couldn’t. Or could have, but didn’t. Or something like that. I wish the skeptics would make their mind up.
    “Not even the believers believe it”.

    Of course they don’t, just the likes of Fortean Times columnist, Barrister and SPR member Alan Murdie, veteran researcher and author Guy Lyon Playfair, Criminologist, expert on the supernatural and top author Colin Wilson and hundreds of others…but who are they compared to the likes of Skeptic?

    If they insist on hiding their evidence, then I think people can fairly ask, “What have you got to hide?”
    Again; we aren’t hiding the evidence. But, up to this juncture, you certainly are; ten years’ worth of evidence, apparently, in which, “…according to him, these things are always returning “startling” results”…The only problem is that we are never shown these startling results…Don’t expect to actually see this evidence…or find out who the experts/scientists are…or in which scientific journals their results are published…and expecially [sic] don’t expect to ever hear anything about it again…This kind of claim has been going on for over ten years in the dire “paranormal” column Mike Hallowell inflicts on the readership of the Shields Gazette every Thursday evening…In all that time I cannot remember any of these claims of “analysis” and “startling results” ever being referred to again”.
    Well, you’ve certainly made some bold claims there, Skeptic, which – if correct – would certainly impinge greatly upon our reputations as professional authors and researchers. As stated earlier, we can’t wait to see it all.
    “In the meantime, relax and have some cheese with your whine”.

    Hilarious. Lets see who’s laughing when you post your ten years’ worth of evidence.

  15. the skeptic says :

    You must have a lot of time on your hands to be able to put together that load of sophistry.

    But insults do not equal evidence, although it seems to be all you have to offer after you have distorted my words and my meaning out of all recognition.

  16. Mike Hallowell says :

    Coming from the person who once chided us for not responding to one of his postings that’s rich. Its also interesting that you accuse me of distorting your words “out of all recognition” and yet don’t point o a single example, or – yet again – address any of the points you previously promised to deal with “in due course”. You obviously don’t have a lot of time on your hands, then – or do, but simply can’t find any answers to offer.

  17. the skeptic says :

    I’m busy right now – watching you get a spanking here:

    http://hayleyisaghost.co.uk/2011/06/20/the-new-rules-of-hayley-stevens/#comments

    You really ought to learn something about science and scientific methodology.

    And don’t fret, I will be addressing those points – and long before you ever prove any paranormal or UFO claim you have ever made. There’s no hurry.

  18. Mike Hallowell says :

    First, I’ve penned a detailed rebuttal of Ms. Steven’s article which will be posted very soon, for, unlike you, I don’t run away from challenges.

    Secondly, you and I both know why you’re stalling over the posting of the decade’s worth of evidence you allegedly have “proving” that I’ve been making false assertions regarding the analysis of evidence. You simply don’t have any. Its fascinating to note that your promises to post the evidence “soon”, and “in due course”, and that you’re “working on them” have now been replaced with “There’s no hurry”.

    Do you think the people who read this and the blogs where I’ve challenged you are idiots? I’ve challenged you on THREE separate sites to come up with the evidence to support your allegations against me, and, as one of my colleagues noted tonight, whenever you get humiliated on one board you just move back to another.

    Well, here’s a deal. You say I’ve been making and breaking false promises regarding evidence “many times” over the last decade. I’ve called you on this, and you don’t respond. Instead of apologising and admitting you opened your mouth without the evidence to back up your false claims, you just keep on stalling in a desperate attempt to avoid the inevitable. Okay then, how about this. Post your evidence within the next 48 hours and I’ll donate £30 to a charity of Brian Paget’s choice. There now; surely that’s good enough motivation for you to pull your finger out and get posting?

    Of course, if you don’t, people will probably conclude one of two things; a) that you’ve effectively deprived a local charity of £30, or b) you never really had one shred of evidence in the first place and that’s the real reason why you haven’t posted any.

    Mind you, none of this matters, really, as a number of colleagues and I have been talking about a) your repeated false allegations, b) your cowardly refusal to identify yourself, and c) your board-skipping as you scatter your distorted postings. And so, we’ve come up with a plan that should rectify these wrongs.

    I think you might want to watch this space.

  19. the skeptic says :

    I have not said, anywhere, that you have been “making and breaking false promises regarding evidence.” That is just another distortion of my words and my meaning. I have pointed out – correctly – that you have made claims to have sent evidence away for analysis, but that you have not shown us the results of such analyses and how those results were arrived at.

    An example from The South Shields Poltergeist: on page 122 you introduce Denis Duez, graphologist (to analyse the poltergeist’s handwriting.). And on page 145 you say, “For legal reasons, the authors do not intend to publish his full findings in this book but they will make some comment on them.” That’s a mystery on its own. But we don’t get to see the analysis of the evidence. My argument is not that you have failed to send evidence away for analysis, but that we do not get to see the results.

    Legal reasons or not, you make a claim and tell us you are not going to publish the findings. There is no point in even referring to such evidence if you are not going to publish it.

    On your own website:

    http://www.mikehallowell.com/shieldspolt/page11.html

    In answer to the question, “Can you tell us more about the audio recordings?” you say, “Some of the audio recordings have already been subjected to analysis with startling results, which will hopefully be detailed on the forthcoming documentary.”

    Where are the startling results? Or even the documentary that has been “forthcoming” for the last few years?

    Another claim, but we are not directed to the analysis or its results.

    And in this Gazette article, it says, “Mr Hallowell has sent the pictures off to be analysed, and an overnight vigil is to be organised to gather more evidence from the salon.”

    http://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/local-news/is_this_the_face_of_the_salon_ghost_1_1303932

    So where’s the analysis of the pictures you sent off?

    Another claim, but you have not told us where to find verification.

    So kindly cough up your thirty quid and ask Brian which charity should get the money.

    One final note: it’s easy to act like a bully when you come along mob-handed against one person. You AND your “colleagues”? Can’t you take me on on your own?

    Obviously not. But it takes you and your minions together to make a plan against me? Sounds like a good old fashioned conspiracy. (Or is that just a conspiracy “theory”?)

    I’ll get back to you when you publish a copy of the receipt you receive from your charitable donation (don’t send that evidence away for analysis, though, just publish it).

    In the meantime I’ll let you and your stooges get on with your plotting as you converse with each other ex recto.

  20. Mike Hallowell says :

    Well, at least you’ve come up with something this time instead of dodging and weaving – its just a pity that it has no more substance to it that your abortive “hairdresser” attempt. So, let’s have a look, then…

    1. “I have not said, anywhere, that you have been “making and breaking false promises regarding evidence.” That is just another distortion of my words and my meaning”.

    No its not. Let’s look at EXACTLY what you’ve accused me of:

    You accused me of sending photographic material “for analysis”. I did not.

    You then said I’d claimed to have received “startling results” from this analysis. I never did.

    You further asked me to point you to a “follow-up article” in which I’d promised to detail these results, and only offered to withdraw your allegation if I could, “point [you] to that follow up”. Now you seem to be saying that you never made the allegation in the first place. If you didn’t make it, why did you only offer to withdraw your comment if I could prove my innocence by pointing you to proof of it? So, the only thing false here is your statement, not mine.

    Regardless, let’s take a look at some of your other alleged examples:

    “An example from The South Shields Poltergeist: on page 122 you introduce Denis Duez, graphologist (to analyse the poltergeist’s handwriting.). And on page 145 you say, “For legal reasons, the authors do not intend to publish his full findings in this book but they will make some comment on them.” That’s a mystery on its own.

    Well, firstly, its only a mystery to you because you don’t know what those legal constraints are and why they prevented us from publishing certain details. Even you, I think, would not be so stupid as to imagine we would publish material in the public domain when to do so would be illegal.

    Secondly, your original allegation was as follows:

    “A common theme in a lot of the stuff Mike writes is this business of evidence being sent away for “expert” or “scientific” analysis; and according to him, these things are always returning “startling” results. The only problem is that we are never shown these startling results. Don’t expect to actually see this evidence, or find out who the experts/scientists are, or in which scientific journals their results are published, and expecially don’t expect to ever hear anything about it again. This kind of claim has been going on for over ten years in the dire “paranormal” column Mike Hallowell inflicts on the readership of the Shields Gazette every Thursday evening. In all that time I cannot remember any of these claims of “analysis” and “startling results” ever being referred to again.

    So, your claim was that the sending of material away for analysis was a “common theme” in “a lot of the stuff Mike writes” and that I “always” claimed to get “startling results”. Readers were cautioned by you that they should never “expect to ever hear anything about it again”. You further claimed that I had been making such claims “for over ten years”. You specifically claimed that I had been making such claims “in the dire “paranormal” column…of the Shields Gazette every Thursday evening”.

    It is amusing, therefore, that your first “example” was drawn not from my Gazette column at all, but from Darren and I’s book The South Shields Poltergeist. Even more amusing is the fact that the very quote you make from our book actually gives the lie to your bogus assertions. Why? Because, whereas in your original allegation you assert that readers should not expect to hear ANYTHING about such claims again, in the example you gave readers WERE provided with the results of the analysis, with the exception of the portion we were unable to publish due to legal constraints. So the very first example you cite of our alleged failure to provide feedback of analysis is one where we DO provide it!

    The only way you can attempt to make your totally inappropriate example fit your bogus allegation, then, is to twist what we actually said, and even a cursory examination of our both our book and your diatribe proves that this is exactly what you have done.

    You say, for example, that, “on page 122 you introduce Denis Duez, graphologist (to analyse the poltergeist’s handwriting).” We did no such thing, of course. Readers may be interested to read the REAL reason we sent the handwriting samples to Mr. Duez – a reason which is specifically stated in our book, but which you have chosen to ignore and replace with your own completely fabricated one:

    “The authors wanted to know whether more than one “hand” had been involved in creating the messages. They also wanted to know whether there was any evidence that the writer or writers had attempted to change the style of their handwriting consciously in an effort to deceive the researchers. Depending on the results…the researchers hoped to be able to rule out – or rule in – fraud”.

    So, whereas in our book, and in our correspondence with Mr. Duez, we specifically stated that the purpose behind the graphological analysis was to rule out fraud amongst the witnesses, YOU state that we asked Mr. Duez to “analyse the poltergeist’s handwriting”!

    “But we don’t get to see the analysis of the evidence. My argument is not that you have failed to send evidence away for analysis, but that we do not get to see the results”.

    I’m sorry that your copy of the book has Chapter Sixteen – The Polt Personality – missing, for in there, contrary to your false assertions, we discussed the findings of both Dana White and Dennis Duez – both graphologists – throughout its entirety. The very statement you quote to back up your assertion that readers wouldn’t hear ANYTHING – your word – of the analysis, is actually contradicted by it when we point out that it was simply the “full” analysis that we could not provide, not all of it, as you wrongly assert.

    “Legal reasons or not, you make a claim and tell us you are not going to publish the findings”.

    No. We said that we couldn’t publish the FULL findings due to legal constraints.

    “There is no point in even referring to such evidence if you are not going to publish it”.

    Except that we did. In Chapter Sixteen. Minus the portion redacted for legal reasons. Never mind, lets move
    on to your next earth-shattering “example”:

    On your own website:

    http://www.mikehallowell.com/shieldspolt/page11.html

    In answer to the question, “Can you tell us more about the audio recordings?” you say, “Some of the audio recordings have already been subjected to analysis with startling results, which will hopefully be detailed on the forthcoming documentary.”

    Where are the startling results? Or even the documentary that has been “forthcoming” for the last few years?Another claim, but we are not directed to the analysis or its results.

    First of all we said, “hopefully” detailed on the forthcoming documentary. So already we can see that your example of a promise supposedly made by us was actually a mere aspiration. The reason we said “hopefully” was that, as anyone with even the slightest knowledge of media matters knows, editors have the final say over what is and what isn’t included in their programmes. This was the very reason we USED the word “hopefully” as were weren’t in a position to MAKE any promises!

    Regarding your comment that the documentary has been “forthcoming” for several years, you are indeed correct. And the reason it has not been released yet is for circumstances that have been pointed out to you repeatedly: we cannot co-operate in the production of any documentary in which the family will be identified. The correspondence which has taken place between Darren and I and numerous companies on this issue forms part of the material which we offered to the SPR as part of our evidential package. (We’re pointing this out just in case some idiots out there start to suggest that we’re lying and have never engaged in such discussions. We have tried extremely hard to get the material out in documentary form, and are still trying to do so as our agents know, but we cannot and will not go ahead until the anonymity of the family is guaranteed.

    In any case, can you point Darren and I where we promised to release the material in question by a specific date, or within a specific time period? No, I thought not. Not that we ever made such a promise anyway, so that’s example number two shot down in flames by my reckoning. Next!

    And in this Gazette article, it says, “Mr Hallowell has sent the pictures off to be analysed, and an overnight vigil is to be organised to gather more evidence from the salon.”

    http://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/local-news/is_this_the_face_of_the_salon_ghost_1_1303932
    You really do seem to have a problem differentiating between myself and Gazette reporter Verity Ward, don’t you? Verity, it seems, made the same assumption as yourself; that when I talked about the photographs “being analysed”, I was speaking of sending them away for analysis when, in fact, that is not what I meant at all. Proof of this can be seen in the fact that the original hardcopy article, published in the Gazette on March 6, 2009, quoted me as saying only that the photographs “would be analysed”, not that they would be “sent off” for analysis. As I’ve pointed out to you before, I analyse my own photographs – something which I also do for a number of publications, and have done for years. Why, then, would I want to send them off anywhere for analysis when I was perfectly capable of analysing them myself?

    So your third claim, then, is based upon a paraphrasing of a statement of mine, made by another journalist,
    four months after the event, which does not match the original and accurately-quoted statements I made in
    the press at the time.

    “So where’s the analysis of the pictures you sent off?”

    There was no such analysis, for the pictures were not “sent off” anywhere and I never claimed that they would
    be.

    “Another claim, but you have not told us where to find verification”.

    There was no claim, and I can’t verify something that doesn’t exist. Not doing very well, are you?

    “So kindly cough up your thirty quid and ask Brian which charity should get the money”.

    My offer was predicated upon a certain condition; specifically, that you should post evidence to prove your allegations about me; all you have done is post three more bogus claims built upon a) a complete distortion of things Darren and I wrote in our book, b) claims I never made and c) a re-hash of your own bogus allegations made in previous posts and which I have already demolished completely.

    You, on the other hand, have yet to justify your outrageous claim that, for “over ten years” a “common theme in a lot of the stuff [I] write is “this business of evidence being sent away for “expert” or “scientific” analysis; and according to him, these things are always returning “startling” results. The only problem is that we are never shown these startling results. Don’t expect to actually see this evidence, or find out who the experts/scientists are, or in which scientific journals their results are published, and expecially don’t expect to ever hear anything about it again. This kind of claim has been going on for over ten years in the dire “paranormal” column Mike Hallowell inflicts on the readership of the Shields Gazette every Thursday evening. In all that time I cannot remember any of these claims of “analysis” and “startling results” ever being referred to again.”

    Actually, no one will be able to remember them, for they only ever existed in your own hyper-skeptical cerebrum. On that basis I think I’ll keep my thirty quid in my pocket until you post some genuine examples to prove your case – which should be easy enough, seeing as how, according yo you, they’ve been “a common theme” in my writing for over a decade.

    “One final note: it’s easy to act like a bully when you come along mob-handed against one person”.

    You’re right. In fact, it reminds Darren and I of the time we were attacked mob-handed by a large number of
    skeptics, all working in tandem with each other, back in 2008. One of them even criticised the colour of our
    clothes, the way we looked at the camera and the fact we folded our arms! Can you believe that? I can post
    the references to these vinegar-filled attack is you wish, as they make fascinating reading. One poster even
    made completely bogus attacks upon us on three different websites. His on-line monicker, if I recall, was not
    dissimilar to your own. Bullies, as you no-doubt know, are also usually cowards. You know the sort; they’ll hide
    behind a fictitious pseudonym so that they won’t have to answer for their puerile behaviour in public.

    “You AND your “colleagues”? Can’t you take me on on your own?”

    I think you need to get your memory checked, as it patently isn’t functioning properly. Not only have I been
    taking you on “on my own” for quite some time, but, I actually offered to take you on in an environment where
    we would both be “on our own” in front of an audience and engage in a public debate: head on, face-to-face,
    one-to-one. I’ve challenged you to put your money where your mouth is in this way on more than one
    occasion, but to date you’ve refused. It is patently you, then, who is afraid to take me on “on your own” – not
    the other way around. If I’m wrong, then take up my challenge. Stop hiding behind a pseudonym like a coward
    and publicly identify yourself – like me. Stop simply posting on message boards and agree to a debate face-to-
    face – like me.

    “Obviously not. But it takes you and your minions together to make a plan against me?”

    Obviously not? Then why not identify yourself, then? And why not have a public debate? And actually, they
    aren’t my “minions”; they’re colleagues. How could you know they were “minions” when you don’t even know
    who they are? Must be your legendary psychic powers coming into play again! Not that I have any minions,
    mind you…

    And actually, its not so much a “plan” but more of a strategy, and the only thing we’ll be “attacking” are bogus
    allegations made against people who don’t deserve it. Nothing wrong with that, surely?

    “Sounds like a good old fashioned conspiracy. (Or is that just a conspiracy “theory”?)”

    Oh no, its not just a mere theory, I can assure you, and yes, it is good. Old fashioned? I’m not sure about that, to
    be honest, but it definitely isn’t a conspiracy. Its merely a perfectly civilised, perfectly legal way of responding to
    damaging and unsubstantiated allegations.

    “I’ll get back to you when you publish a copy of the receipt you receive from your charitable donation (don’t send
    that evidence away for analysis, though, just publish it)”.

    Please keep coming up with these cringeworthy one-liners, Skeptic – they’re no better and no worse than your
    ones of old, as I recall – they’re all going into the pot.

    “In the meantime I’ll let you and your stooges get on with your plotting…”

    Actually, there’s no plotting needed; unlike some, we don’t stoop to that level.

    “as you converse with each other ex recto”.

    Oh, there’ll be plenty of conversing going on, believe me, but unlike you we won’t be talking out of our ass.

    Like I said, watch this space…

  21. Mike Hallowell says :

    BTW, Skeptic:I wouldn’t get too filled up with righteous indignation about what my colleagues and I are working on; after all, not too long ago you actually told one of us – yes, there’s a shock – that it was actually a very, very good idea.

  22. eddy says :

    so who was right and who was wrong

  23. Mike Hallowell says :

    Apologies for running on silent mode for a while. As some readers of this blog who follow the press know, I was diagnosed with the brain disorder atypical narcolepsy a while ago and a steady increase in the severity of the symptoms has slowed me up somewhat. I’m planning to launch a website with some colleagues which will deal with some of the skeptical arguments put forward regarding the paranormal. Some features will focus on the arguments themselves, such as those put forward by Brian and others, which, although we don’t agree with them, are cogently and logically presented and need addressing. Others will deal with arguments that are in our opinion less cerebral, and the people who present them, such as Ms. Stephens and our old sparring partner the Skeptic. Further, we aim to look at the tactics used by some skeptics who attack belief in the paranormal – and also some of the methods used to attack pro-paranormalists themselves. So, as well as reading specific rebuttals of arguments, you’ll also be able to peruse transcripts of telephone conversations and recordings of conversations in which the true attitudes of some skeptics are revealed. Unlike the NoW, of course all our material was and is gained perfectly legally. Readers should find all of this interesting. Unfortunately my illness is slowing down, but hopefully we should be launching the site soon…

    • brianpaget says :

      Mike, I hope your health improves soon. I’m sure everyone is looking forward to your new site, and I do hope that it proves a useful resource for evidence of the paranormal.

  24. Mike Hallowell says :

    Thank you Brian. There’s no cure, but my speciaist is brilliant and as long as I keep focussed and maintain a positive attitude I should be able to carry on for a while yet. I hope this doesn’t upset Skeptic too much 🙂 When the site is launched we’ll be taking on board some of your own thoughts (and even Skeptic’s) re. the use of inflammatory epithets such as “rabid sceptics”. I’ll drop them, and promised to keep the content civilised although it certainly won’t pull any punches. Narcolepsy is a weird illness (would you have expected me to opt for an ordinary or common-or-garden one?) which produces a whole raft of brain-related symptoms alongside the better-known one of continually falling asleep. The site, although unashamedly pro-paranormal, will allow skeptics to submit articles from the opposite perspective as we don’t want to be unbiased and its important that readers see the whole picture. BTW: I got a reply from Skeptics in the Pub and hope to attend soon, health permitting. If I can survive that, then beating narcolepsy should be a piece of piss…:)

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