Thursday, October 6, 2011

Token Skeptic interview with Hayley Stevens

Two of the Queen’s finest skeptical subjects took part in an interview on the Token Skeptic Podcast.  Australia’s Kylie Sturgess interviewed Britain’s Hayley Stevens.  I believe this is the first time the two have shared podcast, and it was engaging. 

Hayley Stevens, future M.B.E.?
Hayley Stevens, of the Righteous Indignation Podcast and Hayley is a Ghost blog, was interviewed for her latest effort Project Barnum.  Barnum is a website dedicated to educating the public on the tricks and sometimes outright lies of the psychic medium during their stage shows that make the rounds around the U.K. as well as other parts of the world.  Stevens shares how as a person who works in the theater industry, she came up with the idea of requesting the theaters owners to refrain from booking such acts.  The idea took on new life when the recent possible fraud of famed British psychic Sally Morgan who was possibly caught cheating doing reading in front of a live audience.  (Certain audience members allege that they overheard members of Morgan’s crew radioing her information about audience members and therefore doing a “hot reading” during her act.)  This in conjunction with a recent interview on R.I. with Liz Butcher, an honest psychic, who allegedly loathes “fake” psychics.  However, Butcher basically refuses to do anything about educating the public on the outright frauds compelled Stevens to moved forward with Barnum. 

The website contains a petition for Britons to sign requesting theaters not to book such acts, as well as a form letter to be sent to any theater owner who books such acts that is not U.K. specific.  If the amazing Alfonso with the appeal to conjure the dead comes to the Hershey Theatre, I can quickly print off this letter and send it Hershey Entertainment and Resorts asking them not to book the show.  

In the process of discussing Barnum, Stevens shares the charming story how she has enlisted the help of her mother, father, and younger brother to quickly move this project forward.  She also shares how a large pool of skeptics also quickly came together to lend their knowledge to help in quickly pulling out a fairly polished website in short order.  Stevens knows how to get stuff done. 

Hayley and Sturgess also discuss how Stevens went from believer in the paranormal to ghost huntering in the woo sense, to questioning the woo, to ghost hunter in the Joe Nickell sense, to podcast host, to sought after and knowledgeable skeptical conference panelist.  Much of this regular information regular listeners of R.I. have heard, but not all of it.   It is impressive how a twenty something woman has been able to pack so much into her brief life. 

Interestingly, Sturgess of all people asked Stevens how she found the time to do all these skeptical activities.  That question could easily be posed to Sturgess as she at time appears to be performing ½ of all the skeptical activity down under. 

The interview is a tight and interesting 35 or so minutes.  It is well worth the time to any listeners of R.I. or anyone interested doing something to counter psychic show nonsense.  I have my doubts that the petition will stop any theaters from booking spiritualist acts.  If the psychics can sell tickets, I would expect theater owners to more than happy to book them.  However, as a conscious raising exercise every little and big bit helps to keep the woo at bay. 

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