Trump Nominates Ghost Hunter to be Judge

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The Trump administration has made a lot of kooky appointments, and by “kooky” I mean “oh god we’re all going to die.” A man who has sued the EPA several times now runs it, the woman in charge of our schools thinks bear attacks are a good reason to arm teachers, and of course our attorney general has admitted to lying under oath about knowing about attempted links between the Trump administration and Russia.

So really this is a minor point, but considering how long I’ve been on the skeptic beat I feel I have to alert you all that Donald Trump has nominated to the Alabama Federal District Court an honest-to-God ghost hunter. Brett J. Talley also, for the record, has never tried a case in his life and failed to disclose to the Senate that he is married to a White House lawyer, but come on. He’s a ghost hunter.

If you were alive in the early 2000s then you’ve seen the TV shows and you know the type — it’s a bunch of mostly white dudes who think they’re smarter than they are, who go into old houses late at night and get scared when they hear noises they can’t immediately explain. Then they use devices that measure electromagnetic fields because they think that’s what ghosts are, and they mysteriously get readings in areas where there are wall sockets.

Talley was in a group like that in Tuscaloosa, and then he went on to write several books about how ghosts are real, including “Haunted Alabama Black Belt.” I read the first few chapters of that book and I have to say that at least Talley and his co-author open it by admitting that the Civil War was fought over slavery and that slavery and Jim Crow were bad things. I know, it’s 2017 and that’s considered good news for a presidential nominee to federal court. “This judicial nominee is a ghost hunter who has never tried a case before but hey, at least he doesn’t hate black people so much that he ignores and distorts basic facts about recent American history.”

Talley has also written several fictional books about ghosts and things, which is great for him, really. But again, he has never, ever tried a case. He’s been a lawyer for three years. His website hocking his books is titled “The Site That Should Not Be.” He thinks ghosts are real and can be detected using electromagnetic field detectors and tape recorders.

Look, I’m not saying that judges should always be 100% rational and serious individuals in all aspects of their lives. I’m not even saying they should all have “extensive trial experience,” as Republican senator Charles Grassley complained when defending Talley to the Washington Post. I’m just saying that maybe they should have, I don’t know, some trial experience, and maybe, let’s say, more time as an adult spent in the courtroom learning the law than in a graveyard trying to find a Dracula.

But hey, at least he’s not a pedophile, right? 2017!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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