BBC Investigation: A new group investigates myths and conspiracies

BBC File on 4

The reality of life in the seaside town of Belper, Alabama, in the US state of Alabama, isn’t quite the picturesque story you might think it is.

It’s home to Team Haley, a pre-teen ‘children’s group’ of around 8 or 9-year-olds, who have worked together to investigate ‘scientific problems’ and theories since they were in school.

Clan leader Nakia Williams, aka ‘the Entity’, is demanding compensation for the work that she and her followers have spent on this project: from spending days breaking down certain houses to installing DVD players in people’s basements to buying cars to talking to people who couldn’t walk for a week.

In August, the show aired in the US, the topics raised ranged from penguins giving birth to jellyfish, to whether moths carry high school gossip.

Now the story is getting big headlines in the UK and is attracting interest from newsrooms and television executives who are interested in exploring similar dark ‘history’-seeking community groups.

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According to Nakia, the group meets regularly at 6pm, and she can usually be found asking ‘cautious questions’.

Much of the stories and the proof that she gets from others is after they’ve already been debunked, but that doesn’t dampen the group’s enthusiasm or willingness to be seen breaking down walls.

But Nakia is determined to prove the validity of her allegations and help others in similar situations. She also wants compensation: $500,000 (£364,000) per house.

Team Haley’s mission

Founder Alyssa Armstrong’s vision of Team Haley wasn’t inspired by the ‘Roswell’ story: she has a strong interest in UFOs, but also wants to tackle negative attitudes towards black people, and has been fostering members who identify as black and want to be “representative of an empowered and free generation”.

Mr Williams says the group is made up of people from all backgrounds, races and religions.

“None of us are Christians, only a few of us are Christians, and nobody at the meetings thinks they’re crazy.”

He says the group is not a cult. Rather, the group is about investigating important stories and evidence that he says makes no sense, pointing out the “sick and twisted”.

“If somebody was under the ground, it wouldn’t be news. They wouldn’t be elected to the senate.”

Despite intense questioning, Team Haley does have some members who are uncomfortable with their leader’s approach.

“We don’t have collective thoughts at this point, but they’re fast-talking and will learn a lot, including history. I think they’re intelligent,” says Ms Williams.

Nakia says the group isn’t going to stop pursuing these issues – and expects to continue publishing ‘evidence’ through the end of the year, with some external guests.

Many wonder why any community would agree to this group, and many have reservations about supporting them.

Last week, Facebook removed the group from its applications, citing concerns that its use of the phrase ‘My child says it’ as a way of verifying who is a member may break Facebook’s terms of service. Facebook revoked the application’s request for five days.

Despite the social media group’s refusal to be ‘contacted’, they have become part of a conspiracy theory wave – with others claiming that the Earth is flat and a hoax.

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Feature: The truth about bunkum and conspiracy theories

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