ASSAP: Paranormal Research
ASSAP: Paranormal Education
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Maurice TownsendWelcome to the ASSAP paranormal blog! Though this blog is aimed at anyone interested in the paranormal, it will be of particular interest to the paranormal research community. Updated frequently, but not regularly (don't expect something new every day!), it covers any paranormal topic, as well as highlighting recent changes to the ASSAP website.

Whenever new information becomes available on a subject ASSAP covers, it is added to the relevant pages of the website straight away. So, just because you've read a page, don't assume it will still be exactly the same when you next look. That way the ASSAP website remains an up to date research resource.

The photo (above right, pic by Val Hope) is the ASSAP blogger himself, out looking for anomalies wherever they are to be found, so that you can read about them here. To contact the ASSAP blog, email here.

Important note: If anything in this blog does not make sense, try following the links in text! If it still doesn't make sense, that's probably my fault ...

Previous blog pages ... (including ghosts, UFOs, poltergeists, flying rods, miracles, orbs, hypnotic regression, big cats, vampires, near sleep experiences, premonitions, shadow ghosts, paranormal photos, auras, river monsters and dozens of other subjects)

NB: WDTHDWP = 'what does this have to do with the paranormal'

31 August: Figure vanishes!

Crows in a treeI paid little attention to the scene before me until something odd happened. I saw someone standing motionless beside a car. I looked away for literally a couple of seconds and the figure had vanished. There was a house door nearby but not enough time had elapsed while I looked briefly away for the person to reach it. Apart from that there was no nearby cover where the person might have been hidden from view. A ghost then!

Now I have to admit something - I was not wearing my glasses (I have myopia) at the time of the observation. Suddenly, mystified by what I saw, I put my glasses on. At first I could see nobody. Then I saw the person had got into the car and was sitting motionless in the driving seat. It was not easy to make them out from my distance so I'm not surprised I didn't see them without my glasses.

Now, obviously, someone with better eyesight than me would have seen the person in the car, after a while anyway. However, if it had been dark or foggy they too might have thought the figure had simply vanished. And they might have concluded that it was a ghost. A figure vanishing while someone looks away is typical of ghost reports.

This was another case of a coincidence causing a anomaly. The person must have got into the car at exactly the time I looked briefly away and shut the door by the time I looked back. And without my glasses I couldn't seen them in the car. Only when all these events coincided was there any apparent mystery to solve.

I only report this apparently trivial incident because, at the time, I really thought I'd seen a ghost. For someone to vanish so quickly was decidedly strange.

Finally, it's the end of August and, sad to say, I've seen no celebrities this month (see here). Indeed, I haven't even caught myself studying passers-by intently in the last week or so. Maybe my unconscious mind had already given up!

25 August: The wasteful way of sleep

Crows in a treeThe wasteful way of sleep! This musing was heard by MA (my acquaintance who experiences microsleep with REM - MWR) recently. It is interesting because it might be a direct reference to MA's situation at the time. An odd characteristic of all the voice 'communications' until now was that they never appeared to refer to MA. They were more like overheard snatches of one side of a conversation (see here).

Of course, if you listen to enough random messages some are bound to appear relevant to you, even if they are not. So MA then started listening out to see if there are any other examples that appeared personally relevant. And a few days later one appeared. It was a very specific reference to a place that is special to MA. It could just be another coincidence of course.

Considering that the source of the 'messages' is MA's own brain it is actually extraordinary that they seem so random and irrelevant to their own creator. This could, of course, be seem as evidence that they are real communications from outside MA's brain to anyone who does not know how MWRs work.

MA also recently reported that that there were TWO voices in one communication apparently talking to each other! However, it only happened once and MA was not certain that the two voices were actually conversing. Though MWRs are easier than normal dreams to remember, it is still not always easy to recall exact words used. If it happens again then, like the 'relevant' message, I will report it here. Once again the whole phenomenon appears to be 'evolving' in some way (see here for previous discussion).

22 August: Shadow ghost

ShadowLooking out of a window very late at night, something strange intruded on a very familiar scene. It was the shadow of a person moving across a wall. That would have been unexceptional had I been able to see the person causing the shadow. But there was no one to be seen, just the shadow. The area concerned has no trees, bushes or other places where a person could easily hide and the area is well lit by street lamps. So anyone present should have been obvious.

Many shadow ghosts are seen in peripheral vision (see here for a discussion). However, this shadow was very clear and in central vision. I was just wondering if it might be a paranormal shadow ghost when I finally saw the person throwing the shadow. They were in a completely different place to the one I expected for a shadow on that particular wall. That's why I'd completely missed them until I widened my area of search. The shadow was coming from a street lamp round the corner out of my line of sight. Had the person left the scene before I found them I would still be left with the mystery of a shadow ghost sighting!

So, no ghost then! I think what happened was that my familiarity with the scene made me only look in places where I expected to see a person throw a shadow on that particular wall. Had I been looking at an unfamiliar scene I might have searched in more places for the person creating the shadow and found them more quickly.

Meanwhile I've been dreaming of seeing a celebrity! Yes, as 'fame month' continues with no celebrity yet seen, I actually dreamt I saw one. In fact, for a few seconds after waking up I was so convinced I really HAD seen a celeb that I was mentally preparing a blog post. This, I think, supports the idea that, unconsciously, I am on high alert this month concerning celebrities, despite not consciously looking for one. Of course, there still has to be a celebrity physically nearby for me to spot and so far I've drawn a blank! Time is running out.

11 August: And now strange music

Crows in a treeFollowing on from a recent post, my acquaintance (MA) who experiences microsleep with REM (MWR) has had another 'first' and it is extraordinary. Among a series of 'normal' voice 'messages' (see post) MA heard a snatch of music. It was a rock song. There was someone singing but MA can't remember the lyrics. MA was alone in an empty room at the time and there were no radios, TVs or other electronic devices present that could have been the source of the music. At the end of the music, MA experienced the usual feeling that marks the end of a MWR making it clearly the source of the music.

This is the first musical MWR that MA has experienced. But much more interesting is the fact that MA did NOT recognise the song! So where did it come from? One can only assume it came from MA's own brain. This means that the unconscious bit of MA's brain is apparently capable of composing original songs without conscious intervention. MA says the song didn't sound very original. Even so, the idea of a work of art being composed without conscious intervention is intriguing.

MA does not play music but listens to it frequently, including rock. So MA's unconscious brain may be playing with bits of music that MA has heard in much the way a dream is composed by rearranged conscious experiences (see here). Whatever brain process puts together dream narratives may be capable of putting together those strange voice 'messages' discussed in the 3 Aug post. And could it also put together simple remembered musical phrases in different ways to 'compose' an original, if highly derivative, song?

So what might a person who had MWRs, without realizing their natural origin, think of the arrival of such original music, seemingly from nowhere? If that person was a regular composer of music they might simply think it is their normal creative process. And, who knows, maybe some creative processes work like that for people with MWR. But for someone who has never written down a note in their lives, they might think the source of the music is external, somehow. It might, indeed, be interpreted as a paranormal process.

9 August: Phantom squirrel?

VigilRegular readers will know that I am a keen nature watcher. So when I saw a small shadowy animal (maybe squirrel-sized) moving around in the distance, in peripheral vision, I instinctively turned to look straight at it. I was a bit surprised to see no animal there, with nowhere it could have hidden in the fraction of a second it took me to turn my head. So, was it a phantom squirrel?

My first thought was that it must have been a misperception but there was no obvious object present to misperceive. Then I saw what I recognised to be the same object moving again. The 'squirrel' was actually a petal blowing around a few centimetres off the ground. So it WAS misperception after all!

This all sounds a bit unlikely until you consider the circumstances. It was early in the day, the sun was low in the sky, throwing long dark shadows everywhere. The petal was barely noticeable until it was caught for a second or so in a shaft of sunlight as it was blown around.

Movement is one of the most important ways by which I detect the presence of wildlife. So when I caught the movement in peripheral vision, my first thought was that it must be a small animal. The moving petal then visually combined briefly with a dark shadow behind. Peripheral vision is, of course, more sensitive to movement than central vision. It also has lower resolution so that physically separate objects can sometimes get combined visually, particularly in high contrast views like the one here.

This incident illustrates the most difficult to detect type of misperception - that caused largely by patterns of light and shadow. If an investigator finds a bush where a witness reports seeing a human figure, it is easy to see how misperception may be the cause of the sighting. But a sighting caused by a pattern of shadows that might only occur for a few hours of a few days each year can be much more difficult to track down. I've only worked out explanations for such incidents when I've investigated them at the time of the sighting. Had I investigated them later I doubt I'd have worked out what was really going on. Maybe some shadow ghost sightings are actually caused by normal shadows.

PS: I caught myself in the act of carefully looking at people's faces in the street twice recently! I just suddenly realised I was doing it. So maybe it IS an explanation worth considering for 'fame month' - see here for the background to this.

3 August: More strange messages

Crows in a treeMy acquaintance (MA) who experiences microsleep with REM (MWR) is often addressed by voices during MWR episodes. MA will be doing something like reading when a voice is heard saying a few words before a feeling of coming out of a MWR. Here are some recent examples that give a flavour of these 'messages':

I only brought one in because I thought she was perfect.

I have a glorious question going forward tonight.

Newcastle politics 19.

Screeches are off the agenda.

Each of our children are telepathic.

Hold it a day and I'll take it apart.

MA has noted some new points about these 'messages'. For instance, most are in a male voice though some are female. The voices never have a regional or foreign accent. MA has never recognized any of the voices as belonging to real life people. Nor has MA recognized voices from previous 'messages' though this might simply be because they are too brief to remember. One surprising thing is that the 'messages' never appear to go beyond a single phrase or sentence. This may be because MWRs are so short but it seems odd that there are never (so far) multiple sentences. One example above, Newcastle politics 19, sounds as though it may be truncated as there is no verb.

As previously noted, the voices don't appear to be addressing MA but rather sound like one side of a conversation between two other people. As can be seen in the examples above, which all occurred in the space of two days, the 'messages' don't appear to refer to each other, even when they occur seconds apart. Nor do any of the 'messages' appear relevant to MA, despite their origin in MA's own brain. Interestingly, though the voices often occur when MA is reading, none of them appear inspired by what MA is reading.

The subject matter of the 'messages' always appears incomplete. It is like hearing just one sentence out of a longer conversation between third parties. Though the 'messages' make some sense in themselves, without the rest of the theoretical 'conversation' they have only limited meaning. For instance, with Hold it a day and I'll take it apart what exactly is 'it'? One exception to this is the first example I only brought one in because I thought she was perfect. MA had a feeling at the time that the situation being discussed was a job interview. This is similar to the way that we are often aware of the background to a dream, even though there is no visible or audible content in the dream itself to support it.

If a person had MWRs without realizing their natural origin, it would be easy to mistake such 'messages' for psychic communication. But their apparent randomness might go against that interpretation. However, if someone gets enough of these apparently random messages it is inevitable that one will, by chance, eventually appear relevant to that person's life. And it is likely that it is such apparently meaningful 'messages' that the 'receiver' will remember rather than the others.

It is even possible, given that apparent 'evolution' noted in MA's MWRs towards more realism (see here) that the messages may change over time. Maybe they will become more relevant to MA and appear more meaningful. Maybe ...

1 August: It's fame month again!

Crows in a treeSo, here it is again - fame month! Though I failed to see a celebrity in the last fame month, April, I did see one just two weeks later in May (see here). I think two weeks in four months is close enough to qualify as a hit, though others may disagree. What would really get me back on track now would be a hit this month.

Regular readers will know what this is all about. For everyone else, here's a catch up. I had noticed my tendency to see more famous people than I thought was 'normal' - an average of 0.23 per month. But what was really weird was that I appeared to be seeing them at regular intervals, every four months, with the next one due in August 2016. Random events should not occur at regular intervals!

So what non-paranormal explanations might there be for this bizarre phenomenon? There is coincidence, of course, though that looks increasingly unlikely if the 4 month pattern continues. Another possibility I've considered is 'unconscious attentiveness'. By this I mean that unconsciously I am paying more attention to people I pass in the street during 'fame months'. Obviously, I can't make famous people appear when I want to (and I don't seek them out in obvious places like stage doors) but I can make sure I don't miss any that might just be there as I go about my everyday tasks. I'm sure I've walked past several famous people, over the years, without recognising them.

I suppose I could test this 'unconscious attentiveness' idea by trying to describe everyone I've just seen in one particular street. If I'm unconsciously being more attentive, I ought to remember more details than usual. I could repeat this exercise in 'fame months' and non fame months to see if there is a difference. The problem is that I'd need to do these tests randomly without warning, otherwise I may consciously affect the results. Anyway, I will try to see if I can do something to test the idea this month.

I have sometimes wondered if people become more unconsciously attentive when they are told the building they are in is haunted. They may then, without any conscious effort, notice lots of natural background noises that would otherwise be ignored. And these noises could be interpreted as haunting sounds because of the location.

Last month's (July) website figures are an average of 14555 hits per day. This is almost the same as the previous month's 14516 daily average.

© Maurice Townsend 2016


Previous blog pages ...

  • Jul 2016 (including robot on wall, ghostly hooded figure, new house effect, transparent figures in photos)
  • Jun 2016 (including odd UFO, amplified hearing, alternate realities, strange stick figure on roof)
  • May 2016 (including farewell to the door ghost, restaurant ghost, invisible book, shrinking object)
  • Apr 2016 (including double UFO photo, strange animal, amplified hearing, fame month)
  • Mar 2016 (including time slip, strange brown blob, pig becomes horse, ghosts out or in focus)
  • Feb 2016 (including identifiable ghost, ghost in odd pose, leaning ghost, door ghost returns, ideal witness)
  • Jan 2016 (including too strange to be noticed, vanishing man, giant glowing pig, UFO reports)
  • Dec 2015 (including strange object with a tail, crouching ghost, scurrying ghost, sea serpents, false stepping)
  • Nov 2015 (including paranormal object movement, premonitions., distance of sighted ghosts, soundproof barrier)
  • Oct. 2015 (including monk and nun ghosts, white ghosts, red ghosts, touching ghosts, life going fast forward)
  • Sep 2015 (including glowing transparent ghost, unsettling ghost, insect ghost, UFO in clouds, linear photo anomalies)
  • Aug 2015 (including alien robot, white UFO, unlikely prediction comes true, animal ghosts. streaks in photos)
  • July 2015 (including coincidence versus precognition, paranormal smells, music and ghosts)
  • June 2015 (including interactive ghost, presence on train, orbs, spade wings)
  • May 2015 (including ghosts seen during vigils, mystery flash, sense of presence, transparent ghost, daytime UFO)
  • Apr 2015 (including UFO behind trees, orbs behind anything, possible cause of road ghost sightings, white-hatted ghost)
  • Mar 2015 (including moving object looking motionless, retreating ghost, IFO turning into a UFO)
  • Feb 2015 (including best ghost yet, how things vanish, purple thing, ghost in inappropriate attire)
  • Jan 2015 (including winter insect orbs, ghost from a train, strangeness threshold, flashes in the sky)
  • Dec 2014 (including lumpy horizon, green blob, strange lights, orbs, white floating thing)
  • Nov 2014 (including doors opening by themselves, haunting flashes, sense of presence, formant noise)
  • Oct 2014 (including animal ghosts, tricorn-hatted figure, seeing 0.23 celebrities monthly, dancing ghost)
  • Sep 2014 (including paper defying gravity, low flying UFOs, photographing ghosts, moving still photos)
  • Aug 2014 (including figure on a pillar, orbs still worth studying, ghost objects, shadow ghost)
  • July 2014 (including yellow orb, teleportation, ghostly whispers, owl, strange announcement)
  • June 2014 (including hand in a tree, blurry flying object, white alien, strange pattern on a dragonfly)
  • May 2014 (including single witness UFOs, ghosts vanishing, anomalies seen through gaps, rock face, creeping doppelgangers)
  • Apr 2014 (including unrecognized ghosts, odd UFO photo, do short-sighted people see ghosts, man with no face)
  • Mar 2014 (including unusual shaped UFO, ghost on a train, ghost presence, vampires, ghost calling)
  • Feb 2014 (including confusion, daylight orbs, haunted milk bottle, ghost on a bridge, too obvious explantations)
  • Jan 2014 (including colliding orbs, ball lightning, de-orbing, ghost mouse, mysterious flashes, ghost misidentification)
  • Dec 2013 (including popping orbs, new shadow ghost, ignoring a ghostly hand, dust turning into orbs videoed)
  • Nov 2013 (including hearing voices, blurry ghosts, mirrors and ghosts, coincidences, UFOs near airports)
  • Oct 2013 (including fairy photo, mist ghost, yeti, premonitions, orbs are NOT dust, how hauntings start)
  • Sep 2013 (including moving sticks, targets affecting odds in psi tests, shape shifting, not photographing ghosts)
  • Aug 2013 (including ghosts in plain view, mystery photo, seeing faces, ear pointing, shadow presence, time distortion)
  • July 2013 (including floating ghosts, on being a ghost, ghost ducks, follow that ghost - yes, ghosts galore)
  • June 2013 (including transparent ghosts, distance of UFOs, other stuff going on while witnessing anomalous phenomena)
  • May 2013 (including ghost seen AND photographed, time distortion, reproducing anomalous phenomena)
  • Apr 2013 (including door ghost moving, UFOs from a train, missing time, reality glitches, EVP without E, weird photos)
  • Mar 2013 (including witness credibility, distraction to see ghosts, movie in real life, photo or witness)
  • Feb 2013 (including possible orb comeback, OBEs go mainstream, walking ghost, feelings without touch, object movement)
  • Jan 2013 (including a big problem with ghost vigils, time distortions, cryptids, snow ghosts and rods, causes of hauntings)
  • Dec 2012 (including mysterious injuries, ghosts versus people, voice from nowhere, experimenting with a ghost)
  • Nov 2012 (including reflected ghost, isolated EVPs, ghosts talking to each other, invisible presences)
  • Oct 2012 (including ghostly presence, shadow ghost, strange pigeons, window ghosts, hallucinations)
  • Sep 2012 (including yellow grass, weird waterfalls, vanishing buzzard, ghost vigils, slowing down time)
  • Aug 2012 (including seeing unknown animals, glowing lampposts, EMF meters as an accident of history)
  • July 2012 (including turning rods into orbs, psychic insight, making insects spell, glowing eyes, haunting hot spots)
  • June 2012 (including doppelganger mystery, not expecting ghosts, anecdotal evidence, credible witnesses)
  • May 2012 (including lenticular cloud, ghost encounter, ghost train, weird stuff in a tree, van Gogh, resolution)
  • Apr 2012 (including naturalists and ghosts, odd feelings during OBE, wrong kind of sound, voice from nowhere)
  • Mar 2012 (including jogging and ghosts, misty ghosts, image noise, full spectrum photography, EVP of machines)
  • Feb 2012 (including ghost car, analyzing anomalous photos, ghost at rock concert, OBEs and motion sickness)
  • Jan 2012 (including stopping flying rods, photographing fairies, time warp, a ghost tie, ghostly fingers, New Year UFOs)
  • Dec 2011 (including missing time, improving ghost vigils, anomalous photos, ghostly faces, seeing fiction)
  • Nov 2011 (including OBE video games, EVP and VLF, whatshisname, paranormal misconceptions, invisible ghosts)
  • Oct 2011 (including smartphone ghosts, similacrum, smell of ghosts, morphing UFOs, slowing time)
  • Sep 2011 (including tidy ghost, MADS, transparent ghost, big announcement, ghost fox, not alone)
  • Aug 2011 (including cold spots, spectral hound, triangular UFO, ghost photos, rushing air and being dragged)
  • July 2011 (including Hilary Evans, Harry Potter, witness investment, bias in paranormal research, TV detectives)
  • June 2011 (including ASSAP @ 30, detecting lies, hyper-vigilence, strange thunder)
  • May 2011 (including ASSAP @ 30, lone shoes, flying rods, bias, early memories, strange floating object)
  • Apr 2011 (including royal wedding, mirror touch synaesthesia, sleep disorders, new ghost sighting)
  • Mar 2011 (including roof heron, Atlantis, first time witnesses, comparing film to digital paranormal photos)
  • Feb 2011 (including predicting the future, ghost bird, time slip, weird floor, what do we really know about paranormal)
  • Jan 2011 (including the ghost hunting boom, orange UFO, EVP experiment, extreme normality)
  • Dec 2010 (including microsleeps and road ghosts, shadow ghost in snow, lack of ghosts in photos, anthropomorphism)
  • Nov 2010 (including EMF meters, auras, evidence for precognition, sensitisation, the ghost hunting boom)
  • Oct 2010 (including black orbs, UnConvention, mirror visions, levitation, flying rods and orbs)
  • Sep 2010 (including a ring tone from the roof, shadow ghost video, time slip explanation, daylight orb video)
  • Aug 2010 (including Parisian UFO, sense of presence, SLI, consulting experts, misperception)
  • Jul 2010 (including Sherlock Holmes as a paranormal investigator, haunting sounds, what ARE hallucinations)
  • Jun 2010 (including the Loch Ness Monster, gorilla video, getting ghost stories the wrong way round)
  • May 2010 (including ball lightning, Wem ghost photo, waking up twice, eyewitnesses, Robin Hood)
  • Apr 2010 (including causes of road ghosts, new orb evidence, bird UFOs, UFO photo, not quite seeing is believing)
  • Mar 2010 (including experiencing hypnagogia, consciousness, belief, prolonged misperception, doppelganger)
  • Feb 2010 (including visual continuity errors - AKA ghosts, near sleep experiences on trains, spontaneous OOBEs)
  • Jan 2010 (including intelligent oil, SLI, inducing OOBEs, orange UFOs, the bleak midwinter)
  • Dec 2009 (including review of research in the noughties, pretty orbs, imperceptions, river monster)
  • Nov 2009 (including EVP without a recorder, demons and entities, why only some people see ghosts)
  • Oct 2009 (including grey ghost, near sleep experiences, a triangular UFO and seeing David Beckham)
  • Sep 2009 (including latent memory, Tufted Puffin, Bermuda Triangle and garden poltergeist)
  • Aug 2009 (including official UFO files, partial ghosts, flying rods and miracles)
  • Jul 2009 (including garden poltergeist, big cat video, orbs and hypnotic regression)
  • Jun 2009 (including thoughts from nowhere, shadow ghosts, premonitions and metallic UFO)
  • May 2009 (including analysing paranormal photos, making ghosts and ghost lore)
  • Apr 2009 (including phantom bird, choice blindness and grass that gets up and walks away)
  • Mar 2009 (including deja vu, ghostly mists, weird UFO photo, white ghosts)
  • Feb 2009 (including hidden memories, coincidences, auras and window UFOs)
  • Jan 2009 (including animals sensing ghosts, vampires, flying rod season and a haunted path)
  • Dec 2008
  • Nov 2008
  • Oct 2008
  • Sep 2008
  • Aug 2008
  • July 2008
  • June 2008
  • May 2008
  • April 2008
  • March 2008
  • February 2008
  • January 2008
  • December 2007
  • November 2007
  • October 2007
  • Even older