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'

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29 Aug: How do you recognise an OBE?

Dark skySo my acquaintance (MA) who gets microsleep with REM experiences (MWR - see here) had another odd 'first' recently. MA had a fairly typical MWR while sitting down in a silent room alone. It was a visual MWR where MA is apparently briefly 'transported' to a different place. Normally it is not somewhere MA recognizes but this time it was. It was the room adjacent to the one where MA was seated. Everything looked normal in this very familiar room except for one thing. An object had moved from its usual place, which never normally happens.

MA came out of the MWR with the usual feeling that identifies MWRs. The experience felt so real that MA felt compelled to go to the adjacent room straight away to check if anything had indeed been moved. But everything was in its usual place. And as there was no one else present in the building at the time, no one could have moved it and put it back again in the brief time of the MWR, which lasted seconds.

The incident was like an out of the body experienced (OBE) in some ways. MA saw a real nearby location. There was, however, no sight of MA's own seated self but not every OBE involves this. Indeed it made me wonder how you recognise an OBE. They do not all involve seeing yourself while floating above.

So was it an OBE or a visual MWR that just happened to feature somewhere near to where MA actually was? It's difficult to say. The fact that there was a significant difference to what was actually visible at the location suggests that it was a memory of a real place. It is possible that at least some reported OBEs may have a similar mechanism to this - a MWR featuring a real location. Sadly MA has not experienced anything similar since this single experience to test that idea.

21 Aug: Unfamiliarity breeds anomalies

RobinI was in a garden recently and I saw something that left me completely baffled. A small brown object flew silently through the air out of a bush down to the ground. It seemed too big for an insect but small for a bird. Was it even flying? Maybe it was a leaf blown by the wind. Perhaps but there was little, if any, wind at the time. On the other hand I watched where the object had landed, behind a large plant, and saw no further movement, so maybe it was indeed an inanimate object. Perhaps it was a leaf gliding rather than being blown by the wind. Whatever it was, the object looked unfamiliar which is what drew my attention to it in the first place.

Of course, the whole incident would have been less mysterious if I'd had my glasses on! I am myopic and though I can see most things well enough, small or distant objects are difficult to make out. I don't know the statistics but I suspect there are few anomalous phenomena reported by people with myopia who were not wearing their glasses or contact lenses at the time. One obvious exception is people reporting things seen from their bed. As I noted before (here), misperceived objects appear to be in focus when seen by a myopic person not wearing glasses. I suspect hypnagogic images may also appear in focus in such situations though I'd be interested to hear if anyone knows any examples of this.

You may wonder if all this has any relevance to people with good eyesight or others who ARE wearing their glasses. It does because I might have had a similar experience while wearing my glasses if there had been poor lighting conditions instead. I think poor viewing conditions can make the familiar appear unfamiliar.

OK so why do I have a picture of a robin here? Well, I saw the same object again a little later. It was the same size and colour and behaved in the same way. I still didn't have glasses on but it was closer so I could finally see what it was. It was a robin, a bird which often comes close to people, especially in gardens. I think familiar objects appearing unfamiliar can produce reports of anomalous phenomena.

14 Aug: Ghost people

CloudWhenever I see someone in historic costume, which is rare, I tend to watch them. Why? Because I always wonder if they might disappear. So far it's never happened but I live in hope. I am, of course, wondering if these people might actually be ghosts. The chances are that every person I've seen in historic costume was just that - a real person. They might have been taking part in a re-enactment, a pageant or a fancy dress party. There are even people who dress like that just because they want to.

I suspect that a significant proportion of ghost sighting reports are generated by real people and not just ones in historic costume. There are cases where people have apparently vanished. I've experienced several of these. There was this one, for instance, where I looked away for literally a couple of seconds and the figure had vanished. I have witnessed several other people who have slipped away along previously unnoticed tracks or alleyways when I looked away. Or there's this this case, where someone vanished and then returned!

In all such cases there does not seem, at first anyway, to be anywhere the figure could possibly have gone in those few seconds. But, in my cases, there was always a natural explanation when I investigated. Not everyone investigates such sightings, of course. It could be impractical or they might not think it odd until later or they may simply not be curious enough. Either way such sightings may be later reported as ghosts.

A key factor is, of course, looking away for a few seconds. There is also the coincidence that the figure just happens to go somewhere (or do something) unexpected during those few seconds. It can be a surprisingly effective combination when you experience it. But even looking away for few seconds doesn't seem to work with people in historical costume. At least not so far. And finally, here's an example of a figure appearing from nowhere.

6 Aug: The unnoticed witness - a recurring type of ghost experience?

Hover flySo I was thinking about recent posts concerning voice MWRs when something struck me. Voice MWRs are snatches of apparent conversations overheard by my acquaintance (MA - who gets MWR experiences - see here), when there is no one else present. These brief 'conversations' (or more usually just one side) occur during microsleeps. MWRs affect people with certain sleep disorders but could happen to anyone who is sleep deprived.

Anyway, I was struck by the parallel between voice MWRs and a common 'type' of apparition sighting. This 'type' is usually short-lived short and the ghost shows no awareness of the presence of the witness. To avoid writing 'type' all the time let's call these incidents 'unnoticed witness' sightings. The voice MWRs could also be viewed as an 'unnoticed witness' event because the speech is never directed at the witness and it is like accidentally overhearing a conversation. Could the two types of ghost events be connected, maybe even share a similar origin?

We know that the voice MWRs are a purely 'natural' phenomenon produced by the witness's own brain. They are probably produced in the same way as dreams but in a near sleep state rather than fast asleep. Dreams are quite diverse in their content and the dreamer is seldom unnoticed by other characters. So why are voice MWRs apparently restricted to an 'unnoticed witness' style? I've no idea. Sadly much dream research is about working out how it benefits the dreamer rather than the mechanism behind dreaming.

So is there a connection between 'unnoticed witness' apparition sightings and voice MWRs or is it just a coincidence? Certainly some ghost sightings are caused by near sleep experiences like hypnagogia. In that case a connection would be unsurprising. MA has seen apparitions in MWRs. However, interestingly, the ghosts (train ghost and leaning ghost) were both paying attention to the witness who was hardly unnoticed. But MA has seen only a couple of apparitions while hearing ghostly voices hundreds of times. So maybe these apparitions will not turn out to be typical when there is a bigger sample pool.

The idea that the 'unnoticed witness' ghost sighting may be a specific type with a specific cause is intriguing but it is as yet mere speculation. More evidence is needed. It would be interesting to know how many witnesses to 'unnoticed witness' experiences are sleep deprived. And what's my excuse for using the fly picture this time? Insects are frequently unnoticed witnesses.

1 Aug: Ghostly voices talking to each other

Hover flyIn recent posts I mentioned that my acquaintance (MA) who gets microsleep with REM (MWR - see here) experiences hasn't had any of them recently. Needless to say, no sooner had I mentioned this than MA started hearing the ghostly voices once again. I also said I thought MA might one day report strange noises with no apparent source. That still hasn't happened but something strange has.

MA has heard ghostly voices many times. They are usually just brief phrases by one voice not apparently aimed at MA. It is like overhearing one side of a conversation. No other voice is ever heard. Until now! MA has recently heard two voices in one MWR. And the voices are clearly talking to each other. Though MA cannot remember exactly what was said, the 'answer' from one voice clearly fitted the 'question' from the other. It is still like an overheard conversation except that MA can now hear both voices.

What's the significance of this? Well, the phrases heard before always made sense within themselves but sounded a bit random and lacking in context. Often completely different phrases occurred in closely spaced MWRs, from different voices, suggesting overhearing different conversations. It was never clear, however, if there really was a 'conversation' at all or just a series of random phrases. Now it seems that some, at least, of the ghostly voices ARE part of a conversation and make more sense. There is no doubt that these ghostly voices are produced by the unconscious part of MA's brain by a similar process to dreaming. They probably make as much sense as the average dream.

Anyone who gets MWRs but is not aware of their natural origin might think they are psychic messages. In the case of these voices, the person might think they are clairaudient. It certainly feels like it is someone else talking, which could be interpreted as a spirit. In MA's case the 'messages' seem almost devoid of meaning. It is possible that other people may get more 'meaningful' phrases. These new 'conversations' at least start to make more sense.

© Maurice Townsend 2019


Previous blog pages ...

  • Jul 2019 (including old style ghost vigils, fairy-like photos, tiny shadowt on roof)
  • Jun 2019 (including same ghost seen twice, am I a ghost, why so many ghosts)
  • May 2019 (including hidden ghosts, phantom building work, what should a ghost look like)
  • Apr 2019 (including witness testimony versus photos, can ghosts be photographed, the Vardoger connection)
  • Mar 2019 (including ghostly music, touched by a ghost, ghosts in hi-vis clothing)
  • Feb 2019 (including ghost appearing out of nowhere, hearing music when ghosts appear)
  • Jan 2019 (including staring ghost, are ghosts common, sense of presence, recognizing ghosts)
  • Dec. 2018 (including strange sound from sky, mocked by fate, comparing eye witness report and photo)
  • Nov 2018 (including another bolt from the blue, why aren't ghosts more common, seal in car)
  • Oct 2018 (including unseen in plain sight, street light interference, ghostly sounds - a purpose?)
  • Sep 2018 (including ghost crow, ghostliy sounds and attention overload, ghostly noises and day dreaming)
  • Aug 2018 (including how do you know when you're looking at a ghost, have ghostly voices stopped)
  • July 2018 (including new mini-OBE, 'sounds behind music' factors, followed by a ghost)
  • June 2018 (including hearing someone who isn't there, a bolt from the blue, when nothing happened)
  • May 2018 (including whether strange phenomena can evolve over time and the sleeping commuter phenomenon)
  • Apr 2018 (including should ghosts be commoner at night, book turns over instantly, 'garden poltergeist' returns)
  • Mar 2018 (including are rare events paranormal, like a time slip, strange leaning man, mystery flashing light)
  • Feb 2018 (including explanation for apparent precognition, ghostly figures, a huge invisible presence)
  • Jan 2018 (including ghostly conversation, ghost selfie, person vanishes, more stuff 'behind' music)
  • Dec 2017 (including a connection between reading and phantom sounds and investigating coincidences)
  • Nov 2017 (including man moving instantly, unexpected fall of night, ghosts rarely turning up on vigils)
  • Oct 2017 (including sounds 'behind' music, non-blurry ghost, ghost with a paunch, small human ghost)
  • Sep 2017 (including seeing ghosts to order, paper defies gravity, precognition, moving aerial mystery)
  • Aug 2017 (including identifiable ghosts, psychic message, like time standing still, on not seeing foxes)
  • Jul 2017 (including invisible ghosts, sense of presence in rain, precognition, haunting sounds)
  • Jun 2017 (including more real that reality, white flying object, pale figure at a window)
  • May 2017 (including ghosts: in a crowd, in a hi vis vest, object movement and sounds)
  • Apr 2017 (including no glasses no ghost, odd ghost, embarrassing ghost, fame month works again)
  • Mar 2017 (including white glowing shape or ghost, another source of 'presence', a ghost returns)
  • Feb 2017 (including fish in sky, best ghost in months, strange transparent object, recounting experiences often)
  • Jan 2017 (including ghostly face, phantom snow boarder, unexpected return of fame month)
  • Dec 2016 (including vanishing mouse. grey fuzzy thing, yellow dots, doppelganger)
  • Nov 2016 (including ghost fox, strange small figure in photo, haunting noises)
  • Oct 2016 (including strange voice, disintegrating ghost, ghostly leaf in focus to short-sighted witness)
  • Sep 2016 (including ghost on demand, shadow ghost, amplified hearing, anniversary ghosts)
  • Aug 2016 (including figure vanishes, strange music, phantom squirrel, fame month again)
  • 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