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'

28 December: Ghost witnesses and vigils

Sun behind treeI wonder if a prime source of information about ghosts is being neglected these days. The emphasis in recent years has been on ghost vigils. It is understandable. People want to have their own ghostly experiences, not just listen to witness accounts. However, the difference is that witnesses have actually experienced something ghostly. In contrast, I spent many, many of hours on ghost vigils over the years and witnessed hardly anything, as have oithers.

It seems to me that witness accounts are a much richer source of information about ghosts than the experiences of those on vigils. What is more, ghost vigils these days often employ assumption-led methods. These methods start with assumptions, such as ghosts being spirits. As I explained recently (here), I've found little evidence to support the idea that ghosts are spirits in the decades of research I've done on the subject. Indeed, the lack of any definitive evidence in favour of ghosts as spirits gathered by all those vigils in recent years has actually reduced the chances of it being true (see here).

As I see it, almost everything we know about ghosts comes from witness accounts. Indeed, I can think of little, if any, knowledge about ghosts that that has come from vigils. Anyway, just an end of year thought!

19 December: Noticing strange stuff

SunsetI sometimes think I might be genetically programmed to notice odd things. I will often look at a scene and notice straight away something that looks wrong or out of place. I remember odd events while completely forgetting more important stuff. I suppose it might explain why I'm interested in anomalous phenomena. It might also explain why I have a tendency to notice misperceptions.

Anyway, I doubt anyone else around at the time saw anything strange - but I did. It was around sunset and there a bright light on the horizon which was not the sun! I was on the edge of a small town walking along a dark road which had no houses. The bright light was in a group of trees some distance away. The light was not moving or changing. It reminded me of scenes I'd seen in UFO movies of a strange bright light shining through trees in a wood.

I couldn't make out what the light was at all. Luckily I had some binoculars on me so I could take a closer look. The 'light' turned out to be a large house with apparently all its lights on and no curtains drawn. None of the other houses in the vicinity had any lights on. From my position, without binoculars, the lights all fused into just one really bright one. And, with the trees in the way, i couldn't even see that there was a house. So, mystery over.

Few people routinely carry binoculars or similar optical equipment. So someone else seeing what I saw would never have worked out what it really was, short of actually going towards the mystery light. Perhaps, after all, it's just as well that no one else appeared interested in the light! Otherwise there may have been many reports of a strange light that actually had a mundane explanation.

Thinking about it, I doubt many witnesses who report strange phenomena routinely notice odd things like I do. If they did, they might report strange things all the time instead of maybe just once or twice in a lifetime.

PS: The picture (above right) was a different sunset! Also, I'm hearing sounds 'behind music' while I write this, yet again (see here for background). I suppose it is another example of noticing odd things.

14 December: Reading and phantom speech - a connection?

FrequenciesReading in an empty quiet room recently MA (my acquaintance who gets microsleep with REM - MWR) suddenly heard a choir singing! MA didn't recognise the song. However, the experience prompted MA to realize something! ALL the 'voice MWRs' MA has ever heard, whether speech or singing, occurred when MA was reading! The connection is presumably that MA's brain was processing words when the 'voice MWRs' occurred. All the music MWRs that MA has heard involved singing, so there was a word element there too.

When a person hears human speech their brain responds to certain frequencies in the sound. Specific neurons respond only to particular frequencies. The combination of these frequencies is then interpreted as words by the brain. This same process also happens without sound when a person is reading words. This is how we hear an 'inner voice' in our heads as we read.

The other main type of MWR that MA has are immersive visual experiences. In such experiences MA either sees the real surroundings but with additional unreal additions (like the train ghost) or is simply 'transported' to a completely different location. Neither of these type of experiences are preceded by MA reading. It appears that reading is required to specifically trigger the word/singing type MWRs.

There is a parallel here with formant noise. This phenomenon occurs when someone's brain responds to particular frequency combinations in noise by hearing words that are not actually there. This can cause cases of apparent EVP. Hearing certain frequency combinations in sound turns the brain into 'speech mode' so that subsequent formant noise is heard as words (listen to examples here). It seems likely that MA's brain is turned on to 'speech mode' by reading and interprets dream content in a subsequent MWR as words, either spoken or sung.

For someone who gets MWRs but doesn't realize their true explanation, they might well interpret MWRs as paranormal. experiences. They, too, may hear voices from nowhere if they are reading just prior to an MWR incident. It would be worth knowing what witnesses are doing just prior to hearing anomalous voices.

5 December: Investigating coincidences?

Wet cobblesI was walking along an empty street when I heard a strange sound behind me. It was like a heavy plastic sheet hitting the ground. I was surprised because I was sure there was no one behind me. I stopped and looked round but there was no one there nor was there anything unusual visible.

Then the sound happened again, as I was watching. It had been raining but had just stopped. The sound was caused by a lot of water droplets hitting the ground simultaneously. They came from the branches of a nearby tree and were released together by a sudden gust of wind. I would not have guessed what this sound was if I hadn't seen this.

As mysteries go this is hardly that amazing. However, it is a nice example of how an apparently mysterious incident can occur as a result of a coincidence. The factors that had to come together coincidentally were: very recent rain, a sudden gust of wind and me passing by but not seeing the incident. In addition, this could only happen just after rain. If there was a gust of wind when the rain was still falling I doubt I'd have noticed the sound over the rain itself. If the gust had occurred a little later, much of the water would have already dripped out of the tree in individual droplets.

I have noticed that many strange incidents I've witnessed have been caused by coincidences. But, as this incident demonstrates, it is difficult to find such a coincidental explanation after the event. If the incident had happened to someone else, could I still have worked out what it was?

The crucial information required to find the correct explanation would be the exact timing of the rain. Though it would be possible to find out the general weather in the area by looking at meteorological records, it would not be possible to say that rain had just stopped at that exact location and time. The witness might remember that information but it's unlikely. The best hope would probably be in visiting the site of the incident in conditions as closer to the original event as possible. Then, with luck. the sound might be heard again and its cause seen.

As all this shows, it is difficult to investigate coincidental causes to anomalous incidents. This is probably why coincidence is rarely considered as an explanation. However, having seen for myself how common these causes are, I suspect that many apparently inexplicable incidents could be explained by coincidence. If lots of anomalous incidents are caused by coincidences it might explain why their explanations are apparently so elusive!

PS: Once again I've heard 'sound behind music' while writing this blog post (see here for background)!

Last month's (November) website figures are an average of 10604 hits per day. This is similar to the previous month's 11088 daily average.

© Maurice Townsend 2017


Previous blog pages ...

  • 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