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'

If you want to know when there is a new post here without having to keep checking, and are a member of Facebook, like or follow the ASSAP Facebook community page at this link.

29 January: Staring ghost again!

Dark skySuddenly, there was a tall, slim woman looking around a corner at the witness. The witness did not recognise the woman. She looked quite young and was dressed entirely in light coloured clothes. She was staring directly at the witness with a look of mild amusement. The witness was entirely alone at the time of the encounter so it was clearly a ghost. The experience only lasted a few seconds.

This incident happened recently and the witness was my acquaintance (MA) who experiences microsleep with REM (MWR - see here). It was the most dramatic ghost MA has seen since the train ghost (see here). Though MA realised straight away this ghost sighting was a MWR, it was quite different in many ways to previous examples.

MA was sitting down reading at the time of the sighting. Though MA has often had MWRs in just those circumstances they usually just consist of voices. During visual MWRs MA is usually 'transported' to a different, usually unknown, location. However, this time the ghost was clearly in the same room with MA, seen from the exact place MA was sitting. So the clear impression was that there was a ghost standing there right in front of MA. It felt very real indeed! Staring ghosts seem to be disturbingly common - see here.

This experience is clearly very similar to the train ghost. However, there was a significant difference. With the train ghost, MA was looking at the place where the ghost appeared. In this latest sighting MA was reading a book. MA does not remember looking up to see the ghost. And after the ghost vanished, MA was still looking at the book! The clear implication is that MA never looked up from the book during the MWR! Thus the scene in which the ghost was presented must have been a memory rather than actual live sensory input!

In the train ghost experience it is possible that there WAS live sensory input during the experience. However, this latest incident suggests that may not be the case. What is required is a sighting where something in the background changes during the ghost sighting. Would the witness notice the change? From this latest case I'd say they wouldn't but more examples are clearly required. Needless to say, anyone who gets MWRs and is not aware of their natural cause would be highly likely to think they'd seen something paranormal if they'd had this latest experience.

24 January: Are ghosts actually quite common?

ghost birdIf you look closely at the photo (right) you might see a ghost bird! It is in the centre of the picture. Its head is to the left of centre and its black and white upward curved tail to the right. You can see translucent wing feathers splayed out to the sides of the main body.

So why is it a ghost? Because it is transparent with branches clearly visible through the body. Except, of course, it isn't actually a ghost bird.

The idea that ghosts are transparent is common in popular culture. However, real ghost witnesses almost always report ghosts as looking perfectly solid and normal. They are often only identified as ghost when they do something 'impossible', like vanishing. But what if the ghost does nothing unusual? It will remain unnoticed with passers-by who assume it is a normal person. So it is entirely possible that there are many more ghosts around than we think. They might even be common! But how to recognise them?

PS: The photo is unedited. The real bird appears transparent because it is moving fast.

22 January: Ghost hides melting column!

GhostSo, I was in a rather poorly-lit building recently on a cold winter's day. I was descending some stairs when I saw someone over by a wall opposite. It was no surprise as I knew there were other people in the building. I was intrigued, however, because the person appeared to be looking intently out of a window. But as I got closer, to see what was going on, the person vanished! So, a ghost then!

Where the 'person' had been standing there was now a wooden column. It was clearly a case of a misperception ghost. While I was getting used to the idea of seeing a ghost something even stranger happened! The column, which I'd misperceived as a human figure, seemed to 'melt'. It quickly turned into a brick column! I was shocked! I'd never seen anything like it before.

I suppose you could describe it as a double misperception. I have often misperceived objects as human figures. I have also often misperceived objects as other inanimate objects. But I've never had two different misperceptions of the same object. It was interesting that the human figure simply changed instantly into a wooden column. However, the column 'melted' from wood into brickwork. I have noticed that misperceptions 'break' in different ways and this was a single example of two ways it happens.

I think the 'double misperception' happened because there were two different triggers present (see here for types). I think the human figure was a glance misperception. I saw it just as came down the stairs and it was very brief. But I think the wooden column was a low light type misperception. I had thought that having multiple triggers present simply made a misperception more likely. However, it might do something much more interesting - multiple misperception forming 'layers' over the real object.

If I hadn't seen the human figure vanish, I think I would probably have missed the column changing from brick to wood. There are cases of witness seeing inanimate objects which, on later inspection, cannot be found. It might be interpreted as object movement in a haunting case. It could even be seen as evidence of a time slip - for instance seeing a 'doorway' in a wall which subsequently turned out not to exist.

16 January: Hearing a ghostly sense of presence?

Dark sky"It's appalling Jeremy, in any state of moons!". My acquaintance (MA) who gets microsleep with REM experiences (MWR - see here) heard this odd statement in a woman's voice recently, while completely alone. MA often hears such strange single statements in 'voice MWRs' but this time there was something different. MA sensed the ghostly presence of two people nearby. These were presumably 'Jeremy' and the woman addressing him. I should stress that there were no actual real people present. This is the first time MA has felt a sense of presence with a MWR, whether voice or visual type.

A sense of presence has been noted in some experiences of sleep paralysis and hypnagogia. As they are both near sleep experiences it should not be a surprise that it also happens in a MWR occasionally. The question is then, why should a sense of presence appear so rarely with MWRs? MA has had hundreds of voice MWRs and this is the first with a sense of presence.

My own theory is that MWRs are very short, typically seconds long, and it might take a short while for the brain to produce a sense of presence. My own experiences of feeling a sense of presence (see here for example) have been prompted by sounds that could have been a human moving around (except no one was present). The sound of voices would obviously prompt the idea of a nearby human presence. So this could, once again, be a case of sound prompting a ghostly sense of presence.

The most extraordinary aspect of this experience is that MA 'felt' there were two people present, despite the fact that only one 'spoke'. Of course, the voice was apparently addressing someone. We even have 'his' name! The clear implication of the statement heard is that at least two people were 'present'. So, perhaps, it isn't so surprising that MA sensed two people, despite only 'hearing' one. To anyone who gets MWRs and does not realize their real explanation, this kind of experience could definitely feel like being in the presence of two unseen ghosts!

So what do I think about the causes of a ghostly sense of presence now? I think the sense of presence is probably a reflex brain response produced by certain sensory stimuli, whether real or hallucinatory. That sound should produce such a response makes sense. If you hear what sounds like someone moving about nearby who should be visible, but isn't, your brain's reflex reaction may be to produce a sense of presence.

9 January: Witnesses recognizing ghosts

Two ghostsOne of the things that surprised me when I started to become actively involved in the paranormal was how different real life ghost cases are from their popular image. I was amazed to find out, for instance, that real life ghosts are very seldom recognised by their witnesses. So why would that be? To suggest an answer that I'll look at two common causes of ghost sightings.

Many ghost sightings are caused by misperceptions. I have seen a number of these myself. In my experience, the features of ghosts caused in this way are dictated by the physical appearance of the object being misperceived. Since these objects rarely resemble a particular person, the ghost tends to be an unknown figure (see pic right - for background see here).

Hallucinations are also a frequent source of ghost sightings. So where do the human figures in such hallucinations come from? Near sleep experiences (like hypnagogia), a common form of hallucination causing ghost sightings, are essentially dreaming while awake. And the source of visual material for dreaming is our own memories. So it is entirely possible that we could insert an image of someone we've seen (or seen a picture of) into such an experience as a ghost. However, my acquaintance (MA) who gets microsleep with REM (MWRs - a type of near sleep experience) has seen many MWR ghosts but not recognised one of them! I'm not sure why this is except that my own dreams are full of people I don't recognise. Maybe they are people I've seen once, in the street perhaps, and don't consciously remember. Either way, near sleep experiences don't seem to be much of a source of recognizable ghosts.

Recently, in a dream, I met, and recognised, a famous actor. I can't remember ever doing that before, despite my apparent former 'ability' to see famous people often (see here). Oddly, the actor looked the way he did many years ago rather than as he does now. It could be that our brains hold only one image of any particular person we recognise. It would be interesting to find out, in those rare cases when witnesses do recognise ghosts, if the image they see corresponds to the most recent appearance of that person or an earlier one. If it is the latter, it could mean that particular ghost sighting was produced by a hallucination. It would be an interesting area to research.

2 January: First ghost of the year!

ShadowThat didn't take long! I was at a certain door when I realised there was someone standing just behind me. It's been a while since I've seen the 'door ghost' (see here for background). As a result, it took me several seconds to realize there was not really a burly individual standing menacingly just behind me. The ghost looked bigger than usual which was somewhat alarming.

The door ghost is a misperception. It is usually caused by me seeing my own hand. It is reflected in frosted glass and looks like part of a human figure behind me. The ghost used to appear frequently but is now seen rarely. I think this is because I habitually approach the door concerned from a different angle these days.

The ghost looked bigger on this occasion because it was caused by my arm instead of a hand. I had my arm in an unusual position which is probably why I've never seen this larger version of the ghost before.

Having not seen the door ghost for many months, it took me completely by surprise. I hadn't thought about it in a long while. I doubt it will appear again any time soon. That's because, as I said, I was holding my arm in an unusual position. Don't ask me why, I can't remember. What I DO remember vividly is my shock at seeing such a large, silent, menacing figure behind me. It's not an experience I want to have too often.

Ghosts are traditionally considered scary but, from my experience, it all depends on what they look like and what they appear to be doing. Many ghosts just look like normal looking human figures. It might not even be obvious they are ghosts until they vanish or do something else extraordinary. Those simple human figures don't seem, to me at least, scary.

© Maurice Townsend 2019


Previous blog pages ...

  • 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
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