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.

31 July: Another spontaneous mini-OOBE!

VegetationSo, there I was asleep on a train. I woke suddenly to find that the train was not moving. I looked out of the window and discovered we were in a tunnel. The tunnel was illuminated and there was a small sign giving the name of a station on the route. Next to it there was a bank of small video screens. I was in a carriage at the front of the train and assumed that we were just beyond the platforms of the station named in the sign. I guessed the sign and video screens were intended to be used by the train driver. But then something profoundly strange happened.

Suddenly we were IN the station, despite the train not having moved at all! The station sign I'd seen was now much larger and on a wall at the back of the platform! The video screens had expanded too! The 'wall of the tunnel', which had appeared just centimeters away, was now the back wall of the underground station and several metres away! I was absolutely stunned!

I examined the station, one which I am already quite familiar with, in greater detail. I noted that the wall was covered in large tiles of uniform creamy colour. The platform below was also covered in tiles of a similar colour. I think this is what caused the bizarre visual phenomenon. It appears to be another instance of a 'mini-OOBE' that I've had on as few occasions (for a notable example see here). I think the mini-OOBE was triggered by the uniformity of the tiles which visually blended into each other completely fooling my sense of visual perspective. So my brain put what it saw together but made a horrible mistake about the depth of the space in view. Interestingly, it constructed a view of a tunnel which was a plausible thing to see from a train, though it was unlikely to have been illuminated. I think the fact that it happened just as I woke probably contributed. I call it a mini-OOBE because I was seeing things from a different position in space to where I was physically located, just like in an out of the body experience. It is even possible that certain spontaneous OOBEs could be triggered by this kind of incident.

What is particularly striking is how well I remember the image, even though I now know it was false. I can still see that small station sign as if it was in front of me right now. It was a perfect miniature of the real thing. I don't think I've ever seen anything so utterly real, which wasn't, while awake before. It really emphasizes how seeing is a brain thing! If someone else had witnessed this phenomenon they might easily have interpreted it as a paranormal event. It also emphasizes how absolutely realistic xenonormal phenomena can be. I think we should always assume that a witness experienced what they say they experienced. Whether it corresponded with physical reality is a different question.

And the picture? This photo, to me at least, appears to distort perspective. The distance between the overhanging vegetation and the stream below is much greater than this photo makes it appear. Again, it messes around with the cues we use to determine perspective.

24 July: Like being dragged backwards through treacle

Weird sunMA (my acquaintances who gets MWRs - microsleep with REM) was on a train recently when something even stranger than usual happened. MA was having a MWR and in 'another place'. Then the train stopped resulting in MA coming out of the MWR. However 'coming out' this time consisted of an unpleasant feeling of being forcefully dragged backward through treacle. MA has had hundreds, if not thousands, of MWR experiences over the years and this is the first time this 'treacle' experience has occurred. It has not occurred again since.

It is possible that someone experiencing MWRs, and not aware of their natural cause, might think this sort of thing could be an example of astral travel or something similar. Such dragging sensations have been reported by people having out the body experiences (OBEs) which typically occur on the boundary of sleep and wakefulness.

MA has never experienced a OBE during MWRs. However, this dragging sensation happens in both so there could be an overlap between the two phenomena. As both are near sleep experiences this would not be surprising. So was thera anything else unusual about this particular MWR? One thing that was atypical about this 'dragging' MWR was that it was unusually long. Another point of interest was that MA woke up just as the train stopped. This suggests a possible clue to the 'sleeping commuter' phenomenon (see here).

18 July: That ghost is back!

ShadowI noticed there was someone standing behind me while closing a door the other day. Except that there was no one there at all! Yes, it was the return of the door ghost (see here for background). It was only a one-off visit, however. Indeed, it is the first visit for over 2 years (see here for the last recorded incident). The ghost was seen frequently for a period of four years before that.

This latest sighting has given me a clue concerning why the once common ghost now only appears very rarely. As in previous cases, the ghost turned out to be a misperception of my own hand, reflected in a frosted window. It resembles the shadow of someone standing behind me. I noticed during the latest sighting that my hand was not in a place that felt 'natural'. And, sure enough, the next time I was at the door I found my hand was somewhere quite different, which felt moire 'natural'. So it seems I don't see the ghost any more because I normally put my hand in a place where it is not visible in my reflection.

I have a new idea about why some people might notice misperceptions when most do not. I am incredibly easily distracted. Indeed, in writing this post I have already looked at several other things on the web instead of just getting on with it. I wonder if easily distracted people tend to notice things that are odd or out of place while those who are less easily distracted do not. When I'm out and about I am often distracted by anything that crops up in my peripheral vision. Most such things are completely mundane, of course, but just occasionally they are not. Like my hand in its 'unnatural' position.

10 July: Factors contributing to ghostly 'sound behind music' phenomenon

FrequenciesI heard a door open and someone enter. Even though I was alone in the building, I did not find this sound disturbing. That's because I was expecting someone to arrive. But then I heard no more sounds. So I stopped the loud music I was playing, listened and called out. There was no reply. I was still alone!

It Is a perfect example of the 'sound behind music' phenomenon I've described recently (see here for more examples). However, usually the 'sounds' are just general noises of someone moving about. On this occasion I actually heard a door open and someone walking about. It was quite specific. That's why I DIDN'T think this was a 'sound behind' thing at the time. I just thought it was a real person arriving as expected. Given the specific nature of the sounds, compared with previous general 'movement' noises, this was easily the most spectacular example of this effect.

It got me thinking about what factors may be contributing to a phenomenon that I've no reason to think is anything but natural (though it could easily be interpreted as a ghost by some witnesses). Why was this latest example so realistic? One factor I've already established is expectation. If I'm expecting someone to arrive the phenomenon it is much more likely to occur. In this case I was actually concerned because the person I was expecting was late. I would speculate that it was this anxiety that may have made the phenomenon so realistic. I suggest this because many ghost cases involve witnesses who are anxious for one reason or another. Does such stress actually make the human brain hallucinate in a more convincing way? I think the phenomenon is hallucination, rather than misperception, say, from a recent example (see here).

Other contributing factors may include the type of music being played and any ambient sounds around. Unfortunately, it is difficult to test these ideas. Whenever I do a deliberate experiment, the phenomenon never appears. This is presumably because, like misperception, the brain cannot be fooled if it knows what is coming. So I have, instead, to rely on incidents where I have, at least temporarily, forgotten all about the phenomenon.

4 July: Followed by a ghost ....

Weird sunIt was another hot sunny day, like so many recently here in the UK. I was walking along a narrow alley carrying two bulging shopping bags I heard someone behind me and moved aside to let them go by. But no one one appeared so I looked round. There was no one there or anywhere nearby! So, a ghost then!

I watched for a while and saw the source of the sound that had appeared to me like someone walking behind me. The wind was blowing various things around on the path, including leaves and general litter. It resembled the sound of someone shuffling along.

To me, however, the sound didn't simply resemble someone walking, I really 'heard' someone walking! It seemed that something had reinforced this impression in my mind to make me so certain. I think it was mainly the weather conditions. Hot sunny days typically have very little wind, at least in England. That's because they are typically associated with high pressure which usually produces low wind speeds. However, on this day there was a stiff breeze, something I hadn't even noticed probably because of the heat. So I think, unconsciously, I had dismissed the idea that the wind might be causing the 'walking' sound and interpreted it instead as someone behind me.

I have noticed that here is also, typically, a psychological 'stress' factor involved in such ghost experiences, at least in mine. In this case, I knew I was walking very slowly with two shopping bags, making it awkward for anyone to pass in the alley. So it came as no surprise that someone might come up behind me getting impatient to pass.

I think such factors, that you might call psychological expectation, are important in how we interpret what our senses are telling us. We hear and see what we expect, even if it isn't always true.

PS: While writing this post I was playing loud music and heard the 'sounds behind the music' phenomenon (see here for background). On this occasion I was alone but, for once, NOT expecting anyone any time soon! This appears to be the exception that proves the rule!

© Maurice Townsend 2018


Previous blog pages ...

  • 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