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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25 July: Ghostly voices and music addendum

Hover flyI've been thinking some more about yesterday's post. I won't repeat the points there so you'll want to read it first (see here) to make sense of this. Anyway, i think the voice MWRs (microsleep with REM) are probably a form of hypnagogia. Why? Well, in the second type of MWR images are inserted into a real scene. I think the voice MWRs are sounds inserted into a real auditory 'scene'. In addition, voice-only episodes are reported by some people experiencing hypnagogia. I remembered that only after I posted yesterday. Yes I know I've got a terrible memory!

But where does music fit in? Well music is also, rarely, reported in hypnagogic episodes. So that fits as well. Other sounds are also reported with hypnagogic episodes but so far MA (my acquaintance who experiences MWRs) hasn't reported these. Maybe it is just a matter of time. And the photo? I used for an early addendum (here) where it is explained, so why noir?

24 July: Are ghostly voices and music really connected?

Dark skyMy acquittance (MA) who gets microsleep with REM (MWR - see here) experiences hasn't had any recently. I wondered briefly if there is a seasonal effect at play? But I looked back at previous summers and there was no gap.. So just a blip, perhaps.

Anyway I got thinking about MWRs. There appear to be three basic types, for MA at least. The first is where MA is briefly 'transported' to somewhere completely different. There is full sound and vision in this type. I think this is basically a standard dream, like the ones we all experience during a night's sleep. The difference is that MA experiences a brief snatch of such a dream unexpectedly while otherwise wide awake.

The second type of MWR is where MA sees everything as normal except that someone suddenly appears out of nowhere. That someone always vanishes to leave the real scene just as it was. An example would be the train ghost (here). I think these experiences are actually hypnagogic in nature. So they are a mixture of real sensory input and dream imagery.

The third type consists of a voice talking. There is no visual imagery at all just someone talking or, very occasionally, music. I am not sure what to make of this category as it doesn't equate to a dream-type experience. Why does MA not hear other sounds, just voices or music? Or is that MA DOES hear other sounds but simply assumes they are real and not MWRs at all? MA does not recall hearing any unusual sounds. Why do they have be unusual? Well, hearing voices with no one else present or music with no source is unusual so one might expect ghostly sounds to be obviously out of place too.

So it looks like as if it is just voices and, more rarely, music. What is their cause if not dreams? And are the voices and music actually the same category or do they have different causes? I've no idea at present but am open to suggestions. It is interesting that ghostly voices and music are not uncommon in haunting cases.

16 July: Old style ghost vigils

Dark skyOne of the problems with growing old is becoming susceptible to nostalgia. When I see ghost vigils on the web or on TV it makes me recall my own experiences of them, mainly back in the 1980s and 90s. So how was it different in those far off early days of ASSAP?

Firstly, participants didn't do anything more than wait in a single location for something to happen. The idea was to try to experience whatever had been reported by previous witnesses. This was made more useful by the fact that most participants would have no idea what previous witnesses had experienced. So if a vigil participant experienced the same thing as previously reported it strengthened the case for the location being really haunted. Nowadays, of course, with the internet and TV participants can usually look up what to expect prior to the vigil.

Usually participants would be split into teams and allocated a specific location within the haunted venue for a fixed period. At the end, all the teams would moved on to the next location. So anyone hearing footsteps during a session, for instance, could be reasonably sure it wasn't a fellow participant. Generally locations were chosen because some had reports of previous activity and others did not. Participants usually did not know which was which or what to expect at any location.

Secondly, there was only a minimal use of equipment, just cameras and notebooks mainly. There were generally no 'assumption-led' techniques used (see here for more on this), like calling out, Ouija, EVP, mediums, EMF meters and so on. That's because no assumptions were made about the nature of ghosts and hauntings. The idea was simply to experience what others had reported at the same venue. If something occurred it would be in more controlled conditions than for previous spontaneous reports. Ideally, anything experienced would be photographed or videoed if possible. And because participants were expecting something ghostly they would be in a better position to report what they experienced in detail without being shocked or distracted.

So what did we find? Mainly nothing, I'm afraid. Most ghost vigils were incredibly uneventful. This wasn't surprising. Even a highly 'active' haunted location might only produce a few spontaneous reports a year. So what were the chances of turning up for a few hours at just the right time? These vigils wouldn't have made great television.

And what did we conclude? That ghostly activity is incredibly rare. One intriguing observation was that many incidents that WERE reported happened at changeover periods or when setting up or preparing to leave. It seemed that simply sitting and waiting for a ghost is not a great way to see one! I've noted this with ghosts I've seen more recently (I never saw one on a vigil). They generally always turn up when you are NOT expecting them or looking for them. My ghosts have all been caused by misperception which doesn't usually happen if you're expecting it. So if the original reports at a haunted location were also caused by misperception it is no surprise that sitting and waiting for a ghost didn't work. But ghost sightings have many other causes, like hallucination, so we cannot generalize.

Were these old style ghost vigils better than the modern version. as nostalgia might suggest? I'll let you decide.

12 July: Fairy-like photos - addendum

Hover flyThe photo I used in my last post (10 July) to illustrate 'fairy-like' objects looked pretty obviously like a butterfly. So I thought I'd add another picture (right) I've taken recently which looks a lot less familiar. It is not much like the 'fairy' photos I've seen down the years but it does look a bit otherworldly.

In fact, it is a hoverfly, not as big as a butterfly or moth. It looks unfamiliar because we don't normally see such insects as close=up as this, particularly when they are flying. Most people rarely see much wildlife and, when they do, it is often in the distance. So when you see something like this up close-up it can give an impression of being something strange. The xenonormal is, of course, the unfamiliar but normal. Many reports of anomalous phenomena turn out, on careful investigation, to be xenonormal.

10 July: Fairy-like photos

ButterflyI have come across photos similar to this one (right) before. But I've never taken one myself, until now. The photos are usually taken at night with flash. Like this photo, they show a dazzling white 'fairy-like' object against against a dark, or black, background. Some people think such photos portray actual fairies.

This particular photo shows a butterfly and was taken in broad daylight. I darkened it a bit (the background was already dark) to make it look like 'fairy' photos taken at night. The night photos probably show moths. Moths tend to be dark coloured, compared to butterflies, but they look bright due to overexposure from the flash used. It is not that easy to get a photo of a moth at night which probably explains why they are unfamiliar to the people who take such pictures. That may also explain why they are sometimes interpreted as fairies. The overexposure makes the moths look pure white with no detail visible. The object in this photo still looks like a butterfly to me but I can see how it might look like something else.

2 July: The tiny shadow ghost on the roof!

Shadow ghostI opened my eyes recently to see something that surprised and confused me. I was sitting down, having closed my eyes, not to sleep, but simply to concentrate my thoughts momentarily. What i saw when I opened my eyes was a strikingly patterned pullover lying in a heap right in front of me. Why was this surprising? Because I don't have such a garment and there was certainly not one there when I closed my eyes seconds before!

I could see the pullover in great detail even the the weave of the cloth. It was there, in front of my eyes, for several seconds even though I KNEW it couldn't possibly really be there. Eventually, it turned into the pile of papers and cards I knew it really was. It was clearly a misperception. What was extraordinary was how it persisted, even though I knew it couldn't be real, and how utterly realistic it looked. It also disappeared in an unusual way. Instead of just vanishing to be replaced by the real objects, the pattern of the pullover persisted even as the 'pullover' visibly disintegrated into component bits of paper. I've never seen anything like it before. I have looked at the pile of paper since, sometimes closing my eyes, sometimes not, and the 'pullover' has never reappeared.

I am sure the extraordinary persistence of this misperception is something to do with opening my eyes and the pile of papers being the first thing I saw. I have not, however, had this happen again for any object, anywhere. This makes me wonder if there might be some other factor involved as well. Maybe by 'concentrating my mind' I entered some altered state of consciousness briefly. If so I don't know how to get there again. Unfortunately, I cannot remember precisely, in detail, what I did prior to seeing the misperception apart from closing my eyes briefly. If a witness, who knew nothing of misperceptions, had such an experience they could be forgiven for thinking they'd seen some ghostly object that faded away.

I had another strange experience recently. I saw what looked like a diminutive dark figure on a roof. It was moving slowly in front of a chimney and then vanished. It was quite disconcerting, a creeping shadow ghost! But it was the tiny stature that made the apparition feel so disturbing! This sighting, too, turned out to be a misperception. It was caused by a very dark shadow cast on a chimney by a tree branch blowing in a stiff wind. It was a very bright sunny summer's day and the shadows were particularly intense. Again, a casual witness could easily have thought they'd seen some kind of tiny shadow ghost creeping over a roof.

© Maurice Townsend 2019


Previous blog pages ...

  • 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