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.

30 May: Hidden ghosts - the duck connection

DuckI was in a hide recently, looking for birds, as you do. For those who do not visit nature reserves, a hide is a kind of wooden hut. It allows visitors to view animals nearby without scaring them off. Most wild animals are wary of humans and don't normally allow a close approach. A hide usually has a narrow viewing window so that most of its human visitors are invisible from the outside. Anyway, i was sitting on a bench in the fairly crowded hide when I heard a group of people entering behind me.

Nobody appeared on the bench so I assumed they were standing behind me. I heard them shuffling about again and turned round. To my amazement there was no one there! It seems that a whole group of invisible ghosts had entered the hide!

After a little while I remembered something. Before entering the hide I had seen three ducks on its roof. They were mostly just standing there but occasionally walking around. I heard the movement noise again and a duck flew down, obviously from the roof of the hide, in front of the viewing window. It was shortly followed by the other two. There were no further sounds of movement behind me.

I concluded that the sounds of movement behind me had in fact been the ducks moving around on the wooden roof. The floor of the hide is also wooden so anyone walking around on it produces a very similar sound. The fact that I didn't hear individual footsteps but rather a sort of shuffling noise like a group of people made sense. Ducks aren't really heavy enough to make footstep sounds that could be mistaken for a human. Why didn't the sound appear to be from above? I put it down to the peculiar acoustics of the wooden structure.

Had I not spotted the ducks on the roof, the sound might have remained a mystery. It reminded me once again how many reports of apparent anomalous phenomena may only be unexplained because the witness failed to notice something vital at the time. I am sure that many mysterious reports could probably be easily explained if only we had some of the missing information about the incident.

20 May: Stressful return of a ghost

ShadowI was visited by an old friend the other day - the door ghost (for background see here)! I was shocked because sightings are down to about once a year now. What is more, this time the ghost was different.

The door ghost is a partial dark figure I see just behind me when I'm at a particular door. I always see the figure on my left but this time it was to the right. I deduced years ago that the ghost was a misperception of my own arm and hand. I used to see it regularly but then it became incredibly rare. I put this down to a change in the way I approached the door changing the relative positions of all the objects involved.

However, I had taken no new route to the door this time. So why had the ghost suddenly appeared completely unexpectedly? There was one factor that I noted at once. I was feeling particularly stressed at the time of the sighting.

I don't recall stress being a factor in previous sightings but I do have a terrible memory so it could have been. Given that misperception is an unconscious brain thing it does not seem unreasonable that psychological factors may play a part. Lighting, too, has been a notable factor in the past. It was overcast on this occasion.

Of course, having an unknown person standing just behind you when you are opening or closing a door is potentially unsettling. As with all the ghosts I've seen, my first thought is always that it is a real person I'm seeing, not a ghost. But in this case I was stressed before seeing the mysterious figure. I will certainly have to take a closer interest in my psychological state when seeing ghosts in future. Maybe being stressed can indeed make ghost sightings more likely.

14 May: Phantom building work?

Sound graphRecently I was approaching a familiar large building when I heard what sounded like heavy equipment being used there. I looked up but could see nothing where I expected to see things going on. The sound was unmistakably coming from the building in front of me but there was nothing whatever to see to explain it! It sounded like phantom building work!

I approached the building still mystified. Finally, as I reached the entrance, the sound appeared to be coming from behind me! I looked over to see a building on the opposite side of the road being demolished. But why had the sound not come from that direction when I was on that side of the road? There was a high wooden fence surrounding the demolition site. It think it must have been acoustic fencing, like you might get by a motorway. It was stopping most sound at ground level but some noise was still escaping above the fence and being reflected back by the building I thought was the source of the sound. It was a striking effect with no echoes that might have given the game away.

I have come across reports of anomalous sounds before. They are heard easily enough but don't correspond with any visible activity. Indeed, unexplained sounds are probably the commonest phenomena in hauntings. It is unlikely that any more than a tiny number of such reports are caused by acoustic fencing. However, this incident illustrated to me forcefully how sounds can, in the right circumstances, appear to come from places well away from their real source. I've never come across such a striking example before. For more on phantom sounds see here.

1 May: What should a ghost look like?

Shadow ghostMany ghost researchers I've come across have never actually seen a ghost. That's despite spending hundred of hours hanging around in haunted houses. Why might that be? One obvious answer is that ghost sightings are incredibly rare. But are they really? I never saw a ghost in all my years of attending vigils but have seen several since. I think the key to this recent success might be expectation. I had been expecting ghosts to look different to the way they really look.

On reading an account of a ghost sighting I always ask myself the same question. What would I have seen if I'd been there with the witness? Would it be what I see in my mind's eye or something different? I strongly suspect the latter.

Suppose a novel you have read is made into a movie and you go to see it. When you see the familiar characters on screen the chances are they will not look the way you expected. Even if they correspond with their precise descriptions in the novel, the characters will almost certainly not look the way you saw them in your mind's eye while reading the book.

I think there is a similar effect when we read descriptions of ghost sightings. We form a impression of what the ghost looked like but I suspect it is quite different to what was really seen. For anyone who has never seen a ghost, I think the 'mind's eye' version is influenced by what we think a ghost 'should' look like. This may well be derived from cultural stereotypes or fictional depictions of ghosts. We might see a ghost as translucent, for instance, or maybe someone in a historic costume or a person behaving in a strange, unworldly way.

Many years ago I recall being told by a ghost researcher how they'd finally seen their first apparition. Immediately, and quite involuntarily, I formed a vision in my mind of a figure in historical costume looking obviously other-worldly, even giving off a faint glow. But did the ghost really look like that? No, it didn't! Real ghost reports are consistent in reporting them as looking lake ordinary people. One common odd behavioral characteristic is that ghosts often appear unaware of the presence of the witness but otherwise apart from that they behave quite normally.

I started seeing ghosts soon after learning about misperception. It made me realize that misperceptions look like completely normal things because they are taken from our own visual memory. I had, like most people, not noticed misperceptions until them. But once I realised that it is quite normal to see, if only for a second or two, an object, or human figure, that isn't actually physically present, it was only a matter of time before I saw a ghost. They weren't odd but just looked like normal people. I only recognized them when they did strange things, like vanishing.

Misperception has been found, by careful investigation, to cause many ghost sightings. A misperception might simply look like a human figure though often oddly still if the apparition is caused by something like a tree or bush, for instance. There are moving misperceptions as well, of course (see here for instance). If we are expecting something like in the movies, that may be why we aren't noticing ghosts! And they may not be anything like as rare as we imagine, we've just been looking for the wrong thing.

© Maurice Townsend 2019


Previous blog pages ...

  • 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