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.

27 Nov: When only some witnesses present see a ghost

Apparent historical figureThree men are in an animated conversation. One suddenly asks the others if they saw the ghost! One companion looks puzzled while the other slowly nods. What happened was that two of the men saw a figure in Georgian clothing walking quickly by. Though all three were looking in the same direction, one man saw nobody. So, a ghost then!

This is a fictitious incident but not unusual. Where ghosts are seen by multiple witnesses simultaneously it is often reported that some of them saw the figure while others did not. A figure seen by some present but not by others would appear to be a ghost. However, there are possible causes for this phenomenon.

One of them is inattentional blindness. Sometimes we may fail to notice a quite obvious change in a scene we are looking at. Recent research, mentioned in New Scientist, says that someone not noticing such a change in a scene within about 1.5s is unlikely to ever notice it at all. It seems we can only take in so much visual detail at any one time and so may sometimes fail to notice quite obvious changes because our atention is elsewhere. In the example above, had one of the men who'd seen the historical figure drawn the others attention to it at the time, all three would doubtless have seen it. So there is no reason to think that the figure in historical costume was anything other than a real person, possibly going to a reenactment. Another possible cause of only some witnesses present seeing a figure is misperception. Some of the witnesses might misperceive a tree as a figure while others see only the tree.

It is important when investigating reports of anomalous phenomena to have a thorough knowledge of possible xenonormal causes for such incidents. Without such knowledge the danger is that incidents may be classed as paranormal when, in fact. they have natural explanations. I know many people lose interest in an apparently paranormal report once a natural explanations has been found. I do not. I am fascinated not only by the paranormal but the xenonormal - that which looks paranormal but actually has a natural explanation. Just what causes people to see apparently inexplicable things, paranormal or not?

PS: Explanation of ghostly historical figure in picture here.

20 Nov: On hearing ghostly sounds without music

Shadow ghostSo I was reading my notes on a recent incident of a 'sounds behind music' incident. It was noteworthy because the 'sounds behind' occurred just seconds before a real arrival. It was in the middle of a fairly wide anticipated arrival window. But then there was another incident where I heard a door opening sound, just like the 'sounds behind' phenomena except there was NO loud music playing! I was near the door (unlike in all the other 'sounds behind' incidents) so I checked it straight away. No one there! I was expecting someone at the time but I've never heard this sound before with no music and without the door actually opening. So what's going on?

For non-regular readers the 'sounds behind music' phenomenon is this: I am listening to loud music and hear an external door apparently being opened. In every case the door is checked and found to be not opened. Also, on each occasion I was expecting someone to arrive and open the door. I've never heard the sound when playing loud music while not expecting someone to arrive.

Looking at the recent cases above I'm happy to accept the first one was a coincidence. However, in the second case there was no music at all. It is possible that it is an entirely different phenomenon. My speculation is that I heard a similar sound, probably from outside the room, and unconsciously turned it into a door opening sound because I was expecting one. It's possible that this is a variation on the 'sounds behind music' phenomenon. It might be that the sounds I hear while music is playing are perfectly real, just not a door opening. The music makes the unknown sound difficult to identify so I unconsciously turn it into a door opening because that's what I'm expecting. It would be a sort of aural hallucination (probably a replay of an actual memory of the real door opening sound).

The idea of a sound being hallucinated in this way, because of expectation, reminds me of ghostly sounds often reported in haunting cases. Indeed, I've come across reports of witnesses hearing doors opening when they were later found to be locked shut! Someone who thinks they are in a haunted location might be subject to hearing natural ambient sounds as something else because of expectation. And there might be no need for loud music to produce this phenomenon. But it may still be related to the 'sounds behind music' phenomenon.

See also the Vardoger connection here. Incidentally, I'm writing this accompanied by loud music and I've heard a number of 'sounds behind music'. It looks as though thinking about this phenomenon may make it happen - a form of expectation!

12 Nov: Recording ghosts

Apparent figure"This afternoon. If you've got something to say just say it" This comment was spoken in a Scottish accent! There is nothing odd about it except it was heard by my acquaintance (MA) who experiences microsleep with REM (MWR - see here) when completely alone! MA was reading at the time and there was nothing in the text that related to this clearly spoken comment at all.

This was a typical 'voice MWR' like many MA has heard before. They are typically short comments apparently directed at some third party, not MA, as if overheard by someone not aware of MA's presence. There is an interesting parallel with ghost sightings here. In many cases apparitions appear to be entirely unaware of the presence of a witness (see here). The voices heard by MA could easily be interpreted as ghostly voices by someone not aware of their natural origin.

The comments heard in voice MWRs appear random and they are not related to anything MA is doing at the time. However, they make perfect sense within themselves. And in a different context might appear perfectly normal. This got me wondering. Could they be actual memory fragments? Could they be comments overheard by MA at some time in the past? Are they actual memories of specific events being replayed randomly when the brain is in a near sleep state?

A possible objection to this idea is that we do not generally remember events in such detail. However, people with eidetic memories can remember specific accurate memories many years later. Might everyone's memories actually be this detailed but most of us only see them in an unfocussed way for some reason? It's possible. Another alternative is that these voice MWRs are not specific memories of individual incidents but a fusion of several memories put together by our brains. MA says that none of the voice MWRs jog any memories of specific incidents from the past so maybe this latter idea is nearer the truth. Nevertheless, I'm fascinated by the idea that these voice MWRs might actually be real memory fragments being replayed randomly rather than pure inventions.

And what about visual apparitions seen in hypnagogic experiences? Might these also be real memories being replayed? In a hypnagogic experience the witness may see a ghostly figure overlaid on a real scene. The figure is not physically present, it has been added to the real scene by the witness's brain. But could the figure be a memory of a real person seen by the witness in the past being replayed? MA saw the same ghostly figure twice in hypnagogic experiences several months apart (see here). Was it the memory of a specific person MA had seen before being replayed? It is an interesting variation in the idea of ghosts as recordings (see here). Instead of recordings in the environment they may be 'recordings' (or memories) being replayed in the witness's own brain! It would explain why some ghosts don't apparently notice their witnesses!

PS: Explanation of ghostly figure in picture here.

5 Nov: Reproducing a mini-OBE!

cloudsRecently I reported (here) another mini-OBE (out of body experience) I'd had. I saw a featureless white wall much closer than it physically was. The mini-OBE was fairly robust but I could not reproduce it later. I put this down to a change in lighting conditions though it could possibly have been my state of mind too.

I kept thinking about the incident and decided to see if I could reproduce it anyway. I went to the same wall in similar low lighting conditions and stared at it for a while. I stood close enough for the wall for it to completely fill my field of view. I could see slight marks on the otherwise featureless wall. After a while these marks appeared to go fuzzy and wall seemed much closer. I wasn't totally convinced so I put my hand up to feel the wall.

I was shocked! The place where the wall appear to be was empty. I felt nothing even though I could see it! It felt disconcerting. So I really was seeing something closer than its real physical location in space. It demonstrated conclusively to me that the brain can show things from a viewpoint other than the real physical one. And the paranormal was clearly not involved in any way. As discussed here, I think there can be paranormal aspects to OBEs but I don't consider the basic alternate viewpoint anything other than an unusual, but normal, brain function.

Until recently I had considered my various mini-OBE experiences (many reported in this blog) were interesting but not that important. I now realize that they are indeed an important stepping stone towards showing OBEs are not paranormal. Such mini-OBEs just give me a view of a scene closer than I really am. It's not such a big thing compared to a full OBE. Except actually it is. It demonstrates that the brain can show a scene from a different viewpoint to the normal 'behind the eyes' one we are all used to, even when fully conscious. It is that alternative viewpoint which is the big trick of OBEs. Full-blown OBEs alter the angle of view, unlike mini-OBEs, but the trick is the same. The brain is constructing a view from a place different to the physical position of the eyes.

© Maurice Townsend 2019


Previous blog pages ...

  • Oct 2019 (including how you know you've seen a ghost, ghost in an alley and a hi-vis jacket)
  • Sep 2019 (including instrumenting ghost vigils, are OBEs paranormal, day to night instantly)
  • Aug 2019 (including how do you recognise an OBE, ghost people, the unnoticed witness - a type of ghost experience)
  • Jul 2019 (including old style ghost vigils, fairy-like photos, tiny shadowt on roof)
  • 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