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 October: Samhain mystery

Weird sunIt's that time of year when people expect to see ghosts. But in my experience, there are no more ghostly experiences now than at any other time of year. So, unsurprising, my latest strange experience does not involve a ghost. It is, however, decidedly odd, despite revolving around shoes.

Anyway, I bought some new shoes the other day. So far, so unremarkable. Just outside the shop I decided to stop and check the shoes. I found that one was a different size to the other! It was a mistake, obviously, and the shop rectified it straight away. But what I couldn't understand was why I even felt the need to check the shoes at all. OK, a confession - I do check things, more than most people. But I've never checked a pair of shoes I've just bought before EVER! And I've never been sold a mismatched pair before EVER! For clartity, I should point out I did not try the shoes on in the shop as I was in a hurry and I know my size.

So what made me check on this occasion? I just had an odd feeling, which I can't explain. Was it some sort of paranormal insight? I've no idea. It could, of course, just be a coincidence, as so many strange incidents turn out to be. I guess I'll just never know. Happy Samhain!

23 October: Still unseen in plain sight!

RobinAfter I'd written the last blog post, about imperceptions, I had an oddly relevant experience. I failed to see something right in front of me that I could hardly miss! It was a bird, specifically the one in the photo (right). It was so close I could have touched it if I'd leaned over, though I doubt it would have stayed.

I was out birding so I had no excuse not to see the very obvious Robin right in front of me in a bush. But it was only when my companion pointed it out that I saw the bird. What is more, several other people walked by, even closer to the bird, and they failed to notice it as well, even though by this time I was taking photos of it. How can such obvious things get missed?

In this particular case, I was fiddling with my camera and not really looking for birds at the time. However, if the bird had called or moved I've no doubt I'd have noticed it. This is how I notice most birds. They can be surprisingly difficult to see when they remain motionless and silent perched in a bush or tree.

This is clearly not a case of imperception (see here). I could see the bird very easily as soon as my attention was drawn to it. Rather it is a case of not paying attention. Had the bird moved or called it would have drawn my attention. Had I searched the bush methodically, looking for birds, I'd also have seen it easily.

As I said in the previous post, whenever I read about someone's anomalous experience, I always wonder what I'd have seen if I'd been there. When I've seen strange things (many reported in this blog over the years), I've always visually check the scene carefully, after the incident was over. Doing this has often revealed natural explanations for apparently paranormal incidents. Unfortunately, most witnesses to strange incidents don't do this. They are, understandably, shocked by what they've witnessed and not paying too much attention to their surroundings. I'm convinced, by my own experience, that many apparently paranormal incidents could be easily explained as xenonormal if only the witness looked around a bit after the incident. Examining the scene weeks or months later can be helpful in looking for explanations. However, many strange incidents are caused by coincidence where many factors just happen to come together at the same place and time. Even minutes later things may have changed sufficiently for an explanation to no longer be obvious. Just as I'd have never noticed the obvious Robin right in front of me if someone else hadn't pointed it out.

17 October: Unseen in plain sight!

RobinI have myopia, like many others. I wear glasses to get a reasonably sharp view of the world. But over time my eyesight changes to the point where I no longer see well and need a new prescription. But something rather interesting happens in that period where I am in need of new glasses. I start to not see things in plain sight!

Regular readers will know that I am a birder as well as a paranormal researcher. It's when out birding that I notice 'missing things in plain sight' mostly. For instance, I might look at the same patch of sky as someone standing next to me. They can plainly see a distant bird but I can't. I don't see a fuzzy dot or anything like that. No, i just see plain blue empty sky!

It is a form of misperception I call 'imperception' (see here). In the example above, my brain actually 'fills in' blue sky where there is actually an object it just can't see very well. Usually misperceptions stop after a short period and you start to see what's really there.. With imperceptions this does not usually happen - I just never see the object I know is there. It is a strange, chastening experience. And it is not only people with imperfect eyesight who experience imperceptions. In the right circumstance it can happen to anyone. Almost everyone, for instance, will miss seeing an object that blends in well with its background.

Such imperceptions can be an important factor in generating reports of anomalous experiences. For instance, many ghost reports feature human figures that appear to vanish, generally if the witness looks away briefly. In some cases it may simply be that the figure has moved behind another object (or in front of a background where they blend in visually).

Whenever I hear an account of an anomalous experience I always wonder what I would have seen if I'd been there too. In some cases it is possible that there was a natural cause for an apparently anomalous incident that was visible in plain sight. But the witness just didn't see it.

And, drawing on my own experience, when someone has glasses or contact lenses to correct their eyesight it would be useful to know if they are in need of a new prescription!

9 October: Street Light Interference

Street lightI was in a building recently where my only view outside was of an alleyway. Being on the first floor I was looking down at the street lights which had recently come on as it was evening. Then I noticed something rather strange. A street light nearby suddenly went dark. There was no one anywhere near it so it couldn't be considered a case of street light interference (SLI). Then, a few minutes later, the same light came on again. I noticed it was flickering slightly, unlike the other lights nearby which all remained on throughout the time I was watching. The street light then went off again after about a minute. Still, there was no one anywhere nearby. I watched the scene for over an hour and the street light performed a repeated cycle continuously. It came on for about a minute, went off for about three minutes, and then came back on again and repeated the cycle.

I wondered what would happen if someone just happened to be walking by as the light went out. They might well consider it a case of SLI. In SLI, street lights are extinguished just as someone walks under them. If this happens once then it might obviously be considered a coincidence. If it keeps on happening to the same person, then it could be considered SLI. I've had one or two street lights go off when I've walked past them over the years but I think it is just coincidence in my case, maybe a faulty light. Some people have reported such incidents more frequently. By observing this particular street light over an extended period I could see that it went on and off in periodic way which had nothing to do with any passing pedestrians. But someone going by just once, exactly when the light turned off, might easily have thought it a SLI incident. Few people stand around watching what happens to street lights over a long period so they wouldn't notice the repeated cycle I saw.

ASSAP published what is thought to be the first book on SLI. It was The SLI Effect by Hilary Evans. You can read it in its entirety for free by clicking the link. That was published way back in 1993 but interest in the subject continues to this day.

The street light in the photo is the one that has been used for testing at ASSAP's Seriously Strange conferences over the years. It explains the rather unlikely background! I don't think anyone has ever got the light to go off - so far!

2 October: Ghostly sounds - a purpose?

Sound graphResearching the 'sounds behind the music' phenomenon is difficult! This effect, which could easily be taken for a haunting phenomenon, only seems to happen when I'm not expecting it. So doing experiments is difficult! But recently I experienced it TWICE within a short period, despite expecting it after the first incident. So how did that happen?

The factors I've identified in this phenomenon are loud music and the witness reading or writing and expecting to hear something imminently. I think the phenomenon is caused by attention overload (see here). Research has shown that such attention overload stops people from hearing ambient sounds that they might normally notice. I think that when someone is expecting something to happen during attention overload they may have auditory hallucinations. So what particular factor might cause the effect to happen twice which it does not normally?

In this latest incident I was alone in a building but with a high expectation that someone would arrive at any moment. I think it was the high expectancy that caused multiple 'sound behind the music' effects. Interestingly, on evert occasion when I've heard this phenomenon I have also heard the real incident I was expecting when it finally occurred. On other occasions, when I had loud music on but was not expecting anything to happen, I have missed someone's arrival. This suggests that the 'sounds behind music' effect actually makes my brain hear events I need to hear. Somehow hearing a hallucination appears to make me more sensitive to the real thing! Maybe it works like the cocktail party effect when you can hear someone say your name in a hubbub of voices. It might prime the brain with the particular noise to pick out from the loud music.

© Maurice Townsend 2018


Previous blog pages ...

  • Sep 2018 (including ghost crow, ghostliy sounds and attention overload, ghostly noises and day dreaming)
  • Aug 2018 (including how do you know when you're looking at a ghost, have ghostly voices stopped)
  • July 2018 (including new mini-OBE, 'sounds behind music' factors, followed by a ghost)
  • June 2018 (including hearing someone who isn't there, a bolt from the blue, when nothing happened)
  • May 2018 (including whether strange phenomena can evolve over time and the sleeping commuter phenomenon)
  • Apr 2018 (including should ghosts be commoner at night, book turns over instantly, 'garden poltergeist' returns)
  • Mar 2018 (including are rare events paranormal, like a time slip, strange leaning man, mystery flashing light)
  • Feb 2018 (including explanation for apparent precognition, ghostly figures, a huge invisible presence)
  • Jan 2018 (including ghostly conversation, ghost selfie, person vanishes, more stuff 'behind' music)
  • Dec 2017 (including a connection between reading and phantom sounds and investigating coincidences)
  • Nov 2017 (including man moving instantly, unexpected fall of night, ghosts rarely turning up on vigils)
  • Oct 2017 (including sounds 'behind' music, non-blurry ghost, ghost with a paunch, small human ghost)
  • Sep 2017 (including seeing ghosts to order, paper defies gravity, precognition, moving aerial mystery)
  • Aug 2017 (including identifiable ghosts, psychic message, like time standing still, on not seeing foxes)
  • Jul 2017 (including invisible ghosts, sense of presence in rain, precognition, haunting sounds)
  • Jun 2017 (including more real that reality, white flying object, pale figure at a window)
  • May 2017 (including ghosts: in a crowd, in a hi vis vest, object movement and sounds)
  • Apr 2017 (including no glasses no ghost, odd ghost, embarrassing ghost, fame month works again)
  • Mar 2017 (including white glowing shape or ghost, another source of 'presence', a ghost returns)
  • Feb 2017 (including fish in sky, best ghost in months, strange transparent object, recounting experiences often)
  • Jan 2017 (including ghostly face, phantom snow boarder, unexpected return of fame month)
  • Dec 2016 (including vanishing mouse. grey fuzzy thing, yellow dots, doppelganger)
  • Nov 2016 (including ghost fox, strange small figure in photo, haunting noises)
  • Oct 2016 (including strange voice, disintegrating ghost, ghostly leaf in focus to short-sighted witness)
  • Sep 2016 (including ghost on demand, shadow ghost, amplified hearing, anniversary ghosts)
  • Aug 2016 (including figure vanishes, strange music, phantom squirrel, fame month again)
  • Jul 2016 (including robot on wall, ghostly hooded figure, new house effect, transparent figures in photos)
  • Jun 2016 (including odd UFO, amplified hearing, alternate realities, strange stick figure on roof)
  • May 2016 (including farewell to the door ghost, restaurant ghost, invisible book, shrinking object)
  • Apr 2016 (including double UFO photo, strange animal, amplified hearing, fame month)
  • Mar 2016 (including time slip, strange brown blob, pig becomes horse, ghosts out or in focus)
  • Feb 2016 (including identifiable ghost, ghost in odd pose, leaning ghost, door ghost returns, ideal witness)
  • Jan 2016 (including too strange to be noticed, vanishing man, giant glowing pig, UFO reports)
  • Dec 2015 (including strange object with a tail, crouching ghost, scurrying ghost, sea serpents, false stepping)
  • Nov 2015 (including paranormal object movement, premonitions., distance of sighted ghosts, soundproof barrier)
  • Oct. 2015 (including monk and nun ghosts, white ghosts, red ghosts, touching ghosts, life going fast forward)
  • Sep 2015 (including glowing transparent ghost, unsettling ghost, insect ghost, UFO in clouds, linear photo anomalies)
  • Aug 2015 (including alien robot, white UFO, unlikely prediction comes true, animal ghosts. streaks in photos)
  • July 2015 (including coincidence versus precognition, paranormal smells, music and ghosts)
  • June 2015 (including interactive ghost, presence on train, orbs, spade wings)
  • May 2015 (including ghosts seen during vigils, mystery flash, sense of presence, transparent ghost, daytime UFO)
  • Apr 2015 (including UFO behind trees, orbs behind anything, possible cause of road ghost sightings, white-hatted ghost)
  • Mar 2015 (including moving object looking motionless, retreating ghost, IFO turning into a UFO)
  • Feb 2015 (including best ghost yet, how things vanish, purple thing, ghost in inappropriate attire)
  • Jan 2015 (including winter insect orbs, ghost from a train, strangeness threshold, flashes in the sky)
  • Dec 2014 (including lumpy horizon, green blob, strange lights, orbs, white floating thing)
  • Nov 2014 (including doors opening by themselves, haunting flashes, sense of presence, formant noise)
  • Oct 2014 (including animal ghosts, tricorn-hatted figure, seeing 0.23 celebrities monthly, dancing ghost)
  • Sep 2014 (including paper defying gravity, low flying UFOs, photographing ghosts, moving still photos)
  • Aug 2014 (including figure on a pillar, orbs still worth studying, ghost objects, shadow ghost)
  • July 2014 (including yellow orb, teleportation, ghostly whispers, owl, strange announcement)
  • June 2014 (including hand in a tree, blurry flying object, white alien, strange pattern on a dragonfly)
  • May 2014 (including single witness UFOs, ghosts vanishing, anomalies seen through gaps, rock face, creeping doppelgangers)
  • Apr 2014 (including unrecognized ghosts, odd UFO photo, do short-sighted people see ghosts, man with no face)
  • Mar 2014 (including unusual shaped UFO, ghost on a train, ghost presence, vampires, ghost calling)
  • Feb 2014 (including confusion, daylight orbs, haunted milk bottle, ghost on a bridge, too obvious explantations)
  • Jan 2014 (including colliding orbs, ball lightning, de-orbing, ghost mouse, mysterious flashes, ghost misidentification)
  • Dec 2013 (including popping orbs, new shadow ghost, ignoring a ghostly hand, dust turning into orbs videoed)
  • Nov 2013 (including hearing voices, blurry ghosts, mirrors and ghosts, coincidences, UFOs near airports)
  • Oct 2013 (including fairy photo, mist ghost, yeti, premonitions, orbs are NOT dust, how hauntings start)
  • Sep 2013 (including moving sticks, targets affecting odds in psi tests, shape shifting, not photographing ghosts)
  • Aug 2013 (including ghosts in plain view, mystery photo, seeing faces, ear pointing, shadow presence, time distortion)
  • July 2013 (including floating ghosts, on being a ghost, ghost ducks, follow that ghost - yes, ghosts galore)
  • June 2013 (including transparent ghosts, distance of UFOs, other stuff going on while witnessing anomalous phenomena)
  • May 2013 (including ghost seen AND photographed, time distortion, reproducing anomalous phenomena)
  • Apr 2013 (including door ghost moving, UFOs from a train, missing time, reality glitches, EVP without E, weird photos)
  • Mar 2013 (including witness credibility, distraction to see ghosts, movie in real life, photo or witness)
  • Feb 2013 (including possible orb comeback, OBEs go mainstream, walking ghost, feelings without touch, object movement)
  • Jan 2013 (including a big problem with ghost vigils, time distortions, cryptids, snow ghosts and rods, causes of hauntings)
  • Dec 2012 (including mysterious injuries, ghosts versus people, voice from nowhere, experimenting with a ghost)
  • Nov 2012 (including reflected ghost, isolated EVPs, ghosts talking to each other, invisible presences)
  • Oct 2012 (including ghostly presence, shadow ghost, strange pigeons, window ghosts, hallucinations)
  • Sep 2012 (including yellow grass, weird waterfalls, vanishing buzzard, ghost vigils, slowing down time)
  • Aug 2012 (including seeing unknown animals, glowing lampposts, EMF meters as an accident of history)
  • July 2012 (including turning rods into orbs, psychic insight, making insects spell, glowing eyes, haunting hot spots)
  • June 2012 (including doppelganger mystery, not expecting ghosts, anecdotal evidence, credible witnesses)
  • May 2012 (including lenticular cloud, ghost encounter, ghost train, weird stuff in a tree, van Gogh, resolution)
  • Apr 2012 (including naturalists and ghosts, odd feelings during OBE, wrong kind of sound, voice from nowhere)
  • Mar 2012 (including jogging and ghosts, misty ghosts, image noise, full spectrum photography, EVP of machines)
  • Feb 2012 (including ghost car, analyzing anomalous photos, ghost at rock concert, OBEs and motion sickness)
  • Jan 2012 (including stopping flying rods, photographing fairies, time warp, a ghost tie, ghostly fingers, New Year UFOs)
  • Dec 2011 (including missing time, improving ghost vigils, anomalous photos, ghostly faces, seeing fiction)
  • Nov 2011 (including OBE video games, EVP and VLF, whatshisname, paranormal misconceptions, invisible ghosts)
  • Oct 2011 (including smartphone ghosts, similacrum, smell of ghosts, morphing UFOs, slowing time)
  • Sep 2011 (including tidy ghost, MADS, transparent ghost, big announcement, ghost fox, not alone)
  • Aug 2011 (including cold spots, spectral hound, triangular UFO, ghost photos, rushing air and being dragged)
  • July 2011 (including Hilary Evans, Harry Potter, witness investment, bias in paranormal research, TV detectives)
  • June 2011 (including ASSAP @ 30, detecting lies, hyper-vigilence, strange thunder)
  • May 2011 (including ASSAP @ 30, lone shoes, flying rods, bias, early memories, strange floating object)
  • Apr 2011 (including royal wedding, mirror touch synaesthesia, sleep disorders, new ghost sighting)
  • Mar 2011 (including roof heron, Atlantis, first time witnesses, comparing film to digital paranormal photos)
  • Feb 2011 (including predicting the future, ghost bird, time slip, weird floor, what do we really know about paranormal)
  • Jan 2011 (including the ghost hunting boom, orange UFO, EVP experiment, extreme normality)
  • Dec 2010 (including microsleeps and road ghosts, shadow ghost in snow, lack of ghosts in photos, anthropomorphism)
  • Nov 2010 (including EMF meters, auras, evidence for precognition, sensitisation, the ghost hunting boom)
  • Oct 2010 (including black orbs, UnConvention, mirror visions, levitation, flying rods and orbs)
  • Sep 2010 (including a ring tone from the roof, shadow ghost video, time slip explanation, daylight orb video)
  • Aug 2010 (including Parisian UFO, sense of presence, SLI, consulting experts, misperception)
  • Jul 2010 (including Sherlock Holmes as a paranormal investigator, haunting sounds, what ARE hallucinations)
  • Jun 2010 (including the Loch Ness Monster, gorilla video, getting ghost stories the wrong way round)
  • May 2010 (including ball lightning, Wem ghost photo, waking up twice, eyewitnesses, Robin Hood)
  • Apr 2010 (including causes of road ghosts, new orb evidence, bird UFOs, UFO photo, not quite seeing is believing)
  • Mar 2010 (including experiencing hypnagogia, consciousness, belief, prolonged misperception, doppelganger)
  • Feb 2010 (including visual continuity errors - AKA ghosts, near sleep experiences on trains, spontaneous OOBEs)
  • Jan 2010 (including intelligent oil, SLI, inducing OOBEs, orange UFOs, the bleak midwinter)
  • Dec 2009 (including review of research in the noughties, pretty orbs, imperceptions, river monster)
  • Nov 2009 (including EVP without a recorder, demons and entities, why only some people see ghosts)
  • Oct 2009 (including grey ghost, near sleep experiences, a triangular UFO and seeing David Beckham)
  • Sep 2009 (including latent memory, Tufted Puffin, Bermuda Triangle and garden poltergeist)
  • Aug 2009 (including official UFO files, partial ghosts, flying rods and miracles)
  • Jul 2009 (including garden poltergeist, big cat video, orbs and hypnotic regression)
  • Jun 2009 (including thoughts from nowhere, shadow ghosts, premonitions and metallic UFO)
  • May 2009 (including analysing paranormal photos, making ghosts and ghost lore)
  • Apr 2009 (including phantom bird, choice blindness and grass that gets up and walks away)
  • Mar 2009 (including deja vu, ghostly mists, weird UFO photo, white ghosts)
  • Feb 2009 (including hidden memories, coincidences, auras and window UFOs)
  • Jan 2009 (including animals sensing ghosts, vampires, flying rod season and a haunted path)
  • Dec 2008
  • Nov 2008
  • Oct 2008
  • Sep 2008
  • Aug 2008
  • July 2008
  • June 2008
  • May 2008
  • April 2008
  • March 2008
  • February 2008
  • January 2008
  • December 2007
  • November 2007
  • October 2007
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