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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24 Sep: Instruments on ghost vigils: doing the tech stuff

Magnetic field produced by a washing machineInstruments are now commonly used on ghost vigils. Personally, all I would normall take is a camera with video capability. That's because people mostly see and hear ghostly phenomena. So it seems a good place to start. Any other instruments I'd use would be based on what had been reported n a particular location. So if there were cold spots reported then obviously a digital thermometer (not an IR one - see here for why not) would be useful. Incidentally, the camera would not be at any disadvantage, compared to an infra-red camera, as I can see no obvious reason to turn the lights off during ghost vigils (see here for more on this). But that's just me, everyone must make their own decisions on these matters.

I do have my reasons for keeping instrumentation simple. I have been a serious amateur photographer most of my life and I still don't know all there is to know about photography. If you want to benefit from my lengthy research into anomalous photos without spending years on it see here. So why wouldn't I use an EMF meter, say, on a ghost vigil? I was going to summarize my article on the subject but I'll just link to it instead (here). More years of effort on my part! My overall point is that I would only use an instrument if I understood it well. So, for instance, I'd want to understand the physical quantity being measured, how the instrument worked specifically, accuracy and sensitivity, what normal readings look like in a very wide range of situations. Sadly, I've found it takes a lot of effort to obtain reasonable technical knowledge to get what I would call useful results. I don't know of any short-cut to obtaining such knowledge.

As I said earlier, this is the way I would use instruments on a ghost vigil. But it is up to everyone to decide on their own approach to this. Incidentally, the graph is a magnetic field frequency spectrum. It's not a ghost, though, but a washing machine.

17 Sep: How paranormal is an OBE?

cloudsIn my last post I described having a mini-OBE (out of the body experience). I could see a white wall much closer than it actually was. I've had similar experiences before. In each case a scene looked closer than it physically was. Also, in each case the scene suddenly switched back to normal instantaneously at some point.

I think these mini-OBEs demonstrate that the brain can construct a scene from a different point of view to the one we normally see. In the mini-OBEs nothing appears that is not visible to our eyes. There is no suggestion that mini-OBEs are paranormal in any way. So why do they occur? As misperception shows, when we see it is actually an image built up in our brain using various inputs, including sight and memory, of what our brain thinks is present. It is not a literal representation of what is really there. The TPJ (temporoparietal junction) in our brains maintains our sense of where we are in space and it uses sight, touch and 'balance' (from the inner ear) to do so. However, our sight is the sense that overrules others on many occasions and that is what I think happens with these visual mini-OBEs. The visually uniform scene that produces mini-OBEs tricks the brain into misjudging distances. So the brain produces an image as seen from a different point of view.

What mini-OBEs demonstrate is that we can see things, on occasion, from a different point of view, without any paranormal mechanism. I think that 'full' (or normal) OBEs, where the witness sees a scene from a completely different viewpoint, such as floating from the ceiling, are probably produced by the same non-paranormal brain process. There is a big difference, of course. In normal OBEs the witness sees things that cannot be seen by their eyes. So how is this possible?

I think things that are invisible to the witness's eyes are often 'filled in' from memory. That's assuming the witness has seen those objects prior to entering an OBE, of course. Things not seen before may be 'filled in' from visual archetypes, like those used in misperception. It is, I suspect, the same way in which scenery in dreams is constructed - partly from specific memories of actual locations and partly from general memories of what a table, for instance, looks like. Things not seen by the witness might even be inserted as a result of sounds. If the witness hears crockery being knocked, for instance, it could be inserted in the scene even though the witness cannot physically see it. Other unseen items might be inserted because the witness expects them to be there. Cutlery might be inserted into the scene if crockery was heard even though it produced no sound.

This is not to exclude a paranormal element from certain OBE experiences. If something is seen in an OBE that the witness could, for whatever reason, not possibly be aware of or even guess at, but is pjysically present, then some paranormal agency may be at work. But I don't think we need invoke the paranormal to explain simply seeing a scene from a different to normal viewpoint.

11 Sep: A white OBE

cloudsSo I happened to be facing a featureless white wall recently, as you do, when something strange happened. The wall seemed to leap towards me. Suddenly it was just in front of my nose when, in reality, it was some 15cm away. And yet it looked much closer even though I knew it wasn't. The effect was quite stable provided I did not look away from the wall. The wall filled my entire view. It had slight marks on it and these appeared closer than they should. I tried some experiments with different illumination of the white wall. The effect only seemed to occur with a warm colour illumination, not white light.

This appears to be another 'mini-OBE' (out if the body experience). something I've had before. The key factors seem to be that the wall was generally featureless and filled my entire field of vision, as well as the type of illumination. This clearly confused my brain about the distances involved. It is similar to an episode I had with a uniform brickwork pattern (see here) where, again, I thought I was much closer to it than I physically was.

What I find fascinating is that in such situations the brain accurately produces an image that is from a different point of view to the actual position of the witness's eyes. I think this demonstrates that our sense of vision is not as straightforward as one might imagine. It is not simply a case of light hitting our eyes we see a totally accurate view of what is physically in front of us. As misperception shows, it is more a case of an image being built up in our brain using various inputs, including sight and memory, of what our brain thinks is there. And sometimes the brain gets it wrong. The TPJ (temporoparietal junction) in our brains maintains our sense of where we are in space and it uses sight, touch and 'balance' (from the inner ear) to do so. However, our sight is the sense that overrules others on many occasions and that is what I think happens with these visual mini-OBEs. The lack of perspective in a uniform scene sometimes produces a mistake about distance.

It all made me think about my previous post, also about OBEs. I am getting moreĀ convinced that hypnagogia can produce OBEs. Hypnagogia occur when part of the brain is asleep and other bits awake. If the TPJ was asleep then it would be easy for hypnagogic experiences to involve a different point of view. It is a different mechanism to the mini-OBEs but the effect is the same.

I have had one previous white mini-OBE. I was, many years ago, in a whiteout on the Cairngorm plateau in winter. The snow and white overcast sky blended into each other to produce a disorienting completely featureless white scene. I don't recall feeling like my point of view had changed but it was more like floating in space. Oddly, though I had a companion with me, I felt completely alone! I was not far from some cornices which, if I'd walked on one, would have collapsed under my weight and dropped me down a crag! The only thing to do was to retrace my steps. Luckily, the footprints I'd made in the snow were still visible! Strange experience!

3 Sep: Day to night instantly!

Dark skyIn my last post I said my acquaintance (MA) who gets microsleep with REM experiences (MWR - see here) had something resembling an OBE = out of the body experience. I also said it was the only one MA had had. Well now MA has had another and it's even weirder!

This time MA was on a bus travelling along a very familiar street. Suddenly MA was outside the bus on the adjacent pavement. MA could see all the same shops just as they were visible to the 'other' MA on the bus! Sadly MA did not have time during the short experience to turn round and look at the bus where the 'other' MA was presumably still sitting on a passing bus. However, even if MA HAD done this it is highly unlikely the bus would have been visible! That's because it was dark in the street where MA was standing. But on the bus it was broad daylight! The two experiences were clearly taking place at different times of day!

So what's going on? This looks like a hypnagogic experience where a real view of a street is being mixed with dream content - namely that day has been transformed to night! Or it could be a memory, like MA's previous apparent OBE? If it is hypnagogic it is notable because of the change of point of view of the observer, not to mention the fact that MA was moving while the 'other one' was stationary! It is difficult to decide if it's a memory or hypnagogia. I suspect, however, that it is a memory prompted by a real view of the street. The reason I think that is that hypnagogic experiences don't involve a change of point of view. Unless, of course, at least some OBEs are, in fact, hypnagogic experiences with a shifted point of view! I've had experiences myself from a different point of view so a hypnagogic version seems plausible.

This second 'different point of view' MWR (is this a new type) certainly suggests a link between at least some short OBEs and MWRs. i hadn't suspected any such link before now. It will be fascinating to see if any more such experiences occur.

© Maurice Townsend 2019


Previous blog pages ...

  • 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