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. You may not notice it but this site changes on an almost daily basis.

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'

22 April: A bizarre near miss!

Crows in a treeI was wandering slowly towards a lightly-used railway station recently when I saw someone I recognized standing alone on the platform. I couldn't remember their name, at first. But I did know immediately the man was a well-known actor whose work I admire. Regular readers will be aware that I am waiting to see if my 'prediction' that I'll see someone famous this month (see here) will come true. And it appeared it had!

But as I got closer I realised, with some disappointment, that the man was not who I thought it was at all. There was a resemblance but that's all. But the man definitely WAS the famous actor from a distance, not just someone who resembled them. So this would appear to be a case of misperception. I suppose we could call it 'identity misperception'. So what's going on here?

Firstly, I'll admit I've thought about seeing someone famous several times this month. However, I wasn't thinking about it consciously when I approached the railway station. But perhaps I was unconsciously on high alert constantly looking for someone famous. This could partly explain why I've been seeing famous people at 'predicted' intervals. It could be that, though I'm not consciously looking for them, unconsciously I am, but only when I 'expect' them. Of course, the famous person still needs to be physically present but, even so, being on the lookout has got to improve the chances of seeing one. I've no doubt I've passed famous people in the street, on occasion, without noticing them.

Secondly, the idea of 'identity misperception' is interesting. Misperception substitutes images from visual memory onto objects our brains don't properly recognise. A classic case is where a poorly-seen tree is viewed as a human figure. The figure is, in my experience, someone the viewer does not recognise. It hadn't occurred to me before that a poorly-seen real human figure might be seen as someone recognisable to the witness. But since visual substitution draws on the witness's memory, this makes perfect sense!

Thirdly, how do I know for a fact that all these famous people I've been seeing where really who I thought they were? Well, in all those cases I got a very close view of the person, often down to a metre or two. I've even brushed shoulders with one! Also, in many of the cases I had someone with me who completely agreed with the identification. And, in many cases, I heard the famous person talk, either to a companion or on the phone, thus confirming their identity. In fact, I don't recall one example of me seeing such a person on my own where they did not speak. So I'm confident of all those earlier identifications.

So how would 'identity misperception' affect anomalous phenomena cases? It might explain some case of people being seen when they are physically elsewhere. And though most reported apparitions are not recognized by their witnesses, some of those that are might be explained by 'identity misperception'. I think there are more implications to examine arising from 'identity misperception'. I will no doubt return to the subject.

It does mean, of course, that I still haven't seen the expected famous person this month, despite apparently unconsciously looking hard for one. And time is running out.

20 April: Double UFO photo

Grey sky UFOsPhotos containing multiple UFOs are surprisingly common. I find it surprising because seeing even one UFO is an unusual thing. But, then, I suppose there's no real reason why UFOs should not appear in groups.

Anyway, here's a UFO photo (right) I took recently. Apart from being cropped, the photo is completely unedited. It shows two somewhat fuzzy objects against a grey sky. The objects look, to me, like white circles, or spheres, with a dark ring around their middles. Overall they resemble the planet Saturn in appearance. So what are they?

The first thing to say is that 'fuzzy' is the key word here. The objects are out of focus. It is difficult to get small moving objects in the sky in focus using autofocus. I did succeed in getting these objects in focus in another photo which showed that they are, in fact, gulls.

So why do birds look like circles with a dark ring? The 'ring' effect is caused by their wings, which are grey, which contrasts with their white bodies. The circular shape arises from the birds being severely out of focus. It is surprisingly how often out of focus objects feature in anomalous photos. In this case, the lack of any other objects in the photo to compare with makes it difficult to appreciate just how blurry these objects really are.

15 April: Strange animal?

not snakeThe photo (right) shows what appears to a strange-looking animal. Is it a large lizard or even a huge snake? I suggest it is large because it towers over the ground vegetation (including clumps of grass) in the background. Given that the photo was taken in the UK, where there are no large lizards, it would have to be something incredibly rare and unlikely, maybe an escape from a zoo or collection or even an alien animal of some kind.

I took this photo because the object looked like something interesting but I could put my finger on what it was at the time. Looking at it later, I deliberately made the image darker and suddenly I could see what it suggested - a huge green lizard, of course. I then cropped the picture to further emphasize the lizard look. I don't think everyone will see it as a lizard but some will.

Now, suppose someone else had taken a photo of this object but in low light conditions. They might well have seen it as a large lizard on the resulting picture and reported it as such. Any photo they took of the object would look like a lizard without any editing at all.

I did all this to illustrate what happens how important context is to anomaly reports. I'm sure that a lot of important contextual information is routinely missing from paranormal reports and anomalous photos. If such contextual information was available to anomaly investigators it could easily point them towards a xenonormal explanation in many cases.

The next picture contains a larger crop of the (otherwise unedited) original photo. It is now obvious that the 'lizard' is actually a moss-covered log. Or is it? I still think the object suggests some sort of animal even in its original form. I know it is a log because I examined it closely when I took the photo.

Moss on logSo how can paranormal investigators obtain this hugely useful contextual information? In the case of anomalous photos, it is extremely useful to examine any other photos taken of the same scene at the same time, if available. With witnessed events, it is understandable if the people present only paid attention to the weird phenomenon itself. So they may well have not noticed a lot of useful information. Some contextual information can be gleaned from site visits by investigators after the event. However, things might well have changed since the original incident. Statements from any additional witnesses present might contain useful extra information. Sadly, with events where there is no photographic or instrumental record, it is highly likely that much important contextual information will be missing.

PS: Half way through month and no famous people yet (see here) ... starting to get nervous!

11 April: Amplified hearing?

Crows in a treeMy acquaintance (MA) who experiences microsleep with REM (MWR - explanation here) noticed a 'new' strange thing recently. I put new in quotes because these things are probably quite normal with MWR but it's the first time MA has experienced them.

MA was on a train and could hear two women, seated nearby, talking. They were talking too quietly for MA to hear what they were saying. Then, quite suddenly. MA could hear every word perfectly. MA cannot remember what the conversation was about except that the subject seemed fairly mundane. Then MA came out of a MWR! As this happened, the words in the women's conversation became impossible to hear once again.

It appears that the MWR was somehow allowing MA to hear the women's conversation. Or was it? There are two likely explanations for this 'amplified hearing' phenomenon, both raising intriguing questions. The most obvious is that MA was not hearing the real conversation at all but a fictitious version produced by MA's own brain. A MWR is, after all, a part dream state. It is typical for MWRs to mix real sensory information with dream imagery.

The other likely explanation is that the MWR actually helped MA to hear the real conversation somehow. There doesn't seem any obvious way that a MWR could amplify the sound but maybe it could reduce background noises, like noise cancelling headphones. Hearing is, of course, like all senses, primarily a brain thing. So maybe there is a mechanism in the brain that can, in certain circumstances, filter out background noise. One clue is the way that, when people are asleep, certain sounds, like alarm clocks or babies crying, seem to disturb them while others, of equal volume, are ignored. It appears that the sleeping brain only hears things of vital importance, filtering out the rest. A MWR state is part dream and so might have access to such a noise filter mechanism within the brain. The same thing might happen in hypnagogic episodes. What is needed is more examples of this kind to see if a sound filter operates during such near sleep states.

Without knowing what the women were actually saying, it's not possible to say which possible explanation might be true. Whatever the cause of the phenomenon, it is easy to see how 'amplified hearing' could be interpreted as paranormal by someone who experiences it. If anyone knows of any reports of similar 'amplified hearing' experiences, please let me know.

6 April: This is fame month!

Crows in a treeSo here it is, April, the month when I'm due to see someone famous. It hasn't happened as yet but there's plenty of time. For those people new to this blog, a little background. Regular readers will be aware that I have noted my apparent tendency to see more celebrities, while going about my everyday business, than might seem 'normal'. I calculated that I see about 0.23 per month. I have not been able to discover an average rate for the general population but that seems high to me.

I haven't been able to find any statistics on this, perhaps not surprisingly, so I don't know what 'normal' is. I do, however, have a baseline to compare with. I have only started to see celebrities frequently in the last few years. Before that I probably only saw maybe half a dozen famous people in the whole of my life. I could name them all there were so few. This is why I'm convinced I'm now seeing an abnormally high number. But why?

My best hypothesis is that as we grow older we see, over time, more and more famous people in the media. So the number of celebrities that any individual might recognise grows with time. So, even though the chance of meeting any celebrity remains the same over time, older people will recognise more of them. This doesn't, however, explain why I seemed to recognise a lot more of them quite suddenly. But if this wasn't weird enough, there's another twist.

Back in April last year I wrote, that (23 April 2015): " I'm expecting my next celebrity in around 4 months! ". Now, of course., 0.23 is just an average, it doesn't mean that celebrities will turn up every four months on cue. Except that, in this case that's exactly what appears to be happening. So, I saw my next celebrity in August (see here) and then December (see here). And the next one is 'due' this month!

Am I creating this phenomenon through expectation? I don't believe so. I have a dreadful memory and most of the time I have forgotten all about the idea of seeing famous people. Indeed, on each recent occasion I've only remembered the 0.23 average AFTER seeing the celebrity.

I decided to mention it BEFORE any celebrity sighting this time as an experiment. If no sighting occurs I'll note it at the end of the month and put the whole phenomenon down to coincidence. But will mentioning the thing now make it more or less likely that I'll see a celebrity this month? It could make me think about the possibility so that, quite unconsciously, I might scan people in the street more carefully than usual. That would obviously increase the odds of seeing someone famous. I certainly won't do this consciously as I'm keen to see if it's a real phenomenon. So far this month I haven't thought about this subject until now and don't recall scanning people in the street. My gut feeling is that I won't see anyone famous this month but who knows.

Last month's (March) website figures are an average of 15906 hits per day. This is very similar to the previous month's 15828 daily average.

© Maurice Townsend 2016


Previous blog pages ...

  • 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