ASSAP: Paranormal Research
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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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30 August: Update: a clue to the missing ghostly voices?

Weird sunI've an update on the previous post of two days ago (see below). MA (my acquaintance who gets microsleep with REM - MWR - experiences) has had more voice MWRs since my last report. The latest was on a train. It looks as though the ghostly voices have not stopped, simply reduced in frequency. I was reminded by this latest experience that many of MA's previous voice MWRs have also taken place on trains.

Overall the picture now is that there has been a definite reduction in MWRs overall, particularly the voice version. And this reduction appears to be linked to MA doing more reading from electronic displays rather than books or magazines. Reading from a physical page seemed to be a particularly rich source of voice MWRs.

So the question is now, why are words on a physical page apparently more likely to produce voice MWRs compared to an electronic screen? Here are my thoughts on this. Reading from a screen is typically more likely to be a less prolonged, less intense affair. It is easy to get distracted when reading from a screen. With a book there is nothing else to look at but on an electronic device it is possible to look up references and background articles and follow links (including adverts). It is also easy to get distracted by alerts and other apps while reading. In contrast, reading a book, without distractions, facilitates 'slow reading' which requires greater concentration.

So there are likely to be different mental states when reading from a book compared to a screen. It appears that the greater concentration used when reading from a physical page may produce a mental state that produces voice MWRs in those who have such experiences. This may be a clue to the mental states associated with MWRs. It would be interesting to know, if a paranormal case sounds like it may be explained by MWRs, what the witness was doing just prior to a reported incident. Reading a book, perhaps?

And what about the mental state of someone travelling in a train, you may ask? I'm still thinking about that one.

28 August: Why have the ghostly voices stopped?

Weird sun When something strange STOPS happening it can give us important clues about the nature of the phenomenon. So when I got no recent reports from MA (my acquittance who gets microsleeps with REM or MWRs), who is a prolific reporter of odd experiences*, I was intrigued. MA has had just one MWR in recent weeks. A more normal frequency would be several MWRs per week! So what's going on? And does it tell us anything about this phenomenon that closely resembles psychic experiences?

MA was still getting as many microsleeps as usual but there with no talking or visual imagery. They were just short gaps in time. There was a single exception of one visual MWR on a train, a typical situation for MA to have such experiences. But where have all the 'talking' MWRs, once common (recent discussion), gone?

The most likely trigger for these auditory MWRs has been MA reading. I have speculated in the past that reading words actually triggers a 'talking' MWR. MA has been reading as much as ever recently but with one significant difference. The vast majority of MA's reading recently has been from the screens of electronic devices rather than physical books and magazines. Could this really be the reason for the disappearance of 'talking' MWRs? If so, it knocks a hole in my idea that reading words triggers 'talking' MWRs. So far there appears to be no obvious explanation for what is going on. I know I like to provide an explanation for pretty much everything I report here but on this occasion I cannot. We'll have to await further data!

*See the train ghost, for instance.

21 August: How do you know when you're looking at a ghost?

ShadowI first became interested in ghosts and the paranormal as a child through reading about them. I had never seen a ghost. Later, when I became an active paranormal investigator, I still saw no ghosts despite years of attending vigils. I discovered that a number of other ghost researchers I met had also never seen an apparition either. Then, a few years ago, I saw my first ghost and since then I've seen several more, many mentioned in this blog. So what changed?

The usual reason given for why going on lots of ghost vigils rarely produces apparitions is simple - ghost sightings are rare. If a haunted location produces a handful of sightings in a year it would be considered highly active! So the chances of turning up on one particular night and seeing a ghost are small. So why did I start seeing ghosts, all of them away from vigils?

My explanation has always been that I started seeing ghosts soon after realizing what misperception (a common cause of ghost sightings) was really like. I had previously imagined that misperception was like seeing a vague shape, that might be a face, in a fuzzy photo. Scientific research has shown that misperception isn't like that at all. Instead, a poorly-seen object, like a tree or bush, will be visually substituted with a realistic human figure in the vision of a witness's brain. What you see is a real human figure, as solid and normal as a real person. After I found this out I started to notice my own misperceptions, often of human figures like the door ghost. It was as if knowing the truth about misperceptions 'allowed' me, psychologically, to start seeing them.

While I still think this explanation is basically correct I think there is a wider point here about just how a witness knows they are seeing a ghost. As a ghost researcher I have heard many accounts of ghost sightings and the vast majority agree on one thing - ghosts look just like normal people. They are not transparent or glowing or all white as they are often depicted in movies. Despite this, I think that, for years, I always expected a ghost to look 'different' or 'other' in some way. I think that, deep down, I just couldn't accept that a ghost would look just, well, normal! It's even possible that I DID see a ghost on one of those many vigils but didn't even realize it. And it's also possible that the same may apply to other ghost researchers who've never seen an apparition.

So how DO you know when you're looking at a ghost? In many cases you don't! Witnesses are often not aware they are looking at a ghost until it does something 'impossible', like vanishing. Sometimes witnesses only realize they've seen a ghost after it has gone. They might. for instance, find out that they saw a figure in a place where it was known for certain that there was no one else present at the time. There must be many occasions where someone sees a ghost and NEVER realizes it.

14 August: Even stranger 'thorn' rod!

Flying rodI was not looking to produce a flying rod type picture when I captured the image here (right). I was trying to take photos of hoverflies hovering! The bizarre object, which looks like a short plant stem with thorns, was caused by taking a telephoto image of a hoverfly, in focus, with a shutter speed of 1/250s.

That shutter speed is fast for rod photos which probably explains why it doesn't look like the more usual simple rod with side appendages. This unusual rod has a sort of 3-D look. The image here is a small cropped area of a larger photo. There are other insects in the rest of the photo that I believe are of the same (unidentified) species of hoverfly. Those other insects are out of focus and smaller but obviously recognizable as insects. I think the one shown here is closer and IN focus. I think it is moving at speed rather than hovering. Hoverflies typically fly at around 3.5 m/s with around 120 wing beats per second. The 'appendages' on rods are probably produced by points in the wing beat where the wing is moving slowly enough to produce an image on a photo. This is likely to be the top and bottom of the wing beat where the wing slows down briefly to reverse direction. I think this is what produces the 'thorns' seen here. So why are there three thorns rather than four? It might be that the insect was changing flight direction at the time the photo was taken. That coincidence would explain why such photos are rare.

I took some 'thorn' type rod photos recently (see here). This latest photo is much clearer. The shutter speed for the previous photos was much longer and the insects involved were smaller. That would mean they were probably faster and had more wing beat per second. For much more on rods see here.

8 August: Ghostly sounds behind talking?

Weird sunRegular readers will be aware of the ghostly 'sounds behind music' phenomenon I've recorded in this blog (see here for recent incidents). Briefly, it consists of sounds, usually like someone moving around nearby, while listening to loud music. It is strange because there is no one nearby and the sounds stop instantly when the music stops. So, recently I was watching a video of a sporting event involving commentary and crowd sounds but no music. And then I heard noises, as if someone was moving nearby. It immediately reminded me of the 'sounds behind music' phenomenon.

I turned off the video and listened. To my surprise, the 'other sounds' continued! So I went to look around. The noises were coming from outside the empty building I was in. Through an open window (it was hot!) there was a van being unloaded in the street. This was the source of the 'someone moving around' noises.

I am confident that this wasn't the source of the noises in previous incidents because I checked both inside and out on each occasion. However, I am now open to the possibility that there MIGHT be a 'sounds behind talking' as well as a 'sounds behind music' phenomenon. It appears quite likely to me. Unfortunately, deliberately setting the relevant situation up as an experiment doesn't work. It seems that if you are anticipating these sounds they do not appear! I will just have to wait for the situations to arise naturally, perhaps by watching more sport! With the volume up!

PS: I was standing on a thin white plastic sheet, doing some messy chore, the other day when it was suddenly blown up towards me by a breeze while I was looking the other way. For a second or two I got the impression 'something' white had rushed up behind me and I nearly jumped out of my skin, as the saying goes. Afterwards I reflected on the irony that I'd never felt like that whenever I've seen a ghost!

© Maurice Townsend 2018


Previous blog pages ...

  • 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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