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'

21 December: Vanishing mouse!

Leaves and lens flareI was waiting at a railway station recently when I noticed a mouse, or something like it, scamper across the the other end of the platform. But before it reached the far side, it simply vanished! Astonished, I went for a closer look. Even as I approached the area I realised what had happened. It wasn't a mouse, or any other animal, but a wind-blown leaf. But I certainly thought it was a mouse while I was watching it. Having seen squirrels on that same platform before, a mouse would not have been so extraordinary. So, it was a clearly a case of a misperception where the movement of the misperceived object played a crucial role.

Obviously, wind-blown leaves are rarely mistaken for mice but there were a number of factors at play here. Firstly, the leaf was a fair distance away, about 25m or so. Secondly, though it was daylight the sky was overcast giving unusually poor light conditions. Thirdly, the leaf was blown along the ground at just the right speed to resemble a scampering mouse. It turned over and over giving the impression of a something running. Fourthly, I think recent rain contributed both to the dark overall appearance of the leaf and its unusual rolling motion. I saw the 'mouse' for a couple of seconds initially and was completely convinced at the time that I was watching an animal. It was only when it stopped and 'vanished' that I began to wonder. The vanishing act is easily explained - the wind suddenly dropped the leaf so that it fell flat on the ground.

And the picture? Well I was looking for a photo of autumn leaves and I found this one with a nice bit of lens flare, right of centre, to add anomalous interest.

16 December: Grey fuzzy thing!

One winged thingYet another strange photo (right)! This one shows a grey fuzzy 'thing' attached to a thin branch at the top of a tree. The 'thing' has an appendage of some sort pointing out above while other appendages appear to attach it to the branch. The main body of the object appears more or less featureless. So what is this strange anomalous thing?

There are clues in the picture. The right end of the 'thing', including the vertical appendage, looks oddly fuzzy. The appendages at the left end are more sharply defined so the 'thing' cannot be out of focus. This suggests that motion blur is responsible for the fuzziness in part of the object. The position of the 'thing', on a branch, is also a big clue.

Bird by branchThe 'thing' is actually a small bird which has just taken off from the branch. Here is a zoomed view of the same photo (right). It is possible now to see that the blurred section at the right end, and the appendage, are fast moving wings. The 'appendages' by the branch are the bird's tail and one of the its legs stretched out having just let go of the branch.

I took this photo by accident. It was part of a sequence of photos of the bird on a branch. I deliberately 'zoomed out' the first version of the photo above. In many anomalous photos that I've seen it is not possible to get greater detail like this by zooming in because the resolution is too low. So you only have a photos like the zoomed out one above. It is also rare for there to be other photos taken of the same scene at the same time.

Unfortunately low resolution is a feature of many anomalous photos. The picture may be good enough to show its main subject well but the small 'anomaly' may not contain enough detail to determine its true nature.

7 December: Strange glowing yellow dots

Glowing yellow stuffThere are strange things everywhere if you look closely enough. Take the photo (right) here that I took recently. The picture shows a cobbled pavement covered in fallen leaves. But there is also something odd. There are lots of glowing yellow dots! What might they be?

The vast majority of photographic anomalies are found when a photo is examined after exposure. The anomaly was hardly ever seen at the time the photo was taken. This is significant because the photographer will often not remember much about the circumstances of the photo being taken after the event. This can result in 'unknown' human figures, taken to be ghosts, showing up when they were simply real people present but not noticed by the photographer at the time. When someone is concentrating on taking a photo they can easily not notice quite obvious things in the background of the picture.

Then there are other oddities whose explanation actually lies just outside the frame of the photo and which were, again, not noticed at the time. This picture is an example of that type of anomalous photo. Although the photo was taken in plain daylight, there was a streetlight on nearby. Its bright yellow light is being reflected in the wet street cobbles leading to the 'glowing yellow dots' seen here. Since streetlights are seldom on during daylight hours, it's not an obvious explanation to someone looking at the photo after the event.

So it is not a photographic artefact. The effect was 'out there' in the real world, not just in the camera. I DID notice it at the time, which is why I took the picture. However, it could easily have only been noticed after the event by someone who either forgot about the lit street light or never even noticed it at the time. It is a case of missing information being the key to explaining the effect. I get frustrated with many anomalous photos that I'm sure could be easily explained if only there was another picture available of the same scene taken from a different angle. In this case, a photo showing the lit street light would have helped! I often ask people with anomalous photos if any other pictures were taken at the same time. Sometimes there were and they can be really illuminating.

1 December: Doppelganger?

Crows in treeA strange thing happened to me recently. I was at a meeting and went outside briefly. There, in a corridor, I passed someone who said hello to me. I didn't realise who it was until it was too late to say hello back. I hoped the person, who I know slightly, wasn't offended by my apparently ignoring them. I returned to the meeting.

Then something odd happened. I discovered that the person I'd seen in the corridor was not actually at the meeting at all, even though I'd expected them to be there. So who had I really seen - a doppelganger maybe? Looking round the room I saw someone there who resembled my acquaintance and might have been the person I really saw in the corridor. But the face, in particular, was quite different.

I was definitely convinced, at the time of the sighting, that I'd seen the person I know slightly. So much so that I was afraid I'd inadvertently offended them. But if it was someone else entirely, how could I have been so mistaken?

Though the obvious way to recognise someone is by their face, other aspects of a person's appearance or behaviour work too. One method of recognition is called gait analysis - recognizing someone by their walk - and it is surprisingly accurate (see here). It can work even when you don't get a good view of someone. Then there is a person's size and shape (see here). Again, it can work when you don't get a good view. I only saw the person in the corridor's face for a second or so but noticed their body for longer. Did I unconsciously, and incorrectly, 'recognise' them from things other than the face? If so, I believe I have an excuse.

I think there are two key points to consider with this incident which I believe was a misidentification of a real person, rather than a doppelganger sighting. Firstly, the person said 'hello' which started me thinking I knew them. This stranger may simply have said hello because we were both in the same meeting and so had a common interest. Secondly, I was definitely expecting the person I know slightly to be at that meeting. I think these factors may have biassed me towards 'recognising' an unfamiliar face.

Though I don't think it was a doppelganger, I think this incident is relevant to witness testimony of anomalous phenomena. There are anomalous incident reports, some ghost sightings for instance, where the witness may apparently recognise a human figure they see. In my experience of ghosts caused by misperception I've never recognised the figures. I have speculated that this is because our brains use an archetypal figure, rather than a specific remembered person, from visual memory in such incidents. But the features of misperceived figures are also determined by the shape of the actual object being misperceived. So maybe, on occasion, a misperceived figure might be 'recognised' as a specific person by a witness using such factors as perceived body shape and size. Obviously, with misperception there is no real figure to recognise but if it is 'identified' by a witness this reinforces the idea that it is a paranormal ghost.

I had previously thought when a ghost is positively identified by a witness that rules out misperception. I no longer think that. Also, I'm hoping that, in future, I might see an identifiable ghost myself, caused by misperception.

Last month's (November) website figures are an average of 15058 hits per day. This is as little down on the previous month's 15982 daily average.

© Maurice Townsend 2016


Previous blog pages ...

  • 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