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'

26 February: Another explanation for apparent precognition

Weird sunCould superforecasting be confused with precognition? An article in this week's New Scientist made me think it might. Superforecasters are a small proportion (maybe 2 to 3%) of the general population who are able to predict unobvious future events with a better accuracy than experts in the field concerned.

There have been many dramatic examples of apparent precognition where the subject only ever forecasts one event. These could be down to coincidence. For any given event, it only takes one person out of a population of millions to guess it correctly to obtain an apparent precognition hit. Indeed, statistically, it's almost inevitable that someone, somewhere in a large population will guess correctly what will happen. But that person might well only make such an apparent prediction once in their lifetime. It is more likely to be coincidence than precognition.

However, superforecasters can predict many unobvious events over their lifetime. But it is still not precognition. They are simply better at putting together insightfully the clues from the information they have to make an accurate prediction. So even someone who is consistently good at predicting unobvious future world events is not necessarily precognitive.

This raises an interesting question about testing precognitive ability. Supposing someone tested well at guessing cards but was unable to predict future world events. Would they be considered to have a precognitive gift? And what about a person who did poorly predicting cards but well at predicting future world events. Would that be precognition? The existence of superforecasters makes the answer to the second question 'unlikely'.

22 February: I was wrong!

Weird sunI have, in the past, talked about a 'ghost hunting boom' going on at present. This implies that I'm expecting the current high popularity of ghost hunting to stop at some point. Well, it's been going on for well over a decade now and is showing no signs of stopping any time soon. So I'm prepared to drop the word 'boom' and admit I was wrong!

It does raise the question, though, why is ghost hunting so popular? You might think that as someone who has been fascinated by ghosts since I was a kid it would not need any explanation. But I can remember a time, in the early days of ASSAP and before, when ghost hunting was an obscure pastime enjoyed by just a tiny number of people. So what changed?

The obvious answer is that the popularity of ghost hunting is a result of the paranormal TV shows. But does that explains the longevity of the phenomenon? To find out why ghost hunting remains so popular there is an important question to answer. Are the people who were originally inspired by the paranormal TV programmes still ghost hunting? Or have they lost interest to be replaced by others? It matters because if there is continual turnover of people interested in ghost hunting then it will one day it will lose popularity. Though interest in ghosts is high in the general population, there is still a finite limit to the numbers. I've no idea if there is a big turnover of people interested in the subject, only research could determine that.

From what I've seen most contemporary ghost hunting seems to use assumption-led methods where there is a clear central assumption that ghosts are spirits. This is despite a lack of any compelling evidence from ghost research that ghosts are indeed spirits. And all that ghost hunting still hasn't produced any compelling evidence.

So, if there is a big turnover of people interested in ghost hunting then, given its ongoing popularity, there must be a huge pool of people in the population enthusiastic about ghosts. But maybe it is more likely that the the turnover of people interested in ghost hunting is actually quite low. But if that's so, why aren't people becoming disillusioned when they find little or no definitive evidence of ghosts as spirits? Scientific research shows that people's basic beliefs tend to change little over time, even when there is little evidence supporting those beliefs. If this is the case then the current high popularity of ghost hunting is likely to continue indefinitely and its nature is likely to change little. So, no boom after all. Probably.

20 February: Mysterious ghostly figure

Ghost treeI've seen enough misperceived ghosts to be suspicious of static human figures these days. However, when I saw this figure I remained convinced that it was a real person, or a ghost, for a whole minute or so. Indeed, even as a photograph, which I can study at leisure, it still books like a mysterious ghostly figure to me.

It looks, to me at least, like someone wearing a monk's habit with very baggy sleeves which hang a long way down. The figure appears to be facing (my) left and possibly walking that way. Though it is difficult to judge the scale from the photo, the object is the right height for a real human figure, or indeed a ghost.

It is, of course, a tree stump which has had all its branches removed. I misperceived it as a human figure (or ghost) at the time. It was one of the more convincing examples I've seen. I would imagine that a different witness who was unable, for whatever reason, to get a closer look, might have concluded that it was a human figure, or maybe a statue given its lack of movement. Or perhaps a ghost!

14 February: White transparent figure

Sun behind treeI have seen the ghostly white transparent figure several times, always in the same place. It is curiously static, like a misperception, except it isn't one. The figure only ever appears at night. There is another factor always present when the figure appears - it is wet! When I first saw it I was genuinely mystified, at least for a while.

The ghostly 'figure' is actually a reflection from a window of a street light onto a wet pavement. It looks white because the street lighting nearby is one of the new white ones. It gives the figure a look resembling those transparent white ghosts you see in movies. It is not a hugely convincing human figure, more of a tall straight-sided rectangle. However, it could pass for a human figure at first glance, especially if the witness thinks it might be a ghost!

I have often wondered whether the introduction of white street lights, replacing the traditional yellow ones, might affect reports of anomalous phenomena. In white lighting you can see object colours reasonably accurately. It gives night street scenes a different look. I wondered if this might affect how some objects are misperceived. This ghostly figure turned out to be the first example of something that looked spooky that I hadn't seen in traditional yellow lighting. And it turned out to be nothing to do with accurate colour rendition.

The white transparent 'movie ghost' is not typical of real ghost reports, of course. Most ghost reports refer to perfectly ordinary looking human figures. Indeed they are often taken for real humans until they do something unlikely, like vanish. But I can see how someone might report a white transparent figure as a ghost, even if it turned out to be reflection.

7 February: The checkout incident

Sun behind treeI went out today intent on seeing a ghost. It worked! Well, sort of. I noticed an oddly static figure in a shop doorway. Could it be a ghost? A closer look soon revealed it to be a mannequin. It is unusual to put a mannequin in a position like that, they're usually in the shop window. So I think I can forgiven for thinking it was a real person, or a ghost.

Apart from that I failed to see any ghosts. As I, and others, have often observed, if you go looking for ghosts you will almost certainly not see them. This is no doubt why ghosts are seldom seen on ghost vigils. Since many ghost sightings are caused by misperception, it is easy to see why this is the case. It is rarely possible to see a misperception if you deliberately look for it. The reason I wanted to see a ghost was so that I would have something to write about other than the checkout incident.

Anyway, I was at one of those automated checkouts in a shop recently. Having scanned all my items and paid, the screen asked me if I wanted a receipt. I did, so I pressed the on-screen button. As the receipt came out I heard the wire shopping basket, supplied by the store, moving. I was confused! The receipt came out on the side by the wire basket but how could a flimsy bit of paper possibly push a metal basket?

It couldn't! It turned out that someone had come, unseen, behind me and removed the wire basket just as the receipt was being printed. I was concentrating on the screen and didn't notice this person until I looked round. So, mystery solved! But, just for a couple of seconds, I was completely mystified by what was going on.

I have experienced countless similar examples of an action being accompanied by an unexpected, even alarming, noise. I gently put down a plate once only to hear a loud bang. The noise was something else falling over but the noise was disconcerting at the time. These coincidences are noticeable because they are unexpected. I expect there are many more examples of an unlikely noise NOT coinciding with something I did that I never noticed.

So what has this to do with anomalous phenomena? Well, I've experienced this sort of thing often enough to know that it might be responsible for certain reports of odd phenomena. This phenomenon is, of course, an example of a coincidence causing an apparently anomalous event. The role of coincidence in reports of anomalous phenomena is, in my opinion, seriously underestimated in our field.

2 February: A huge invisible 'presence'?

Sun behind treeI was walking along a street recently when I heard a strange sound, a sort of roaring, behind me. What made it disconcerting was that I heard it moving, from left to right. It came from one side of the road and then the other. I turned and saw nothing there! It sounded spooky, like some huge invisible 'presence' was moving around behind me.

There are two trees on opposite sides of the road and I worked out that the sound must be the wind blowing between them. But why should the sound of the wind move between the trees? It was a gusty day but shouldn't the wind blow with equal force on both of the trees at the same time?

While the wind may blow in just one direction when there are no obstructions around, it is different near the ground where there are trees, houses and other large structures. At ground level, in an urban street for instance, the wind can blow in directions different to the atmosphere above. That's because it is diverted and funneled by large structures. This process can also make the wind flow in a disturbed way, forming eddies.

I think the wind was eddying between the two trees affecting one and then the other. The resulting sound effect was dramatic and eerie. i can imagine some witnesses thinking it was something paranormal, particularly if the incident had happened in darkness. It wasn't immediately obvious that it was the wind.

Last month's (January) website figures are an average of 8359 hits per day. This is slightly down on the previous month's 8638 daily average..

© Maurice Townsend 2018


Previous blog pages ...

  • 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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