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. 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'

29 June: An interactive ghost

Crows in a treeI have never personally come across a case of an 'interactive' ghost (IG) which suggests, to me, that they are probably rare. I've read about cases, of course, but published accounts almost always lack crucial details, making them difficult to assess. In typical ghost cases the apparition appears to be oblivious to the presence of the witness. With IGs the apparition interacts directly with the witness in some way. So I was intrigued to come across an IG case recently that happened to someone known to me.

The witness was sitting on a chair indoors when they became aware of somebody, a complete stranger, directly in front of them, talking. The figure had not been there previously and, being in a locked building with just one other person (well known to the witness) present, should certainly not have been there. The ghost addressed the witness who, unfortunately, cannot recall what was said. Then, suddenly, the apparition was gone! The second witness did not see the apparition, or anything else unusual, despite being just a couple of metres away. Curiously, the main witness did not feel alarmed during the course of the experience, which lasted just seconds.

The witness was my acquaintance (MA) who experiences microsleep with REM episodes. MA identified the episode, from experience, as an MWR. The surprising tolerance of bizarre events is typical of both ordinary dreams and MWR experiences. In a previous experience (here), MA was stared at by an immobile apparition. A stare barely counts as an interaction, to me at least. Being talked to is clearly a very active interaction, more typical of the accounts of IGs I've read.

So here we have an example of a xenonormal cause for an interactive ghost experience. It's important because interactive ghosts might, at first sight, appear to be evidence in support of the widespread idea that ghosts are spirits. In fact, there appears to be no compelling evidence that ghosts are spirits (see here). Misperception can, of course, explain many of the more typical non-interactive ghost experiences.

12 June: Ghostly presence on a train

Crows in a treeOn a recent train journey I was chatting with someone when I became acutely aware that the person in the seat behind might be listening. It made me feel self-conscious. It wasn't a particularly embarrassing or secret conversation, just a bit personal. The seats had high backs so I couldn't look at the person behind without it being obvious what I was doing. Eventually I looked all around casually, as if searching for something. That was when I discovered that there was no one there, nor any sign that there ever had been.

Now it's possible that there HAD been someone there earlier who had gone. However, I think I would have heard them go. More importantly, I still felt the strong sense of presence right up to the point when I looked round. I haven't had this experience on a train before, where I thought there was someone sitting behind me when there wasn't. So why did I think there was someone present this time? In a word - sound. There are lots of sounds on a moving train but someone shuffling in their seat is reasonably distinctive. Except in this case I was clearly wrong.

So, once again, sound is implicated in one of my 'sense of presence' experiences. And, also again, a desire not to be seen or heard for some reason appears to be a contributory factor. It is starting to form a consistent picture, at least for my own experiences. This is the first time it's happened on public transport, though. So, a first after all!

9 June: Three types of orb in one photo

Three orb sizesIn this recently taken photo (right) there are three distinct types of daylight orb, determined by size. There are some tiny ones, looking like white dots, all roughly the same size. Then there are some larger ones, again all roughly the same size, looking grey and resembling the 'classic' orbs. Finally, there are some huge orbs, resembling amorphous blobs, yet again all roughly the same size. There was no flash used for this photo and the orbs were actually visible in the viewfinder at the time of exposure. So what's the cause?

The orbs here are produced by three groups of insects swarming. They were all between the camera and the tree but at different distances, hence their sizes. The closer the insect the larger the orb it produces. The strong illumination, required for orbs, was supplied by the sun.

Why is this of interest? Well, I'm always on the lookout for unusual photos that might be interpreted by someone as anomalous. And when I see a similar 'mystery' photo it becomes much easier to explain by comparing it with an example with a known cause. That's one of the main principles of xenonormal studies. I don't just wait for someone to report an anomaly and then try to explain it, often with inadequate information. Instead I look out for and study likely causes of xenonormal phenomena in advance. I've found the approach very useful.

2 June: Spade wings

InsectorodI haven't had a photo of one of these for a while (pic right). It's a picture, taken recently, of a hovering insect, probably a hoverfly. The view with the naked eye didn't look like this photo. It is what I call an insectorod. It's doesn't resemble a typical flying rod but neither is it an accurate representation of the insect being photographed. The insect did not have those unusual-looking wings. Anyone trying to identify the insect from this photo might decide that it is apparently an unknown species!

The problem is that the wings are motion-blurred but give the superficial appearance that they are not. Hoverflies have a wingbeat rate of around 120 per second. This exposure had a shutter speed of 1/250s. So while the shutter was open the wing moved half a wingbeat, either one up or one downstroke. And so we see the full down or upward motion of a wing, as if it was a solid object, giving rise to the spade-like shape.

Motion-blur is not always obvious in photos, especially if it only applies to one object in the scene. It can lead to odd-looking objects which are not as they seem! It is something to consider when examining an anomalous photo of something oddly-shaped.

Last month's (May) website figures are 15767 an average of hits per day. This is significantly up on the previous month's 14471 daily average.

© Maurice Townsend 2015


Previous blog pages ...

  • 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