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'

If you want to know when there is a new post here without having to keep checking, and are a member of Facebook, like or follow the ASSAP Facebook community page at this link.

28 March: Vanishing walking ghost!

Dark skyI am short-sighted and almost always wear glasses, indoors and outside. But recently I was outside with no glasses. This situation makes everything look blurred for me. I cannot read stuff that is not close but I don't bump into anything. Anyway, I glanced up and noticed someone walking on the pavement on other side of the quiet road I was in. There was no traffic and no one else was about. I was in the middle of doing something important and had to look down for a couple of seconds. When I looked up again the person had vanished! I could not remember any details of the person's appearance except that they looked 'average adult'.

I did not see the person disappear but it is difficult to explain how they could have gone from my view. There was a lot of open space around where the person had been, apart from a bare tree and a low bush. These were too small for anyone to hide behind. There were some houses a few metres away. However, to have vanished from my sight in two seconds, the person would have had to sprint to a nearby house the moment I was no longer watching and I'm not even sure there was enough time to do that. Why anyone should behave in such a way I can't imagine! I looked around for a few minutes but the person did not reappear. So, a ghost then!

I decided in the end that it was most likely a 'glance misperception' of the tree and bush combined. Normally such a misperception would have been stationary as the bush and tree were not moving - there was no wind. I think the key point here is that I was wearing no glasses. I think the blurred tree and bush gave an appearance of movement at a glance. It would have resembled motion blur in a photo. Humans don't normally see motion blur, except in certain circumstances, as our eyes automatically track moving objects. You can see sleepers blur if you look at the opposite track while riding in a train but usually we don't notice the effect. But if you DO see blur you are likely to interpret it as a moving object. Why don't I think every blurred object I see is moving when I'm not wearing glasses? I think my brain would only interpret it as motion blur if it was a likely situation, like a tree swaying in the wind or someone walking along a pavement. And if I see anything for longer than a glance I 'd see there was no real movement.

Well that's my theory, anyway. I could see no figure, blurred or otherwise, when looking at the tree and bush afterwards. But that is normal for misperception which usually only happens once. It fits with the fact that I could remember no details of the figure as it would have been blurred. Of course, real humans look blurred when I am not wearing glasses but I can usually discern more about them than 'average adult'! I am not totally convinced of my theory yet but I will try to see if I can witness it again to confirm the idea.

26 March: More ghostly music!

Sound graphSo, my acquaintance (MA) who gets microsleep with REM (MWR - see here) had another strange experience recently. In the space of half an hour MA twice heard snatches of music when there was none actually playing. Both snatches of music sounded classical but MA did not recognise them. It is not the first time MA has heard ghostly music - see here for a discussion of the implications of a similar example.

I have come across reports of people hearing phantom music when using computers. I suspect this mostly happens when the witness accidently clicks on (or even just hovers over) an advert on a web page without realizing it. I've done it myself many times. It's annoying and easily done. But this was not the case in MA's experiences which were definitely MWRs. Ghostly music is, of course, a known phenomenon in hauntings and predates computer adverts! Perhaps some of these reports came from people who experience MWR without realizing what it is.

As if that wasn't enough, MA had another strange MWR recently. In it, MA saw two faces, one male, the other female. First one face appeared and then the other, switching instantly. The faces were both seen close up but did not appear to be looking at MA. Instead the experience was like watching a TV drama where the camera first shows one person's face and then switches to the other as they are having a conversation. The faces MA saw did not say anything. This experience only lasted a few seconds. MA said it definitely felt like watching a TV drama. Both faces looked very serious as if in the middle of a serious discussion.

MWRs originate in the witness's own memory. So, given that most of us watch TV and movies these days, it does not seem entirely surprising that MWRs might play out more like a filmed drama sometimes rather than always like real life. I have often wondered if our brains 'tag' fictional visual memories any differently from real life ones. I suspect they don't and that both fictional and real memories are treated equally as source material for MWRs. There is an example of a MWR apparently drawn from a film trailer (see here) that supports this idea.

If any readers know of any ghost experiences people have had that had a film-like quality to them, please let me know.

21 March: Will it be worth analyzing anomalous photos from phones in future?

aktered picAccording to New Scientist there are now smartphones that use AI to enhance photos in real time (called computational photography). They can, for instance, alter night photographs so they look like daytime. This could make anomalous photos taken by smartphones virtually useless in terms of credible evidence. How could you tell if an apparent 'ghost' was something actually present at the time of exposure or an artefact of the enhancement process? And whole context of the photo (day or night for instance) could be compromised.

The two photos here are not the result of computational photography, just ordinary photo editing. They are both the same photo (the lower one is the original). By simply changing brightness and contrast the photo is changed hugely. What looks like sky in the altered version is actually mostly trees.

original picI've examined thousands of anomalous photos over the years but I've yet to find one that's convincing. Anomalous photos are routinely explained as 'normal' on social media all the time. And that is BEFORE enhanced smartphone pictures become widely available. I will continue to search for a convincing paranormal photo but I'm afraid I'll be inclined to reject smartphone pictures in future even before examining them.

I think the big reason why so many anomalous photos have normal explanations is that nothing odd was seen at the time of exposure. The anomaly was only noticed after the event when the resulting photo was examined closely. This straight away suggests a photographic artefact - see here. Indeed, the first thing I do when examining an anomalous photo is ask, what is wrong with this picture? By 'wrong' I mean a technical photographic fault like over- or under-exposure or camera shake, focus problems, lens flare etc. And whatever that fault happens to be it is often the source of the photographic artefact that the anomaly turns out to be. This happens so often that looking for faults first makes a useful short cut in analyzing anomalous photos.

14 March: Touched by another ghost!

Sound graphWhen I was a teenager I once felt a tap on my shoulder when I was completely alone. I was standing, listening to music, at the time. The tap was hard and obvious. I looked around straight away and saw no one. I was shocked! I have never had a repeat of this experience.

I wasn't sure what to make of the experience at the time. It definitely felt like someone putting their hand firmly on my shoulder and them removing it again straight away. I naturally considered the idea that it was a ghost. However, over the years I moved more towards the idea that it was a muscle spasm.

However, I'm wondering now if there was a completely different cause for this phenomenon. When I had the 'tap' I was playing music very loudly. It was in those days that I first came across the 'sounds behind music' phenomenon (see here). I would hear someone shouting from another room in the house. I assumed they were asking me to turn the music down though I couldn't hear the words explicitly. Then I would discover I was actually quite alone in the house! I can't recall what I made of the phenomenon at the time.

So was the 'tap on the shoulder' a sort of tactile version of 'sounds behind music'? That's what I'm starting to think now. I have speculated that the sounds behind music phenomenon is an aural hallucination, some kind of reflex reaction reminding me to be vigilant when I cannot hear anyone, or anything, that could be approaching me. I have also speculated recently that different senses might be used, visual for instance (see here). So could my ghostly tap on the shoulder have been a tactile version of 'sounds behind music'? Sadly, I have only experienced one such incident so the fact that loud music was playing could be a coincidence. I will just have to see if it ever happens again.

11 March: Touched by a ghost!

Dark skySo, my acquaintance (MA) who gets microsleep with REM experience (see here) had something disturbing to report recently. MA was sitting at a computer screen when a person appeared. MA thinks it was a middle-aged man. The man was in front of MA and started to approach. On arrival he leaned over and grabbed one of MA's arms pulling it upwards. MA was, naturally, very disturbed by this intrusive action. Almost instantly MA came out of what was obviously a MWR. These experiences end with a feeling that MA recognizes making them easy to identify, afterwards at least, though they feel very real at the time.

Though MA saw the arm being raised there was no corresponding feeling of being touched or pulled around. Also, MA was quite alone when this experience occurred but somehow did not feel any surprise at the sudden appearance of the stranger. This is the first time that MA has been touched by a ghost, albeit a hallucinatory one.

MA continues to record new types of MWR experiences as time goes by. This could mean that there are a huge range of such experiences and so MA would naturally come across new ones quite frequently. Or it could mean that MA's MWR experiences are evolving in some way. There seems to be no obvious way to determine which is true at present. It might become obvious over time if, for instances, some kinds of experience disappear to be replaced by others. This was undoubtedly MA's most disturbing experience to date!

5 March: The ghosts in hi-vis suits!

Dark skySo I was in a supermarket the other day when I noticed a man in a bright orange hi-vis suit. He was difficult to miss! It is, of course, becoming increasingly common to see people dressed this way and not just near engineering or building projects.

Anyway, later that day I happened to be looking out of an upper floor window at twilight when I noticed two more orange clad figures in the distance. The figures were a couple of streets away, visible over some gardens. They were standing still at first but then they both started moving. They disappeared from view briefly and then re-appeared further along the street. I assumed they'd gone behind a bush or tree though I couldn't see either. I continued to watch the figures because I was concerned in case there was a local service problem that the hi-vis people had been called out to investigate.

The hi-vis figures kept moving and temporarily vanishing in an increasingly bizarre way. I began to wonder if these were, in fact, ghosts in hi-vis suits! I finally realised the figures were moving in sympathy with my own movements as I tried to see more! Finally, I worked out what was going on. The orange figures were actually a reflection in the window of a lamp some way behind me. The shape of the 'figures' came from partial views of the orange lamp, the rest of it being obscured by me! The height of the 'figures' was just right so they looked human scale for the distant street! The effect also relied on it being twilight and not just because the light was on at that time. Had it been broad daylight, even lit, the lamp would not have been visible as a reflection against a bright background. And had it been fully dark, the reflected shape would have obviously a glowing lamp. I know these things because I checked! Also, the effect only worked if I stood in a very particular place in the room. Anywhere else and either the lamp would be obvious in the reflection or not visible at all.

So the whole hi-vis ghost phenomenon relied a while set of coincidences coming together. It had to be the right time of day. I had to be exactly in the right position. The lamp had to be at just the right distance behind me. Its reflection needed to project onto a street where people might walk. The orange shapes produced by me being partially in the way needed to be the right size and shape to look like figures, to scale, on the street. It's little wonder I thought the whole thing was real for well over a minute or so. It looked pretty convincing. And then there was seeing a real person in a hi-vis suit just hours earlier. It, no doubt, primed my mind to interpret what i was seeing the way I did.

I have documented many instances of multiple coincidences adding up to an apparent paranormal experience. I'm sure it accounts for a number of apparently unexplained paranormal reports. The problem is that by the time an investigator visits the site of the incident, some or all of the coincidental factors involved may have gone, leaving only an unsolved mystery.

© Maurice Townsend 2019


Previous blog pages ...

  • Feb 2019 (including ghost appearing out of nowhere, hearing music when ghosts appear)
  • Jan 2019 (including staring ghost, are ghosts common, sense of presence, recognizing ghosts)
  • Dec. 2018 (including strange sound from sky, mocked by fate, comparing eye witness report and photo)
  • Nov 2018 (including another bolt from the blue, why aren't ghosts more common, seal in car)
  • Oct 2018 (including unseen in plain sight, street light interference, ghostly sounds - a purpose?)
  • Sep 2018 (including ghost crow, ghostliy sounds and attention overload, ghostly noises and day dreaming)
  • Aug 2018 (including how do you know when you're looking at a ghost, have ghostly voices stopped)
  • 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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