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 May: Goodbye my spooky friend!

ShadowI haven't seen the door ghost since I last reported it here in February. In the past it has never gone missing for more than a week or two but this time it looks as though it might have gone for good. Having been around for 4 years, I'm starting to feel like I've lost a friend!

The door ghost (door what?) is, of course, a misperception. Such misperceptions are usually fragile which is what made the door ghost so unique. So why has it vanished now? What has changed?

One of the big variables that affects misperception is lighting. I've noticed that the door ghost was always spotted more in winter than summer, with no sightings at all in June. This suggests that the angle of the sun in the sky is an important factor. However the ghost has been missing throughout March and April which have been produced a high proportion of sightings in the past.

Another important factor in misperception is familiarity. Typically objects are only misperceived once by any individual witness. That's because on the second occasion the witness's brain knows what the object really is and no longer misperceives it. The exceptions to this are if the witness forgets about the original sighting, in which case they can misperceive it all over again. There are also some very rare misperceptions that are so strong, to particular individual witnesses, that they may be seen repeatedly even if the original sighting is remembered.

I believe I saw the door ghost repeatedly because, having a terrible memory, I forgot about it from time to time. It would explain why there were usually a few days, or a week or two, between sightings. That was how long it took me to forget about my previuous sightings!

As I mentioned in February, I approach 'the door' from a different angle these days. So is that the reason for the ghost's final disappearance? To find out, I set myself the task of observing how I approach the door. The problem is, I wanted to observe an unconscious task. I knew if I thought about it, I wiould almost certainly do something different. So what I needed to do was forget about the task until I was actually in the process of doing it. Surprisingly, it turns out that this is actually possible! I just think hard about the task when I'm actually at the door and then forget about it. Having a terrible memory actually makes this task easier! Then, a few days or weeks later, I will be reminded of the task by the sight of the door itself.

What I discovered was that I consistently approach the door from a significantly different route to the old one. I think that is likely to be the reason for the ghost vanishing. Being a creature of habit, I'm unlikely to change back to the old route so it's likely the ghost will never return. So why don't I just deliberately position myself in the 'old' position and look for the ghost? Sadly, that doesn't work because of the 'familiarity' problem outlined above. So, it is with great sadness I say, goodbye my spooky friend!

19 May: Shrinking object

Crows in a treeWhat happens if you are woken from a microsleep with REM (MWR)? Objects could get shrunk, apparently!

My acquaintance (MA) who experiences MWRs has never been woken up from one before. This is hardly surprising as they usually only last a few seconds at a time. However, recently MA was woken by being addressed by someone. The person was holding a strange glowing object up in front of them, apparently for MA to inspect! Then, suddenly, the object was gone. MA realised the 'glowing object' was part of the MWR itself.

Astonishingly, the episode was repeated a few minutes later when MA was once again woken from a MWR by being spoken to. Once again the person was holding out the strange glowing object which duly 'vanished'. Puzzled, MA looked around and found the glowing object. It was a table lamp. And this is where it gets truly weird. The object was identical to the one MA had seen in the MWR, except that it was much larger and further away, though in the same direction. In the MWR the lamp had been small enough to hold in the palm of a person's hand. In reality it was much too big for that. It was clear that the person had never held the lamp at all. Indeed the person did not even hold their hand up. Apart from that, the MWR and real scenes were identical. So what's going on?

MA thinks the lamp covered the same angular size in both views. However, in the MWR MA's brain somehow brought the lamp much closer to the witness. To do that and maintain the same angular size, the lamp had to be considerably 'shrunk' in size so that it could fit in a palm. It is easy to see how such effects could produce experiences interpreted as paranormal. A witness might see a bizarre object which subsequently vanishes. The object may, in fact, be some mundane item nearby which was radically changed in size to appear quite different. The object MA saw didn't look like a table lamp at all at the time. Indeed, had MA not had the experience twice, the true identity of the glowing object would probably never have been established. It seems that MWRs can not only produce apparent time distortions but size distortions too.

The size distortion effect is probably not caused by being woken from a MWR. It probably just allowed the effect to get noticed. It seems that it takes a second or two to come out of a MWR when woken and strange effects continue during that time. Being woken may help the witness remember the details of the MWR more clearly compared to coming out of one normally.

17 May: Fame at last!

Crows in a treeSo, I saw my latest celebrity a couple of days ago. I had actually forgotten about the whole famous person thing after the disappointment last month of failing to fulfil my prediction. So it wasn't as if I was unconsciously looking for as celebrity (see here) - as far as I know. So, is this latest sighting close enough to the original prediction to count as a hit?

For those people who are not regular readers, some background. I had noticed my tendency to see more famous people than I thought was 'normal'. I worked out that I saw an average of 0.23 celebrities per month. But what was really weird was that I appeared to be seeing them at regular intervals, with the next one due in April 2016. Random events should not occur at regular intervals! But I had no sightings in April so I concluded the pattern and prediction had been a coincidence after all.

But now I'm not so sure. This latest sighting is a certainly a near miss. It is just two weeks out of a predicted gap of four months between sightings. I could easily say it was a 'hit' but, having defined a hit as within April, I can't now change the rules. The average certainly remains at 0.23 per month. So, according to the apparent pattern, the next celebrity sighting is due in August. If it occurs during that month I'll be strongly tempted to say the pattern has indeed been maintained, with this this latest sighting just an 'outlier'!

The latest sighting was, incidentally, another actor, this time seen in the street. Though not at a railway station (as many such sightings have been) it was within a couple of hundred metres of a very large one! Another coincidence is that I had seen this particular actor, who does not do much TV, on DVD just a few weeks before.

10 May: Ghost in a restaurant

Ghost in restaurantYou never know when you might se a ghost. I was wandering through a shopping mall recently when I noticed someone eating in a restaurant ahead of me. I thought nothing of this unremarkable event until, a second or two later, as I got a little closer I noticed the figure had gone! Indeed, it turned out that the restaurant was closed, dark and empty. And yet the person had been brightly illuminated, moving and very solid-lookingl. So, a hungry ghost then!

Slightly shocked, I walked closer to the restaurant and suddenly saw the ghost again, this time outside the restaurant, eating at a bench.

To see what happened, a diagram (right) helps. I originally saw the ghost at the position marked 'witness'. The ghost was visible in the window of the restaurant at the position marked 'ghost'. The ghost was actually a reflection of the (real) person sitting at a bench marked 'M' on the diagram. I could not see the person from my original sighting position because there was a building (marked 'B') in the way. The 'ghost' was a reflection of the person in the restaurant's window. Crucially, the whole scene was in shadow except for one bit - the person at the bench who was brightly sunlit. Also crucially, the reflection put the person in a place exactly where you'd expect to see someone dining in the restaurant. So this dramatically good ghost effect relied heavily on coincidence, as do so many xenonormal sightings.

6 May: Invisible book?

Crows in a treeSomething odd happened. My acquaintance (MA) who gets MWRs (microsleep with REM) noticed a sudden change in the scene ahead. MA was sitting reading a book. Nothing strange there except that, seconds before, MA could see things behind the book which were now obscured by it, despite having not moved the book. Had the book temporarily become invisible?

The key here is that MA 'woke up' from a MWR at the point the book 'changed'. It is clear that, in the MWR, the book was made to appear to be lying horizontal, allowing MA to view the scene behind it. In reality, however, the book was always physically in the vertical position, blocking any such view.

MA often goes into MWRs while reading. And any book MA might be holding often falls down in the process. So when MA comes out of the MWR, the book is lying horizontal. What appears to have happened here is that MA's brain simulated the usual result of this experience in the MWR even though it had not physically happened.

MA cannot remember the details of the background scene revealed by the 'invisible book' but recalls it looked totally normal. So it was probably a reasonably faithful reproduction of the actual scene that MA would be very familiar with, taken from memory. In the past MA has seen objects not physically present inserted into a scene during a MWR, like the train ghost incident. This appears to be the first example of an object physically present being 'removed' by a MWR!

All of this shows how an OBE (out of the body experience) may be manufactured by our brains. Though we are used to seeing the world as it appears from the point of view of our eyes, it is clear that the brain can substantially edit such scenes in suitable circumstances, like a MWR. It can also show show scenes from a different viewpoint, as I've experienced myself in my mini-OBE (see here). Put these abilities together and it is not difficult to see how a brain could manufacture a view from just under a ceiling, showing the viewer prone below.

4 May: And the result is ...

Crows in a treeOh dear! My prediction that I'd see someone famous in April did not happen. Regular readers will be aware that I had noticed my tendency to see more famous people than I thought was 'normal'. I worked out that I saw an average of 0.23 celebrities per month. But what was really weird was that I appeared to be seeing them at regular intervals, with the next one due in April 2016. Random events should not occur at regular intervals! So I reminded everyone of my prediction in my blog post of 6 April. Naturally, such hubris was rewarded with failure.

There are two kinds of prediction, in my opinion. Those, like this latest one, published for all to see in advance. Then there are those first mentioned only after the event they predict. The latter, of course, suffer from the problem that it could just be faulty memory. That is why I published my own prediction for all to see.

It was not a prediction based on a dream or psychic vision. I'd simply noticed an unlikely pattern in the dates of my celebrity sightings. It could, of course, have been a coincidence, albeit an unlikely one. But now, with the breaking of the pattern, it would seem it really was just a coincidence after all. Seeing patterns in data, something humans are good at, is important in providing original insights. Unfortunately, coincidence is always a possible alternative explanation that needs to be ruled out. The way to do this is by gathering more data. If the pattern then breaks down it means that coincidence is a likely explanation, as happened in this case.

It will be interesting to see when my next celebrity sighting occurs. That's assuming one does!

Last month's (April) website figures are an average of 15757 hits per day. This is very similar to the previous month's 15906 daily average.

© Maurice Townsend 2016


Previous blog pages ...

  • 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