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'

10 October: Doppelganger mystery!

ASSAP blogger doppelgangerDo I have a doppelganger? It is one solution to a recent mysterious incident. Someone approached me in the street. I can't remember exactly what they said but it clearly indicated that they regarded me as a friend. But the the thing is, I 'd never seen this person before in my life!

I stood there, bemused, saying nothing as the person continued chatting in a friendly way. The area was crowded so I decided to slip away as if I was in a hurry to get somewhere. Frankly, I had no idea how to react to what was clearly a mistake. A a paranormal researher, my first theory was that I must have a doppelganger!

So what alternative ideas did I consider to explain this apparent mistake of recognition? Well, firstly what if it wasn't a mistake. Could the person have been someone I'd met briefly before and forgotten? I do have a terrible memory. I discounted this because of the highly familiar way in which I was addressed. For the tens of seconds we were together he never once showed any doubt about who I was. I really don't think even I could forget a friend so completely!

There is another theory that rather neatly explains the facts though it is rather unlikely. The man may have had prosopagnosia. People with that rare condition do recognise people's faces, even their own! However, they can compensate for this problem, to some extent, by remembering other features of a person's appearance or behaviour. So, maybe the man 'recognised' me from behind. Even when he faced me, he would be unaware of his error because seeing my face would make no difference! It works well as a theory but it is rather unlikely.

What about a salespertson? No badge, no clipboard, nothing obviously to sell. Plus words implied real friendship.

hen there ius the idea of a hoax. Maybe this man goes around feign familiarity with strangers for his own amusement. With practise this could be difficult for victims to detect.

So do I really have a doppelganger out there somewhere? I actually met someone who looked a lot like me many years ago but the resemblance wasn't exact. But here's a weird twist. I am currently sporting rather long hair. Such long hair is not particularly fashionable among men in the UK at the moment. It means that my doppelganger must also have such long hair right now. What are the odds of two of us, looking almost identical and both with long hair right now? It is a true doppelganger - another me identical in every way! It is such a disturbing idea that I'm sticking with prosopagnosia or a hoax for now. If I meet another stranger who 'knows' me then things could get seriously strange!

6 October: Ghost with a paunch!

Car ghostI think I've seen more ghosts than anyone I know! And here's another one from just the other day. I was leaning down picking something up when I noticed someone standing nearby. Ever curious, I looked round slowly to see who it was. They were wearing dark trousers and a red top but I couldn't see any face because it was concealed by a tree branch. Then suddenly the figure was gone. So, a ghost then!

It realized quickly that it was a classic case of misperception. It was, however, by no means run of the mill. For a start, the ghostly 'figure' was actually made up of two different objects that happened to be in the same line of sight (see here for another recent example of this). Also the 'face' was not so much concealed as not there at all. I had 'seen' a human figure so I had just assumed the face must be behind the tree branch. This is an example of a partial concealment type of misperception (see triggers). Finally, the 'figure' was first viewed in peripheral vision (a typical trigger). And I was not wearing my glasses, so the whole scene appeared somewhat fuzzy even when I looked directly at it. This meant the 'figure' effect lasted a bit longer than a peripheral vision misperception normally might.

So what was I really looking at? The picture (right) is an extremely rough representation of what I saw. While it shows the relative positions of the objects involved correctly, the actual shapes are only approximate. The 'dark trousers' turned out to a black wheelie bin! Above that, the 'red top' was the front bonnet of a car behind the bin. There was a tree (the green object in the picture) just above the car and down the left side of the bin. A branch covered what would have been the upper torso and head, had it been a real human figure.

It is another example of how a partial view of an object can actually make a more powerful nociperception than a complete view. Had the tree not been there, I would not have seen a figure at all because there was nothing to represent a torso or head. But it made a convincing ghost with a paunch for a few seconds at least. And, yes, the figure was in focus (see here for background to this observation).

3 October: What I couldn't say about ghosts!

Floor planI was chatting with a new acquaintance recently, swapping brief biographical details, as you do. When asked about my interests it was with some embarrassment that I failed to mention my ruling passion - ghost research! How could I miss out this most vital interest?

Well, as I considered my answer I saw how the conversation might go. I knew that to the general public, the image of 'ghost research' is largely informed by the TV ghost hunting shows. I knew that it would take a long time to explain how different my ghost research is to what goes on in the TV programmes.

I expect I'll have to explain it one day so I thought I'd try it out here to see if it makes sense. The easiest way to look at how I got to where I am is to see where I came from. I started with an interest in ghosts informed largely by fiction and 'what everyone knows'. For instance, 'everyone knows' that ghosts are spirits, right?

So, when I started in real ghost research I was surprised by what I found. It wasn't a bit like the movies! For instance, ghosts were not instantly recognizable by being transparent or glowing. Instead they looked indistinguishable from normal people until they did something weird, like vanishing. And far from engaging with witnesses, they seemed unaware of their existence! None of this suggested sentient spirits to me.

And then there were hauntings, that 'everyone knows' are the activities of ghosts. But I have never come across any sightings of a ghost actually DOING any of the stuff they were supposedly doing, like moving stuff around. And what about haunting hot spots? These are quite specific small areas within a haunted location where the same phenomena are recorded again and again. So, in the diagram, an apparition might be seen repeatedly in room A, the sound of footsteps may be regularly heard in hall B while faint music is sometimes heard at C in the corner of the largest room. Again, none of this suggests the activity of a sentient spirit. It sounds more like a recording but that is a whole different discussion though ( see here for much more on this).

So after all this I decided to go back to basics. Instead of assuming anything about the nature of ghosts, I now examine the experience of witnessing them. This means looking at the witnesses themselves, the place where the experiences take place and what external event (if any) may be causing them. It turns out that there is no single cause of ghost sightings but many. And, to the witness, all the causes bring about an identical ghost experience. It is obvious that hallucinations (a key cause) can produce ghosts, even ones that might appear to interact with the witness. But misperceptions are every bit as lifelike. That's because what the witness sees comes from their own visual memory! Witnesses don't see a tree that vaguely resembles a human figure, they see a real solid person! And then there are coincidences, another important and often neglected cause of ghost sightings. An example would be someone seeing a figure in historic costume walking along a street apparently not interacting with anyone. It might be a very real human being who just happens to be going to a fancy dress party! As regular readers will be aware, my informal research has shown that these causes explain far more cases than you might, at first, expect.

As you can see, it is rather too long and complicated for a casual chat with a new acquaintance. On the whole I'd say I was right to skip it. Maybe next time ...

Last month's (September) website figures are an average of 9,955 hits per day. This is similar to the previous month's 10743 daily average.

© Maurice Townsend 2017


Previous blog pages ...

  • 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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