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.

27 September: Ghost crow!

CrowRegular readers will know that I'm a keen birder in addition to my passion for all things anomalous. So when a bird caught my eye the other day, I naturally had to look. My first impression was that it was a moderate-sized black bird sitting on a fence. I guessed it might be a crow. What struck me as odd, however, was that it was flapping its wings despite standing stationary. This first impression was made in my peripheral vision.

As I turned to look directly at the bird I was taken aback. What I had seen was actually the shadow of the top of a plant a little distance from the fence. The sun was very low in the sky (early morning) and the shadow intensely dark (black). The 'flapping' motion was caused by two branches covered in leaves, at the top of the plant, blowing in the wind. Even when I was staring directly at the shadow, it still gave the vague impression of a flapping bird.

It was a very convincing peripheral vision misperception. I didn't doubt it was a bird for a second until I turned to look straight at it. It had the property of the best misperceptions - it looked right in its context. It was the right size for a bird, it was in a likely place (on a fence) and its behaviour ('flopping') was, more or less, correct.

What makes this misperception particularly interesting was that it was moving. Most misperceptions I've seen have been of stationary objects, like a bush being seen in low light as a human figure. Moving misperceptions are certainly rarer but they do happen and they can be just as convincing as stationary ones. This is important because, obviously, many reports of ghosts are of moving figures!

24 September: Ghostly voices. day dreams and reading

Weird sunI knew it was too good to be true! Everything looked set fair for my ideas (in the last post) about voice-MWRs (microsleep with REM - see here). And then I remembered MA (my acquittance who gets MWRs) had mentioned getting a few voice-MWRs on trains as well as when reading. OK, so maybe MA was reading on trains. Unfortunately MA can't remember but it's entirely possible. Phew! Not so fast ...

Then MA gets a voice-MWR on a train just a couple of days ago. And MA definitely recalls NOT reading at the time! So where does that leave my supposed connection between voice-MWRs and reading?

What if the same mental state that MA gets through intensive reading also occurs sometimes when on a train? What if. for instance, the brain goes into a similar state when reading as when day dreaming? Day dreaming is certainly something people do on trains when they are sitting down for a long period of time with nothing much to do. It certainly appears to be a possibility.

I once thought the link between reading and voice-MWRs was words, or more specifically using the bits of your brain that process language. It seems unlikely that language processing would be important when day dreaming. So maybe it is more to do with constructing an internal 'model' in your brain. By 'model' I mean that if you're reading as novel you might form a picture of the action described in the book. Obviously you won't see it literally which is why I'm calling it a 'model'. Even reading a science book can produce a 'model' perhaps of an atom or the surface of a remote planet. Day dreaming clearly produces the same kind of 'model' where you invent an alternative reality. The same brain process may produce voice-MWRs in certain people.

So what produces visual MWRs? These appear to have more in common with ordinary dreams or hypnagogia. As such, they are probably produced in the same way as those phenomena.

18 September: Ghostly message curiously apt

Weird sun"It's never changed in any way"! Have these, seemingly innocent, words overthrown a recent theoretical speculation of mine, recorded in this blog, about the nature of a strange phenomenon?

The words were 'heard' by MA (my acquaintance who experiences MWRs - microsleep with REM). MA hears such short 'messages' fairly often. They are a version of MWR that consists solely of apparent human speech. However, as they are usually heard when MA is alone, they are clearly not actual speech. Instead, they are produced by MA's own brain and delivered as 'dream content' through a microsleep.

Most people experience microsleeps from time to time but usually only as a few seconds of missing time while they are briefly unconscious. For a few people, like MA, some of their microsleeps include dream type content. Typically they are either voice only or a full visual experience, sometimes incorporating the actual scene where MA is. Such MWRs are typically experienced by people with sleep disorders.

What makes this particular 'message' so fascinating is that it happened when MA was reading a long article on an electronic device. I have noted in the past (see here) that while these voice MWRs are quite frequent when MA is reading a physical document, they have never happened when reading from an electronic device. Until now! So does this invalidate my ideas of different mind states when reading from a physical document compared to an electronic device (see here for discussion)?

As it happens, the article that MA was reading was long there were no distractions. So, in fact, it was more like reading a physical book or magazine. Thus, this example does not contradict my idea that long spells of reading without distractions (typical of a book) is conducive to voice MWRs. In fact, it is the exception that proves the rule! Which makes the content of the message curiously apt.

10 September: Can you hear ghostly sounds when your attention is overloaded?

Sound graphIn the last post I wondered if the 'sounds behind music' phenomenon (see here) might explain some ghostly sounds heard by witnesses on their own in haunting cases. So how might that actually work?

My best idea at present is that the 'sounds behind music' phenomenon works by overloading the attention of the witness (by listening to music and reading simultaneously in my case). Research has shown that such attention overload stops people from hearing ambient sounds that they might normally notice. An additional factor that needs to be present for the phenomenon, in my experience, is the expectation that a particular event will happen soon. This appears to be what causes the brain to hallucinate sounds. But it only occurs once. The hallucinatory sounds themselves appear to come from memories of actual sounds previously heard by the witness. The 'sounds' might well be the sort of thing the witness is expecting to happen.

So how could these factors occur in a haunting situation? The expectation of an event is easy. If someone is convinced they are in a haunted building they may be expecting ghostly sounds, like footsteps, at any time. But what might overload their attention? Maybe having a TV or radio on while doing something else. Or if a TV was on loud, it might even be enough on its own. There are, no doubt, other common situations which might overload someone's attention. such as playing video games.

I can't recall any examples of someone hearing ghostly sounds in a haunted location with their attention overloaded. However, that may just be because no one asked the witness what they were doing at the time or, if they did, the answer didn't seem significant. So here we have yet another example of where it is important to know exactly what the witness was doing when they had an anomalous experience. It is beginning to look like one of the most important questions to ask any witness to strange phenomena! It also looks as if 'sounds behind music' may be more than just a curiosity but also a possible explanations for certain apparent anomalous incidents.

5 September: Ghostly sounds - new clues!

Weird sunWhen you hear someone opening a door and then moving about in a different room of a building you know to be empty it can be unnerving. This was the latest example of the 'sounds behind music phenomenon' (similar recent example here). Briefly, the phenomenon works like this. I will be listening to some loud music when I hear sounds like someone moving around nearby even though the building is empty. I haven't had this happen for a while so I decided to try some experiments. I played the same track, the one playing when I heard the ghostly noises, again and again. However, I heard no further noises. This is what has happened in the past. Just as with misperception, it appears that once I've experienced a 'sounds behind music' it will not happen again until I've forgotten about it!

So far this experience mirrored previous ones but then something different happened. I was playing the same track yet again when I unexpectedly heard the movement sounds again. Only this time it turned it really WAS someone moving around, a person I was expecting. But here's the interesting bit - the sound was EXACTLY the same as the phantom movement sounds heard before.

Another interesting point was that I was reading both times when I heard the ghostly noises and the real ones. And, thinking back, I'm pretty sure I would have been reading or writing when I've experienced this phenomenon before. In other words, I was not sitting passively listening to music but doing something else simultaneously that engaged my attention.

So now we have some new clues as to the true nature of this ghostly sound phenomenon. Firstly, the fact that the real sound was the same as the phantom one suggests it comes from my own memory of previous real sounds of someone moving around in the same location. I had speculated the last time I heard this exact same thing that it might be caused by stress as I was worried about someone I was expecting. However this was not the case on this latest occasion. I now think the ghostly sounds come from my own memory, which is why they are so realistic, but I'm still not sure exactly what makes them happen.

Secondly, I've now realised that I was always doing something else when listening to the music. This suggests that attention may be involved. Scientific research has shown that we have finite attention and when it is overloaded we miss spotting things that would normally be obvious. That takes me back to my original theory that maybe the phenomenon is a warning mechanism that I might not hear any possible approaching threat with my attention overloaded.

The fact that the sounds were so realistic, probably from my own memory, makes me wonder about some sounds heard in haunting cases. Once someone is convinced that their house is haunted might some of the ghostly sounds they hear, when alone, come from their own memory?

3 September: Mini-OBE with ghost?

Weird sunI woke after falling asleep in a chair to find myself in an unfamiliar room. There was a dark figure sitting opposite looking at me. I felt uncomfortable with this entirely unexpected situation. I was beginning to wonder just where I was when something really strange happened. The whole room visibly shrank in front of me, including every object in it, apart from me! I realised I was, in fact, in a very familiar room indeed. The 'dark figure' had 'changed' into a chair with a box on top. But it was undoubtedly a human figure when I first saw it. So, a ghost then! I've no doubt that some people having the same experience as this would interpret it as paranormal, though I've no reason to think it was.

The reason I didn't recognise the very familiar room at first was simply that everything appeared much bigger than usual. This, of course, has parallels with my mini-OBE experiences. The last of these was just a month ago (see here for account). In that incident everything looked smaller than it really was.

There are some big differences between this latest experience and previous ones. Firstly, there was a dark figure, or ghost, present this time. It was, of course, just a bigger version of an inanimate object but I still thought it was a human figure at the time. It could well be seen as a kind of misperception, albeit of a false view of a real object! Secondly, in the previous examples the scene has always been largely featureless. It is this aspect that I've assumed led to my brain making a big mistake about the scale of the scene. However, on this occasion there were a large number of quite different objects present producing a visually complex scene.

There was another thing I noticed about this latest experience - I felt distinctly odd at the time. I felt light-headed and somehow distant or disconnected from my surroundings. The feeing disappeared as the room 'changed'. It suggested to me that this was a near sleep experience of some kind. The previous such experience, on a train, also happened just as I was waking up though I cannot remember if I felt odd during that incident

The parallels between this latest strange experience and my 'mini-OBEs' suggests they are the same thing. But the lack of a featureless scene goes against that idea. It is possible that it IS the same phenomenon but with a different cause. I doubt I'll resolve this puzzle unless I get some more examples. The fact that I've had two such experiences within a month suggests that it might become a regular thing which could provide just such additional data.

© Maurice Townsend 2018


Previous blog pages ...

  • 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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