ASSAP: Paranormal Research
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ASSAP bloggerWelcome to the ASSAP paranormal blog! Though this blog is aimed at anyone interested in the paranormal, it will be of particular interest to the paranormal research community. Updated frequently, but not regularly (don't expect something new every day!), it covers any paranormal topic, as well as highlighting recent changes to the ASSAP website. You may not notice it but this site changes on an almost daily basis.

Whenever new information becomes available on a subject ASSAP covers, it is added to the relevant pages of the website straight away. So, just because you've read a page, don't assume it will still be exactly the same when you next look. That way the ASSAP website remains an up to date research resource.

The photo (above right, pic by Val Hope) is the ASSAP blogger himself, out looking for anomalies wherever they are to be found, so that you can read about them here. To contact the ASSAP blog, email here.

Important note: If anything in this blog does not make sense, try following the links in text! If it still doesn't make sense, that's probably my fault ...

Previous blog pages ... (including ghosts, UFOs, poltergeists, flying rods, miracles, orbs, hypnotic regression, big cats, vampires, near sleep experiences, premonitions, shadow ghosts, paranormal photos, auras, river monsters and dozens of other subjects)

ASSAP @ 30: A series of posts summarising what we have learned through thirty years of ASSAP, whose anniversary was 10 June 2011. See here!

NB: WDTHDWP = 'what does this have to do with the paranormal'

2 April: The real ghost experience

shadow ghostIf we are ever to understand ghosts, we need to look closely at the most reliable source oif information about them - ghost sightings. Straight away it is obvious that such sightings can be usefully divided up into several aspects, such as:

1) Firstly, there is the actual experience of seeing a ghost. Though subjective, it is also objective. It is a real experience for the witness, however caused.

2) Secondly, there is the physical cause of the sighting. This could be a brain thing (like a hallucination) but it may also have an element external to the witness, like a tree being misperceived. Even if it has a paranorm,al cause, a sighting must eventually become a visual perception in someone's brain.

3) Thirdly, there is the witnesses interpretation of what they saw. This is subjective and usually biased by cultural expectations and the witness's own life experiences. For instance, many people will ijnterpret an unexplaioned figure as a spiurit, despite the lack of compelling evidence that it is so.

When anmalysing a report, it is important to keep these three aspects separate.

Regarding the experience, it is important to realise that, barring fabrication by the witness, it is completely real. People sometimes dismiss ghost sightings as 'fantasy' or 'imagination', if they don't think ghosts exist. However, in science we follow wherever the evidence leads. The evidenbce from countless reported experiences down the centuries points to ghost sightinhgs as a real exp[erience, howevrer caused.

Secondly, as the experience is an objective event, it has a cause. In most cases the witness will be unaware of the actual cause. If they WERE aware of the cause they might not report it in the first place. It is the job of paranormal investigators to determine this cause. If you ask yourself, why does the witness think they've seen a ghost, the answer will be because there are circumstances which mean that there could not have been a real human present (eg someone seen in a room known to be locked and empty). Thirdly, how the witness interprets what they have seen has no bearing on 1 and 2. This last point is important! A witness may think they've seen a spirit but, while that could be so, it does not mean they have and, from experience, it is the least likely explanation for their experience. So it should have no affect on the investigation! Why am I mentioning all this? Because I have seen investigations where these three things become entangled and, unsurprisingly, the results are not helpful.

1 April: Coot cylinder

CootThis magnificent bird (right) is a Coot! As people (nearly) always say with anomalous photos, I noticed something really odd when I looked at the photo after taking it. There was nothing obviously strange visible at the time of exposure.

If you look closely, you'll see two curious light brown tall thin objects in the photo. One is behind the bird about half way across the shot. The other is more central, in front of the Coot. So what are they? Some kind of flying rod, perhaps? Let's call them rods, for the sake of simplicity. Most flying rods have some sort of 'appendage' which these objects lack. But it might still be some sort of variation on the theme. So let's look at the clues in the photo.

Firstly, when viewed close up (pic below right), the objects strongly resemble cylinders. There is an obvious white vertical streak just left of centre. This suggests a highlight, as if from a reflective cylindrical object, like the capsules used to contain drugs. The sharp streak suggests that the objects are in focus.

The ends of the rod are rounded, like a gas cylinder. The rods are, apart from the streak, uniformly shaded and, crucially, somewhat blurred. Note, particularly, the transparent top and bottom of the cylinder, The rod shown below is the foreground object. It looks brighter, but the same colour as, the background object. Other than that, the objects look identical.

Coot rodCould the 'rods' be some sort of vegetation? The photo is one a series and none show any vegetation in front of the bird. Furthermore, there is no plant visibly attached to the 'rods'.

The key clue is that the objects are slightly blurred. This is not because they are out of focus. Therefore it must be motion blur. The obvious conclusion is that the rods are small falling objects. This is confirmed by the fact that the top and bottom of the cylinder are transparent. That's because all of the rod consists of overlapping images of the falling object (hence the uniform colour) except the top and bottom where there is no overlap (hence the transparency).

The rods are, in fact, falling seeds! The seeds came from a bird feeder directly above the Coot. Smaller birds were using the feeder and spilling some seeds onto the ground. And the Coot was eating the fallen seeds. There are two such seeds actually on the back of the Coot in a later photo in the series, as well as many others visible on the ground.

Falling objects could explain some UFO photos. It is always difficult to judge the size of an object that is not in physical contact with anything else in a photo. Using clues like those described here, it should be possible to detect such falling objects in photos.

PS: No April fool jokes here! In our field, it's difficult enough already to decide what is real and what isn't!

For a review of paranormal research in the noughties, see here.

Last month's (March) website figures are an average of 11426 hits per day. This is up on the previous month's 11299 daily average.


Previous blog pages ...

  • 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

© Maurice Townsend 2014