Some Frequently Asked Questions about ASSAP.
WHAT IS ASSAP?
ASSAP is an association dedicated to discovering the scientific truth behind unexplained anomalous phenomena. ASSAP has no corporate beliefs and encourages an open-minded, undogmatic scientific approach to its subject. The main activities of the association are research into reports of anomalous phenomena and the analysis and publication of the results of such investigation. Members are encouraged to actively investigate phenomena in a disciplined, responsible way through a training programme.
WHAT ARE ANOMALOUS PHENOMENA?
Anomalous phenomena are those reported events for which there is no widely accepted scientific explanation. The subject area breaks down broadly into four categories: psychic phenomena (eg. telepathy, ghosts, premonitions), UFOs, earth mysteries (eg. alignments of ancient monuments) and Forteana (odd occurrences like falls of fish, out-of-place animals). Though not strictly equivalent, we often use the word paranormal interchangeably with the term anomalous. In the past many researchers have tended to specialise in quite small areas of this field. There has recently been a tendency for individual interests to cross these subject boundaries. This explains the need for an organisation like ASSAP. There is also emerging evidence for connections between the fields, eg. UFO witnesses often have psychic experiences both before and after their encounter.
Science provides the nearest approximation we have to a value-free model of reality. If anomalous phenomena are real, not simply misobservation, then they must inevitably be 'natural' and fall within the remit of science. ASSAP seeks to add to scientific knowledge, not replace it with any alternative belief system. See also this article.
WHY NO CORPORATE BELIEFS?
Anyone who has examined the evidence for the paranormal in detail is likely to come to the conclusion that the scientific evidence for the paranormal is slight, patchy and contradictory. There are very few undisputed facts in the field and even fewer generally accepted theories. Given this background, objectively there is precious little for anyone to 'believe' in. Therefore it makes sense to start with a clean sheet and simply examine what there is 'out there' without preconceived ideas of what we will find. In any case, science demands such an unbiased, disciplined approach to work. We are interested neither in starting new philosophies nor in spreading unyielding scepticism. We simply want the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Of course, individual members will inevitably have their own beliefs and opinions on our subject as, indeed, do professional scientists, but we encourage a neutral, belief-free approach to the actual research.
WHAT IS ASSAP'S STATUS AS AN ORGANISATION?
ASSAP is a registered charity (number 327422) based in the United Kingdom. Formed on 10 June 1981 by a group of serious researchers, it has grown steadily to its present world-wide membership of over 300. ASSAP has gained a reputation for careful, responsible research. It is frequently approached by the media for news and comment on anomalous phenomena.
WHAT HAS ASSAP DONE SO FAR?
The following are just a few highlights of ASSAP's many activities to date. ASSAP has undertaken a number of investigations into allegedly haunted locations. It has also examined numerous reports of UFOs as well as many other phenomena. Anomalous photographs currently form a significant part of its case load. The association has worked with organisations like English Heritage and local authorities to investigate unusual occurrences. In addition, experimental research has been conducted into such fields as remote viewing, hypnotic regression, numerology, tarot and table tilting. ASSAP has also funded scientific research projects proposed by members, eg. investigating magnetic fields at allegedly haunted locations.
ASSAP has developed an investigation network to examine cases reported within the United Kingdom. It regularly publishes the results of its activities and holds meetings and conferences from time to time. ASSAP has its own library and archives department. Our Media Support Agency is devoted to bringing about serious debate into our subject through the media. Many of ASSAP's activities have appeared in various books and countless magazine and newspaper articles.
HOW DOES ASSAP RELATE TO OTHER GROUPS?
ASSAP has contacts with many other organisations and individuals, part of an informal network of people interested in the paranormal and related subjects. Some groups are affiliated to the association, while others maintain looser links. In all cases ASSAP does not seek to take over other groups but rather to work with them towards a common approach.
DOES ASSAP HOLD MEETINGS?
ASSAP, as an organisation, does not hold regular meetings, apart from its AGM. However, it does occasionally organise conferences, lectures, study days and research meetings. In addition, it runs an annual investigators' training day. This provides members with a basic understanding of investigative techniques including interviewing, site research and vigils as well as offering advice in dealing with the media and problem cases. Members who have attended the training day and completed a project can become Approved ASSAP Investigators (AAIs).
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF JOINING ASSAP?
All ASSAP members can take part in the Association's investigative and research activities. In particular, they can attend a training course as trainee investigators. For those not interested in investigations there are other fields, such as research or administration, to consider. ASSAP has active local groups that conduct their own additional activities.
ASSAP members receive the Association's publications free. These are ASSAP News, a bimonthly newsletter, and Anomaly, the twice-yearly journal. These publications are normally the first place where ASSAP research is published. Members can use the ASSAP library via a postal lending service and attend ASSAP's public meetings.
WHAT IF I'VE WITNESSED SOMETHING ANOMALOUS?
ASSAP operates a network of investigators covering most of the United Kingdom. We investigate reports of anomalous phenomena in a neutral, scientific way. If you report something paranormal to us you can expect a sympathetic, unbiased attitude from our Investigations Department. Cases are investigated in confidence. Though case details might be published in the Association's literature, pseudonyms are used both for people and places involved (unless you specifically give permission for disclosure of these facts). We operate according to a Code of Conduct which you are free to inspect. It enshrines our responsible approach to witnesses, their property and privacy. Our main motivation in studying anomalous phenomena is to try to understand them in scientific terms. To report a case go here.
WHAT GEOGRAPHICAL AREA DOES ASSAP COVER?
ASSAP is a national organisation based in the UK. It does, however, have some foreign members, though its activities are normally restricted to the UK. It has a few regional groups, notably the Northern Group (based around NW England) and TEMS (based in south-west London and Surrey).
WHAT SUBJECTS ARE COVERED BY ASSAP
This is not an exhaustive list but gives some idea of the range of subjects covered.