Forty years today!

Forty years today!

So here we are, forty years on from the day ASSAP was formed on 10 June 1981. By chance there is a solar eclipse today. Events in 1981 were less exciting - just a meeting of a committee. But the results are still ongoing.

ASSAP covers a whole range of anomalous phenomena. That was an unusual idea when we first started. But even then it was possible to see connections between different anomalies. One obvious connection is that many reports turn out to have natural explanations. What is more, the same explanations. Whether someone with a hypnogogic experience sees a ghost or an alien in their bedroom, it is still not real. Which one they see probably relates to the witness’s experiences and beliefs. And an unfamiliar (but perfectly ordinary) animal might be seen as a cryptozoological beast to some while a distant balloon reflecting the sun could be seen as a UFO. An important common principle in these last two examples is the idea of a witness not recognizing something they are not familiar with. It is the xenonormal - the unfamiliar, but normal, masquerading as paranormal.

It turns out that studying the xenonormal is every bit as rewarding as examining the paranormal. I have seen, over the years, that people are too quick to label an incident paranormal having looked only briefly at possible natural explanations. This is a major problem. Anyone surveying the field trying to form a theory of ghosts, say, will naturally look at all the relevant cases that are believed to have paranormal causes. But what if a significant proportion actually are xenonormal? It could seriously skew any resulting theory. This is one reason, perhaps, why we are as far from a testable theory of ghosts now as we we were 4 decades ago. By understanding how people report events as paranormal, when they are not, we can more successfully root out the non paranormal which is currently producing a confusing idea of the phenomena.

Author :© Maurice Townsend 2021

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