Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena

The Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP) is a United Kingdom-based learned society, education and research charity,[4] dedicated to scientifically investigate alleged paranormal and anomalous phenomena, with a view to approaching the subject in its entirety rather than looking into the psychology of individual phenomenon.[5] They also hold training days for would-be investigators and provide research grants.[6][7]

The National Investigations Committee is headed by Caroline McKendrick. ASSAP maintains a National Register of Paranormal Investigators of people who are trained to analyse phenomena, support witnesses, and share data while protecting client confidentiality, and are bound by ASSAP’s code of conduct and ethics, best practices, and policies on safeguarding data.

ASSAP’s refusal to accept populist explanations for ghosts and its focus on recording of experience rather than phenomena has garnered cautious praise from skeptics.[8] The first part of their investigative process, which is used to detect obvious fraud, is kept a secret from the public.[9]


The ASSAP was founded on 10 June 1981 by council members of the Society for Psychical Research who were modernisers;[10] its current president is Lionel Fanthorpe. The previous president was Michael Bentine who had a long-term interest in the subject of the paranormal.[11]

Founding members included well-known authors Hilary Evans and Jenny Randles as well as Fortean Times editor Bob Rickard, Vernon Harrison and Hugh Pincott (previously secretary and treasurer of the Society for Psychical Research).[5][12]

The charity has had sub-committees such as the Circles Research Program, who investigated crop circles.[13] In the 1990s, they held an average of 1,000 investigations a year.[14]

Current activities[edit]

Members receive the annual peer reviewed journal Anomaly and a bi-annual magazine, as well as invitations to a weekly Thursday evening webinar series where experts discuss anomalous phenomena and borderline science. The tone of the group is sceptical and scientific but it holds no corporate beliefs and instead embraces a Fortean openness to anomalies of all kinds. Members have unlimited use of the Mary Evans picture library because Hilary Evans was one of the founders.

Carrie Searley explained to paranormal researcher Ben Radford that “fake ghost photography is in the minority, however, it does occur … It is purely down to us to educate ourselves with the up and coming new photo apps that are being offered on the market”. And ASSAP asked the public for its help to catalogue the known fake images for smartphones.[15] Though the charity still analyses ghostly photographs, in 2011 it ceased to study smartphone pictures, as apps became available for the specific purpose of faking ghostly figures.The charity asked members to send before and after pictures using the applications to help weed out fakes.[16]

In 2013 the organisation staged a one-day “Summit on the Future of Ufology”, stating that a possible crisis in the world of UFO researchers, as well as recent sightings, required examination.[17] They held a similar conference in 2012 at the University of Worcester.[1] They had earlier hosted the Paranormal Olympics at the University of London.[18]

Since 2006 the charity launched Project Albion, creating a database with the goal of recording every fortean event in the country.[19]

Start Year End Year Chair
1981 1982 Alan Hughes
1983 1997 Maurice Townsend
1997 2001 Phil Walton
2001 2002 Hugh Pincott
2002 2006 Mike White
2006 2014 Dave Wood
2015 2016 Sarah Spellman
2016 2017 Ian Topham
2017 2020 Dave Wood
2020 Present Chris Jensen Romer
  1. ^ a b Keogh, Kat (17 November 2012). “Ex-Files… Midland UFO sightings vanish”. Birmingham Mail. p. 7.
  2. ^ Byrne, Mike (2 October 2010). “Ghostly new arrivals raise haunting hopes; Two new spooky sightings have raised hopes that the city is still the number one ghost centre in the UK”. Express and Echo. Exeter. p. 3.
  3. ^ Bentine, Michael (1984). Doors of The Mind. Granada. ISBN 0-246-11845-8.
  4. ^ Charity Commission website
  5. ^ a b Grossman, Wendy M (17 August 2011). “Obituary: Hilary Evans: Paranormal researcher and co-founder of a famous picture library”. The Guardian. p. 37.
  6. ^ “Out of the orbinary?”. Western Daily Press. 7 July 2006. p. 13.
  7. ^ “Spook watch at Oxford Prison”. UK Newsquest Regional Press – This is Oxfordshire. 21 November 2000.
  8. ^ Parnormal Investigator The Skeptics Dictionary
  9. ^ Nuttall, Nick (4 September 1996). “Real-life ghostbusters find a sober way to chase spirits”. The Times. London.
  10. ^ Fraser, J. (2010) Ghost Hunting: A Survivors Guide
  11. ^ Obituary for Michael Bentine, The Independent
  12. ^ Hope, V. & Townsend, M. (1999) The Paranormal Investigator’s Handbook.
  13. ^ Dunkley, Peter M. (19 June 1999). “Going round in circles: Debate Still Rages Over Origin of Crop Circles”. Calgary Herald. Alberta, Canada.
  14. ^ Nuttall, Nick (4 September 1996). “From psychic forces to fashionable farces”. The Times. London.
  15. ^ Radford, Ben (2017). Investigating Ghosts: The Scientific Search for Spirits. Corrales New Mexico: Rhombus Publishing Company. pp. 133–134. ISBN 9780936455167.
  16. ^ “Calling All Smartphone Users: Paranormal Researchers Need YOUR Help!”. The Morton Report. 9 November 2011.
  17. ^ Pope, Nick (24 February 2013). “2012 – a bumper year for UFOs; Nick Pope used to run the MoD’s UFO Project and is now recognised as one of the world’s leading FOUR unidentified flying objects were spotted hovering over Sydney’s suburbs on the afternoon of May 18, 2012. experts on A photograph captured the four UFOs – which witnesses said hovered in the same spot for more than 10 minutes before disappearing again – from Tom Ugly’s Bridge Marina in the city just before 5pm. UFOs and the unexplained. The photographer, local resident Ivan Mikkelsen, told The Daily Telegraph in Australia that he first noticed the objects”. The People. pp. 2–3.
  18. ^ Rickard, Bob (12 April 2003). “The Guest Slot”. Daily Record. p. 37.
  19. ^ Rigley, Stephen (3 February 2006). “The Hauntings; Bid to Record Every Spook, and Supernatural Sighting in the Land”. Daily Star. United Kingdom. p. 16.

External links[edit]