JOTT: Just One of Those Things or Disappearing Object Phenomenon

According to statistics, there few if any humans on Earth who have escaped this all too common phenomena. Undoubtedly, at some point in your life, you have picked up some mundane everyday item—car keys, the remote to your television, or some other innocuous object—turned around to attend to some miscellaneous distraction, such as a phone call and laid the object in your hand down, with the intention of picking it up again a moment later.

When finished with the interruption you return to pick up the item in question, only to find that it is not where you had put it.

How frantic the ensuing search becomes is directly proportional to the importance of the item that now appears to have vanished into thin air.

Later, perhaps minutes, hours, or even days, the object is found somewhere where you would not have routinely left it. Sometimes it never turns up.

However in historic cases of this phenomena, objects that went missing in this manner sometimes inexplicably turn up miles away.

Commonly known as Disappearing Object Phenomenon or D-O-P the subject has received attention by writers and investigators alike. Those professing to be utilizing pure science, often dismiss the phenomenon in this manner, “No one knows for sure what causes Disappearing Object Phenomenon but we think……” How many times have we heard researchers attempt to dismiss phenomena that has

been witnessed multiple times by credible individuals, implying that no one for sure knows but we think we can use a logical and scientific explanation to define an experience that defies logical and scientific explanations.

Some of the learned men and women of academia, try to say that DOP is naught but a hallucination, the victim only believes that he or she can not see, or even feel that which is still in plain sight. Then they try to explain away the object being moved by saying that you or another family member, did in fact move the object, but wiped the memory of doing so from your mind. Frankly considering the possibility that some sort of creature did it seems more plausible than mass hallucination and an involuntary act of wiping memories from the minds of one or more family members, especially when there are reports of such event in which the object turned up miles away and not one family member had made the trip required to physically move the object.

Other authors have written about the subject, perhaps in the interest of understanding that which yet defies rational explanation. Mary Rose Barrington wrote one such book titled: JOTT: when things disappear… and come back or relocate – and why it really happens. Perhaps the term J-O-T-T or just one of those things reflects Ms. Barrington’s frustrations in not finding a rational explanation for the phenomenon while conducting her own research, writing the subject off as Just One of Those Things.

A book review published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration has this to say about Barrington’s book;

This book accomplishes the nearly miraculous achievement of being both substantive and highly entertaining. According to Barrington, “JOTT,” derived from “Just One of Those Things,” stands for a kind of “spatial discontinuity”—namely, a motley class of events in which objects appear or disappear in mysterious ways. For example, some can be classified as “Walkabouts,” in which “an article disappears from the place where it was known to have been and is found in another place.” Similarly, in “Comebacks,” “a known article disappears from the place where it was known to have been and later is found back in the same place.” And in “Turn-ups,” “a known article from an uncertain location appears in a place where it is known not to have been before it was found there.” The other primary categories in Barrington’s taxonomy are Flyaway, Windfall, and Trade-in (the reader might be able to guess what these are).

Later in the review the author makes the following observation;

Barrington, in her book, plays this crucial role of the parapsychological naturalist, by looking at some unheralded peculiar events and then trying to incorporate them into the big picture. She focuses on a class of ostensibly paranormal phenomena that have received much less attention than, say, cases of apparitions and poltergeists. And she’s clear about why that is. The phenomena typically and all too easily get dismissed as merely a nuisance and are readily put out of mind. They’re not as dramatic and conspicuous as a table levitation, and we can, without much difficulty, churn out counterexplanations which at least superficially satisfy us, even if they wouldn’t withstand greater scrutiny. But, Barrington urges, the best of these cases present real puzzles with serious ontological implications, and they force us to attend more carefully to the many other cases that are less initially compelling. She writes,


. . . when all known or imagined forms of eccentric behavior are considered, there remains a hard core of cases that cannot be reasonably explained away in mundane terms, and eventually an attempt must be made to explain them using broader concepts.

Robert Charman in his book review of Disappearing Object Phenomenon: An Investigation, by Tony Jinks, Charman shares some of the cases Jinks wrote about.

One evening in August, 2008, Kate drove home after work to her small suburban house situated in a quiet residential street. With her car key on the same ring as all her other keys she selected her front door key and opened the door at the same moment that her telephone rang. Knowing who it would be she left the door open and dropped her bag to run down the hall to answer the phone.

After the call she went back to take the ring of keys out of the door lock and pick up her bag. The bag was there with contents intact but the ring of keys was not there. She searched and searched in vain, eventually concluding that someone must have entered the porch and snatched the keys although the street was empty and there seemed to be no one about. Unable to find them she was faced with the inconvenient and expensive business of getting a new car key and changing the locks of her front door, back door, garage and mailbox and cutting a new key for her office. Within the year she moved to a new job in another city and bought and thoroughly renovated an apartment close to the city centre. One evening she returned home, placed her new set of keys in the hallway drawer as usual and then went into her bedroom only to see her old set of keys on the same ring on her pillow. As she said to Jinks she felt ‘nauseous and giddy’ with shock as no one else could have entered her apartment during her absence.

Assuming that this victim named Kate was not suffering from mental disorder, how did the missing keys find their way to her new apartment and place themselves in her pillow?

Charman writes:

After years of personal investigation into these claims Jinks decided that these unexpected, inconvenient and unwanted object disappearances, reappearances and so on could not be attributed to forgetfulness, unaware misplacement, faulty memory, in-attentional blindness or perceptual blindness while thinking of something else to an object in plain sight, hallucinatory error, deliberate deception by themselves or someone else, fugue states, altered states of consciousness and so on. What was being repeatedly and independently described seemed to be a genuine phenomenon despite being considered as completely impossible as far as science and everyday common sense is concerned.

With the prior research and classification of some 185 cases of the same phenomenon by Barrington as his guide. Jinks decided to submit his much larger database to a thorough statistical, tabled, analysis as to the objects most frequently involved such as jewellery items as in rings, brooches and necklaces, single food and beverage items, keys, items of clothing, small computer items such as USB sticks and ‘mice’; television remote controls, grooming items such as combs, brushes, hair clips and tweezers, kitchen utensils such as knives and forks, wristwatches, wallets, credit/debit cards, individual coins, stationery, small tools and so on.

He found that in order of jott activity the most common behaviors were disappearance and later reappearance of that object, often in the same place but sometimes elsewhere in the house, the unfamiliar appearance of a new object that could not be accounted for, and unrecognized similar type of object replacement and sometimes disappearance for good.

Another website offers more in depth details of Barrington’s work such as an explanation of the terminology she—in many cases—coined herself. This reviewer reported that:

Barrington classified this weird occurrence into two different categories:

  1. Jottles: This is the more common of the two where objects are displaced either via teleportation, poltergeist phenomena or an apport (a spirit moving an object).
  1. Oddjott: Miscellaneous weird episodes that have no rational explanation

Jottles are then further broken down into subcategories:

  • Walkabout. This is the most common jottle, where an item disappears from a known location and is found later in another and often bizarre location, without any sort of explanation as to how it got there.
  • Comeback. An item disappears from a known location and anywhere from minutes to years, reappears in this very same location.
  • Flyaway. An item disappears from a known location and never reappears.
  • Turnup. An item that appears in a location that it couldn’t have been in before.
  • Windfall. An unknown item to you randomly appears.
  • Trade-in. An item that disappears and never comes back, but a similar item appears instead

Some of the cases Barrington wrote about are cited in the review as examples of the aforementioned categories and subcategories.

One such event, categorized as a Walkabout goes like this;

“It happened…on the 24th November, 1982, in the afternoon. My wife went for her glasses which she left on the kitchen table. They were not there.

When our visitor left, a full-scale search was made, but without result. Outside the house we have a large sink, not used as such, but filled with earth, which is used for raising seedlings and small plants.

On the following morning, the glasses, neatly folded, were found, obviously carefully placed on the soil in that sink, between two plants. They were not folded when they disappeared.” It has to be said that the visitor was Melvyn Harris, a well-known paranormal denier, and I have to wonder if he organized a psuedo-jottle. Such things have been known. But speaking from personal experience, this was not a house in which visitors were entertained in the kitchen. Tea was served in style.

Presumably the event was a formal afternoon “Tea” in which the visitor was entertained somewhere other than the kitchen where the wayward glasses had been left. Obviously the visitor could not have—without being noticed—purloined the glasses and left them in the garden. The question then arises how did the glasses manage to relocate elsewhere?

The reviewers of Barrington’s work always note her sense of humor used while writing about very unusual cases. They also mention that they are sad to report that Barrington will not grace us with another such work as she passed away in 2020.

That which Barrington categorized as a Windfall in which an unknown item suddenly appears can be very disconcerting especially to those experiencing night terrors or sleep paralysis as we discussed in Episode 4:ONLY THE SHADOW KNOWS. In these events the victims report waking up the next morning after they thought there was an intruder in the room and they find objects moved or in some cases that which Barrington characterized as a Windfall, the sudden appearance of an unknown object.

Although terminology used to describe this phenomena such as we have reviewed here, is rather new, however the events—as described by Barrington and other contemporary researchers—are not a recent development. That which is described as Windfalls today were also known in the past as, Apports;

Like today’s Windfalls, an apport was described in the past as an item that seemingly appears from nowhere. We find it was said to be a common place practice in the 19th century spiritualist era, for a medium to be able to produce an object out of what seemed like thin air during a seance.

One very famous British author wrote:

There is no more curious and dramatic phase of psychic phenomenon than the apport. It is so startling that it is difficult to persuade the sceptic as to its possibility, and even the Spiritualist can hardly credit it until examples actually come his way. The author’s first introduction to occult knowledge was due largely to the late General Drayson, who at that time—nearly forty years ago—was receiving through an amateur medium a constant succession of apports of the most curious description-Indian lamps, amulets, fresh fruit, and other things. So amazing a phenomenon, and one so easily simulated, was too much for a beginner, and it retarded rather than helped progress. Since then, however, the author has met the editor of a well-known paper who used the same medium after General Drayson’s death, and he continued, under rigid conditions, to get similar apports. The author has been forced, therefore, to reconsider his view and to believe that he has underrated both the honesty of the medium and the intelligence of her sitter.

The preceding observation is attributed to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, an excerpt from his History of spiritualism Vol II.

Doyle is more readily recognized for his books about the fictional character Sherlock Holmes.

These so called Windfalls, Apports and Tradeins, the latter being cases in which something disappears forever but an unknown object appears in its place, have a certain degree of similarity to tales of mythical creatures of ancient legends.

The Europeans have long maintained tales of little people, Elves, Fairies, Leprechauns and the like. All of these creature reportedly had a propensity for mischief that far exceed their shortness in physical stature.

Imagine their surprise when they traveled to the new world and the indigenous first peoples of America shared similar tales of enigmatic little people.

It would seem that the first peoples of America were not immune to JOTT or DOP

Various groups of the Eastern Forest Dwellers told stories of things going missing, tales that are uncannily similar to the modern day phenomena. They attributed these disappearances to the little people, creatures said to be no more than knee high in most oral traditions.

One elder writes the following:

Cherokee tradition tells of Little People who are a race of Spirits and live in rock caves on the mountain side. They are little fellows and ladies reaching almost to your knees. They are well shaped and handsome, and their hair so long it almost touches the ground. They are very helpful, kind-hearted, and great wonder workers. They love music and spend most of their time drumming, singing, and dancing. They have a very gentle nature, but do not like to be disturbed. When a hunter finds anything in the woods, such as a knife or a trinket, he must say, ‘Little People, I would like to take this’ because it may belong to them, and if he does not ask their permission they will throw stones at him as he goes home.

It would seem that every tribe of native Americans have oral traditions in which there are spirits that are usually benign but often mischievous spirits, just as their counterparts did in Europe and other regions of the world. Indeed these tales of spirits that have a predilection for things that do not belong to them seem to be universal across the face of the earth.

When one arrives at the realization of how wide spread the Disappearing Object Phenomena is and how long it has been recognized by various cultures, the question that come to mind is, “Are the ancient legends of thieving spirits just a tale made up to help explain the phenomena, events that are natural but continue to defy logical explanation? Or is there something living among us, something in the shadows that derives great pleasure through befuddling humans by instigating the mysterious disappearance of our possessions?

Listen to the above and our piece: The Skinny on skin Walkers at:

Sources in order of appearance

Book Review by Stephan E. Braude~JOTT: When Things Disappear . . . and Come Back or Relocate—And Why It Really Happens by Mary Rose Barrington Journal of Scientifi c Exploration, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 128–131, 2019

Review: Disappearing Object Phenomenon: An Investigation, by Tony Jinks Review by Robert A. Charman, Society for Psychical Research

JOTT: Just One Of Those Things LLIFS: Living Life in Full Spectrum

LLIFS – Apports, Asports and JOTT _


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.