The Theory of Telepathic Interaction by Ashley Knibb

Telepathic Interaction

“Telepathy – The communication of impressions of any kind from one mind to another, independently of recognised channels of sense”

– FWH Myers

Whilst researching, investigating and experimenting in the paranormal field, more specifically during communication between sensitive’s and possible spirits, I wanted to discover an easier way to document the communication. I wanted a method that could help me see what was going on during the communication simply, rather than referring to multiple sources in order to understand the short event.

Over the years I have tried many things, but whilst reading about Quantum Physics I discovered Feynman’s Diagrams and began to wonder if there could be a way of incorporating a similar approach. Oddly this also identified something else which I had felt was missing or perhaps not quite right, which was the vocabulary. I wanted to change some of the terms in order to move away from assumption and begin to create something more probable.

This paper outlines how telepathic interaction during ‘paranormal occurrences’ can now be documented using my ideograms quickly and simply. The diagrams can also in some cases be reduced to define the most probable source of the interaction, thus determining if it is a good example of survival or not.

Please feel free to read through the document attached via the link below and comment on your thoughts on my theory and methodolgy in documenting these telepathic interactions.

The Theory of Telepathic Interaction By Ashley Knibb

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THE SINGAPORE THEORY VICTORIAN SEANCE EXPERIMENT BY ASHLEY KNIBB

PROBLEM / PURPOSE / QUESTION

The fundamental element of any paranormal investigation or indeed search for proof of survival of consciousness post bodily death is simply communication. We seem to hold this, above all others as the most categorical evidence we could obtain. Perhaps it is because that simple concept of holding a conversation with a probable spirit of someone who has passed sparks the imagination of so many of us. Conversations which would help us to understand what to expect when we come to pass too!

The question is; how can we create a scenario that allows us to establish the best and/or most successful communication with spirits?

HYPOTHESIS

During my investigations of various locations around the country I have attempted various approaches in order to gain better contact and possibly evidence, but one of the more successful methods was the Singapore Theory Experiment. However during our use in the past we have mainly concentrated on the use of music that was significant to a specific time frame related directly to the location under investigation.

The success of this method has appeared to assist in an increase of activity during our investigations. However it must be said that this is only our perception of those specific incidents and as we do not fully have control over all probable variables it’s hard to say if playing music, related to a specific period helped to increase activity or the level of activity at a location was always as we found it. Still in looking at locations like Peterborough Museum this certainly seemed to be the case.

Given this probable success I wanted to take the opportunity to take the use of the Singapore Theory a step further. Looking at how we used to attempt to communicate with spirits I thought the best idea would be to combine an older approach to spiritual communication along with this theory.

The most significant to me is the Victorian approach to the Séance, simply because this in my mind appeared to lead the spiritualist movement in Victorian times, highlighting this kind of spiritual communication in mainstream social activities.

Of course utilising the Victorian approach Séance would mean we restrict ourselves to a selected time frame, where the association of this style of communication would be successful. However this also allows us to expand on the Singapore Theory a little more to include additional elements which should hopefully increase the success of this approach.

I believe by combining the success of the Singapore Theory Experiment with an authentic style Victorian Séance; which would include those involved dressing in Victorian style clothes and conducting the entire event as if it was an original Victorian Séance; the ability to communicate with spirits and general activity should be increased.

However it is also important to clarify that this would not categorically confirm the communication as that of the consciousness of someone who has passed. This is because it is likely that through this approach, the majority of communication will be channelled through the mediums or sitters situated at the table. This in turn allows the source of this information to be possibly obtained in a telepathic manner. However we may have the opportunity to gain a better telepathic link and indeed establish how this may be working for those involved.

I would hope that this experiment highlights the importance of memory association in the perception of spiritual communication. That is, what can often be believed as communication from a localised spirit could actually indeed be communication obtained through a more telepathic means. However this link is driven by our unconscious mind and thus appears to be passed to the sitters by localised spirit.

The question then remains; rather than to whom are we talking, but from where are we receiving the information? Also, can we specifically define the information that we believe we are receiving? As it often appears to be presented in a cryptic or confused manner, which I believe is because the information is rebuilt from the memories of the receiver in order to present the best possible version of the information.

The experiment should hopefully show that the utilisation of various factors which create an environment and scenario; which should be familiar to the spirits or indeed the information related to those spirits; should assist to better our ability to communicate with them; or as I suspect streamline the ability of the sitters to locate the information in the ether related to those individuals (spirits) we would be focussing on. It is my hope that this would be made evident by the receipt of good information from the sitters, but also from the ‘feeling’ of heightened energy in the vicinity of the experiment. This could be explained initially by the groups anticipation of the events about to take place in the run up to the experiment and then by the increased telepathic activity of the entire group working collectively on the same goals. Although I will be monitoring the EMF, Temperature and Humidity of the localised environment, it is my understanding that the feelings of the sitters/guests would identify changes associated to this experiment. This in turn will mean a lack of firm data to back up our results.

MATERIALS

There are various items that are required for this experiment which are needed for a few different reasons. Some are necessary to ensure that the Séance is as authentic as we can make it whilst others are important for monitoring the experiment. All items are important in their own way.

Victorian Séance Materials

  • Two separate rooms. One to conduct the Séance in which must be closed off from any other rooms, limiting access to this room to those setting up, the first sitter and the host. A second room which is used for the more social element of this experiment in the run up to the main Séance, which allows all guests to converse and theorise to the events which may take place during the Séance itself.
  • Victorian style costumes to be worn by all those taking part, sitters and additional guests alike.
  • A round table for the sitters to perform the Séance at. This must sit at least three and it’s advised not to exceed twelve sitters. However the sitters should be made up of multiples of three and ideally be sat in a male female format. The sitters should fit comfortably around the table.
  • Two additional small tables set towards the edge of the room for additional items.
  • The correct amount for the round table for the sitters and additional chairs for the remaining guests in the room. There should be one more comfortable or distinguishable chair for the first sitter. All chairs should be made of wood where possible.
  • A dark coloured table-cloth for the round table.
  • It is said that the warmth and light of candles draws the spirits closer. The candles should be in groups or multiples of three also. The primary set should be placed at the centre of the round table.
  • Fresh bread. This is placed on the side tables. It is thought that the smell of fresh bread is familiar to spirits during their physical existence and thus helps to draw them close.
  • Fresh soup. This is placed on the side tables. It is thought that the smell of soup is also familiar to spirits during their physical existence and thus helps to draw them close.
  • Fresh flowers. These are placed on the side tables. It is thought that the smell of local fresh flowers is familiar to local spirits during their physical existence and thus helps to draw them close.
  • Lighting in the Séance room should be low relying on the candle light as much as possible.

Experiment Monitoring Materials

  • CCTV System. This can be used to monitor the main Séance room, covering video from several angles, but also some localised audio too. These can also cover the main doors into the room too. The documentarian will be able to utilise the coverage to make notes of any particular points of the Séance which require reviewing or are simply of more interest.
  • Additional Audio. It would be good to utilise some extra devices such as Dictaphone with lapel microphones to record audio from the vicinity of the primary sitter and a few of the other sitters too.
  • I will look to monitor the EMF (Electromagnetic Field) readings throughout the Séance. However as I don’t currently have a Data Logger device to do this, I will have to set it up so a camera can monitor it and one of the documentarian can then log the data throughout the experiment.
  • I will look to monitor the Temperature readings throughout the Séance. However as I don’t currently have a Data Logger device to do this, I will have to set it up so a camera can monitor it and one of the documentarian can then log the data throughout the experiment.
  • I will look to monitor the Humidity readings throughout the Séance. However as I don’t currently have a Data Logger device to do this, I will have to set it up so a camera can monitor it and one of the documentarian can then log the data throughout the experiment.
  • I will look to monitor the Light (LUX) readings throughout the Séance. However as I don’t currently have a Data Logger device to do this, I will have to set it up so a camera can monitor it and one of the documentarian can then log the data throughout the experiment.
  • Audible activity noted by sitters/guests. I will look to log when the sitters/guests mention hearing something (voices, taps, unknown) as this could coincide with other activity or data.
  • Physical activity noted by sitters/guests. I will look to monitor when the sitters/guests mention seeing physical activity (object movement) as this may not be captured by the cameras in the room and could be directly related to other supporting data.
  • Temperature variation noted by sitters/guests. I will look to monitor when the sitters/guests mention a change in localised temperature. The reason is that the temperature change may be just local to them and not picked up by our meter in the room or alternatively may coincide with a temperature change we’ve logged.
  • Light variation noted by sitters/guests. I will look to monitor when the sitters/guests mention a change in the light in the room. This could then highlight if there is actually a change in light or if this is the perception of the sitter. However we are still restricted to the localization of the phenomena on this.
  • Shadow movement noted by sitters/guests. I will look to monitor when the sitters/guests mention seeing possible shadow movement within the room. The reason is this is commonly associated with paranormal activity and it would be good to see if the data is representative of this phenomena or if its perception driven.
  • Sitter communicating through Trance. I will look to monitor when a sitter or guest experiences Trance communication, as this differs from standard Mediumship. That way we can look to see if the data varies during these sessions.
  • Spirit communication with sitters/guests. I will look to monitor when the sitters/guests believe they are in direct communication with spirits. The reason is to ensure we know that this is taking place and if the other data is representative of this occurrence.
  • Spirit Names. I will look to log down any names that the sitters/guests mention. This will help us understand if certain spirits have different associated data which may reflect related energy.
  • Current activity of sitters. This is to allow us to gain an understanding of what the sitters may be doing in coalition to the data. This is also a way we can log unusual activity which may not have thought of.
  • This is simply so we may note anything else of importance down.
  • Video Camera. This will be used to interview the Sitters/Guests prior to the Séance during the Group socializing Phase and then again after the Séance to gauge what experiences may have occurred. I believe it’s important to understand what the Sitters/Guests may be expecting prior to the event and then what they believed they experienced during the Séance.

LOCATION

The location of this experiment is important to its success. It’s not an experiment that can be performed in a Laboratory environment. This is because the idea is to recreate a Victorian Séance scenario, which means selecting the appropriate location to fit this requirement is important. Ideally the location will require a minimum of two rooms in order to accommodate the two phases of the experiment; Group socializing ahead of the Séance and a separate room to set up the Séance in, which can be closed off from view of most of the guests.

Group Socializing Phase

The socializing part of the evening will take place in the first room (say the bar of a pub) and other parts of the building. The reason for this is to assist with the anticipation of the main event for the guests and to ensure that they converse and query amongst themselves before entering the room itself. This element of socializing should also assist them in discussing recent or past memories, which should help them bond as a group. I believe this to be important because if communication is assisted through telepathy and our own minds than it’s possible that shared memories can help us better communicate. It’s like determining a common language for the group to use, but telepathically perhaps.

Victorian séance Phase

Access to the Séance room is restricted to the Hostess, First Sitter, Experiment Organiser and Documentation Crew in the run up to the Séance. This restriction is an important part of the entire experiment for a couple of reasons; this would have been the case during an authentic Victorian Séance, it helps to grow anticipation amongst the other sitters/guests in the run up to the Séance which in turn may help with building energy for the event and it also gives most little access to the room setup, so they may be relatively unaware of CCTV, etc during the actual Séance.

The séance will take place in the second room on a round table (capable do seating three to twelve sitters). As much as possible is to be removed from the second room and place the round table as central as possible. There will also be two additional tables to the sides of the room. On these two tables we will place three candles on one (White, not to be blown out), lit as we begin. On the other we will aim to place local fresh flowers, fresh bread and hot soup. These familiar smells of food and flowers are said to stimulate memory in spirits related to their life. The candle provides heat and light to guide the spirits, blowing the candle out is said to upset the spirits, so they must be extinguished in a different manner once the séance is complete.

The round table should be covered by a dark table-cloth. Placed on the table should be an additional three candles (white, candles should be in numbers divisible by three). There should also be any objects related to those we are attempting to communicate with and photos of them too. There should also be any items we may require during our communication, such as pad and pen for automatic writing, pendulums, etc.

The round table will have (for six sitters) five wooden chairs without arms situated around it at equal distance. The final sixth chair will be more comfortable and should have arms, this is for the First sitter. The chairs should be occupied by an equal number of male and female sitters. The rest of the guests should be sat on chairs to the sides of the room where possible.

As there will also be a few additional guests not sat at the round table coverage of the room by CCTV will face two issues; infra-Red cross over and being blocked by a seated guest. With this in mind we will ensure the cameras are situated to avoid both of these aspects. They should cover as many guests as possible. They should cover all access into the room too from as many angles as possible. After all we must ensure that the room remains scientifically covered. Guests will not be advised of the location of cameras, they should simply understand that the entire room and its access has been monitored, there is good reason for this approach.

The room should be kept at a reasonable temperature which will need to be monitored. However we won’t actively investigate temperature fluctuations during the Séance as this would not be appropriate in Victorian times and may disrupt the flow of the event. We also have gadgets for humidity, EMF and light, which we can place and monitor via a CCTV camera, but these should be relatively hidden from sight too if possible.

The room’s electrical lighting should be turned off, leaving only the candle light illuminating the room.

There should also be a bible on the round table if possible, simply placed as this may have often been included in a Victorian Séance.

If appropriate to the hostess and her guests, the room can be cleansed ahead of the séance with sweet grass & sage and/or burn incense during the séance.

PROCEDURE

The procedure for this experiment isn’t simplistic in its format as it includes many environmental variables and individual sitter/guest variables, which require consideration. However in this version we are looking to monitor what we can with the equipment we have available.

You should allow two to three hours at least with a little additional time to set up and test the environment. This time should be used to set up the Séance room correctly in order to monitor as much as possible throughout the Séance itself.

Firstly, setup the round table as central as possible in the room, with the five wooden chairs set around the table. Place the more comfortable (different) chair for the First Sitter in a prime location. The Sitters will be sat male, female, male, etc. With this in mind plan who will be sitting in which seat. This is to plan which of the Sitters may require more coverage by CCTV than others.

However, before you go ahead and setup the CCTV place two additional tables at the sides of the room. Their position in the room is non-specific as long as they are apart and against a wall. Ensure that between the two tables and the round table there is no obstruction on at least one side. Then between the two tables and in other spaces along the walls additional seating can be placed for the guests. Take care to keep this seating at a minimum.

Once all the seating has been placed the next step is set up the monitoring devices. As we currently don’t have full data logging equipment, we have to utilise several devices covered by a CCTV camera. This setup could prove quite problematic though, as it will need to be placed as central to the round table as possible, but without being easily seen as that may be detrimental to the Victorian Séance setup. Which means the obvious locations may be either under or above the table. The best and most convenient location will be concluded during setup. Once the devices (MEL Metre (EMF & Temp), Humidity Gauge & Light Metre, the first CCTV camera to set up is the one which covers these devices. This will probably be the most problematic setup and require to be safe guarded from the sitters knocking once they enter the room. Also, by setting this up first we can begin to test it to ensure the setup is good, before moving on.

Then using the remaining CCTV cameras and four audio channels the rest of the room requires to be covered. However this must be done whilst conforming to some prerequisites; The First Sitter and Trance Medium (if present) should be covered, any entry points into the room should be placed in shot of CCTV cameras, any additional guests should be covered, you should aim for a set up with no blind spots if possible. At the very least it should be the aim to cover all in the room. The CCTV should be monitored from a nearby (possibly adjoining room) with at least two people monitoring at all times; one to monitor the room in general and note any particular segments of particular interest; the second to watch the devices and log data on a spreadsheet for analytical purposes.

Once the audio and video surveillance is in place, it may also be a good idea to see if it can be hidden from sight as much as possible. The reason for this is to attempt to ensure it doesn’t impact the Victorian setting too much, but also so the Sitters/Guests are not sure of the camera locations. Its worth bearing in mind that during the actual Séance the lighting should only be from candle light, which should also assist greatly in hiding the rooms surveillance.

The room now requires dressing for the Séance. This is achieved by covering the round table with a dark colour (black, purple, burgundy, etc) table cloth. On the round table place at least three candles in the centre and a bible. Then add any photos or items of those you’re attempting to contact. Also include a pad and a pen, in case the Medium engages in automatic writing. Other requested items can be added too, like crystals or pendulums.

On the two additional tables are placed additional candles, but ensure that the number of candles in the room doesn’t exceed twelve and also remains in multiples of three. Also, on these tables the soup, local flowers and the bread is placed. Preferably as close to the beginning if the Séance as possible.

It’s probably best to begin in a separate room from the Séance with the socializing Phase of the experiment. This should begin between 8pm and 10pm with a formal introduction, thanking the Host, the First Sitter and the other Guests for their involvement. Then a brief explanation of the format of the evening is given to ensure everyone is aware why we don’t simply start with the Séance. The introduction should also advise all guests to engage in introductions, conversation and sharing of memories during the socializing Phase of this experiment. This should help the guests all to bond as a group, build the energy and also create a common language through their memories. It may also be worth explaining a little of hype theory behind the experiment including the Singapore Theory and why we are taking this approach.

Over the next couple of hours (at least) all guests will socialize as advised. The consumption of alcohol will be allowed, but requested to be kept to an acceptable level like two drinks.

At around quarter to midnight the organiser, Host and First Sitter should head into the Séance room to prepare for the Séance phase. This will give them the opportunity to understand what is required of them and also to complete the preparations for the room. This would include lighting the candles to mark the beginning of the Séance and also to bring I the bread and soup. The First Sitter will then sit in their seat ready for the additional guests and sitters.

Just before midnight the rest of the guests will be brought in, but lead by the sitters first. Everyone should then take their seats and get comfortable.

The Host and/or organiser should welcome all guests in and then formally hand over to the First Sitter to begin the Séance.

The First Sitter should begin with a prayer and protection for the group in the room. This would include asking the Sitters around the round table to place their hands palm down on the table touching by their little fingers to the Sitter either side of them.

Once the protection is in place, the Sitters will settle briefly, then the First Sitter should begin to attempt communication with the spirits for the Séance. This would be achieved by inviting them to join us and converse with us, reassuring them that we mean them no harm. This can also be achieved by advising the spirits to seek out the warmth and light of the candles, the smell of the fresh bread, flowers or soup. Phrases like ‘come close’ can be used, but the First Sitter should follow their instincts too.

At this point we begin to wait to see what comes through, the First Sitter is advised to continue to manage the Séance and ask others around the table if they are sensing anything. Hopefully if we are successful then communication will begin, either by Mediumship, Trance Mediumship, Automatic Writing, etc.

The length of the Séance is advised to be anything from an hour to two hours, but the length will more than likely be determined by how effective the communication is between the Sitters and Spirits. The First Sitter, Host and Sitters will ultimately make the decision on when to close the Séance.

The First Sitter will close the Séance down correctly with protection, ensuring nothing is left open. Finally extinguishing (not blowing out) the candles and then leaving the room.

As ever with any event like this the group will then discuss amongst themselves their individual and shared experiences which should be filmed by the documentarian in order to capture these perceptions of what they’ve experienced. This would also be a good point to pass on any particular information that was monitored through the CCTV system or any interesting anomalies from the devices monitored.

Finally, the kit is broken down and packed away.

ACTUAL SETUP DETAILS / VARIATIONS TO DESIGN

As ever we can create the best and most specific designs possible, but often when dealing with multiple variables which included the subjects and environment of an experiment such as this, then we have to make some changes as we setup. After all we are still in the infancy of developing it.

However if the experiment was conducted in a lab we may have been able to lock down these variables without having to change the design slightly to compensate.

In this case there were some significant elements of the experiment which did not go according to plan. However these elements have highlighted the requirement for future specifics when we try the experiment again.

We were lucky enough to have Matt and Randy from Serious Paranormal Investigations help us out with the experiment setup and monitoring at the last-minute. These guys have some excellent technology which we made use of for the experiment.

The first significant change was the use of two pan and tilt cameras to help monitor the room and sitters. With these cameras we could move the direction of the shot and even zoom in as the experiment was live. The cameras quality was also higher than my own which made the footage from the experiment better. This would be especially useful when a sitter went into Trance because the camera could zoom in to check for any facial changes that are often associated with this activity.

Although the cameras were a significant bonus we soon encountered our first major issue when trying to set up the devices to monitor the environment. It was my initial plan to get these as close to the round table as possible, but neither table or environment would allow this, which meant they had to be situated on one of the side tables. The problem with this was that they were possibly too far from the epicentre of the room’s activity (the round table) and thus may not be in the right place to record significant data.

In order to reduce impact on the Victorian setup we also shielded the devices (MEL Meter (EMF & Temp), Humidity Gauge and Light Meter) so they were out of sight and also covered by another camera. However it was there we encountered another problem, the Light Meter we had was fitted with an auto-off function to conserve battery life. This meant it switched off minutes into the experiment. The decision was made to leave this data out of this attempt, but when we repeat it I believe monitoring the light is significantly important.

There were a few other aspects of the experiment that I believe require addressing for next attempts too; better explanation to the sitters and guest would help, more active involvement and encouragement to ensure that the sitters and guests are sharing significant memories as I believe that to be vital to the success, more coverage of the socializing phase of the experiment to understand some of the psychology there prior to the séance phase.

A significant element of this experiment was control of the sitters/guests too. As understanding their location and status was imperative to the function of the experiment. However at one point Pete (one of the Sitters) left the round table and the room as he was feeling slightly odd. Although I can understand his need to leave perhaps greater control measures should have been added for such an eventuality. Shortly after this the pubs dog burst in and this disrupted the experiment even more. At this point Nick (Guest) took the Dog out and elected not to return to the Séance room. Given this situation I personally joined the table until Pete returned to join the table.

This situation also left me with the thoughts that perhaps better control may have been maintained if I had led the Séance element myself. Terri done an excellent job, but knowing exactly what I wanted it may have been better for me to lead. It would have also taken some pressure off Terri allowing her to participate as a member of the group better.

DATA / OBSERVATIONS / EXPERIENCES

As I have previously mentioned, unfortunately due to the positioning of the data recording equipment due to the constraints of the room, we have not really managed to record any interesting data which could support the spiritual communication within the Séance room.

The table below shows the recorded data for Temperature, EMF, Humidity and Light.

Looking at the Temperature data it would seem consistent with the movement within the room and there doesn’t appear to be any large variations which stand out. The rise of Temperature is my mind consistent with the group entering the room, which is simply explained by the increased body heat entering the room.

The data for the EMF (Electromagnetic Field) remained set at zero throughout the experiment, but again it is my belief that the position of the EMF Meter was incorrect and needed to be much closer to the epicentre of the activity within the room. Of course there is a simple possibility that there was just no EMF data to record. However the meter is restricted by a short-range, which again means you have to get its location correct. The Data for this is represented in the graph below.

The data recorded for Humidity was also consistent with the events within the room; they began to steadily increase in line with the sitters and guests entering the Séance room. This increase continued during the Séance, but it’s my opinion that this was consistent with the additional sitters/guests located in the room. This represented in the graph below.

Unfortunately we realised early on that the device we had to measure the Light within the Séance room had a function which automatically turned it off after a short space of time. This meant it was nearly impossible to obtain a continued measurement of the Light throughout the experiment. With this in mind we took the decision to continue without the Light Meter data.

However this experiment isn’t simply about finding data that supports the spiritual communication of Mediums and Trance Mediums, it also looks at the individuals themselves and the communication that they present to the room during the Séance. After all it is this information that will help us understand this type and possibly other types of communication moving forward.

As I have become used to with the group of Mediums at the Royal Oak in Swanage, communication began almost straight away. Terri completed the protection for the circle and the invitation of the four spirits with a local connection, and then asked if Jack Stevens was in the room. In response Mo tips his hat, it was clear that he had already slipped into Trance. Terri asked for more evidence that Jack Stevens was in the room with us by mentioning the usual requests; taps, raps or knocks. Almost simultaneously Mo slammed his fist down on the table; which he follows with ‘Encumbrance’. Often I’ve realised that these single words or very brief statements have greater meaning or at least that is the perception they have given.

In the case of ‘Encumbrance’; it is my opinion that the Sitters and Guests continued with the Séance without drawing attention to this word or over highlighting the fact it had been mentioned. However nearly five minutes later; Mo leaves his seat and walks half way around the round table stopping behind Terri to add; “Did I mention encumbrance”.

Since the experiment I have researched the meaning of the word ‘Encumbrance’ a little. Oddly enough its meaning could relate to the history of the Royal Oak and the individuals we were attempting to contact. It means an impediment or burden, which could describe one of the family members which we believe may have been bed bound at the Royal Oak. Alternatively its more legal meaning could refer to a claim against a property by another party which impacts transferability of the property. This legal meaning could also be very relevant to the Royal Oak.

Whilst still stood up overlooking the round table, Mo whispered ‘Logical Extreme’. The logical extreme position is both relevant and unattainable; it has succeeded in calling the proposition into question, at least in its stated form. The question is; at this point was Mo channelling Jack Stevens still or was this statement of another? It’s these smaller snippets of information that in my opinion hold more wealth as they often turn out to help link greater pieces of information. I like to think that this was a satisfactory nod to the experiment itself, but that would be a very personal perception.

At one point Terri identifies that Mo is in communication with his Spirit Guide, whom she identifies as Native American. Mo also appears to channel his Guide directly at points speaking in an apparent foreign language. As the continue Mo and Terri appear to work together trying to make the communication more understood. This includes a few actions by Mo, rubbing is hand through his hair and moving his hand in front of if face in a circular motion. After a short while Mo looks up and tells Terri that his okay now, but both Terri and Pete state that he is not fully out.

It’s also at this point that Mo makes a few statement that seem to indicate that he is unaware of the events of the last few minutes. This lack of knowledge of the events that have occurred or indeed that time itself has passed has been common place in all the trance sessions I have observed Mo in.

Shortly after this both Clare and Terri identify another presence in the room. This is quickly followed by Clare acknowledging she has a spirit with her, but that she doesn’t currently have a voice. However she identifies the spirit as a women and then goes onto name her as ‘Mary Ball’.

Mo rubs his face and then glances quite oddly at Clare as she states she is ‘Mary Ball’.

Terri begins to ask Clare some questions, but communication is difficult at this time.

As this occurs, Selwyn removes his hat and places it on the table almost signifying the beginning of communication. He’s first statement is that he is cold. He doesn’t know the spirit, but it’s a male and not a member of the Stevens family. However he does give the spirits age at death to be twenty-two and that the year was 1835.

It’s at this point that Pete leaves the room to deal with the whimpering dog in the Bar area. Although this doesn’t appear to deter the current communication, it is my opinion a break of the circle and in a way may not have helped.

Selwyn continues to answer Terri’s questions whilst he is what seems a semi-trance state or at least a state of trance that isn’t as in-depth as Mo’s. However the line of questioning later identifies the spirit channelled by Selwyn to be that of Davey a stable boy at the Royal Oak. Then Selwyn speaks of how he didn’t like Jack Stevens, but preferred Tom Stevens. It’s at this point the dog bursts into the room disrupting the sitting. Selwyn loses his connection because of this and Nick leaves the room with Pete.

As things settle again Clare picks up on communication from Mary Ball relaying “Gates” and “House Gates” which appears to add an aspect of confusion. She then adds a statement which again seems a little significant; “They are a common denominator”. She also states that she passed in 1860. I have to admit as odd as it may seem, there often appears to be communication of this kind. What begins as something quite normal is then thrown into confusion by a statement that is almost out-of-place.

Clare continues to answer questions from both Terri and Rachael as the spirit of Mary Ball, but the answers seem to resonate with both that perhaps the spirit they are speaking with is not quite what it seems to be! A more sceptic person may simply pass this off as incorrect communication and that the information is not from a spirit at all, but from the imagination of the sitter. However the sitters present believe that this incorrect or even slightly misleading information is from a different spirit.

After about 1am communication with the spirit of Thomas Stevens is attempted and this is believed to be channelled through Peter. However this communication lacks words and is more of an emotional transfer. Rachael focus the questions to Pete on the garden, which begin rather basically asking what he thinks of the garden. This line of questioning soon changes though to focussing on where a body is buried, something which Pete (the spirit of Thomas) doesn’t seem keen on. However Pete does confirm a buried body and its location! Then he begins to cry about this information as it seems to have a connection to the spirit of Thomas. As Pete is crying, Rachael also reacts to this and cries too. The crying appears to cut the connection that Pete has with the spirit and thus ends communication with the probable spirit of Thomas Stevens.

Focus returns to Clare and the spirit with her, as there is definite disbelief in whether the spirit is actually Mary Ball or not. Rachael begins to question Clare again and soon after Clare advises that she doesn’t like the energy now and disconnects from it.

Around 1:20am Pete leaves the room to gather himself together and as there is a space at the table I (Ashley) decide to join the table to ensure that there are the six sitters required. In all honesty I am not sure why I done this, other than it seemed unbalanced. Once at the table I had the sitters join hand and continue with the communication.

Mo then chips in with the conversation about Sedonia (possible spirit at the Royal Oak) and the baby. He also seems tuned to Terri, almost answering questions from Terri before she has asked them. He then gives two dates – 12th November 1934 (12th November is my birthday) and 1957..

At around 01:39 Mo’s focus appears to change from communicating information related to the spirits or the location and seems to focus on the individuals around the table. Beginning with Selwyn, he asks him if he requires help with the pain and advises him not to travel anywhere in three weeks’ time. He then speaks to me telling me; “My friend, a walk, but not a run.” He then continues to speak to me; “Do you buy pencils, do you write in pencil, you need to write in pencil because of problems mistaking words.” As ever a strange statement, but oddly it resonates with me as I write in a journal. He goes on to advise; “Can you look through your mind, take your eyes away and your mind will write for you.” Again another odd statement which could be related to automatic writing perhaps! Mo completes his communication with me by asking if I have a three-year old daughter, which at the time of the experiment I didn’t, but only because she had turned four earlier that year.

Directly following this communication Mo proceeds to drink multiple pints of water at speed as if it had not drunk in days.

Mo then goes through a few instances of disconnecting from spirit and possibly reconnecting, then remarking on the energy before finally connecting with a spirit whilst he walks around the table. Suddenly his voice changes and then he screams in what seems pain and then slowly drops to a nearby chair complaining about the pain in his legs. Others around the table get up to assist him as he drops. The locals identify the spirit with Mo as Thomas and Pete returns to the room to hold Mo’s hand. This holding of hands is to help Mo with additional energy. Mo claims that he has a ‘horrible energy’ with him.

As we approach two in the morning, Mo comments on the number of people present. Apparently 18 is too many, but we didn’t count 18 in the room. However, a little extra maths revealed that there was actually 18 of us, but not all in the room. There were six at the table, two on each of the three walls, making twelve. Nick was in the Bar Area, that’s thirteen. There was also four more in the Kitchen monitoring the experiment, that’s seventeen. Which left one more, perhaps Mo meant the dog too! If not, then we were missing one. Perhaps the eighteenth member is in spirit?

Mo once again returns to more personal messages; firstly pulling Rachael up on her Yorkshire puddings of all things! Then he speaks to me again and asks if I am going to the jungle, something which he has said to me before though. Oddly I do wish to go to the jungle, as I want to visit Machu Picchu. He also asks Clare if she misses her Dad and remarks on him being a lovely man. He also asks Rachael if she has two names.

By ten past two in the morning Mo has disconnected from spirit and is now getting information specific to him correct; like his home address. Terri takes this as a good point to close the table down and bring the séance to a close. She begins a prayer to close it off, but loses her way and Mo chips in to help along. The séance is completed with a piece on protection to ensure all are safe.

CONCLUSIONS : CER (CLAIM, EVIDENCE, REASONING)

Conclusions in this case shall be broken down into specific areas in order to better define them.

Data – The supporting data on this occasion was to be provided by the devices we had available; Light Meter, MEL Meter (EMF & Temp) and Humidity. There are of course so many more variable we could have monitored, but on this occasion we only had access to certain devices to monitor specific variables.

The data we did manage to gather on this occasion didn’t quantify the activity which occurred in the room. However this doesn’t mean that the events experienced were not paranormal. In fact there are three distinctive possibilities which may explain the lack of data on this occasion; a) the devices logging the data were not close enough to the epicentre of the Séance table to gain data; b) we were monitoring the incorrect variables and perhaps evidence of communication could be found elsewhere; and c) there is no data which can be recorded that is related to the communication, of which I find hard to believe.

Although on this occasion we lack good data to support the theory and indeed the experiment, we can still benefit from our observations of the sitters during the Séance. After all observing the sitters during a Séance and whilst they are in trance is still very beneficial to the research.

However one of the purposes from utilising the Singapore Theory was to obtain better communication and in my opinion I believe it may have just achieved that. In my experience of spiritual communication at the Royal Oak we’ve not experienced a connection which was quite as strong and linked to specific spirits.

The purpose of the Séance was also to connect with spirits that had a past association with the Royal Oak. If the communication from the sitters is believed, then it is my understanding that we achieved just that. As we had spirits (via the sitters) identify themselves as both Jack and Thomas Stevens. Clare also identified herself as the spirit of Mary Ball, but later under questioning by Terri and Rachael it seemed as if this may not be the case.

It would appear that both Mo and Selwyn managed to channel other spirits, but of these spirits; Selwyn’s stable hand ‘Davey’ was related to the pub. Whilst others that Mo channelled seemed vague on their identification or simply came and went before identification was established.

Regardless of the origins of these spirits or indeed their relation to the Royal Oak, the clarity of the information provided was quite astounding. Still from a more sceptical view-point we find ourselves looking for supportive evidence to back up the information that we have received.

Unfortunately much of what was communicated cannot be proven because it was referencing day-to-day living and not documented events. However there were some more personal messages which hold greater validation to those present, even though in presentation they may appear simplistic.

A good example of this is when Mo remarked on my desire to visit the jungle, which is very true as I want to visit Machu Picchu via the jungle. The only problem I have with this is that Mo has told me this before whilst in trance. It’s not brand new information.

Observation of the six sitters during the Séance also revealed certain similarities between some of them. It would appear that a few of the sitters showed some indications of heavy breathing prior to the communication occurring. However I feel that it is important to note that each sitter displayed many different characteristics individual to each of them during communication. For example; Mo’s experiences came across as very natural, almost as if he could switch between different consciousness at a flick of a switch. At times it was hard to determine if we were speaking with Mo himself or a spirit. Whilst Selwyn channelled spirit the experience appeared very different. The communication wasn’t natural and if I had to describe it, I would say it seemed to be delayed. Questions were asked, but responses were not fluid enough for normal communication and hence seemed delayed. This delay is interesting to me as it could be due to Selwyn not having established as stronger connection as Mo had. Thus the transaction of information appears more distant, detached or tuned in. Oddly Clare also displayed this aspect of delay too. However her communication presented itself as being less trance like and more like her own consciousness was communicating with the spirit and then relaying the information back to the table, much like an interpreter. There was one more aspect of Clare’s behaviour though that was out of character, which was her changing body language and the fact that she kept moving, adjusting her position. Perhaps the spirits consciousness begins to come through as emotions and the more physical attributes of an individual. This was more evident when communication came through Pete; his began with and in most was completely emotional. In fact the emotion over shadowed the verbal communication and was remarked on by a few of the sitters. It was also said that the emotion was overwhelming by Pete which made it very hard to focus on communication. However it may be apparent that the emotion itself could actually assist with the communication as it carries with it intense energy. This also links to the Stone Tape Theory which states that the very energy of an event could imprint on a location and later be seen as a residual haunting or playback.

So, emotional status could be very important to successful communication. The problem with emotions is that genuine ones can’t simply be switched on. However, perhaps they can be controlled in order to utilise the energy bound within those emotions.

Although in this particular case the information received by the sitters is hard to prove as correct and leaves us without proper verification I think it’s still important. It helps us understand more about the concept of this kind of communication through the observation of the practice. Often we approach the mediums perspective seeking verification of their ability, asking them to prove what they can do. It’s hard to prove something that doesn’t fit into our realm of normality using standard explanation. When something is beyond comprehension and doesn’t fit the norm, then its time to seek for the hidden explanation, to think well out of the box.

This is why we need to gather the data and the right data to truly understand this phenomena.

It is my opinion that the communication may be received by a telepathic means. The reason for this is that often the information appears to be received from probably various sources by a method which could only be described as telepathic. Although it’s often attributed to being a communication from a spirit, it could also be information that others locally or elsewhere have available. After all we neither understand how Mediums communicate or exactly how telepathy works. The best way we can look to understand it, is to observe and gather various data to see if there are any patterns or similarities.

There is one more aspect that I must address in order to cover some obvious questions. That is of course the possibility of this actual communication being a hoax. Indeed the possibility of the information presented by the sitters could be of their imagination and not actual spirit communication. This much we have to admit, but it’s my own personal understanding of the group which leads me to trust them.

I’ve worked with the group for quite a while now and from my own assessment they appear as interested in genuine communication as I do. In fact on numerous occasions they have entertained my approaches over their own, involving themselves in my investigations or experiments.

I feel it’s also important to mention that in all the years I have been to the Royal Oak to conduct investigations, experiments or simple observations Rachael (the Land Lady) hasn’t charged me and in fact on all occasions been a wonderful hostess. What I am trying to clarify is the distinct lack of financial gain here. Also, the events at the Royal Oak haven’t placed anyone or the Royal Oak in the lime light of fame.

So, with this and my personal interaction with all sitters in the group it’s my assessment that this communication is genuine.

It’s also important to mention that my own approach isn’t to judge the Mediums I work with and spend time verifying their ability. I prefer to take them at face value and then see what we can gather to support the information that is communicated. This will come eventually in the form of data patterns, understanding how communication is achieved and possibly from where it originates. Although I obviously meet and gain an understanding of each Medium prior to any experiments.

Another reason I have for this is because I believe that we are all capable of the same communication that Mediums can achieve. The only thing that stops us is usually our own belief and faith. How we were brought up and what we tend to believe in defines what we will accept.

So, although we lack the supportive data; due to the equipment either monitoring the incorrect variables or because it was too far from the epicentre of the séance; we did manage to observe some interesting spirit communication from multiple sitters. There is a possibility there was no data to capture, but I think we need to re-attempt the experiment again with better resources for gathering data and possibly more sources before we rule it out totally.

In respect to my theory that utilising both the Singapore Theory approach and a genuine Victorian Séance to possibly increase and better the communication by the sitters. It’s my opinion that this worked. However not exactly how I first thought it may. Originally I thought using this approach would work because the sitters and supposed spirits would find it easier to communicate due to the familiarity of the séance scenario. Through observing the sitters throughout the evening though I believe this connection may be more of an emotional state perhaps rather than just familiarity. The scenario placed the sitters into a mind-set and emotional state which simplified the connection. My reasoning for this was that each of the sitters spoke of the intense emotions; Pete displayed this, as did Rachael in reaction to Pete and Mo too. Clare and Selwyn both spoke about the emotions they had experienced during the séance too. Clare in particular made reference to the energy/emotions she experienced as spirit began to communicate through Pete and when we realised she wasn’t speaking as Mary Ball.

It’s also my understanding that quite a few spiritual practices focus on the energy aspect, but also include a distinctive link to emotions too. If my understanding is correct; a good example of this would be the utilisation of the seven chakra’s.

To conclude; although the utilisation of the Singapore Theory combined with a Victorian Séance didn’t necessarily work by means of simple familiarization; it did in my opinion generate good communication through the emotional energy that the scenario generated. This being due to the focus on certain individuals within a set time frame and the probable events in their lives at that time.

It’s unfortunate that at this time this can only be an assumption made from the observations of the séance, as the data doesn’t support the experiment. Understanding an experiment such as this is very difficult due to the large amount of variables involved, but what we have learnt through observation here should help us refine future attempts.

IMPROVEMENTS

Data Capture – Logging of the data needs to occur in real-time giving us an ongoing log by the end of the séance. An excellent tool for this would be RSVP UK’s Data Logger (as displayed at Paracon UK 2014). We could place this device on the actual séance table and capture data from between the main sitters. Hopefully by utilising this Data Logger and positioning it on the table we could gather good data on the experiment.

Controls – During this experiment we saw two members of the group leave the room during the séance. This is something I would prefer not to repeat, which will mean advising those involved to remain in the séance until the end. This is important to the consistency of the experiment.

Controls – The team monitoring from the kitchen were a bit loud at times, which was partly due to their close proximity and that they appeared to be listening to us out loud. This could have been avoided by a little more testing on my part, the use of earphones or re-positioning the team in the kitchen further away from the séance room.

Individual Audio – We did attempt to capture audio from some of the group individually, but there was an issue with their audio files. It would be good to ensure that we have these next time as these individual audio recordings may give us a greater insight to what was said and also be a good cross-reference for other audio.

Video & Audio Coverage of Location – I would like to cover the location better with CCTV next time round. That way the séance room and other locations could be covered to monitor of the socializing phase and any movement of the group. We could also place a small team in other parts of the location to investigate it during the séance. Just in case the séance generates activity elsewhere at the location.

Time Stamp Events – I would like to properly time stamp certain events as they occur. For example, when a connection to a spirit is made, the name identifying a spirit is mentioned, a personal message is given, etc.

Brain Activity Monitoring – I would like to obtain a device to monitor brain activity during the séance. This would help us understand if there is any odd brain activity during the séance from one or a few of the Mediums.

Individuals Vitals – As well as brain activity I would like to cover the vitals like heart rate and blood pressure to see if they alter during communication too. This should help us understand more about what happens to the individuals as they are equally as important as they environment they are in.

LINGUISTIC COMPREHENSION OF ELECTRONIC VOICE PHENOMENA: AN EXPERIMENT IN AUDITORY PERCEPTION ACCURACY BY MICHAEL J. BAKER

Abstract. Since the mid-20th century EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) has been the focus of countless debates. Among them is the interpretation of what is truly being spoken within each recording. Since most EVP recordings are low in quality, phonetic analysis is often difficult and therefore most researchers rely on their hearing and audible interpretations to determine the words contained in each file. The purpose of this experiment is to establish the accuracy percentage at which human hearing can identify spoken words in random statements contained in low quality recordings. To perform this experiment we have created twenty simulated EVP recordings, each with similar background noise and vocal styles (normal speech, whispers, mumbles etc.) as those found in purported anomalous recordings. The recordings were created in various environments by three N.E.C.A.P.S. staff members (C. Wong, B. Hantzis, M. Baker) and presented within in two separate online surveys, displaying each recording independently. The volunteers then listened to the recordings and reported the words (if any) they felt were contained in each file. The results (123 for survey 1A and 108 for survey 1B) were downloaded and analysed for grading accuracy and to establish perception patterns. Our findings have shown that none of the volunteers scored above 80% accuracy for survey 1A and 50% for survey 1B. The average accuracy percentage for survey 1A was 49% and survey 1B was 28%. The results of this experiment indicate that human perception is not an accurate methodology for determining non contextual spoken words contained in an EVP recording. Inaccurate interpretations appear to be due to various neurological and psychological obstacles such as various biases, anticipation and pareidolia. These obstacles greatly affect the comprehension and or objectivity of the listener’s perspective.

Keywords: EVP, Perceptions, Communications, Anomalous Phenomena

Biographical Note(s):
Michael Baker has been conducting research into fortean claims for over 10 years. He has created numerous devices and research methods for this purpose. His professional expertise is primarily in bio-medical electronics engineering, complex data analysis and software development. He is a graduate of WTI – Boston 1996

INTRODUCTION

There is an ongoing debate within the paranormal research world surrounding the efficacy of a researcher’s ability to comprehend the words spoken in alleged EVP recordings. The effects of subliminal influences such as pareidolia, apophenia and confirmation biases make objective discernment of linguistic identification difficult. Very often a personal perspective in conjunction with the aforementioned psychological obstructions tend to foreshadow the logical analysis and comprehension of audible research results.

Under these conditions objective research without the aid statistical or non-biased methods may not be possible as many researchers have proclaimed difficulty decoupling logical observational process from the apparent evidence presented by their own faculties. Often the solution to this mystification process is to remove personal observation and opinion from the research methodology and leave much of the results to statistical data gathered under strict controls. It should be noted that the research contained in this paper does not serve to confirm nor deny the concept of existential beings, nor does it serve to establish an explanation for the existence of EV Phenomena, instead this paper is interested in examining the accuracy level of human perception as it pertains to understanding alleged anomalous linguistic communication contained within EVP recordings.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Since naturally occurring EVP recordings are alleged to be from currently unknown sources, the identification of their content also remains enigmatic and subject to conjecture. Therefore in order to establish a reliable control we found it necessary to create simulated recordings with similar background noise and speech patterns as those found in natural EVP. Since the recordings are of our own design the identity of their content would not be in question, thus allowing us to accurately test the efficacy of human auditory perception.

We created a total of twenty simulated EVP recordings with varying background noise levels and complexity. The background noise ranged from (-111.9dB to -84.2dB) and contained common elements such as silence, wind, running water and movement of objects within the recording environment. The speech levels varied from whispers to average volume (-25.7dB) and the speed of each word or statement varied from slightly rushed to mildly lethargic. The purpose for these variances was to help us identify which conditions were optimal for achieving the greatest accuracy percentage. The words spoken in each recording were chosen by three N.E.C.A.P.S. staff members responsible for recording the samples. The content, while not specifically dictated, varies from common statements and words to unusual phrases and brand names. Several files include gibberish or non-speech. The purpose of the word variance was to understand the possible presence of a pareidolic or bias-like effect. If the volunteers listening to the files claimed to identify words in the “non-speech” statements we could possibly attribute those responses to some variance of mental influence (pareidolia) or perhaps even some level of anticipation or confirmation/situational bias.

The twenty files were divided up in to two surveys containing ten questions each and presented to volunteers via the internet from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014. Each audio file was presented individually in random order and volunteers were instructed to listen to each recording and report back what they have heard or, in some cases, didn’t hear. If they deemed the file as “unidentifiable”, volunteers were instructed to enter the phrase “I don’t know.” or the word “Nothing”. All other responses were to be written verbatim without punctuation in an open text box. Multiple choice answers were not used. Misspelled words and erroneous capitalizations did not affect the final tally of the surveys and each response was double checked visually to ensure the statistical results of each survey were accurate.

WORDS AND PHRASES

Survey 1A
1 It’s Raining
2 It’s Hot In Here
3 Dog
4 Gibberish
5 Gibberish
6 Gibberish
7 Hi
8 Can’t Breathe
9 Lobster
10 Tostitos

Survey 1B
1 String Theory
2 Kill Zak Bagans
3 Lens Cleaner
4 Cartwheel
5 Stand Off
6 Get in my Belly
7 Fraud
8 You want fries with that?
9 Soft Kitty Warm Kitty
10 Spiderman

RESULTS

The results show the accuracy rates for 123 respondents produced by Survey 1A and 108 respondents for Survey 1B.

MB Fig1 and 2DISCUSSION

The statistical results of our surveys appear to follow a pattern. In Survey 1A, the most accurate, non gibberish responses were comprised of common statements or words and conversely the least accurate responses appear to consist of more obscure or unknown words and phrases. This may suggest that the listener tends to have greater ease interpreting phrases or statements of which they have had more personal experience or exposure. To investigate this hypothesis we conducted a subsequent set of three surveys (consisting of 245 participants in total) that were presented independently on 6 various social media websites, public forums and blogs. Volunteers were asked to arrange the words and phrases used in Survey 1A and Survey 1B independently as well as both Surveys 1A & 1B collectively into an order of what they considered to be the most common words and phrases to least common. The surveys were conducted for several days and the results are as follows (Fig 5, Fig 6 & Fig 7):

As seen in the table above (Fig.5), words and phrases such as “Hi”, “Dog” and “It’s Raining” were considered to be the most common words and phrases presented in survey 1A while “Lobster” and “Tostitos” were consistently on the bottom of the list as least common. In Survey 1B (Fig. 6), “Stand Off”, “Spiderman” and “Cartwheel” topped the list as most common while words and phrases such as “Lens Cleaner”, “Get in my Belly” and “Kill Zak Bagans” were considered least common. When viewing the combined lists from both Surveys 1A & 1B (Fig 7) “Hi”, “Dog” and “It’s Raining” remained the most common. “Stand Off”, “Cartwheel” and “Spiderman” were presented as less common and “Lobster”, “Tostitos”, “Kill Zak Bagans”, “Lens Cleaner”, and “Get in my Belly” remained at or near the bottom of the list as least common.

The results of the secondary surveys appear to correlate with the results of audio surveys 1A & 1B. This proposed correlation is supported by the statistical positions or ranks of each word in each survey. For example, “It’s Raining”, “Dog” and “Hi were not only the easiest to identify in survey 1A, but they are also considered three of the most common words in daily communication according to the results of the secondary surveys. This data suggests that those words and phrases that were more easily identifiable in our experiment, were also the words and phrases considered to be the most common in daily communication, thus lending support to the hypothetical inference that the interpretation of words contained in non-contextual, recorded, audio-only utterances are subject to some level of bias, anticipation or default perception.

The process of speech perception is greatly aided by several linguistic elements. Among them is morphology, which is the identification, analysis, and description of the structure of a given language’s morphemes and other linguistic units, such as root words, affixes, parts of speech, intonations and stresses, or implied context. Equally influential is syntax (sentence structure) and semantics which is the relation between signifiers, like words, phrases, signs, and symbols, and what they stand for (semiotics). There is a distinct possibility that listeners do not have the ability to recognize phonemes prior to recognizing higher units such as words. After obtaining fundamental information about phonemic structure, listeners can typically compensate for inaudible or noise-masked phonemes using their knowledge of the spoken language.

Additional research has shown that naturally spoken words when presented in a sentence or phrase were more accurately identified as compared to the same words presented in isolation. Garnes and Bond (1976) have demonstrated that listeners typically have a tendency to judge ambiguous words according to the meaning of the whole sentence or phrase [9] [10]. This is known as the phonemic restoration effect [8] and could help to understand why many researchers incorrectly identify EVP in their native languages instead of languages native to the subject area history.

Although the primary language used within surveys 1A & 1B is English, it is our hypothesis that variations in language would present a significant obstacle in speech recognition, making audible identification of foreign languages contained in EVP recordings exceedingly difficult. Languages differ in their phonemic inventories. If two foreign-language sounds are assimilated to a single mother-tongue category the difference between them will be very difficult to discern. A classic example of this situation is the observation that Japanese learners of English will have problems with identifying or distinguishing English liquid consonants (/l/ and /r/) [12].

The process of perceiving speech begins at the level of the sound signal and the process of audition. After processing the initial auditory signal, speech sounds are further processed to extract acoustic cues and phonetic information. This speech information can then be used for higher-level language processes, such as word recognition [11]. One acoustic aspect of the speech signal may cue different linguistically relevant dimensions. For example, the duration of a vowel in English can indicate whether or not the vowel is stressed, or whether it is in a syllable closed by a voiced or a voiceless consonant, and in some cases (like American English /ɛ/ and /æ/) it can distinguish the identity of vowels.[7] Some experts even argue that duration can help in distinguishing of what is traditionally called short and long vowels in English.[6] Interestingly, two of the most accurately identified words (“Hi” and “Dog”) also contain the longest vowel duration. This combined with the common nature of the words may have added to the ease of their identification.
Additionally, one linguistic unit can be queued by several acoustic properties. Alvin Liberman (1957) showed that the onset formant transitions of /d/ differ depending on the following vowel but they are all interpreted as the phoneme /d/ by listeners [2]. This lack of onset formant discernment may contribute to higher level misinterpretation of words particularly in uncommon statements where vowel segments are occluded by noise or otherwise unidentifiable. This effect may possibly be observed in several results contained in both surveys 1A and 1B particularly in the general pattern of incorrect responses. While the responses were incorrect, they did share the same starting consonant and, in several cases, subsequent vowels that fall within the same or neighboring formant frequency range.
Acoustic cues such as voice onset time (VOT) help differentiate between separate phonetic categories. VOT is a primary cue signaling the difference between voiced and voiceless oral occlusives (known as plosives – [t] [d] [k] [ɡ] [p] [b] [ʔ]). Other cues differentiate sounds that are produced at different places or manners of articulation. The speech system must also combine these cues to determine the category of a specific speech sound. This is often thought of in terms of abstract representations of phonemes. These representations can then be combined for use in word recognition and other language processes. It is not easy to identify what acoustic cues listeners are sensitive to when perceiving a particular speech sound, therefore identifying the specific reasons for one listeners survey success over another’s, in terms of response to the same questions, may not be possible.

One of the basic problems in the study of speech is how to deal with noise in the speech signal. This issue is demonstrated by the difficulty computer speech recognition systems have with recognizing human speech. These programs can do well at recognizing speech when they have been trained on a specific speaker’s voice, and under quiet conditions. However, these systems often do poorly in more realistic listening situations where humans can understand speech without difficulty. When noise exceeds or matches the decibel levels of formant lines F1 or F2 (150 Hz – 5000 Hz) there will be a significant decrease in the listener’s ability to properly discern the phonemic vowel structure of the word being spoken. Under this condition the phonemic restoration effect becomes prevalent and gaps in the ambiguous word or phrase are filled via the listener’s anticipation process.

However, it should be noted that under certain conditions specific types of background noise can possibly appear to improve a listener’s speech perception ability. For example the success rate of “It’s Raining” in survey 1A may be partially attributed to the subtle sound of water in the background. Since there were no control files created for the same words without the sound of water we have no way to ascertain its effect on perception accuracy.

Although survey participant’s ages were not recorded during the experimentation process, we do feel that age may be a useful dimension to extrapolate in future experiments. Presbycusis, a progressive bilateral symmetrical age-related sensorineural hearing loss is mostly noted at higher frequencies. Although human hearing starts to deteriorate as early as 18 years of age with frequencies above 15 or 16Khz, the effects are not noticeable until later years when the detection of high pitched sounds becomes difficult and speech perception is affected, particularly of sibilants and fricatives ([s], [z], [ʃ], and [ʒ]). [4] Since sibilants and fricatives were evenly distributed among both accurately interpreted samples and those samples least identified, we do not feel that the Presbycusis effects of participant ages had any significant bearing on the statistical outcome of this research.

At first glance, the solution to the problem of how we perceive speech seems deceptively simple. If one could identify stretches of the acoustic waveform that correspond to specific units of perception, then the path from sound to meaning would be clear. However, this correspondence or mapping has proven extremely difficult to find.[1] It is our position that recorded statements analyzed without the benefit of conversational context are consequently more difficult to understand. The relationship between statements and subject matter can ultimately increase comprehension by as much as 40%.

CONCLUSION

Many individuals have difficulty accepting the fallibility of their own interpretive methods, and rightly so. Our ability to interpret linguistic communication is the very foundation of our social and educational development. It is primarily responsible for our ability to live and reason in a civilized world. However, the difference between our perception of the world and our perception of EVP lies within the context and process of communication. When humans learn, there is often more than one informational dimension present to aid in understanding. For example: Books have introductions, photos, and charts. Teachers have anecdotes, examples and demonstrations. Life has a chain of experiences, characters and objects that lead up to the moment of learning. All of these things help us to build a foundation in preparation for new information to be received and understood. Without them, even the simplest ideas would be difficult to understand. Language is no different. Random words and phrases without context are difficult to interpret regardless of the simplicity and clarity of the words being spoken. This difficulty increases with the obscurity of the word or phrase being communicated. To compensate for these failures the human mind first looks for connections to what it feels is most familiar. As a result, common words will be more easily identified (again, regardless of their simplicity). This process and result is indicated in our comparison between the statistical results of surveys 1A & 1B and the secondary surveys.

When a familiar match is not found the process of anticipation (mainly when perceiving phrases or sentences) begins. Although typically unaware, we utilize the anticipation process frequently in our everyday lives. For example: When we read the sentence “I need to walk my ____.” Most of the time our minds will automatically fill in the blank with the most common answer, (which in this case is Dog). This process is also demonstrated amongst people who appear to finish each other’s sentences.

We do this because the human speech perception process works from the top level down, meaning we first identify the words before identifying the letters and other detail elements that make them up. When context is not available to aid in the accuracy of our anticipation process we may fill in the blanks incorrectly, thus misunderstanding the communication. It is here that we are subject to the effects of pareidolia, outside influence and/or situational/confirmation biases. This biased effect can fill in the blanks with words that jive with our personal expectations, thoughts or beliefs thus over-riding the original content of the communication at hand.

When this effect occurs during EVP analysis, the result can at times create a false impression of intelligent interaction since the listener will “fill in the blanks” with words that jive with the investigation, the environment, outside input or their personal beliefs. This can lead to a contamination of objectivity. Once the listener verbally announces an erroneous interpretation of a recording, they run the danger of influencing the perception process of others through suggestive contamination. The human mind is limited in terms of quality discrimination concerning external data. It simply does not have the processing ability to be as discerning as it needs to be amongst all of its other processes. Therefore it will often incorrectly pair knowledge with sensory input based on basic phonetic and sentence structure, omitting many of the important details required for proper perception. This effect is often seen when misidentifying song lyrics. Because we are subjected to this form of faulty perception, we can be easily influenced by suggestions that closely match our expectations and / or observations.
In summary, our research suggests that without a direct contextual or situational relation to the true nature of statements contained within EVP recordings, the listeners perception of what is truly being said can be expected to be incorrect as much as 56% of the time due to various influences outlined in this paper. Therefore, personal interpretation of EVP recording content (regardless of the listener’s confidence in their listening and perception ability) is not a reliable methodology when applied to factual research.

Michael J. Baker
Scientific Research Dept., New England Centre for the Advancement of Paranormal Science, Salem, MA
corresponding.michaeljbaker@outlook.com

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