What is it?
For many that have been in the paranormal field a while or even a moment the term EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) has become common place. If you’ve taken the time to watch a paranormal TV show or two, then it’s likely that at some point you would have heard the investigators throw the term about whilst playing around with a Digital Voice Recorder.
When I first started overnight investigation I’m pretty sure it was one of the first pieces of paranormal jargon that I came to know. Especially as it would seem that the attempt to capture an EVP, is something that many investigators do on every investigation.
EVP’s are considered to be the voices of spirits recorded on media either intentionally or in some cases unintentionally. In reality they are sounds that are discovered within electronic recordings. These sounds can often then be interpreted to be similar to simple responses to questions or indeed random phrases.
Although EVP’s have reached great popularity over the years with additional promotion from the many TV shows, they remain a phenomena that holds a lot of question among parapsychologists. The reason being is that they argue that EVP’s are often recorded with significant background or static noise, this then generates a certain misunderstanding in interpreting these sounds. That is if you listen hard enough you’ll hear the answer to your question or if someone suggests what they believe it to be, then you’ll often hear that word to phrase yourself. This is what our parapsychology friends may refer to as auditory pareidolia. More on pareidolia in a future post.
Suffice to say there does still remain significant interest in EVP’s and I have in the past recorded a relatively ‘crystal clear’ one of my own which keeps the subject open for me too. Check out that EVP here.
Oddly for me these days the question of EVP’s doesn’t necessarily link to them being auditory pareidolia or not, but if they are genuine EVP’s then their source is more important. I’ll explain a little on that later.
A Little History
I won’t go into excessive detail regarding the history of Electronic Voice Phenomena as it’s likely to be enough to write a book on. Now there’s an idea for the future!
So, here’s my quick tour of EVP history.
Whilst the spiritualist movement dominated potential communication with spirits in the late 1800’s, as technology became more available so did the idea of incorporating it into paranormal investigation. Thomas Edison was once asked to during an interview with Scientific America, I believe, of the possibility of his inventions being able to communicate with the dead for example. Interestingly enough, during the 1990’s the Scole Experimental Team believe they received the design for such a device from Edison himself, which can be seen below.
As sound recording became more widespread the idea of attempting to record spirit communication developed and the concept of EVP began.
Over the years many picked up the idea and experimented with it. Attila von Szalay worked with Raymond Bayless and published their work in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research in 1959. Bayless also co-wrote a book called ‘Phone Calls from the Dead’ in 1979.
In the 1960’s and 70’s Konstantin Raudive, who was a Latvian psychologist conducted numerous experiments in EVP. He made over 100,000 recordings with Jürgenson and even used RF-screened laboratory’s during their work. Raudive believed these to be discarnate voices and invited people to listen to the recordings and interpret them. Raudive’s work continues to be quoted in the field today.
In the 1980’s William O’Neil brought us a device called ‘Spiritcom’, which he claimed originated from a design he received psychically. This in my opinion began a new era for EVP, which related to ITC directly and took us on a new journey. These devices would lay claim to allow ‘two way communication’, but whether that was true or not is still something that remains as mysterious as the filed itself.
Around 2002 Frank Sumption gave the paranormal world ‘Franks Box’ , which has also been known as ‘Ghost Box’ and ‘Spirit Box’ too. Fundamentally the device uses a mix of a white noise generator and a circuit which sweeps through radio bands. Again this has received criticism for the results being rather subjective and again possibly based back on auditory pareidolia.
These days EVP work ranges from using the old fashion approaches all the way through to the use of ITC via the many Apps available on various mobile technology and laptops. However it’s not all high-tech, many that are passionate about EVP claim that older media types like tapes or even reel-to-reel give far better results.
For me EVP still holds a valid interest within my own paranormal research and investigation. However I am not sure entirely whether I could lay claim that it provides proof of spirit communication. Although I have captured that crystal clear EVP I mentioned earlier, which without doubt for me came from somewhere other than those present. Well, when I say it didn’t come from us, I mean none of us spoke the phrase out loud. More recent experiments that I have tried like the Psychic Projection Experiment have presented results exactly the same as EVP ones. The difference here though is that in those experiments the phrase was projected psychically by the group and heard as a recording. Which raises the very important question to me; are EVP’s of probable spirit communication actually projected psychically onto the devices by those investigating? Something that is most definitely worth further investigation and indeed experimental research too.
EVP remains a prominent part of paranormal research and investigation today, which is something that doesn’t appear to be likely to change any time soon.
Moving forward I think we all do need to take EVP out of the box it’s ended up in and begin to experiment with it in as many ways possible. There’s a couple of examples below to get you started.
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