Sunday, January 02, 2005

My Response to the Skeptics

As the White Noise movie promotion machine works it's magic, the topic of EVP is being discussed more and more in paranormal and normal discussion groups all over the Internet. One thing that surprises me is how many people instantly dismiss the phenomenon as "impossible", "demons" or caused by "radio, phones, satellites or something explainable" without any sort of proof or even serious study. Here is my response to them.

"I can say I was like many of you, I thought at first this must be someone just hearing things or some people making things up. This upcoming movie must be a smart hollywood writer taking one or two things some whacked out ghost hunter thought he heard and running with it. There can't really be any good recordings of 'ghost' voices from a simple tape recorder with a lot of white noise on it!

After all, It's not far fetched to see how people can hear voices out of all the frequencies contained in white noise. I can understand how our brains want to make sense of all that jumbled audio information and so we make ourselves hear the people we miss most saying the things we want to hear them say. Especially if someone is encouraging us to do so.

Scam artists of all kinds have been working this whole 'communicate with the dead' angle for centuries because it's fairly easy to do. It's human nature to want to know there is life after death and to tell those who have gone to the other side all those things we should have told them when they were here. Much of our religion, philosophy, art, science and culture developed out of our yearning to understand the unknown and our desires to communicate with the dead.

Yet, actually coming into contact with the unknown is perhaps mankind's most primal fear. Most people are instantly frightened or somewhat titilated at any hint of it. We love to creep ourselves out and it is usually not very difficult to scare or fool people if you put them in the right frame of mind and then give them what they expect to see and hear. My friends and I do it every Halloween, Disney does it every day and scam artists do it too. It's a possibility EVP & ITC are no different.

As I began my research, the EVP samples I found right away in the search engines sure didn't sound like anything to me other than some garbled noise. I found the same old samples at all the popular sites and started to think that was all there was; but I found more as I looked a little deeper than the first few search results pages from Google.

I found many examples to support the 'people only hear what you tell them it says' theory. The White Noise movie trailer has two sound bites that are real recordings that I know of. But there is some controversy over whether the one supposedly from Ruth Baxter says 'I was seeing the war' (since it was taped in an old civil war hospital/prison camp many years ago) or 'I will see you no more' which fit more with the theme of the movie and so Universal writers made up a story about a 2003 recording of a woman who "died in 1987".

When listening to many EVP samples, I heard something very clearly until I read what the voice was "supposed" to say; then I heard that instead. This seems to support the theory that if you tell people what to listen for, they will hear it.

But before everyone jumps to 'they are just hearing things' or 'I can't hear that the voice really says anything so it must be fake or bs' we must admit that people often have trouble making out certain song lyrics (and I know the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan are real live people), not to mention the millions of misunderstood cell and regular phone conversations around the world each and everyday, so I do have to wonder at the possibilities and can't just jump to any conclusions.

I also have to point out: if this really is a newly discovered way to communicate with the other side, the technology would be similar in it's development to the earliest telephone systems which were notorious for misunderstood voices and garbled communications, sometimes depending on the weather or sun spots. So the poor quality of the recordings could just be caused by the crudeness of the method or inexperience on the part of the participants and not actually indicate there is nothing really there. There is also evidence to support this point of view.

Poor quality does not equal imagination. When your cell phone drops your call, your friend on the other end doesn't cease to exist, even if you can't understand what she is saying. We don't think for a moment our friend was all in our imagination or is a demon trying to turn us to the dark side because they sounded scratchy or like some evil robot from a movie and we couldn't make out everything they said. We know cellular communication is a young technology and it will get better as time goes by. We accept these amazing "Star Trek" like communication devices with their often poor reception as normal everyday objects and almost everyone has at least one now.

It's not magic or demons, just simple modern technology. But, take a cell phone back in time as little as a hundred years and they would burn you as a witch or a demon for even claiming it could do all the wonderful things modern phones do. Imagine what the people of that time might say: "pictures and voices traveling through the air on invisible waves? Sending strange cryptic messages to friends pocket? It's surely Satan's evil magic and you must be his servant!". Using the "magic" of a cell phone doesn't make you the servant of an evil supernatural creature, even if the people around you don't understand the technology yet. Many humans just tend to associate "unknown" with "evil", especially when someone starts hearing voices. I've seen no proof and little evidence of demons or evil spirits hurting people with EVP.

I have spent much of the last few weeks listening to EVP samples and learning all I can about this amazing phenomenon. I have heard some examples I didn't believe and I have heard some that will make you jump out of your seat. Hear "The best evp ever" and "a conversation with a ghost" or my favorite so far "Marine staff sgt" and you might think twice too. I have.

Do I know it's not demons or radio waves, pranksters or some other explanation? No, I don't. Do I believe these are recordings of ghosts, imprints from the past or people from an alternate dimension? Truth is, I don't know what it is.

I do know I've accidentally taped cell phone conversations and picked up radio transmissions on some weird devices not intended for that purpose before, but I never had any of these recordings answer my questions, tell me where their will was or say my name with my mom's voice! There is something going on here and it is pretty freaky, but I can't say what the cause even might be at this point in my studies. There are just too many possibilities and too many competing theories.

But I don't believe the ghost hunters I've met and come to know or people like Rich Smith, Sarah Estep (who gives her book away for free for pete's sake) or Tom and Lisa Butler spend so much time, energy and personal funds on their study of EVP and ITC just to fool some people with very little, if any, monetary compensation to be expected from their efforts. None of these people live in mansions or drive fancy cars because they helped found the AA-EVP, WorldITC or wrote a book or two. Wouldn't you do a prank with some money in it or at least something more popular like aliens or vampires? I would.

And for those who say "these people just love the attention": I'm not sure anyone actually enjoys being called crazy for a living or as a hobby. I don't think people study this for attention, but I could be wrong. I just think there are better ways to stroke an ego than risk life and limb hanging around cemeteries or old haunted houses and then having to listening to hours and hours of recordings while being ridiculed by the general population for it. Most ghost hunters are not well known as such publicly and they prefer to keep it that way. Doesn't sound like people out for attention to me.

Is EVP and ITC ghosts, demons, time travel, aliens from another dimension or just plain old radio waves? Who knows? But jumping to conclusions since "it's demons trying to trick you" or " you could fake it so easily with a computer" (which won't fly because half the great EVP out there was recorded before the PC or digital processing was even invented!) or "I listened to some samples and I didn't hear anything so it's all crazy talk" is just silly, disrespectful and rude.

Until more people are willing to look into strange phenomenon and reach for the unknown instead of just making fun of those who do, we shall never know the truth about anything. People laughed at Mr. Bell when he said he could send voices down a wire too. Now we carry this crazy man's impossible magic invention in our pockets and the voices travel through the air and sometimes outer space to keep us in touch with those we love and miss.

So here is what I ask each of you to do:
  • If you think it's demons or cell phones ask yourself: What evidence is there? Can I explain why I believe this way?
  • If you say you can't hear any of the voices ask yourself: Did I really listen to the samples with an open mind and look for the better quality ones?
  • If you think it's ghosts, can you explain why other than a feeling?
  • If you think ghost hunters are all crazy, can you name any you have actually met and talked with?
  • We should all ask ourselves: Do I really know enough about audio recording technology, radio transmissions or the physics of sound to even decide if this could be a human voice or something else and how it might have gotten onto this recording?
  • And who really does understand quantum mechanics, string theory or psychic ability which some claim is at the root of these strange happenings?

If you are honest in your answers, then I'm sure you realize you know about as much as I do regarding the true cause of Electronic Voice Phenomenon or Instrumental TransCommunication. Nobody really knows or it wouldn't be a mystery.

So let's all work together exploring the various possibilities and presenting the available evidence all sides will gather for review and comment by everyone. A discovery, or lack thereof, of any obvious natural or man made causes would surely be forthcoming if everyone seriously discussed the issues, shared their specialized knowledge and conducted experiments to learn the truth. But the question for you is: Can you handle the truth?

I intend to do all I can to help discover the cause and learn the truth. I'd like to know one way or the other and I have to remain open to all the various possibilities presented to me until I see them proven wrong. I can't just discount this fascinating phenomenon because I don't understand it.

I hope you won't either.


Anonymous said...

I've read that the first EVPs were recorded in the 60s by accident. As far as I'm concerned, that blows the cell phone theory. I believe that if we'd had recording devices 200, 500 or even 1000 years ago, EVPs would be as common as dirty socks.

I don't buy the 'power of suggestion' theory concerning what the voices say. I believe that once it is pointed out what is actually being sung (or said, in the case of EVPs), it simply becomes obvious.

My husband, who is a singer and musician, and I had never heard of EVPs until he had found one by chance in a gap in one of his recordings. (He uses a computer for recording and editing.)

It took us a few hours to agree on what the voice said. He made several suggestions, but most of them didn't sound quite right to me. That's why I don't put much stock in the power of suggestion theory. It just didn't work that way for us. If a suggestion doesn't match the voice, it simply doesn't match...that's that.

When we play our EVP for others, we never tell them what we think it says until after they've given us their opinions. The reactions of others have been a mix of hits and misses. One of the most memorable reactions was a good friend waiting for us to deliver the punch line.

Although they lack a logical explanation, I believe that EVPs are the most tangible connection to the deceased that can be offered to the general public at this time. I have to wonder, though, why EVPs are so much easier to obtain than photographs or videos of the dead.

Anonymous said...

Good site. You've approached this phenomenon intelligently, and have written about your experiences with it in a very articulate fashion. I've achieved a good half dozen recordings that STRONGLY tax my ability to explain them in standard ways, and have, as a result, had a sort of paradigm shift thrust upon me, having gone from dismissive (indeed mockingly so) to "What.....the.....Heck?". Please keep up your efforts. My email is if you'd like to converse.
Rich (not so anonymous :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, my partner and I live in Australia and after seeing White Noise, decided to try and record. Only after taping twice, we picked up a distinct voice. On putting it through our computer, the words, this is david, became evident. We are fascinated. We are not crazy people - normal people with a curiosity. Who doesn't want to know that there is more to life than this??? I have read your letter to the sceptics and I agree wholeheartedly with you. Congratulations on your site.

Anonymous said...


The first I heard of EVP was when I saw a preview for the movie White Noise on TV. I was pretty shocked that they were saying there was a real phenomenon where you could record the voices of spirits! I was pretty sceptical at first. I did some searching, went to AA-EVP first (since they listed them in the trailer for the movie), found many hard to make out EVPs and some good ones. At first, I was wondering if the good ones were real or if they had been faked. I thought they were real, but I just couldn't be sure since I didn't have first hand experience with them. I figured that to find out if this phenomenon was really for real the best way would be for me to try it myself. To my surprise, I had success right away. (Although the quality of my EVPs seems to have gotten much better after me doing it for a while.) My first EVP said, "Goodbye" right after I said "Bye" when leaving a cemetery. Another one I got shortly after was a response of, "I'm right here" right after I had read a tombstone and asked if "Winfried" was still there. Since that time, I have gotten about 140 good quality EVPs to date. I have become utterly shocked and amazed by the entire phenomenon. I went in wondering if there was really anything to it, and now based on many direct responses to questions, EVPs which make jokes based on what is going on at the time, etc. I feel that I know that what I am recording is spirits. My belief couldn't be any stronger than it is. (One of the jokes which I found pretty funny was when there was a ringing sound, an investigator next to me said, "Someone's ringing". I said not me, and then there was an EVP that said, "I'm not ringing".) Anyway, I beleived in ghosts to start with since I have had some ghost experiences, but now I know that I can go to a cemetery of a haunted location any time I want, and record the voices of spirits which I find pretty incredible.
(Not saying I will get results every time, but I usually do.) If anyone would be interested in listening to my collection of EVPs, please feel free to visit my website at .

Sean Dudley

Anonymous said...

Yes, for I am an anonymous spirit dear sir. This is something new for you to investigage. We [myself and other 'light balls'] have named it TSP [typing spirit phenomena] must go, spirit hands getting tired. message--keep your realrmevmg

Kentucky Area Paranormal Society said...

I have read also where the skeptics say that its CB radios, TV's, radio stations. I haven't picked up AC/DC or the Today Show yet on any EVP's I have recorded. We have several EVP's on our website that were answers to direct questions. Now what are the odds that I get an answer from a "radio broadcast".

Anonymous said...

2 points I'd like to make...

1- I'm surprized no one ever mentions that Greeks & Romans in the height of their civilizations were known to sleep in the tombs of their forefathers to get advice from the dead.So this goes back a lot farther than all EVP web sites suggest,they just didn't have fancy recorders.
How much of that is true?

2-Does anyone ever consider the danger of EVP to his/her mental health ?

if you listen for voices you may not be able to stop hearing them.
I was one of those unfortunate people as a younger man.the best way to explain it is I was constantly under attack by insulting demons,non stop day & night.This is not a condition I would wish on my worst foe.
The only way I was able to free myself from this was praying to God for help.

This worked & before I forget (again)- Thankyou very much God ......

Anyway here I am many years later & at the passing of my Mother I became interested in EVP,to date I have not tried it yet.

Even with my past I'm still tempted, I have questions for my mother & I'm drawn to the idea of useing EVP to help others.

But Questions I would like you to ask yourself -

If I play with EVP's will I open a doorway I can't close ?

Am I really,really sure ?

At the very least I would suggest not trying EVP in the home,unwanted house guests are hard to get rid of.

madboots said...

i only got interested in evp when mydad died suddenly 2yrs ago.ibought a secnd hand tape recorder i always use anew tape for each sesion ihave had lots of voices class A I have my fathers voice achilds voice and many more 9 times out of 10 the voice or message is always a responce to what is being said at the time of the recrding. ithink you get a better result if you believe in spirits or why would they even want to entertain you ihave had other experiences to like a baby in the womb only knows that world until born as on death we are born into spirit world.