Sunday, January 09, 2005

They're heeeaaaring things at the Telegraph News

Science correspondent Robert Matthews for the Telegraph News in London obviously doesn't believe in EVP and is quite upset that people are trying to make money with the new movie White Noise featuring such a preposterous phenomenon. Telegraph News They're heeeaaaring things

He says in an article published today:
"The film's makers are certainly hoping that Electronic Voice Phenomena are very good at least for business. They are doing everything they can to convince us that EVP are the disembodied voices of the dead and that anyone can tune in to them using just a tape recorder and an open mind.

Creating a spurious air of credibility for creepy films is a time-honoured marketing ploy; it worked wonders for the supposedly "factual" blockbusters The Amityville Horror and The Blair Witch Project.

But the makers of White Noise have taken the gimmick to new heights or depths, depending on your view of Hollywood."
He then complains about those very good trailers that got all of us into this movie too. He has a point that White Noise commercials did sound quite authoritative and as if EVP is scientific fact, but it's an advertisement for a movie!

I'm not sure if I can go along with him on this. That's why people should look into things on their own and not expect hollywood's story tellers to bring us documentaries as entertainment or be completely honest in their marketing. Cop work is mostly boring and so is being a cowboy, soldier or just about anything else. I want to see excitement; if hollywood brought us the truth in everything where would the fun and entertainment be?

I wish he would have stopped by here. Any internet search for Ruth Baxter would have brought him right to my page all about her and her history. But instead he simply comments:
"In one, made in 2003, a woman called Ruth Baxter can be heard saying "I will see you no more" which may well be the case, since the trailer states that she died in 1987."

and goes on to complain how this will be damaging to anyone who tries it. Because it's demons or harmful spirits?

No, he is the science reporter after all and his views lie squarely in the "it's all radio noise" camp. He talks about how scientific researchers at prestigious universities, radio amateurs and "even BBC engineers have all heard these spooky voices". He forgets to mention the work done by these same people that shows it might not be radio waves, but he is trying to prove his point so I'll cut this english gent some slack.

He rather rudely goes on to say about EVP experimenters:
"If they are foolish enough to follow the website's instructions, what they will hear are effects first described in detail in the mid-1950s.

Others reported having similar experiences, including a shady Latvian psychologist named Konstantin Raudive,..(who) claimed to have detected more than 70,000 "voice texts" simply by making tape-recordings of the hiss-like static of radios tuned between stations."
I'm not sure I agree with Mr. Raudive either, but there's no need for name calling and I saw nothing in his work to indicate he was "shady". This term is just often used by scientists around the globe to refer to those whom they disagree with. I'm sure Darwin is called "shady" by a few even today.

Mr. Matthews then complains that the voice of reason at the time of Raudives recordings was drowned out when scientists "pointed out that the voices sometimes sounded like snatches of conversation from foreign radio stations" and "Psychologists quickly recognized EVP sometimes referred to as "Rorschach audio" as just another example of the brain's penchant for making sense even of the patently senseless."

Well, I'm not sure drowned out would be the term I would use or I think more people would know who Raudive was and what EVP is. I also have to question his comparing EVP to pareidolia and the "decade-old toasted cheese sandwich said to bear an image of the Virgin Mary, which sold for $28,000 on eBay in November."

How much is that famous Rembrandt said to bear the image of Jesus at the last supper or that Warhol that some think looks like a soup can? Sometimes people see different things in any picture or hear different things in recordings; that does not mean it's not really a picture of something specific or a recording of a live sound. This argument always rings hollow with me.

Of course people might be hearing things out of the noise that are not there. That is a proven scientific fact and always a possibility. It's also a scientific fact that if you record a voice on a recording device you can play it back and everyone will hear what it says. Not all of these recordings are bad enough to simply be in everyone's head.

He does tell us of some amazing research by Professor Imants Baruss, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontairio, who took over 60 hours of recordings in an experiment "designed to detect EVP under scientific conditions". They asked any spirits to make themselves known, but he fails to mention any of the other "scientific conditions" they were under such as any radio wave blocking or soundproofing.

The professor and his assistants found many strange things on their tapes:
"When the 60 hours of recordings were played back, the team found a host of bizarre effects on their tapes. Some seemed to be radio stations breaking through the static. Sometimes there would be dramatic surges in the background noise not unlike those used to scare audiences in White Noise.
And then there were the eerie voices, saying occasional words like "hello" and, in one case, informing the team to "Tell Peter".
Or at least that's what two of the researchers thought it said; Prof. Baruss isn't so sure. "The phrase on the tape is not `Tell Peter' but noise that just happens to be how our perceptions work," he told The Telegraph."
While the good professor does admit "I would not be surprised if some EVP turns out to be genuinely anomalous although that is still a long way from evidence of life after death" he is adamant that this experiment proves "weird voice-like effects can be picked up using just a radio and a tape-recorder". But ask this scientist how they get there and he says he doesn't know.

So basically they didn't do much science and just proved that recording voices from the radio, cell phones and even perhaps the dead is all possible with any regular recording device.

Matthews then talks with a few radio experts who actually have some very interesting things to point out. Senior Investigations Engineer for the BBC Ian Astbury says he is all too familiar with EVP.
"The microphone cable acts as the aerial and you only have to have a dirty connection to act like the crystal, which demodulates the signal" says Astbury who goes on to explain "The result is a tape recorder that picks up mysterious "voices" from thin air. They could be anything from bursts of local taxi-cab chatter to stray signals from the other side of the world. "

He even tells of some that were taped on live broadcasts including a famous event last February on a show called Excess Baggage where hostess Sandi Toksvig was doing an interview at a haunted castle and a ghostly, whispering voice could be heard in the background. But Astbury doesn't believe it was the dead, just poor equipment.

Vaughan Reynolds, a BBC radio reception expert says amateur radio ethusiasts hear weird voice effects when transmissions bounce off of meteor trails in the atmosphere. "You may be listening to a nice, clear voice, but when it hits the auroral curtain it sounds like a hoarse whisper, it's amazingly ghostly" says Reynolds.

That's something I'll need to look into more. That is an amazing phenomenon in itself and could be a cause of some EVP. But our friend the science report concludes in his somewhat rude tone:
"Picked up on a dodgy tape-recorder by those who don't know their RF from their elbow, the effect could be unnerving. For the bereaved conned by a Hollywood movie into believing that they are talking to their dead relatives, the result could be truly traumatic."

This guy definitely doesn't believe in EVP and is a little off in his analysis, but he does give all of us some good things to think about and a new possible cause to explore. I'd say this is a A good article to take a look at.


rantinraven23 said...

Your right he does make some interesting points, but i wonder if he has considered this?
Just because we dotn experience it doesnt mean it isnt real. Some people experience dejavu while others dont, some people dream and others dont, and some people have overactive bladders and others dont, doesnt mean its not out there just means that he doesnt have an experience with it. Further maybe some one should ask him if he has ever seen a million dollars? i havent but I do know its out there. LOL

Anonymous said...

If EVP is just stray radio, why is it so rarely music? Surely music makes up a large proportion of what's broadcast worldwide; you'd expect the same proportion of radio bounce to be music - or in languages foreign to the investigator, yet EVP seems to be overwhelmingly voices speaking in the questioner's language.

RegManabq said...

Check out my thoughts on if it's all radio stations and stray broadcasts: Is EVP Radio Signals?