Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Common Ghost Theories and Misconceptions

At haunted voices there is an article by James Pinkston on many of the common theories and possible misconceptions that abound in the ghost hunting world. Read it at Haunted Voices - Theories

I like this guy, I really do. We think a lot alike about the paranormal and what can be proven or not. He admits having weird readings at times and experiencing possible paranormal activity, but like myself, he can not say for sure what their cause is and therefore can not say what is proven or even if he believes them to be ghosts.

His article starts out:
"To date, there is absolutely no, and I repeat No 100% scientific proof that ghosts exist. Yes, we have all had our brush with the unexplained. We all have our personal opinions and feelings on the issue, but the skeptics and those opposed to the paranormal will argue that these are opinions and personal beliefs alone, and there is nothing substantial to support their actual existence. "
And they would be right. Until ghost hunters can gather more detailed and scientific data, there can be no logical or valid argument to the skeptics or the general public that anything paranormal actually exists. I'll be the first to attack skeptics who don't know what they are talking about or try to use their own unproven theories against believers. But as I've said to both sides many times, show me your data, show me your studies and you have to present me with more than "I just know". Mr. Pinkston goes on to say:

"What troubles me in the first place is how many of the theories that have existed for many years are now held by many to be considered as truths with no consideration or effort made to try to authenticate these theories."
Thanks James, I was starting to think I was the only one. I've written many times how amazed I am that no one seems to be really out to prove any theory. It seems many are comfortable believing one way or the other and just leave it at that. The skeptics say "it's radio" without any proof and the believers say "it's ghosts", also without any proof.

His discussion revolves mostly around orbs and EMF readings. He questions whether there is any shred of proof that EMF readings might indicate the paranormal and points out how many just assume elevated EMF indicates paranormal activity without really understanding what they are measuring, if anything.

He talks a lot about orbs, and what he says about them is interesting. He discusses the fact that many believe orb photos to be the spirits of the dead without any proof that it is not some other unknown force. Dust, pollen and many other pollutants have been found to be the cause of most orb photos but even those that remain unexplained are just that, unexplained. Orbs might be ghosts, or they might be something else all together.

I've always wondered why more EVP researchers do not use photography in their studies. You would have a good chance convincing me you had something substantial if you had three photos of the same orb from different cameras as well as a recording and some measurements showing drastic temperature or other environmental changes such as elevated EMF readings.

But many, including the Haunted Voices staff in their EVP questions and answers page advise against using other measuring equipment.
"When recording I personally do not take photos, use the Emf meter, or run video. I feel that this takes a lot of energy away from the spirit and they cannot perform with all of these different capture devices going. It takes a tremendous amount of energy for a spirit to show themselfs[sic] on film or video as well as recorders."

So, until someone figures out how to have full conversations with these voices or start actually trying to prove their theories with equipment other than the recorder, EVP will always remain a mystery that can not be proven.

As Pinkston so eloquently put it:
"Theories are great, as they lead to further research in an attempt to prove or disprove them, and everyone is entitled to their theories. What each person has to keep in mind is that even though these theories may be well founded, until they are proven, they are only that, theories, and should never be submitted or taken as factual."

That's good advice for anyone who studies or believes in anything, particularly the paranormal.

Haunted Voices - Crawford Co EVP

I've been busy the last couple of days and found little time for EVP listening. Today I'm back under my headsets and have some great things for you to hear.

The folks over at Haunted Voices have some very clear EVP recordings and a whole lot of info on EVP. Check out Haunted Voices - EVP.

All the EVP they have on this "Haunted Crawford Co" page are very clear and very creepy.

"Protect the cemetery"
The ghostly sentry alerting the cemetery SWAT team to respond to the intrusion of these ghost hunters?

"We'll come out for you"
More of these strange guardians of the dead trying to give them a warning?

"Get out of here!" "GO"
Perhaps these spirit protectors decided enough is enough and it's time for these paranormal researchers to go back to their lab?

All of these are very clear and will definitely spook you. They also have a section I will report on later including visitor submitted EVP and training classes!

White Noise fails to drive out Fockers

David Germain of the Associated Press reports in Canada's Globe and Mail (The White Noise fails to drive out Fockers) that this weekends earnings for the opening of White Noise was $24 million. This is 2.5 million under what the hit "Meet the Fockers" brought it, which has already been out for weeks.

Film producer Paul Brooks still has hope that his movie will do well with the public. "It's always fascinated me, the way critics work," said Brooks, "They have a particular view of a film that sometimes can be significantly at odds with what the man on the street and the lady on the street and the kid on the street want to see."

Often times this proves to be true, but I have yet to see one single good review. Sorry Paul, I think the man on the street agrees with the critics on this one.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

WorldITC - Mark Macy and Spirit Group TimeStream

The WorldITC is a "a network on Earth without a traditional structure, not a hierarchical or bureaucratic type of organization" that uses the internet to achieve this lofty goal. Continuing the work of Konstantin Raudive and his afterlife team of researchers calling themselves Spirit Group TimeStream, this is one fascinating organization and a definite must see for anyone serious about learning more on EVP.

I've been meaning to mention them and will do so more in the future because this is a wealth of information both on the history and the continuing efforts to study EVP and ITC.

Some pages I would suggest a visit to are as follows:

Voice Transmissions with the Deceased - Learn all about the early work of EVP pioneer Friedrich Juergenson and read his book online for free. Starting with that fateful Friday, the 12th of June 1959 when he first captured strange voices while recording bird songs, all the way to his later years and many public demonstrations, this book documents it all in an honest and easy to read fashion.

ITC contact examples - see amazing pictures supposedly sent back by researchers immediately after their deaths to friends televisions and read a letter from Jeanette Meek meant to prove life after death once and for all.

Conversations with Konstantin Raudive - Would you like to hear what this famous ITC pioneer sounds like on the phone? How about the supernatural phone to the after life?

They have many recordings of a wonderfully deep pitched and accented voice that is claimed to be that of Dr. Raudive after he died calling for consultation and to give instructions for researchers here on earth to build the equipment necessary to contact the dead. Forming the afterlife research team TimeStream, he continued his work for months after his death before finally being called away to somewhere he would not say.

If there is a spirit world and Raudive is there, I'm sure he is going to haunt me for doing my amateur impressions of him:
"My dear friends from the Internet, I bring you greetings and ask that you visit the WorldITC and my close friend and colleague Mark Macy, without whom continued research would not be possible. You would also benefit greatly by subscribing to this blog and maintaining daily contact so we may one day bring all of humanity into resonance and harmony as this is of the utmost importance to clear transmissions between both the living and those in my reality. This is technical advice from this side."

I love these recordings and his voice is wonderful. Listen to them and you will know what I'm talking about. I don't know if this is really Raudive from the dead or not, but whomever it is has got a great way of speaking, is very articulate and the recordings are quite clear. This voice is not in my head; I'm sure everyone will hear the same things I do.

I'll close with a quote from Dr. Raudive during one of these "transmissions with the dead":

"Lighten your hearts, show each other the real you, share each other's burdens, and don't make this important moment difficult for yourself or for each other. Relax."

Good advice for the living and the dead. So relax and check out WorldITC today.

The Supernatural World :: Electronic Voice Phenomena

Over in the UK at The Supernatural World :: Electronic Voice Phenomena, they have a page on EVP with a couple of interesting samples.

Most of these samples cannot be made out, so I can't put any credence in them. But let's see if you hear the same things I do in these two:

"Touch me"
During a seance participants thought to tape the event and wondered if the recording would pick up the bubbling of their cokes. What it picked up was more than bubbles. When playing it back they heard this clear voice say "touch me". Is that what you hear?

What's her name?
Then they have an interesting sample from the Pollard Theatre "in America" and I'm assuming it's the famous playhouse in Guthrie Oklahoma. I hear a woman saying her name. Can you tell me what her name might be? I wonder if we all hear it too. Don't click on the comments until after you listen to Theatre EVP 1.

Then tell everyone what you hear and read the comments to see if we all agree. Sound like a fun experiment? I hope you will join along.

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.