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Do You Hear Voices in the White Noise?

(PRWEB) January 5, 2005

The new Michael Keaton movie White Noise opens on Jan 7 and is sure to scare audiences with its spooky theme centering around voices of the dead caught on tape and weird ghostly images appearing on TV screens. But, as audiences leave the theater, many will be wondering if this is a real phenomenon or just a Hollywood creation. The surprising fact is that people have been capturing these strange voices since the early 1950s, yet very little is known about where they actually come from.

EVP or Electronic Voice Phenomenon is a way some say you can communicate with the dead using average household electronic devices like portable tape players and digital voice recorders, your video camera and even a coffee pot or your computer. Some say you need white noise such as a fan or running water to record properly and give the ‘spirits’ something to create their voices from, but many claim all you have to do is tape yourself asking questions of the dear departed and when you play it back you might just hear them respond.

Supporters like Tom and Lisa Butler of the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomenon, or AAEVP, say that just about any recording device will do and they have thousands of samples taken by people of all walks of life from around the world. Skeptics claim it is all simply intercepted radio transmissions or active imaginations. While radio transmission is a prime suspect in this world of over crowded airwaves, there has been scientific research conducted to explore this possibility with some startling results.

In 1971, engineers at Britain’s Pye Records decided to set up an experiment with the famous European psychologist and EVP researcher Dr. Konstantin Raudive at their special studio that blocked out all radio and television transmissions. The conditions for the experiment were quite strict and Dr. Raudive was not allowed to touch any of the equipment or make any modifications whatsoever. The good Dr. was allowed only to speak into a microphone during the 18 minutes of recording. Everyone present agreed they had heard no voices or any unexplainable sounds at all during the experiment, yet when they played the tape back, over 200 voices could be heard.

Also in 1970 another British researcher, David Ellis who researched EVP as his degree project at Cambridge University wondered about the possibility of radio interference. Setting up an experiment in a radio wave blocking room made of copper sheets called the Faraday cage, Ellis sought to prove once and for all if radio waves could cause EVP. Researchers at the University agreed; if he didn’t capture a voice it would prove radio waves had been the culprit all along. To everyone’s surprise, Ellis captured a definite voice. Since the Faraday cage does not block sound waves, a stray voice from outside was blamed and further study was canceled. EVP enthusiasts still ask why there was not another experiment to confirm these unexplainable results at such a prestigious university.

In 1982 Scottish researcher Alexander MacRae, a college lecturer in microelectronics and NASA voice recognition researcher, heard strange growls and groans as he worked on his biometric invention, the Alpha. MacRae used a tape recorder to take his notes and was surprised to hear voices, including that of his father when he played them back. After years of research and thousands of collected samples using the Alpha, MacRae concluded “All the utterances are short; and each one begins at its beginning and ends at its end; each utterance is complete. Now that cannot be random. I have worked out that the odds against all the phrases being short and the right length happening by chance are of the order of a trillion to one.”

Sound engineers and scientists in a specially designed studio, a noted psychologist, researchers at Cambridge and a NASA voice expert all concluded radio waves were not the cause of EVP. So what could it be? Are these really spirits of the dead contacting us through some inter-dimensional phone system?

Dr. Robert Carroll, noted skeptic and author of the “Skeptics Dictionary” and SkepDic.com, says no; it’s all in our heads. The human brain is simply making sense out of the chaos of noise and people hear what they want to hear. He quotes psychologist Jim Alcock: “Perception is a very complex process, and when our brains try to find patterns, they are guided in part by what we expect to hear; The brain puts together the visual cue and the auditory input, and we actually “hear” what we are informed is being said, even though without that information, we could discern nothing.”

EVP researchers say that while this does often happen, real EVP is much different and most people can agree with what is being said by many voices they tape. Popular Internet blogger Regmanabq, in his blog EVP – the Electronic Voice Phenomenon(http://evprecording.blogspot.com), reports that this may not be the case with at least one famous EVP sample currently featured in White Noise movie trailers and TV commercials.

“It seems the now famous recording of deceased Ruth Baxter supposedly taken in 2003 saying “I shall see you no more” was actually taken many years ago by EVP guru and founder of the AAEVP Sarah Estep in a lighthouse used as a civil war hospital and prisoner of war camp. For years EVP enthusiasts agreed this recording said, “I was seeing the war”, yet Hollywood now has everyone convinced differently.“

Is it the giant letters on the screen telling us what is being said that makes us hear these voices? Could it be radio or TV interference or even cell phone conversations that are mysteriously recorded somehow? Or can you really talk with the dead over your voice recorder or television? The simple truth is that no one has any proof, not the skeptics or the believers. It could be ghosts, it could be radio transmissions or it could just be in your head. What do you hear in the white noise?

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