by Shelly Gatto
Electronic Voice Phenomena: Glorified Static or Proof of the Supernatural?
Anyone who has watched ghost hunting television shows has probably heard of electronic voice phenomena, better known as E.V.P. Many have claimed that manmade technology is capable of recording the voices of the dead. Some discredit this technology, viewing it as nothing more than a publicity stunt talking up glorified static. However, solid evidence exists indicating that there is something substantial possibly lurking just out of earshot. We just don’t know what that something is..
What is an E.V.P.?
The textbook definition of an E.V.P. is very cut and dry. Recordings with anomalies that can be interpreted as speech fall into this category. These are electronic sounds and not (to those doing the recording’s knowledge) actual human voices. Contrary to what many believe, this is not a new concept. Attila von Szalay was one of the first to consider recording the sounds of the dead in the early 1940s. From then on, people have been attempting to seek out concrete proof for or against the existence of an afterlife through E.V.P.s..
Is E.V.P. Evidence of an Afterlife?
This question has been up for debate for decades, and will probably not be answered any time soon. However, with advancements in technology, better recordings have emerged that are nothing short of unsettling. There are many that sound like mere static, and require a keen ear to catch. They are often very brief and hard to accept as solid evidence of anything other than static.
On occasion, you hear an E.V.P. that raises many disturbing questions. Feel free to come to your own conclusions, but once you hear the disembodied voices captured by Central New York Ghost Hunters in January of 2007, it is hard to argue against the possibility they might actually be hearing the dead.
The group was on site in upstate New York, investigating a hotel whose name and location was not disclosed at the request of those who own it. As the investigators positioned themselves on the staircase, where they had caught hints of hushed speaking and movement before, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. It wasn’t until the recording was played back that something completely unexpected was discovered.
The device had captured a hair-raising collection of sounds. It started with the group speaking, soon followed by a ticking clock that was not there. The sounds are muffled at first and hard to discern. This quickly changes as the sounds of a struggle emerge as well as the deafening screams of a woman in distress. None of the sounds had been heard by the group, who continued chatting calmly through the incident.
Rarely does an E.V.P. present itself with such volume that it would actually make you shudder, easily painting an image of a gruesome battle through sound..
The Future of E.V.P.
The question remains, will advancements in technology become a door to the other side? Will we manage to record E.V.P. with such clarity that we can hear the tales told by the dead? Anyone, even those who have no faith in the prospect of an afterlife, who hears this recording as well as many others have to stop and wonder. How thin are the walls that exist between the living and the dead that an audio recording can break through them?
Another interesting consideration is the idea of “residue” left behind. There are theories that supernatural occurrences are real, however they are not actual “ghosts” as we think of them. Instead, they are nothing more than energy residue left behind from intense emotion or attachment by those who lived before us. If this is the case, could an E.V.P. someday solve a crime or answer questions about history that have plagued us for generations?
There are too many what ifs at this point, but the fact remains. Something has been captured through E.V.P.s. It is only a matter of time until we discover what it is and where it came from.
How do you analyze EVPs once you have recorded them? I’ve heard from several WavePad users who work with EVPs and had a guest post recently on the topic, WavePad Analyzes Electronic Voice Phenomena, but I’d like to know more. I get the feeling that level of manipulation is one of the things people use to point to EVPs being fabricated. What do you to combat that stigma?
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Great question Jennifer. In addition to WavePad we also use Audacity. We try to use as little manipulation as possible. I feel that the best EVPs are those that can be heard with very little to no manipulation. Most of the manipulation we do at Fringe is during the analysis phase. If we hear something we are not sure of we use the software effects to see if we can bring out the suspect audio. Many times this allows us to dismiss some audio as natural in nature or simply as just background noise. As far as combating the stigma associated with using software to enhance EVPs, I feel this is best addressed in two ways. First, if you do enhance your audio be sure to publicly notate what effects you used. You may also want to post both the un-enhanced AND the enhanced audio. Both of these steps will allow the listeners to decide for themselves how they rate the audio and also to what degree they feel any sort of manipulation may have effected the raw audio. In the end it is not only wise to have an open mind but also to have a critical mind. Don C., Director