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Electronic Voice Phenomena: The Perennial Flaw

Following the release of the second ‘White Noise’ film this month, PSI’s Dave Wood takes a look at the problem that has dogged electro voice phenomena (EVP) research from at least the 1960s to the present day.

Most paranormal researchers are now familiar with the idea of ‘image recognition’ or ‘pareidolia’. This idea that ambiguous visual information is rescrambled by the brain and interpreted in a way meaningful to the observer is common, applied to everything from seeing the Virgin Mary on a piece of popcorn to seeing a face inside an orb.

However the less applied idea is that this interpretation of unusual information can apply equally well to our interpretation of noises and voices. Most of us know this on a basic level, from the interpretation of normal ‘creaks’ as footsteps to a wailing fox interpreted as a screaming woman.

At some point most electro voice phenomena research involves the necessary step of having impartial people verify whether the voice you’ve caught is really a voice. Typically the researcher tells his colleagues what the voice ‘says’ and asks if he or she agrees – often they do.

This unscientific method was employed by Raudive and continues to be surprisingly widespread today. And just what’s wrong with that, you might ask?

Many EVP ‘voices’ seem fairly indistinct, hence the need for verification in the first place. Telling someone what you have heard breaks a cardinal rule of impartial verification. If faced with a noise one doesn’t understand, one is bound to make sense of it in terms of what we’ve been told.

The answer is simple enough, play your EVP ‘voice’ to as many detached people as possible and let them make up their own mind. When all EVP researchers begin to do this and present their ‘failures’ as well as their ‘successes’ we might start to get to the bottom of the phenomena.