A major ATransC objective is to promote cooperation amongst researchers. A prerequisite for the paranormalist community to move into the mainstream is a publication which is both publicly accessible and visibly vetted by subject matter specialists.
This section contains articles concerned with transcommunication. ATransC is willing to publish similar articles by other researchers providing the authors are open to vetting by qualified members of the community.
Please contact ATransC if you wish to propose an article.
by Robert A. Charman (Published in Society for Psychical Research Paranormal Review, No 55 p 3-7, July 2010)
In 2008 Gronowicz et al. reported on an experiment demonstrating the positive effects of a form of radiation on human cells. This experiment was completely unlike the usual studies performed at the Departments of Surgery and Orthopaedics at the Connecticut Health Center, and the results challenge scientific assumptions as to how the world works.
The two-year-long study consisted of growing separate cultures of bone cells (osteoblasts), tendon cells (tenocytes), and fibroblasts (cells that synthesize the soft tissue matrix under the skin and are essential to wound healing) and plating out each type of cell into three experimental cultures. One culture was to receive radiation, one to act as the untreated control, and the other to receive sham-radiation. The question the experiment was designed to answer was whether those cells exposed to the radiation would be stimulated to proliferate more quickly during the experimental period than those in the control and sham radiated cultures. The plates were brought out of the incubator, ring clamped onto 15-inch-high stands mounted on the laboratory bench top, exposed, or not, to ten minutes of radiation on separate days over two weeks and returned to the incubator. Standard laboratory assays were performed at the end of the first week and second week to assess the rate of cell proliferation. This experimental procedure was repeated many times over many samples.
The findings were clear cut. When compared, the proliferation rates for cells in cultures exposed to radiation were consistently and significantly greater than those in the control cultures and those exposed to sham radiation. The rates for the latter two groups were almost indistinguishable. Two exposures per week over two weeks were enough to stimulate a significant degree of proliferation, and increasing the frequency of exposure in some groups to four or five per week for two weeks increased cell proliferation to maximum response.
The findings of this study from a reputable institution with a proven research record in investigating cellular reactions would be accepted without question if the cells had been irradiated by, say, infrared or red light, as absorption of such frequencies is known to increase the rate of cell metabolism and consequent cell proliferation. The study would be taken as providing further confirmation of many earlier laboratory studies and clinical trials on wound healing to that effect.
There are, therefore, no valid reasons to dismiss these findings when informed that the “radiation agent” under test was not the application of a known physical agent but the application of directed subjective intention across space by three registered nurses who had been trained in the healing technique known as Therapeutic Touch (TT). In this study, the practitioners first “centered” their minds into a healing mindset, held their hands four inches away from each culture plate on its 15-inch stand and directed positive intention for the good health of the cells in each culture for ten minutes per session. The sham healers, consisting of technicians from other departments, were taught to perform the same movements, but were not informed of the purpose of the experiment and had no knowledge of TT. They had to count backwards from 1000 during each ten-minute-long session to prevent any directed thought.
Follow-up studies are now in progress to determine which of the key cellular reactions involved in cell proliferation seem most responsive to TT. In their discussion, the authors refer to previous studies investigating cellular responses to directed healing intention. One study (Kiang et al., 2005) found increases in intracellular calcium ion concentrations, known to stimulate cell metabolic rates when exposed to ‘bioenergy induction’. A study using Reiki practitioners found increased survival and growth of heat-shocked bacterial cultures compared to controls (Rubik et al., 2006). Yu et al. (2003) found that cultures of PC3, a human prostate cancer cell line, showed a significantly decreased growth rate during 48 hours of sustained healing intention by a Buddhist Zen Master, compared to controls. In a review of studies assessing the effect of the application of “external qi” on cancer cell cultures derived from breast, liver, lung, and bone marrow, Chen (2004) found significant inhibition of cancer cell proliferation. Such findings imply that directed healing intention, under various belief systems including “bioenergies” or “external qi,” can have a measurable effect on cells and somehow stimulate healthy cells that would be involved in bodily repair and inhibit abnormal cancer cell activity.
In sum, this study provides strong confirmation of objective, measurable effects reported from many previous laboratory studies that have employed directed subjective intention on living systems. For example, those performed on mouse skin wound healing (Grad et al., 1961), salt-stressed seed germination (Grad, 1964), bacterial growth (Nash, 1984), plant growth (Sakani, 1989), salt-stressed seed germination and plant growth (Scofield & Hodges, 1991) and enzyme reaction rates (Smith, 1972), are particularly well known. Taking these seven experiments alone, if the agent being tested had been a recognized growth factor or enzyme reaction accelerator, the findings would have been accepted without question. (For critical reviews of the laboratory and clinical trial research literature, see Jonas and Crawford  and Benor .)
The positive findings from these laboratory studies lend strong support for Dossey’s (2000) argument that as healing intention has been shown to accelerate the rate of tissue healing, doctors should be trained to give healing from intake at accident and emergency wards onwards, in addition to giving orthodox medical care. If the concept of including healing intention in medical care was adopted, healers could become valuable members of NHS staff on economic grounds alone. These studies support the claim that directed healing intention is a therapeutic agent in its own right. This hypothesis could be tested by monitoring physiological changes in unconscious patients receiving healing compared to controls. These findings also imply that well-documented case histories and clinical trials demonstrating marked symptom relief and, in some cases, unexpectedly rapid tissue healing and/or apparent remission of the disease process itself after receiving healing, cannot be dismissed as attributable to placebo response only (see Jonas and Crawford , Benor  and Harvey  for extended discussions of this). According to this hypothesis, when a patient attends a healer, any clinical improvement that would not otherwise have been expected may result from a combined, beneficial synergy of the direct effect of healing intention together with a placebo response. Regarding the latter, healers have noted repeatedly that outright skeptics who profess no belief in “faith healing” have responded well to it, much against their expectations (Manning, 1995).
The Problem for Science
The positive outcome of these laboratory studies places us in an acute dilemma, because in our present scientific understanding of how the world works we can offer no explanation for such an apparent cause and effect. In the view of orthodox science such findings cannot be due to any hypothesized effect of subjective intention, whether as “channellers” of “healing energy” or as generators of “bioenergy” or “external qi” energy, because the former belief can have no external effect, and evidence offered for the existence of the latter is hotly disputed because it is considered impossible in principle. Seto’s (1992) findings of a low-frequency magnetic field being emitted from the hands of healers during the healing mindset, but which is otherwise absent, needs replication. From the scientific viewpoint the most likely explanation must be that an undetected physical agent has been present in each case.
The physical sciences in general, and the neurosciences in particular, reject subjective intention as a causal agent of external effect for a very good reason. No such agent has ever been detected and no physiological mechanism for producing such an effect has been found. The eyes, for example, contain no mechanism by which they can project rays towards a target. The bioelectrical energies generated by brain activity, which are measured in microwatts at best, are so feeble that the very faint electromagnetic field permeating through the skull requires highly sensitive equipment for its detection. The outside world, as constructed by the visual and other brain processes that generate our visual experience, is an internal mental construct that is good enough to allow us to move about in, and bodily act upon, this perceived world. But that world, itself, has no “awareness” of our visual experiencing of it, and its observable behavior indicates that it remains indifferent to our awareness. Screaming with frustration at some DIY disaster or a valuable smashed vase does not psychically energize these physical components to re-assemble at our will. If we could do this then stone walls would not a prison make and the external world would become a chaotic conflict zone of competing intentions.
But, agreeing that this is so does not solve our dilemma. If, through gritted skeptical teeth, the findings of these laboratory studies are accepted as valid, then we have to accept that our present worldview of how things work, including ourselves, is incomplete. In fact, we know our understanding is incomplete because it cannot account for the existence of individual consciousness. Neurophysiology, based firmly upon the known physical properties of physics and chemistry, is a self-contained explanatory model that provides a remarkably complete account of how the physical brain works right down to the level of quantum chemistry – but it finds no trace of consciousness. The various branches of psychology provide insights into how our conscious and subconscious processes work, from abstract thought to social interactions and raw emotions, but it finds no trace of synaptic activity. Neither model needs to include reference to the other because neither predicates the other.
Through recent advances in neuroimaging, the crossover discipline of neuropsychology can say with increasing confidence that a mental activity of “A” depends upon normal functioning of brain area(s) “B,” and if brain area(s) “B” are injured then the mental activity “A” will be impaired. Neuropsychology finds brain function and mental function inseparable, but the bioelectrochemical processes of neuro-physiology remain obstinately physical and continue operating when consciousness is absent. Neuro-psychology provides ever more accurate evidence of brain-mind correlation without explanation.
Is There a Possible Solution?
LeShan (1974; 1976; 2009) argues strongly that if we accept the anecdotal, clinical, and laboratory-based evidence for the existence of telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis and healing, in other words the operation of a psi faculty, then we need to model a reality in which such a faculty exists and such events can occur. He has proposed that there are at least two realities. One is our everyday reality, based upon living in a physical world of space and time, separate bodies, mass, motion, gravity, action and reaction, etc., where cause and effect rules. In the explanatory framework of this reality, including the wider Einsteinian world of spacetime relativity and the speed of light as the limiting factor in the transfer of information, consciousness remains inexplicable and psi phenomena impossible. This reality, therefore, cannot be the only reality.
Based upon experiences described by healers, mediums and mystics, LeShan posits another reality which he has termed “Clairvoyant Reality.” This reality is experienced in an altered state of consciousness in which everyday separateness disappears into an experience of “oneness” with what was previously “the other.” It is in this reality that psi phenomena, such as telepathy and healing, occur. Even in everyday life, our consciousness may occasionally slip into this clairvoyant reality of oneness, especially when absorbed in something, whether meditation, music, a view, creating a piece of art, devising a scientific experiment, or during intellectual inquiry when a “eureka” moment of understanding occurs. Clairvoyant reality, however, takes consciousness as a given, which still leaves its existence in an apparently physical universe unexplained.
Many have now turned to the counter-intuitive properties of the quantum world for explanation (Penrose, 1996; Nadeau & Kafatos, 2001; Radin, 2006). This world does not include the concept of cause and effect but statistical probabilities that “X” or “Y” might occur. Particles can be in two places at once and exhibit properties of both particles and waves according to what the detector is designed to detect. Entangled particles remain in immediate contact, even if traveling away from each other at the speed of light towards either end of the universe. If the spin of one is reversed, then so is the spin of the other at the same instant. Distance, time, and the speed of light are not relevant factors in their relationship. Space is not an empty vacuum but full of restless quantum energy. In experiments collapsing the sum of unknowable quantum possibilities contained in what has been termed the probability wave, wavefunction superposition, or state vector, into a recognizable something in our world, the outcome depends upon what the detector is designed to detect, usually with properties of particles or waves. It has been proposed that the quantum world is the source of our conscious being because the hypothesized function of the brain is to act as a form of quantum detector that determines the collapse of the state vector into the qualia of conscious experience. A quantum property the other detectors are not designed to detect so it has remained unsuspected.
In this hypothesis, the matter-versus-mind argument is invalid because the mode of detection is the key. Psi in its various manifestations is a latent mental function derived from this source, which, like all abilities, some people can utilize more easily and effectively than others. If we accept LeShan’s argument, to enter into a mental state of clairvoyant reality may be the precondition that enables directed intentionality to exert a measurable effect on, for example, enzyme reaction rates, seed germination, plant growth, cellular proliferation and improved tissue healing, because it is acting where psi intention and these metabolic processes operate at quantum level. At present this is just speculation, but maybe it is pointing in the right direction for future exploration.
Whatever the answer, the psi effect of directed intention as demonstrated by this particular experiment exists. To deny this because we cannot account for it is just as illogical as to deny the existence of our own conscious experiencing because we cannot, as yet, provide a satisfactory account for it. These two major anomalies in our present understanding of the world are here to stay. One day they will be anomalies no more as a change of understanding takes them into the mainstream.
Robert Charman is a retired physical therapy lecturer whose specialities were neuro-rehabilitation and biophysics. The former gave him an enduring interest in the mind/brain problem and the latter an interest in the role of the currents and fields generated by cells and tissues. He was founder/chair of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Energy Medicine (ACPEM), and is Chair of the Confederation of Healing Organisations, both UK organizations. He was editor of Complementary Therapies for Physical Therapists (2000); has published a review of EEG and fMRI evidence for direct brainmind-to-brainmind communication (J.Soc.Psych.Res download www.spr.ac.uk), and articles reviewing evidence for telepathy, remote viewing, psychokinesis, healing intention on living systems, and the mind/brain relationship. On the latter his position is that correlation should not be confused with explanation.
Benor, D. J. (2001). Spiritual Healing: Scientific Validation of a Healing Revolution. USA: Vision Publishing.
Chen, K. W. (2004). An analytic review of studies on measuring effects of external Qi in China. Journal of Alternative Therapies, 10, 38-50.
Dossey, L. (2000). Reinventing Medicine: Beyond Mind-Body to a New Era of Healing. San Francisco: Harper.
Grad, B. Cadoret, R. J. & Paul, G. (1961). The influence of an unorthodox method of treatment of wound healing in mice. International Journal of Parapsychology, 2, 5-19.
Grad, B. (1964). A telekinetic effect on plant growth: Experiments involving treatment of saline in stoppered bottles. International Journal of Parapsychology, 6, 473-498.
Grad, B. (1965) A telekinetic effect on yeast activity. Journal of Parapsychology 29: 285-286
Gronowicz, G. A. Jhaveri, A. & Clarke, L. W. Aronow. M. S. Smith, T. H. (2008) Therapeutic touch stimulates the proliferation of human cells in culture. JACM, 14(3), 233-239. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18370579 As of December 2010.
Harvey, D. (1983) The power to heal. UK: Aquarian Press.
Jonas, W. B. Crawford, C. C. (2003). Healing, Intention and Energy Medicine: Science, Research Methods and Clinical Implications. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
Kiang, J. G., Marotta, D. Wirkus, M. & Jonas, W. B. (2002). External bioenergy increases intracellular free calcium concentration and reduces cellular response to heat stress. Journal of Investigative Medicine, 50, 38-45.
LeShan, L. (1974). The medium, the mystic, and the physicist. NewYork: Viking Press.
LeShan, L. (1976). Alternate realities. Sheldon Press, London.
LeShan, L. (2009). A New Science of the Paranormal. Quest Books, Wheaten, Illinois.
Manning, M. (1995) No Faith Required. Norway: Eikstein Publications.
Nadeau, R. Kafatos, M. (2001) The Non-local Universe: The New Physics and Matters of Mind. OUP.
Nash, C. B. (1984) Test of psychokinetic control of bacterial growth. Journal of American Society for Psychical Research, 78, 145-152.
Penrose, R. (1996). Shadows of the Mind. OUP.
Radin, D. (2006). Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality. New York: Paraview Pocket Books.
Rubic, B., Brooks, A., & Schwartz, G. (2006). In vitro effects of Reiki treatment on bacterial cultures: Role of experimental context and practitioner well-being. Journal Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 12, 7-13.
Saklani, A. (1989). Psychokinesis effects on plant growth: further studies. In Henkel L. & Palmer J.(Eds.), Research in Parapsychology, pp. 37-41. Meutchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.
Seto, A. Kusaka, C. & Nakazato, S. (1992). Detection of extraordinary large bio-magnetic field strength from human hand during external Qi emission. Acupuncture Electrotherapy Research, 17, 75-94.
Scofield, A. M. & Hodges, R. D. (1991). Demonstration of a healing effect in the laboratory using a simple plant model. JSPR, 57, 321-343.
Smith, M. (1972). Enzymes are activated by the laying on of hands. Human Dimensions, 1, 46-48.
Yu, T. Tsai, H. & Hwang, M. (2003). Suppressing tumour progression of in vitro prostate cancer cells by emitted psychosomatic power through Zen meditation. American Journal of ChineseMedicine, 31, 499-507.
by Tom Butler Published in the Fall 2010 ATransC NewsJournal
In visual Instrumental TransCommunication (Visual ITC), recognizable features are found in what should be only random optical noise. No known physical principles account for the phenomenal features and they may be found in virtually any sufficiently noisy media. The Examples and Techniques sections of this website include several such techniques for capturing the features. This report includes results of an online viewing study in which website visitors were asked to describe what they saw in unmarked visual ITC images.
Of the seven examples, an average of 61% of respondents correctly identified the feature. Each example was presented with original, grayscale and increased contrast versions. The increased contrast version was most often correctly identified.
Question: Will website visitors report seeing same or similar features in visual ITC examples?
This is a study to determine whether or not images recorded in optical-frequency noise can be consistently described. The video-feedback technique was used for all of these examples. As is shown in the diagram, a video camera is pointed at a television screen and the output of the camera is connected to the input of the television so that the camera “sees” what it has just recorded. The camera is usually focused slightly beyond the screen to produce a soft focus image. The zoom, focus and camera presets are adjusted until a “rolling” effect is achieved on the display not unlike the special effect of “warp drive” in the movies.
The recorded video is examined one frame at a time. Those with “interesting” optical texture are “grabbed” and examined with a photo editing program to find the features. An example “interesting” video frame is provided here.
No or Unrelated Detail
19 or 15%
25 or 19%
103 or 81%
28 or 22%
92 or 72%
36 or 28%
41 or 32%
32 or 25%
96 or 75%
26 or 20%
56 or 44%
72 or 56%
24 or 19%
34 or 27%
94 or 73%
24 or 19%
82 or 64%
46 or 36%
18 or 14%
24 or 19%
104 or 81%
39% Did not see feature or saw it incorrectly
61% Recognized Correct Detail
Please examine each example and state what you see in the associated text box. Each example has been clipped out of a video frame and is shown in its unaltered form, as an enhanced contrast image and in gray scale. The three versions are intended to help you visualize the feature.
Unaltered clip from video frame
Increased contrast and grayscale
Example 1: (All three are the same image) 81% correct recognition
What you should see: This is the head of a dog facing toward you and to your left. You can see his eyes and snout. A little of the neck is visible and just a hint of ears. The animal appears to be very alert and appears to have short hair.
Unaltered clip from video frame
Increased contrast and grayscale
Example 2: (All three are the same image) 28% correct recognition
What you should see: This is the head of a person facing to your left and looking down a little. His/her left eye is in the middle of the picture and seems to be slanted like an Asian and the nose-brow line seems very strong. He/she appears to be wearing some kind of cloak or ceremonial garb. The person seems to have dark hair put up in some kind of formal arrangement or he/she may be wearing a hat of some kind. The overall impression is of an oriental warrior or nobility.
Depending on how you look at this one, there are several pretty dominant faces. They show up mostly in the black and white version.
Unaltered clip from video frame
Increased contrast and grayscale
Example 3: (All three are the same image) 75% correct recognition
What you should see: This is the head of a person facing to your left and visible from the chest up. It is not clear if this is a male or female, but my guess is male. The blue area is his coat and it seems he might be wearing a white coat and shirt with a bow tie. He may have something like an animal in his left (your right) hand. He appears to have a dark beard and dark hair.
Unaltered clip from video frame
Increased contrast and grayscale
Example 4: (All three are the same image) 56% correct recognition
What you should see: This is the head of a man facing to your right and tilted slightly down. You see him from the chest up, but his pointed chin almost touches the bottom of the frame. He has prominent cheeks and is smiling so that he seems to have a large but evil laugh. His chin, nose, cheeks and temples are bright areas. It would seem he has no teeth to fill out his face.
Unaltered clip from video frame
Increased contrast and grayscale
Example 5: (All three are the same image) 73% correct recognition
What you should see: This is the head of a man facing to your right and tilted slightly down and to the right. The nose is prominent as a long bright line right of middle. The bright section at top appears to be top-illuminated hair. Like the nose, the right (your left) cheek is brighter as is the side of what looks like a full beard as if the same light source is shining on those areas. The man has a long face and seems to be more like a biblical character than like a businessman.
Unaltered clip from video frame
Increased contrast and grayscale
Example 6: (All three are the same image) 36% correct recognition
What you should see: This is a person visible from the chest up. It may be a woman or a man. Since he seems to have a dark shadow of a beard, I will say he is a man. He is facing to your left. The green areas seem to mark the lapel of a reddish coat. He has long black hair that appears to be combed around some kind of hat. The hat seems like a too small derby, which is why he may be a clown.
Unaltered clip from video frame
Increased contrast and grayscale
Example 7: (All three are the same image) 81% correct recognition
What you should see: This is a head facing to your left. It is a profile from the neck up. The person may be a boy or boyish girl with short hair and appears to be wearing a dark shirt with a white collar like a sweater over a “T” shirt. The hair and face seem to be illuminated from your left and top.
A Second Study of EVP Interpretation by Mark Leary, Ph.D. Published in the Spring 2013 ATransC NewsJournal Read Part 1 and Part 3
In the previous issue of the NewsJournal (Winter 2013), I described a research study that examined the problem of EVP interpretation. As all EVP enthusiasts know, people often disagree over how particular EVP should be interpreted, and we were interested in documenting how serious the problem really is.
In that study, 24 investigators each interpreted a large set of EVP, and the most common or “consensus” interpretation of each EVP was determined. Then, the individual investigators’ interpretations of the EVP were compared to the consensus interpretations to see how well they agreed. The results showed that, on average, only 21% of the investigators’ interpretations of particular words agreed with the consensus interpretation. To put this finding in perspective, imagine that your family doctor arrived at the same diagnosis as most other doctors on only 1 out of 5 of their diagnoses. Such a low rate of agreement would obviously raise serious issues about medical diagnoses, and similar issues must be addressed about EVP interpretations.
In this article, I describe a second study that was conducted to answer additional questions about EVP interpretation. This study, which was partly funded by a grant from the Association TransCommunication to the Rhine Research Center, examined EVP that were recorded using radio-sweep technology. Radio-sweep technology, often known as “ghost boxes” or “spirit boxes,” involves rapidly changing the tuning of a radio receiver to produce a stream of noise that is composed of bits of sound from the stations that are being scanned. Advocates of this technique believe that communicating entities use the snippets of sound to produce words. Many investigators suggest that EVP that are recorded with radio sweep are more distinct than those recorded without background noise. However, critics note that the noise source itself sometimes contains words or other sounds that might be interpreted as intelligent communication. In any case, we were interested in whether the low rate of agreement found in the earlier study of EVP that were recorded without a sound source is also found with radio-sweep EVP.
A second goal of the study was to examine how people’s interpretations of EVP are affected by knowing what other people heard. EVP enthusiasts know that people’s interpretations of EVP can be influenced by what other people say they hear. For that reason, some investigators do not share their personal interpretations until others have listened and come to their own, independent conclusions. But exactly how much are listeners’ interpretations biased when they know what other people think an EVP says? And does this biasing effect depend on whose interpretation is known? Often, listeners tend to give the interpretation offered by the investigator who recorded the EVP special attention, possibly because listeners assume that the original investigator has listened carefully many times before rendering an interpretation and is aware of the conditions under which it was recorded. If so, listeners may be particularly affected by knowing the interpretation of the person who recorded the EVP. To examine the biasing effects of knowing other people’s interpretations, we had people listen to EVP after learning what others thought they said and had other people interpret EVP without knowing others’ interpretations.
To obtain a set of EVP for the study, an announcement was posted on the ATransC website and published in the NewsJournal asking investigators to submit radio-sweep EVP that the investigator believed contained an anomalous or ethereal voice. We also asked the submitting investigators to indicate what they thought the EVP said.
Nineteen EVP were submitted, of which we selected 12 audio clips for the study. If an investigator’s statement or question preceded the clip, it was removed so that each clip contained only the EVP with a few seconds of radio-sweep noise before and after when possible. These 12 EVP varied in length from a one-syllable word to eight words (containing 11 syllables).
Before we started the study, a pair of experienced paranormal investigators provided their independent interpretations of each EVP. We used these interpretations to see whether people’s interpretations agreed more with the original investigators’ interpretations than the “secondary interpretations” provided by these other investigators
The original investigators’ interpretations of the 12 EVP contained a total of 55 syllables and 46 words. The secondary interpretations by the other investigators contained 63 syllables and 53 words. The original and secondary interpretations not only contained different numbers of syllables and words, but the secondary interpretations agreed with the investigators’ interpretations on only 4 words (8.7%).
Ninety adults were recruited to participate in the study. The participants were 23 men and 61 women who ranged in age from 18 to 81 (average age was 46.5). Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore supervised the data collection, which occurred in a laboratory at either the Rhine Research Center or the University of West Georgia.
After each participant completed a background questionnaire, he or she was randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions. These experimental conditions differed in whether participants received an interpretation of each EVP before listening to it. Participants in the no-interpretation condition simply wrote down their interpretations on a form that we provided, one EVP per page. Participants in a second condition saw the investigator’s interpretation of the EVP at the top of each page of the form before interpreting the EVP. Participants in a third condition saw the secondary interpretation (made by the other two investigators) at the top of each page. By having participants listen to the EVP under three different conditions (no interpretation, investigator’s interpretation, or secondary interpretation), we could examine the degree to which knowing others’ interpretations affected what participants reported they heard.
Participants listened to each of the 12 EVP clips through headphones in a quiet research room and wrote down their interpretations. Participants listened to each EVP as many times as needed to decide what the words might be.
Agreement with the Investigator’s and Secondary Interpretations
In deciding whether particular syllables and words in the participant’s interpretation matched the syllables and words in the investigator’s and secondary interpretation, we leaned in the direction of leniency. For example, singular and plural forms of a word were counted as a match (Richard/Richards), contractions were counted as a match with their constituent words (“don’t” and “do not” were counted as a match), and homonyms were counted as a match (weight/wait, their/there, hire/higher). Also, a particular word did not have to appear in the same position in the participant’s interpretation as in the investigator’s or secondary interpretation. For example, “book” would be counted as a match in “now take the book away” and “he should write the book today” even though book is the fourth syllable of the first phrase and the fifth syllable of the second.
The primary question was how many of the words in the investigators’ and secondary interpretations participants heard. Did participants hear the same things as the investigators? The answer depends on whether participants saw an interpretation of an EVP before they interpreted it.
When participants did not see any interpretation before listening to the EVP, they agreed with the investigator’s interpretation on only about 6% of the words (and 10% of the syllables) and with the secondary interpretations on about 8% of the words (10% of the syllables). More discouragingly, among participants who did not learn any interpretations before hearing the EVP, only one participant interpreted an EVP precisely in the same way as the investigator who submitted it. That is, out of 360 interpretations in the no-interpretation condition of the study (30 participants × 12 EVP), only one perfectly matched what the investigator reported. This is obviously a rather low level of agreement.
Of course, agreement differed across the 12 EVP. On the EVP with the greatest agreement, only one participant failed to match at least one word in the investigator’s interpretation. But on the EVP with the least agreement, not a single participant agreed with the investigator’s interpretation!
Agreement also differed across participants. In the absence of knowing the interpretation, the “worst” participant agreed with only 2% of the investigators’ words, and the “best” participant agreed with 14% of the words.
Knowing the investigators’ or secondary interpretations improved agreement markedly. Participants who had seen the investigators’ interpretations reported an average of 23% of the words and 23% of the syllables in those interpretations. After seeing the secondary interpretations, participants’ interpretations matched 27% of the words and 25% of the syllables in those interpretations. Thus, knowing how other people interpreted an EVP strongly influenced what participants said they heard.
Although the results of this study say nothing whatsoever about the nature of EVP, they raise questions about the degree to which we can trust interpretations of most EVP. I imagine that some investigators will find these results exceptionally discouraging. Most EVP enthusiasts are quite aware that people’s interpretations of particular EVP often disagree, sometimes wildly, but the extent of the problem may be more sobering than many imagine.
“Methods, the psychophone and the EVPmaker software methods proved to be highly unreliable, not because they are particularly bad acoustic backgrounds for the production of the voices but because they are undoubtedly a source of uncertainty and ambiguity in the analysis of the results. They can very easily originate pareidolia and/or projection of meaning based upon expectation. Very particularly with the EVPmaker software, it is easy to find “results” in recording-sessions where they do not exist. In addition, an erroneous interpretation of the content of possibly anomalous utterances found in the recording is very likely. Most of the EVP “results,” published in the Internet, fall into one of these categories.”
From:A Two-Year Investigation of the Allegedly Anomalous Electronic Voices or EVP
by Anabela CardosoRepublished from NeuroQuantology | September 2012 | Volume 10 | Issue 3 | Page 492-514
Other investigators may object that the situation is not as dire as the data suggest. For example, some may object that most of the participants in this study were not experienced with recording or interpreting EVP and, thus, the data may say little about the quality of EVP interpretations by experienced investigators. Yet, as noted, the two experienced investigators who provided the secondary interpretations agreed with the investigators’ interpretations on only 11.5% of the words. And the fact that participants who were trying to identify the words in the recordings under controlled circumstances heard only about 6% of the same words as the investigators should give us pause.
In many instances, these disagreements have no practical implications. If investigators on a paranormal investigation of a public location don’t agree on their interpretation of a particular EVP, often no harm is done. However, in cases where other people have a stake in the interpretation—as when grieving parents believe that an EVP is the voice of a deceased child—then interpretations matter a great deal. Like the earlier study, this experiment suggests that investigators should be more cautious in interpreting EVP for other people when the interpretations matter.
With a Ph. D. in social psychology, Dr. Leary is a research psychologist who studies topics related to self-awareness, motivation, and emotion. He has conducted research on topics such as reactions to social rejection, the effects of excessive self-attention, people’s concerns with their social images, and the relationship between personality and behavior. He is on the editorial boards of several scientific journals in social psychology and recently released a psychology course on DVD entitled “Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior.”
“Radio-sweep” is a generic name for EVP thought to be formed using sound produced by sweeping a radio dial. In principle, it produces a form of EVP referred to as “opportunistic EVP.” Please review Locating EVP Formation and Detecting False Positives and Radio-Sweep: A Case Study. Also see the article on page 9: “A Two-Year Investigation of the Allegedly Anomalous Electronic Voices or EVP.”
by Mark Leary, Ph.D. Published in the Spring 2013 ATransC NewsJournal Read Part 1 and Part 2
In the past two issues of the NewsJournal (Winter and Spring 2013), I described two research studies that examined the problem of EVP interpretation. The first study looked at experienced investigators’ interpretations of nearly 100 EVP, and the second one examined lay people’s interpretations of EVP that were recorded using “radio-sweep” techniques. Although no experienced EVP enthusiast will be surprised that listeners disagreed in their interpretations of the various EVP, many will find the exceptionally low level of agreement troubling.
In the first study, only 21% of the listeners agreed on the most common interpretation on average, and many of the EVP showed no agreement across listeners whatsoever. Agreement was even worse in Study 2. When people listened to EVP without knowing what the investigators who recorded them thought the EVP said, they agreed with only 6% of the words that the investigators heard. And, only 1 out of 360 interpretations perfectly matched the investigator’s interpretation. These findings are particularly troubling when we consider that the investigators presumably submitted these particular EVP because they thought that the sound clips were among the best they had recorded.
All EVP investigators know that particular EVP are often interpreted in different ways by different people, yet they often act as if they know what a sound clip actually says. The low rate of agreement in interpretations of EVP is obviously a concern for those who are interested in EVP, so in this article, I will tackle the thorny question of how EVP enthusiasts should deal with this issue.
Why Should We Care?
In many cases, whether an investigator’s interpretation of a particular EVP is “correct” may not matter very much. Those who record EVP as a personal hobby or do paranormal investigations for mere enjoyment don’t harm anyone when they confidently claim to hear something that most other people would not interpret similarly and that, in fact, might not actually be there.
But, in other cases, EVP interpretations have consequences. Most notably, when EVP are presented as the words of a deceased loved one, the messages they supposedly contain can affect people deeply. Simply believing that the words come from a loved one is sometimes reassuring to people, and if the message is positive, it can create great relief. But what about when the words seem to convey a dark or troubled message? How sure should an investigator be about the source and content of a message before delivering it to a deceased person’s loved ones? Similarly, homeowners who believe that their property is haunted sometimes invite paranormal investigators to examine the house, and such investigations often yield EVP. When should an investigator feel confident enough to relay a purported EVP message to the homeowners?
Even when the specific content of an EVP doesn’t matter much, confidently claiming to know what a particular clip says nonetheless seems dishonest and carries the risk of undermining an investigator’s credibility when other people do not hear the same thing. (Paranormal television shows are particularly bad about this, providing interpretations of EVP that are often inconsistent with what viewers themselves hear.)
What Should We Do?
As much as investigators would like all of their EVP recordings to be crystal clear to everyone, they very rarely are. Rather than sweeping this problem under the rug and pretending that EVP are clearer and less ambiguous than they really are, investigators need to address the issue head-on. Below I offer seven recommendations for improving the quality of EVP interpretations.
Don’t Be So Certain. The resounding conclusion from our two studies is that investigators should not be as certain of their interpretations as they often are. Investigators sometimes feel that they have special insight into the EVP they record, but in our two studies, only a very small percentage of listeners agreed with the interpretations given by the people who recorded them. Furthermore, given the low rate of agreement and the tendency for people to overestimate the likelihood that they are correct, investigators should express their interpretations in a cautious, tentative manner that conveys that their interpretation might not be right. Too often, we hear people assert “This EVP says…” when a far more honest and defensible claim would be “I think I hear…” or “To me, it seems to sound like….”
Don’t Share an Interpretation Until Others Listen. All EVP enthusiasts know that people’s interpretations of EVP are sometimes affected by what they think other people hear. In fact, it is often difficult not to hear what someone else said they heard. In our second study (NewsJournal, Spring 2013), we found that agreement with the individual words in an EVP jumped from 6% to 23% when listeners were told what the recording investigator thought the EVP said. The implication is clear: If we want to increase our chances of finding the best interpretation of an EVP, we must allow people to come to their own conclusions before hearing what other people think.
Offer Alternative Interpretations. When listeners suggest different interpretations of an EVP, any interpretation that is independently offered by multiple people must be taken seriously. If the interpretation is being shared with a client – such as a grieving family or the owner of a property that has been investigated – all of the most common alternative interpretations should be presented. It’s okay to admit not knowing for certain what an EVP says and to offer several possibilities.
Calculate an Index of Agreement. Every EVP enthusiast has had the experience of confidently arriving at an interpretation of a particular EVP only to find that no one else agreed with him or her. They have also had the experience of having another investigator claim “This is a Class A EVP” (which, by definition, would be interpreted similarly by everyone) when, in fact, no one else hears the same thing. Since we all assume that our own interpretations are reasonably correct (or, at least better than other people’s interpretations), the only way to find out whether our interpretation is plausible is to have several people – 10 at the minimum – independently listen to the EVP and privately record their interpretation. In this way, an investigator can see the percentage of listeners who agree with his or her interpretation (as well as possibly identify a better interpretation that more people agree with).
But how much agreement should we require before claiming than an EVP says this or that? Each investigator must decide for him- or herself when to share interpretations with others, but let’s consider an analogy to put the problem in perspective. Imagine that your doctor detects symptoms that might or might not indicate that you have a serious illness. How sure would you like the doctor to be before he or she shares a specific diagnosis with you? And if the doctor conferred with other doctors, what percentage of other doctors would you want to agree with his diagnosis of your condition before he reported that you have a particular disease? More to the point, would you trust a doctor who said “I think that you have Disease X, but only about 20% of other doctors agree with me?” That’s roughly the average percentage of agreement that we found in our first study.
Among behavioral researchers (such as research psychologists), the minimum agreement that is considered acceptable before data can be used is 70%. That is, if two independent researchers count, rate or interpret some aspect of people’s behavior, they must agree at least 70% of the time in their ratings or interpretations for the ratings to be reliable enough to use. That figure strikes me as a reasonable criterion. Investigators should not assert that an EVP conveys a particular message unless at least 70% of listeners independently agree.
Interpret EVP Word-by-Word and Encourage Partial Interpretations. As would be expected, the results of our two studies showed that listeners agree on individual words more often than they agree on entire EVP. This suggests that EVP should be interpreted word-by-word (if not syllable-by-syllable), with listeners indicating uninterpretable syllables by an asterisk. In our first, study we had the impression that listeners who interpreted every word sometimes “heard” words that helped a phrase make sense. Listeners should not try to make sense of the entire phrase but rather should simply write down each word that can be interpreted and ignore those that are unclear.
Having a group of people give partial interpretations of only the clearest syllables may collectively provide a good interpretation. Although this idea remains to be tested, I suspect that a group of people who each deciphered only the words (or syllables) that are clearest to them will generate a better interpretation of an EVP than any given person.
Challenge Others’ Interpretations (Gently). Many investigators hesitate to question others’ interpretations when they disagree with them. Most of us do not want to provoke disagreement and conflict, particularly when we know that some people can become rather ego-involved in their interpretations. In addition, knowing how unclear most EVP are, many investigators may disagree with another interpretation yet have little confidence in their own interpretation of a particular sound clip. Yet, failing to indicate when one does not hear another person’s interpretation may give an impression of implicit agreement, leading an investigator to be more confident of his or her interpretation than is warranted.
When challenging an interpretation, the approach should never be “You’re wrong, and I’m right,” because, on average, one’s own interpretation is no more likely to be correct than anyone else’s. Rather, the message should simply be “I’m not sure that I hear that. To me, it sounds more like ….” When such disagreements arise, as they inevitably will, the automatic and default recourse should be to get more independent interpretations, with no effort to pressure people into hearing any particular thing. The goal should be to find the best translation – not to prove that you are right.
Leave Ambiguous EVP Uninterrupted. It’s okay to say “I have no idea what this EVP says.” Particularly when an analysis of agreement across several people shows little or no agreement (as occurred on many of the EVP we used in our studies), the most honest conclusion is that the EVP is uninterruptable. In some cases of uninterruptable EVP, the vocal characteristics may be so pronounced that an investigator will nonetheless conclude that the sound clip is a bona fide EVP, but that it is simply not possible to decipher it (just as one can hear voices through the wall of a hotel room but not understand what they are saying). However, in many cases, the failure to arrive at an interpretation that others independently agree with should lead an investigator to reconsider whether the sound clip is an EVP
Low agreement in EVP interpretations is the elephant in the room among those who are interested in EVP. All investigators know that low agreement is a problem, but they hate to confront it because it casts a pall on the entire enterprise of recording and interpreting EVP. Yet, failing to confront the issue simply creates more difficulties. Consistently acknowledging the agreement problem and encouraging investigators to be honest and cautious in how they assert their interpretations is an important first step. And following recommendations such as those offered here will help to restrain us from claiming more than we actually know.
With a Ph. D. in social psychology, Dr. Leary is a research psychologist who studies topics related to self-awareness, motivation, and emotion. He has conducted research on topics such as reactions to social rejection, the effects of excessive self-attention, people’s concerns with their social images, and the relationship between personality and behavior. He is on the editorial boards of several scientific journals in social psychology and recently released a psychology course on DVD entitled “Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior.”
“Radio-sweep” is a generic name for EVP thought to be formed using sound produced by sweeping a radio dial. In principle, it produces a form of EVP referred to as “opportunistic EVP.” Please review Locating EVP Formation and Detecting False Positives and Radio-Sweep: A Case Study. Also see the article on page 9: “A Two-Year Investigation of the Allegedly Anomalous Electronic Voices or EVP.”
by Mark Leary, Ph.D.
Published in the Winter 2013 ATransC NewsJournal
Read Part 2 and Part 3
Anyone who has listened to even a few EVP recordings knows how difficult they are to interpret. Listeners often disagree, sometimes strongly, regarding what a particular EVP seems to say, which raises questions about the validity of each person’s interpretation. Yet, the usefulness of EVP depends on the degree to which investigators can trust one another’s interpretations of the EVP that they record. Although a great deal has been written about the possible mechanisms that produce EVP and the types of equipment that are most effective in recording them, EVP enthusiasts have devoted far less attention to problems associated with interpreting the sounds that are recorded.
After observing repeated disagreements among investigators (and rarely feeling that the interpretations of EVP on paranormal television shows match what I hear), I undertook a study to examine how serious the problem really is. The study that I conducted had two main goals: to document the degree to which investigators agree or disagree on their interpretations of EVP and to create a means of identifying which interpretation of a particular EVP is most likely to be “correct.”
To obtain a set of EVP for analysis, I contacted a number of paranormal investigators who had conducted systematic investigations at the Ferry Plantation House in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I received over 250 EVP, from which I chose 94 that were among the clearest in terms of having obvious vocal characteristics. These recordings came from eleven investigators who recorded them across seven different investigations. In general, investigators seemed to submit what they viewed as particularly good EVP, all of them recorded without a background noise source.
I then recruited 24 individuals (10 men, 14 women) with paranormal investigation experience to listen to and interpret the 94 audio clips. The raters ranged in age from 29 to 62, with an average age of 46. All but two of them currently belonged to active paranormal investigation groups.
The raters were sent a CD with the audio clips, along with a form for interpreting the EVP and a background information questionnaire. Raters listened to each EVP as many times as needed, wrote down each word that they heard (putting an asterisk for any words they could not understand), indicated any emotion that they detected in the voice, and rated their confidence that their interpretation of the EVP was correct. The background questionnaire asked about raters’ age and sex, their interests and beliefs in the paranormal, and included a brief measure of basic personality dimensions (such as extraversion, emotional stability and agreeableness).
Although we can never know for sure what an EVP “really” says, my analysis of raters’ interpretations was based on the assumption that a particular interpretation of an EVP that is made independently by several people is more likely to be “correct” than an interpretation that is made by only a few individuals. For example, if seven out of ten people who listen to an EVP hear exactly the same words, two other individuals hear a different set of words and the remaining person hears something else entirely, the interpretation on which the seven people agreed would be more likely to reflect the actual sounds than the other individuals’ idiosyncratic interpretations.
Thus, to begin, I determined a “consensus interpretation” for each EVP by counting the number of times that raters reported hearing various words. For example, whatever first word was heard by the most raters became the first word of the consensus interpretation. Whatever second word was heard by most raters was the second word of the consensus interpretation, and so on. In this way, I came up with the most common (or consensus) interpretation for each EVP.
With the consensus interpretation in hand, I then calculated the percentage of raters who agreed with the consensus interpretation. This number could range from 0% (no two raters reported hearing the same thing) to 100% (all raters agreed with the consensus interpretation) and is an index of the degree to which raters independently agreed in their interpretations of each EVP.
Of the 94 EVP, the one with the highest agreement (“What’s going on?”) was listed by 83% of the raters. That is, 83% of the raters listed the consensus interpretation for this EVP. However, the overall agreement for the entire set of EVP was much lower. Across all 94 EVP, average agreement with the consensus interpretation was only 21%. In other words, only about 1 out of 5 raters gave an interpretation that agreed with the most common (and, presumably most “accurate”) interpretation.
When analyzed at the level of particular words rather than the entire EVP, average agreement was 35%. Raters agreed with the most common interpretation of each specific word on about 1 out of every 3 words on average.
Some of the EVP not only had 0% agreement, but the various interpretations sometimes differed wildly. For example, one EVP that had no agreement on any words across raters was interpreted as saying, among other things: “Deep inside there’s a pickup;” “Keep those hidden Mr. Gel;” “He comes out here;” “Go outside and just lean on it;” “Get it tight, got to stretch it;” “Don’t try to persuade them;” “Get us out Mr. Kant;” and “I need the guns out if this is what you’ll do.” These various interpretations do not even contain similar phonemes.
Incidentally, the percentage of agreement with the consensual interpretation can be used as a way of assessing the clarity of an EVP. Historically, investigators have classified EVP as Class A, B, or C depending on how easily listeners can hear a message. But calculating the percentage of people who independently agree with the most common interpretation is a more precise and unambiguous indicator of the quality and clarity of an EVP than classifying it into one of three categories. Every EVP would have a score from 0 (no consensus; this EVP cannot be interpreted) to 100 (complete consensus; this EVP is so clear that everyone hears exactly the same thing).
Raters indicated whether they detected any emotion in the voice. The majority of the EVP (63.5%) had no discernible emotional tone. However, raters indicated that some EVP expressed sadness (9.7%), anger or irritability (8.2%), urgency (7.7%), or happiness (6.3%).
Setting aside the fact that most of the EVP had no emotional tone, when an emotion was detected, on average only 12.7% of the raters agreed that a particular emotion, such as anger or sadness, was present. Thus, raters showed even less agreement in detecting emotion than in interpreting the content of the EVP.
Interestingly, raters’ tendency to hear emotions in the EVP was related to their own personalities. For example, raters who scored higher on the measure of extraversion reported “happiness” in the voices more frequently, raters who scored higher on the measure of agreeableness reported hearing both more “happiness” and more “anger,” and those who scored higher on emotional stability heard more “happiness” expressed. Raters’ interpretations of emotional tone sometimes reflected their own personalities as much as the actual features of the EVP.
For each EVP, raters indicated how confident they were that their interpretation was correct on a 4-point scale (where 1 = not at all, 2 = a little, 3 = moderately, and 4 = very confident). Across all EVP, raters’ confidence averaged between “a little” and “moderately” confident (average confidence was 2.5 on the 4-point scale). To see if raters who were more confident of their interpretations were more likely to hear what other raters heard (the consensus interpretation), I correlated raters’ confidence judgments with the number of their interpretations that agreed with the group’s consensus interpretation. The correlation was rather weak, indicating that being confident that one’s interpretation is correct does not usually reflect that other people will hear the same thing.
Differences Among Raters
I calculated an index of personal agreement that tells us how good each rater was at hearing the most common interpretation. Individual raters agreed with the group consensus between 17% and 35% of the time, with an average of 22%. That is, the “best” rater agreed with the group consensus interpretations on 35% of the EVP, and the “worst” rater agreed on 17% of the EVP. When analyzed at the level of the word rather than the entire EVP, the percent of raters who agreed with the group consensus varied from 31% to 51%, with an average of 38% of the words. So, if we play the average EVP to a large group of people, the average person will agree with the consensus interpretation of the entire EVP 22% of the time but agree with 38% of the words.
I analyzed whether any of the characteristics of the raters mattered in their agreement with the consensus interpretation. Although we might expect that experience with EVP might be related to interpretation ability, the degree to which raters agreed with the consensus interpretation was not related to the number of EVP that they had personally recorded, their years of involvement in paranormal investigations, the number or content of paranormal television shows they watched, basic personality dimensions, their age, or the nature of their beliefs in the paranormal. The only variable that was significantly related to agreement with the consensus interpretation was gender. Women’s interpretations agreed with the consensus interpretation 4% more often than men’s interpretations (24% vs. 20%). I’m not sure what to make of this finding.
Most raters’ interpretations were meaningful phrases, but some gave phonetic interpretations even if they did not make semantic sense. For example, on one EVP for which there was no consensus, some raters gave meaningful interpretations (such as “Hey we sung in the chorus” or “That is so great, Cory”), whereas other raters wrote down what they heard even though it didn’t make sense (such as “Hack me some green course” and “Hey peace and grin Coreys”). Investigators should consider whether imposing meaning on an EVP may lead them to “hear” words that help the phrase make sense but that might be incorrect.
The raters also differed in their willingness to leave blanks. Raters were told to use an asterisk when they couldn’t interpret a particular word. Some raters used asterisks regularly, but others did not use them at all. Given that we can assume that no rater was perfectly confident of every word, those who interpreted words they didn’t understand probably made more misleading interpretations than those who admitted that they didn’t understand certain words.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The results of this study suggest that investigators should be less confidence in their interpretations of EVP than they typically are. On average, the most common interpretation of each EVP was shared by only 22% of other people. And, of course, all interpretations other than the most common, consensual one had even less agreement. In fact, most of the raters’ interpretations were not given by any other listener! Furthermore, raters were not particularly good at judging the correctness of their interpretations. Thus, having the sense that “I’m sure this is what it says” does not indicate that other people will agree with one’s interpretation (or that it is actually correct).
These results lead me to offer four recommendations for the responsible interpretation of EVP:
In light of the fact that any particular investigator’s interpretation of an EVP is not likely to be shared by other people and that people’s interpretations are biased by what they expect to hear, investigators should never interpret an EVP for other people without playing it for them several times and soliciting their independent interpretations.
If the interpretation of a specific EVP is particularly important (such as when it is being interpreted for grieving family members), investigators should use a scaled-down version of the procedure used in this study. Have at least 10 people independently listen to the EVP and determine the consensus interpretation, if any. Then report an interpretation of the EVP to others only if a majority of listeners agrees on that interpretation. In some cases, it may be helpful to report more than one potential interpretation, along with the percentage of people who agreed with each one. Providing listeners with such data is a more honest and responsible way to share EVP than to offer a particular interpretation that might, in fact, be idiosyncratic.
Investigators should be willing to refrain from interpreting ambiguous EVP. Providing a questionable interpretation as if it is certain is misleading, if not sometimes dishonest. Just because an EVP cannot be interpreted does not mean it is not a useful piece of evidence, so investigators should not interpret EVP that are unclear.
Paranormal investigation groups and EVP practitioners should have formal guidelines for the interpretation of EVP that minimize the likelihood that they will offer interpretations of EVP—whether to other group members, clients, or outsiders—that are expressed with greater confidence than the objective evidence warrants. Investigators should exercise greater care in sharing their interpretations of EVP, and procedures should be in place to ensure that clients, other investigators and the public are not inadvertently misled regarding interpretations of an EVP.
With a Ph. D. in social psychology, Dr. Leary is a research psychologist who studies topics related to self-awareness, motivation, and emotion. He has conducted research on topics such as reactions to social rejection, the effects of excessive self-attention, people’s concerns with their social images, and the relationship between personality and behavior. He is on the editorial boards of several scientific journals in social psychology and recently released a psychology course on DVD entitled “Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior.”
“Radio-sweep” is a generic name for EVP thought to be formed using sound produced by sweeping a radio dial. In principle, it produces a form of EVP referred to as “opportunistic EVP.” Please review Locating EVP Formation and Detecting False Positives and Radio-Sweep: A Case Study. Also see the article on page 9: “A Two-Year Investigation of the Allegedly Anomalous Electronic Voices or EVP.”
Radio-sweep technology, popularly known as “ghost boxes” or “spirit boxes,” is examined as a technology used for recording Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP). The results of a session reported in the ATransC Idea Exchange were used for a blind, online listening test similar to previous tests reported in the online ATransCJournal as EVP online listening trials. The generally negative results are reviewed and reasons why the technology may not be suited for trans-etheric communication is discussed.
“Radio-sweep” is a technology that involves rapidly changing the tuning of a radio receiver to produce a sound track composed of bits of sound from whatever radio programming is on the air and from whatever radio station is detected by the radio at the time. In theory, the communicating entity somehow arranges for the radio programming of local stations to be producing the required sounds at the moment they are required and that the sweep will detect those sounds at the right moment to produce the desired message.
Radio-sweep technology, popularly known as “ghost boxes” or “spirit boxes,” has become a popular technology represented by its advocates as a way to record EVP. It can be accomplished by manually tuning a radio, but a number of modified radio receiver devices are now being sold as EVP recording devices ranging from a few hundred dollars to over $1,200. A survey of the literature produced by manufactures indicates that there has been no controlled studies of this technique to establish that it actually produces EVP.
As part of the Association TransCommunication mission to provide guidance to members about trans-etheric phenomena, this technology was examined to evaluate its capability of producing EVP, how it might do this and whether or not it can improve understanding of trans-etheric communication. There have also been frequent complaints that examples of radio-sweep results did not seem to actually contain intelligent information. At the same time, many members have reported great success with the technology, and this dichotomy required that such an evaluation included an examination of our current assumptions about EVP formation.
A companion article, EVP Formation, describes how EVP are thought to be formed and addresses current understanding of how EVP is heard and reported.
Online Listening Test
A study of radio-sweep was conducted using an example considered typical of the technology. This example was posted in the AA-EVP Idea Exchange with the comment:
“I used a Mini-Box and heard”:
Reported EVP: “Big Circle.”
“I asked: ‘Is the Big Circle there?’”
Reported EVP: “Circle, Big.”
Reported EVP: “Is it —-?”
Reported EVP: “Is it?”
Reported EVP: “Might be!”
“Let me know what you hear. I only cut out bits of silence and my first comment to make it fit.”
This example was obtained using one of the Mini-Box radio-sweep devices sold by the apparently defunct Paranormal Systems for $300 (as of early 2009). The manufacturer describes it as “…a useful tool and a new way to establish spirit communications.” The example for analysis was selected because eight of eight members commenting in the thread stated that they heard the example as it was reported.
With the exception of “is it,” which is a clearly enunciated phrase, I was unable to hear the examples as reported. To assure that it was not just my inability to make out the reported message, I broke the example into the same segments reported by the practitioner, and posted them on ATransC.org as a new listening test. They were labeled as “Example 1” (through 5) and an unlabeled text field was provided for the website visitor to indicate what was heard. This same same procedure has been used for previous listening tests resulting in average correct word recognition of 25.2%. See: EVP Online Listening Trials
The test was stopped after forty-one entries were received because a decisive outcome had been obtained. The results were:
Example 1: “Big Circle”— Zero recognized words (%Rw = 0.0%). Common response were “This is Butler,” “puffin” and “buckle.”
Example 2:“Circle, Big” — Zero recognized words (%Rw = 0.0%).
Example 3:“Is it —-?” —Ten of a possible 123 words were reported for %Rw = 8.13%. “It” was reported, but in many different contexts other than what was expected.
Example 4:“Is it?” —Forty-one of a possible eight-two words were reported for %Rw = 50.0%.
Example 5:“Might be!” — Zero recognized words, %Rw = 0.0%. Commonly reported words were “Hi,” “I’m” and “Spring.”
Here is the original sound track.
Examples 1-3 and 5 are mostly sound fragments that would most likely be reported as artifact noise if found in a digital recorder.
Example 4, “Is it,” is composed of two clearly spoken words, and its high %Rw indicates that the listening test works. If such a clearly spoken example did not have a high %Rw, then it would be necessary to question the validity of the test.
The “Is it” segment is a case of a randomly, but naturally occurring sound segment. Story telling is then used to make it seem part of a meaningful response.
The use of short examples has been questioned; however, in the other trials a one-word example scored the lowest while two-word examples did overall as well or better than the three or more word examples. The previous trials indicate that, if there are recognizable words present, then there should be at least a few correctly reported words for each example. See: EVP online listening trials
Radio-Sweep Audio Output
Potential voice and voice-like sounds in radio-sweep includes:
Chaotic sounds that are inappropriately given meaning (sometimes known as Pareidolia).
Clearly spoken words that a practitioner incorporates into a story about the message that is meaningful.
Sounds that invoke meaningful impressions in the practitioner, which are then explained as messages.
Transform EVP formed from the noise produced by the sweep.
Altered Perception and Story Telling
In EVP Formation, a companion article intended to explore how EVP are formed, it is noted that there are a number of ways mundane sounds are mistaken as EVP. The most common way follows the process:
The practitioner asks for information during the recording.
Sounds are heard, either live or on the resulting recording.
The practitioner “hears” what is expected in the sounds.
The practitioner reports what was “heard” and listeners hear what is suggested.
This is not malicious intent, but a natural response to trying very hard to find a particular kind of information in a chaotic signal. This appears to be especially common in if the chaotic sound has a staccato pace, as we have seen the effect in both radio-sweep and EVPmaker output.
The Law of Proximity: Stimulus elements that are close together tend to be perceived as a group. The Law of Similarity: Similar stimuli tend to be grouped; this tendency can even dominate grouping due to proximity. The Law of Closure: Stimuli tend to be grouped into complete figures. The Law of Good Continuation: Stimuli tend to be grouped as to minimize change or discontinuity. The Law of Symmetry: Regions bound by symmetrical borders tend to be perceived as coherent figures. The Law of Simplicity: Ambiguous stimuli tend to be resolved in favor of the simplest.
A reasonable conclusion is that the practitioner heard what was expected. “Big Circle” is an important part of ATransC culture, and hearing this term after asking for someone in the Big Circle to comment is natural, especially considering the low quality of the sound file. The next step would be to imagine a story that would allow what was thought by the practitioner to have been said to make sense. Next, the listeners simply conform by hearing what they are told is present in the recording.
Either the actual sound file had the reported utterances (except for Example 4, it did not), or if not, the practitioner may have intuitively sensed the response. By this I mean that the radio-sweep output could be used as a technology for divination much as other intuitive aids such as Tarot cards or tea leaves. When Tarot cards are laid out for a reading, the practitioner has an array of visual/intellectual cues that can be used to develop a story; but the meaningfulness of the story is largely the result of the practitioner’s intuitive ability. In the same way, a radio-sweep sound file contains audible cues from which a story may be developed, but the meaningfulness of the story would be largely the result of the practitioner’s intuitive ability. In effect, the practitioner becomes an oracle intuitively reading the radio-sweep output.
It should be noted that this observation is not intended to detract from the practitioner’s ability. Other research has clearly shown that various forms of mediumship and/or intuitive sensing are valid techniques for trans-etheric information access. It is not my intention to say that information reported by radio-sweep practitioners is not meaningful or accurate. Methods of evaluating the information content, other than those used in this study, must be used for such a determination.
Radio-Sweep as a Source of Noise for Transform EVP
As discussing in the article, EVP formation, the traditional method for EVP is the recording of the phenomenal utterances by transforming available audio-frequency noise into voice. In fact, it has been shown that virtually any noise is apt to be transformed into voice. The primary output from radio-sweep is noise, and as can be expected, it is common to find examples of transform EVP in the output sound file.
The presence of transform EVP in radio-sweep output is a confounding problem for the evaluation of the technology. Radio-sweep can produce EVP which results in meaningful information; however, the evidence indicates that, when transform EVP is produced using radio-sweep, that technology is being used as a novel way to produce noise for ordinary EVP formation. The radio-sweep output does not appear to be phenomenal in itself.
Transform EVP Formation and Physical Mediumship
To compound the problem of evaluating the veracity of radio-sweep for EVP, it has been noted that some practitioners do produce EVP using the swept dial of a radio as a sound source. The rarity of such practitioners suggests that other processes are involved.
Recent observations indicate that the ideal audio-frequency energy for transform EVP formation is both chaotic favoring human voice frequencies (200 to 4000 Hz) and with many short transients. For instance, a recorder with a lot of noise but without a lot of amplitude changes is not as effective as a recorder with noise that has many perturbations in the noise heard as clicks, pops and very short (stuttering-like interruptions in the noise. As it turns out a very rapidly scanned radio spectrum often produces such noise. For example, the radio-sweep results we have heard reported by some practitioners as EVP, and that do appear to be EVP, have been produced using a manual sweep on a radio with a round tuning dial. Rapidly turning a small tuning dial from stop to stop (probably half a second) results in a sufficiently short “dwell time” on individual stations that only bits of voice are heard, much as if a phoneme file was being used instead of radio-sweep.
EVP produced by radio-sweep should be formed of many voices and music components, yet in the meaningful examples produced by some practitioners, the voice is typically all one person speaking for the entire sweep. This is what would be expected for transform EVP using the radio-sweep noise as a sound source.
Direct Radio Voice (DRV) such as that produced by Marcello Bacci and Anabela Cardoso, meaningful messages are produced from radio broadcast that are thought to have an etheric origin. This is thought to be a form of physical mediumship produced by Bacci and Cardoso using a radio as a sort of high-tech séance trumpet. This is a very rare form of phenomenon that may also be produced by some EVP practitioners.
In other words, some practitioners appear to produce meaningful and reliable EVP using radio-sweep technology. However, once again, the radio-sweep output does not appear to be phenomenal in itself.
Violation of Self-determination
While the idea that we have self-determination or free will is faith-based, it does raise an important question. I am not aware of any instances in which we have been forced to do something by our etheric communicators. In fact, there are many examples in which they seek to protect us. For radio-sweep to be a viable technique for EVP, it seems necessary that programming is exactly as required for the intended message. That implies that radio announcers are forced to speak words that are required for the message. If this is the case, then it is a clear violation of our self-determination. In effect, the radio announcer is forced to say “Hello Tom” at the exact moment a practitioner sweeps the dial past that station if the intended utterance is “Hello Tom.”
Why did eight of eight listeners on the discussion board report hearing what the examples were reported to have said while online listeners did not? Perhaps the suggestion of what will be heard in not so clear sound is all that is needed to entrain the mind of the listener to hear exactly that. This tendency to hear what is suggested is most evident with examples that are of very poor quality. EVPmaker using live voice and radio-sweep examples have such a confusing, staccato pace that they tend to confound the mind, making it difficult to “lock onto” the actual sound stream. The result is that the listener may be forced to depend on instructions for what is to be heard.
The three techniques that have been decisively shown to produce EVP are audio recorder using noise (transform EVP), EVPmaker using allophones and speech synthesis. All three depend on available physical energy and processes for voice formation. This is discussed in the article, EVP Formation. Radio-sweep depends on the availability of the right sound being present at the exact moment the sweep selects that station. In fact, the entities appear to use most efficient methods for communication, and do not routinely make people do things for the sake of communication. We are aware of no precedence indicating that EVP have been formed by first creating physical energy and/or causing physical processes. The only trans-etheric influence we have seen evidence for appears to manifest as the subtle energy usually described as “psi energy.” The processes most commonly influenced by psi energy are random, and in EVP, this is seen as the influence of random noise. There is no empirically demonstrated evidence we are aware indicating the entities are able to cause someone do something in order to communicate via EVP.
It is important to note that when evaluating radio-sweep, it has been demonstrated that the noise produced by the sweep process is sometimes used for transform EVP. As such, it is possible to find a few words formed from the noise, but in this mode, radio-sweep is just an expensive way of producing noise for voice formation.
We have been examining radio-sweep since an ATransC member began working with it years ago. While we have not been able to find reason to think the technology produces EVP, we have found substantial reason to think it does not. Certainly one cannot permanently close the door on any technology, but until properly designed research produces empirical evidence that radio-sweep produces EVP, our policy must be that radio-sweep does not produce EVP as advertised.
“SFINGE” PROJECT by Presi, D. Gullà, G. Gagliardi, G. Lenzi; 2006 Previously published in the Winter 2014 ATransC NewsJournal (Digested by ATransC. See: Interdisciplinary Laboratory For Biopsychocybernetics Research [Defunct])
The research team of Il Laboratorio from Bologna, Italy conducted a two-year long study of well-known Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) operator, Mrs. Lida Russo of Livorno, Italy. The microphone recording method with a commercial recorder with built-in microphone was used by the operator and professional digital devices were used to monitor the sessions. However, only a few anomalous voices of poor acoustic quality were found upon review of Mrs. Russo’s audio tape. Contrary to the expected, the most interesting voices in terms of quantity and quality were recorded on the digital devices operated by Daniele Gullà.
State-of-the art software commonly used for forensic analysis was used for analyses of the resulting voices. This new approach to EVP research was introduced to the world by the researchers of Il Laboratorio and has revealed many structural electroacoustical features that prove the authenticity of these acoustic events, which now can legitimately be classified as linguistic events.
The so-called “paranormal voices or Electronic Voice Phenomena ” have been studied for more than forty years and consist of recorded sounds and/or sounds directly audible through the experimentation equipment. These events can manifest spontaneously or as coherent answers to the questions of the researcher.
This Il Laboratorio study of the anomalous voices is called “Progetto Sfinge” ( English: “Sphinx Project”). In order to understand the reason for this name it is necessary to recall the symbolic meaning attributed to the Sphinx as an unresolved mystery. The application of innovative methods of research, and availability of the latest information technologies, has made it possible to investigate the phenomenon through many different perspectives inconceivable until recent years.
Progetto Sfinge’s principal aim is to document differences in the phonic structure of the anomalous voices as compared with human voices. Where possible, the degree of similarity between a voice attributed to a dead person and the voice when the person was alive was compared. The project’s accomplishment has been possible thanks to a generous contribution of the Swedish Foundation Helene Reeder Memorial Fund.
There are many opinions about the nature of the phenomenon. For some, the voices lack objectivity and are the consequences of psychoacoustic illusions (psycholinguistics). Others, mostly those who had direct experience of the phenomenon, say they are strong evidence of survival.
The perception of acoustic signals as human language, and their subsequent interpretation, is the most critical moment in the understanding of speech. The first consequence of this psychic process is the possible interpretation of the signals in many different ways or, as those who study psycholinguistics define them, events of “interpretative plurality.” Many are the factors that contribute to this critical situation such as the ambiguity and fragmentation of the acoustic events or when the listener has a poor understanding of the language.
Even in normal listening conditions, the danger of psycholinguistic illusion is ever-present in the interpretation of voice. This problem is further stressed by listening to ambiguous sounds when there is the wish to “receive” messages from the other side; perhaps when the listener is under emotional stress due to the loss of a loved one (wishful thinking).
Thanks to developing professional competence and the availability of advanced information technologies, after decades of discussions in favor and against this phenomenon, we decided to undertake interdisciplinary research. This research had the purpose of documenting the existence of the anomalous voices and identifying the characteristics that make them different from human speech. For the first time, the new technology has made it possible to examine the acoustic structure of the anomalous voices to clearly define their characteristics and semantic content.
This phenomenon can no longer be considered an independent occurrence. It must be placed into a Phenomenal System1 grouping “all realities, concrete or abstract, which constitute the background of that event; in other words the elements or the parts (the variables) of physic, biological or psychological nature that are integral part of the event itself.”1
For this reason, our research also investigated the role and personality of the person who recorded the voices. The operator is, in fact, an important part of the experiment, and in the final analysis, of the phenomenon. The psychological and psychophysiological analysis of the operator was conducted by specialists in order to identify possible correlations with the resulting anomalous voices.
The experimentation was to have been accomplished through the technique of microphone recording, usually as adopted by the operator. The voices obtained with her recorder were to have constituted the collected data and the object of instrumental analysis. At the same time, a high quality digital recorder operated by Daniele Gullà was intended to provide a reference recording for comparison.
Two experimental cycles were conducted, the first in 2005 and the second in 2006. Mrs Lida Ceccherini from Livorno, widow of Mr Russo, was chosen as the operator. Most operators in this field prefer to experiment on their own and maintain a kind of reserve while displaying distrust towards the scientific researches who impose boring protocols and careful checks to guarantee the absence of possible cheats. However, with exceptional helpfulness and enthusiasm, Mrs. Russo accepted the invitation to be the operator. To Mrs. Russo goes the gratitude of the Il Laboratorio research team for her great helpfulness, patience and above all, for her exquisite kindness.
Paolo Presi (Project Manager, Supervisor) Daniele Gullà (Forensic Audio-Video Consultant) Giorgio Gagliardi (Surgeon, Psychophysiologist and Psychotherapist) Giuseppe Lenzi (Researcher, session reports)
During the experiments, Mrs. Russo was very anxious to know if Mr. Gullà recorded the voices on his own equipment rather than worrying if the voices had recorded on her recorder. In fact, the advanced equipment we used recorded clearer and more definite voices in comparison with the same result obtained through Mrs. Russo’s commercial tape recorder with built-in microphone. The higher sensitivity of our equipment allowed also the recording of low volume voices without any confirmation of them in Russo’s tape.
This fact highlighted an interesting aspect of the phenomenon which gives great importance to the equipment and to the role of the operator in the context of recording the voices. One of the causes of this occurrence was surely the low quality of the recorder used by Mrs Russo; however, the main factor affecting the results may have been Mrs. Russo’s attitude during the experiments. She had great expectation for the success of the experiments possibly because the positive results would have given a greater significance and credibility to her experiments. For this reason, I believe her focus on our equipment instead of her own can be considered a very relevant element, which demonstrates the existence of possible psychical projections toward our equipment instead of her own tape recorder.
Examination of Mrs. Russo by the psychophysiologist appeared to negatively influenced her psyche, the people constituting the research group and Mrs. Russo’s assistant. In other words, it influenced the whole psychic complex involved in the experimental sessions.
Listening Survey Results and Their Interpretation
An unequivocal interpretation of the results was the main requirement guiding the choice of the samples for analysis. People skilled in listening to EVP provided a first auditory test. After establishing an interpretation of what was said in the examples, an instrumental check was conducted.
The electroacoustic analyses of nine samples displayed the presence of considerable structural anomalies even in those samples that came very close to human voice. These anomalies revealed some spectral components and articulations with noticeable deviations from human standards. In many cases, we found relevant disagreement between the graphic representations generated by the software and the uttered sounds. This can be understood as a possible weak influence of over-glottal resonators or as a partial or total lack of the internal speech-organs (e.g. larynx, velum palatinum, etc). In other cases, the software wasn’t able to virtually reconstruct the vocal tract at all.
There are several remarkable anomalies noticed in the fundamental frequency F0 in the examples, such as frequent absence, fragmentation and anomalous values. Very relevant are the cases of absent fundamental frequency and the presence of inexplicable formants. The formants are frequency bands containing groups of harmonics of the fundamental frequency. They are produced in the vocal tract from the fundamental frequency. The presence of formants is inexplicable if there is no fundamental frequency. Psychoacoustics teaches us that the brain has limited ability to reconstruct the fundamental frequency from the upper harmonics.
Spectrograms make it possible to examine the important function of noise in anomalous voice formation. Although noise is always thought to negatively influence voice formation, analysis of over nine examples showed it has a function. In the absence of the fundamental frequency and in the presence of formants, we noticed how their structures can be shaped as a localized noise thickening with an impulsive and not harmonic trend. (In human voice, the formants are sinusoidal like the fundamental frequency which generates them)
Of great interest is, as shown in the spectrograms, such anomalously shaped formants are located in the same frequency ranges of vowels. Their frequency bands can often be shifted toward a higher frequency range while maintaining their ratio. Many researchers in this phenomenon (Carlo Trajna, Ernst Senkowski, Paolo Presi) agree with the hypothesis that the voices could be generated by a process exploiting the background sounds. This hypothesis finds some objective evidence in how the acoustic signal has been shown to sometimes degrade before the formation of the voice and then return during its utterance. As proposed by Carlo Trajna,2 the voices are formed, not with additional or absorbed energy, but simply by exploiting the energy coming from background noise (impulsive or not) at the time of recording.
This hypothesis would also be confirmed by the changes of Shimmer3 value, which increases in proximity of background noise degradation while Jitter4 value remains constant. This finding means noise modulation is mainly in amplitude and limited in frequency. This feature has been noticed by the physician Alfredo Ferraro, famous scholar of borderline phenomena and practiced radio amateur.5
The Jitter values were altered over all the nine samples analyzed. In the case of human voice, an anomalous value for jitter generally indicates pathology in the speech-organs. In this case, this could indicate acoustic events originated by anomalous speech-organs.
The fact that a low-frequency sound from 1 to 30 Hz was recorded, combined with the voice and frequent saturation of the microphone and detector-amplifier with extremely low frequencies (ELF), suggests further research concerning possible correlation with electric activity of the brain. Related to this is a strong, ELF field detected by Gullà during deep meditative process by a group of volunteers. If confirmed by further experimentations, this could open new researching into the interaction between psi and instruments.
A psychological and psychophysiological assessment is provided by Dr. Giorgio Gagliardi and colleagues [in the full report]. However, it appears that no significant finding was traceable to the voices production process. Mrs. Russo is an emotional person with a high social communication attitude. Her manners are open and sincere and she has always shown a strong desire to share her experiences of contacts with the other dimension. She showed a strong worry and sometimes some anxiety about success in receiving the voices. This worry was stronger in our regards rather than her own recordings. She has a strong faith in the survival of human personality after death and is not conditioned by any religious faith. Surely this strong belief helps the formation of this phenomenon.
The different ways through which the voices can manifest appears to depend on the sensitivity6 of the operator, and where applicable, on the psychic support of the experimentation group. The existence of psychic support of others is confirmed in the psychotemporal model proposed since 1992 by Carlo Trajna.7 Particularly, the presence of deeply interiorized conceptual models combined with expectations that seem reasonable to the operator to activate some unknown psychic channel.
Everyone appears to have this ability to some extent. It could be improved in time by individuals, particularly when a motivated operator regularly practices this kind of experimentation. This quality seems to be supported by a strong inner belief on the possibility to communicate with other levels of consciousness. Since 1985, I called this particular psychological attitude “Inner Attentive Disposition.”
The experimental data obtained from “Progetto Sfinge” provides a biopsychocybernetic interpretation of the phenomenon. In other words, the final effects involve a complex interaction in a mind system. This indicates one or more minds can communicate within the limits of the psychic model of the process held in the operator’s belief system. Such a psychic model would be able to produce physic effects through special action, defined as psychokinetic effect or PK Effect8 in the parapsychological literature.
The fact that different operators obtain voices with different acoustic features, even if they use the same equipment and the same method, appears to be a direct consequence of the different psychic models held by each operator. These different psychic situations would produce different physical effects depending on the model and how it is conceived.
From the electroacoustic analyses performed on the audio samples recorded under controlled conditions, we extracted the acoustic parameters distinguishing a vocal signal. These elements allowed us to identify the phonemes constituting the words we decoded linguistically.
By examining their structures and their anomalies, we were able to assert with documented evidence, that these events exhibit phonetic features associated with the voices. These voices have evident and absolutely original features and are structured and characterized by parameters which deviate from the typical human standards.
The presence of formantic bands, with localized noise strengthening, confers to the voice an acoustic structure close, but not identical, to the human one. The anomalies found where the voices were recorded allow us to affirm the existence of an atypical process of formation which is still today scientifically unknown despite their objective nature.
Definition introduced by Dr. Enrico Marabini in La Biopsicocibernetica – una branca delle scienze dell’uomo – La Mandragora, Imola, 2007.
Carlo M. Traina – Ignoto chiama uomo, Salani, Firenze, 1980.
Shimmer: value defining the amplitude fluctuation of a vocal signal based on an average of measurements over 5 periods of F0.
Jitter: value defining the frequency fluctuation of a vocal signal based on an average of measurements over 5 periods of F0.
Sensitivity: term used to indicate the faculties of an individual which allow extrasensorial perceptions (ESP) and psychokinesis phenomena (PK) called by Biopsychocybernetics “Psi Interaction Phenomena.”
Carlo M. Trajna – Il modello psicotemporale, Istituto Gnosis, Napoli, 1992.
John Beloff hypothesized that psychokinesis could not be a force, energy or physical process, but rather a strange result of a direct connection between our mind, the universe and everything in it. He proposed that this action does not need to be a kind of super energy localized in our mind or body but may be a thing happening in certain circumstances still to be identified; an idea or mental intention which is able to automatically force a physical system to express that idea or intention. To summarize, it would be a final event without the need of further process to make the results intelligible (Presidential Report presented in 1975 to the Society for Physical Research of London).
Editor: The formation of transform EVP (voice formed from noise in a recording device) is a fundamental characteristic of ITC. Understanding how EVP are believed to be formed provides guidance in how to use EVP for communication. This study clearly indicates the importance of practitioner (operator) attention and intention and the availability of suitable audio-frequency energy (noise).
Other studies have indicated that choice of recording device is not as important as the kind of noise available for voice formation, but as a general rule, higher quality recorders (little internal noise) are more dependent on external noise.
As demonstrated with forensic-quality tools, the unusual formation of the voice in EVP, which are clearly understood by experienced listeners, causes difficulty for people who are not experienced with EVP. This fact has been demonstrated in the article: EVP Online Listening Trials.
by Tom Butler Previously published in the Fall 2012 ATransC NewsJournal
A frequent source of consternation for people who are asked to listen to EVP examples is their failure to hear what is reported. It is expected there will be some disagreement between listeners and practitioners. That is the nature of EVP (see Online Listening Study). However, a problem develops when listeners report hearing only noise, and doing so with example after example from the same practitioner when the practitioner insists there are paranormal voices in the examples. The question necessarily must turn to why the practitioner is hearing what others do not.
For this study, sound file containing only noise were presented to ATransC.org online listeners who were told there was only noise and were then asked to report what they heard. The study confirmed the prevalence of people who report hearing “phantom voices.” the study includes a discussion as to why this may be.
The evidence is very clear that there are examples of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) that contain clearly understood messages. EVP are empirically demonstrated phenomena. Yet, a commonly heard complaint is that websites concerned with the paranormal often have examples of EVP that sound like simple noise.
Website visitors have used the contact tool to announce that they are receiving astoundingly long and important EVP, which on close examination, have proven to only contain noise. Yet, others have provided excellent, clearly heard examples. So what is the difference? What leads one person to hear messages where there is only noise while others do not?
The prevalence of this “phantom voices” phenomenon is increasingly evident as more people become involved in EVP. The resulting confusion is seen as an obstacle to useful collaboration amongst practitioners and certainly must warn off potential researchers.
To develop more understanding of the problem of phantom voices, the ATransC conducted an online listening study using two sound files. One contained simple brown noise (emphasis on voice-frequencies) and the other contained broad-spectrum noise modulated with audio pulses that simulate the cadence of speech. It was clearly stated that neither example contained voice. Possible explanations about what might cause a person to hear phantom voices were included above the hearing test and what was in the files was clearly stated.
Of the 111 submissions, 15.3% (17) reported hearing voices in the brown noise file and 27.8% (33) reported hearing voices in the modulated file. That means that 39% (43) reported voice in one or both of the files.
Participants were also asked if they had a history of hearing voices not heard by others. Thirty-six percent (40) of the respondents said that they did. Most indicated they were likely in a hypnagogic state of awareness.
Interestingly, many respondents reported hearing music or musical tones. While hearing music might be an associated characteristic of the phantom voices phenomenon, the question has not been addressed here.
This was an informal study in the sense that there were no controls. Although respondents were asked how the samples were listened to, it is mostly unknown if the samples were heard under optimum conditions. It is also reasonable to ask if respondents would be candid about hearing voices they were told were not present. There is probably a natural selection of respondents which biases the results away from “hearing voices” reports. The website receives nearly a thousand visitors a day and receiving only 111 responses to the study over more than a year suggests that many who might have read the discussion prior to listening to the sound files, and subsequently heard voices, chose not to respond. For the purpose of future study, it is hypothesized that at least 43% might hear voices in sound files which are not present.
The phantom voices phenomenon appears to have a number of possible causes ranging from mental illness to the natural human tendency to make sense of ambiguous stimuli. Mental illness does not appear to be a factor for EVP; however, in the most extreme examples, there does appear to be a complex of common behaviors which may imply a situational fixation on hearing voices. This is addressed below in “Listener Fatigue.”
There are a number of mental characteristics described in the psychological literature that touch on this experience, but hypnagogia seems to be a key concept. It is defined as: Inducing sleep; soporific [sleepiness]; drowsiness preceding sleep; relating to the images or hallucinations sometimes experienced in this state. According to Gurstelle and de Oliveira,1 “…daytime parahypnagogia (DPH) is more likely to occur when one is tired, bored, suffering from attention fatigue, and/or engaged in a passive activity….”
The mind will naturally seek order in chaotic stimuli (see “Perceptual Order” below). The order is apparently based on what is in the person’s memory, so the almost-heard sounds have a familiar feel for the experiencer. A common report received by the ATransC is hearing voices or music for which the source cannot be found or recorded. In most reports, the sounds are described as a distant conversation or the sound of a radio program that can “almost” be made out, but no specific words or songs can be identified. As it happens, the phantom voices are often associated with a person who is distracted by activities that permit the person’s mind to wander. They may also be experienced at the beginning and end of sleep time.
Experiencers often resist mundane explanations, and insist they are experiencing something paranormal.
There are also a number of types of auditory illusions that have been identified. A good article about these is “Audio illusions that will fool your ear (and brain)” by Rich Pell.2 One such illusion is described as “The phantom words illusion,” which is simply the same two words being repeated over and over but time displaced between the left and right channel. This demonstrates how easy it is to hear words and phrases that are not there, and even hear them change, as the brain attempts to make sense of the aural ambiguity. This is a pretty interesting effect!
Perhaps a better term for hypnagogia would be “passive concentration” because the person has focused attention, but not with concentrated awareness. This distraction from the inner chatter of the brain leaves the mind open for unnoticed inputs.
In principle, the hypnagogic state of mind is ideal for our etheric communicators to commune with our otherwise too busy mind. Passive concentration is a spontaneous version of mindful meditation which is a deliberately cultivated technique for communing with one’s inner senses and is an important technique for mediumship. The important point is that we must recognize the part these natural tendencies play in our perception of phenomena.
Apophenia and Pareidolia
Apophenia is a term used in psychology for the mind’s natural tendency to identify patterns where none exist. Pareidolia is a subset of apophenia which applies to finding meaning in sound or images that does not exist. Skeptics love to use these terms to explain away reports of paranormal experiences. When applied to all reports with no examination of the evidence, these terms are, in effect, psychobabble used to explain why people reporting paranormal experiences are imagining things. The term, “apophenia” does not apply to simple cases of misidentification such as a balloon being identified as a UFO or a fellow investigator’s reflection being mistaken as a ghost in a mirror. It applies to the result of the mind’s need to find order in chaos. When presented with information the mind is unable to identify or make sense of, its natural reaction is to offer up the next best fit. If the person is intent on finding voices in noise, the mind will probably offer a likely word or two.
Some reports of the paranormal may be instances of apophenia. The study of things paranormal often involves poorly formed images and hard to understand sound files which must be carefully studied. A person who is unfamiliar with the concept of mediumship, and who does not know it is possible to sense subtle energy, may be inclined to express a natural fear of the dark as a “sense of a nearby evil entity.” Such responses to unfamiliar experiences are not evidence of a psychological flaw, but are natural human attempts to relate to circumstances. The “antidote” is education.
In Gestalt psychology, the whole is seen as being different than the sum of its parts. In this, the observer might find understanding where there is little or no substantiating information. The Gestalt Laws of Perceptual Organization3 also provide possible explanations for the natural human tendency to find order in chaos. They include:
The Law of Similarity: Similar stimuli or elements that are close together tend to be grouped.
The Law of Closure: Stimuli tend to be grouped into complete figures.
The Law of Good Continuation: Stimuli tend to be grouped so as to minimize change or discontinuity.
The Law of Symmetry: Regions bound by symmetrical borders tend to be perceived as coherent figures.
The Law of Simplicity: Ambiguous stimuli tend to be resolved in favor of the simplest.
Clairvoyance or “clear seeing” has become a catchall term for the ability to sense information in subtle energy. This may be in the form of voices, images, smells or a general “knowing.” It is possible that a person might hear voices in a soundtrack containing only noise, via clairaudience, if none are physically present. However, in the study of EVP, the voices are either physically there or they are not. If they are there, then others should be able to experience them. They are objective, meaning they have physical form. Understanding this point is central to the study of how transcommunication is experienced.
EVP practitioners spend a lot of time listening to often noisy audio recordings. The expected EVP are usually mostly hidden by the noise and one must listen very carefully to distinguish them. Once isolated, the paranormal utterances are usually Class C, meaning they are not very easily understood. This makes it necessary for the practitioner to concentrate and listen to the sound segment many times. This situation is a formula for noise to be mistaken as anticipated EVP.
The first documentation of EVP was in 1959 and the phenomenon remains poorly understood today. Fundamentally, the examples are just sound tracks usually containing a lot of noise and a few, often poorly formed words.
With proper training, usually gained by trial and error, with feedback from friends or people on the ATransC Idea Exchange, the practitioner learns to recognize the difference between actual voices transformed out of background noise and imagined messages. However, in cases in which this learning has not occurred, practitioners have been known to find meaning which does not exist in the noise. For all of the reasons one might propose to explain this, the most available means of avoiding problems with phantom voices is education.
This study should provide a sense of how common it is for individuals to mistake mundane information as something paranormal. The phantom voices effect is not unique to EVP, but can be seen in virtually all forms of transcommunication including visual ITC and mediumship. While this report addresses what has been called here, “phantom voices,” the larger phenomenon might be referred to as a form of hyperlucidity as the experiencer’s mind goes to extremes in an attempt to assign meaning.
Gurstelle EB, de Oliveira JL., Daytime parahypnagogia: a state of consciousness that occurs when we almost fall asleep, William Paterson University, Wayne, nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14962619, Reviewed 5-3-2012
A common explanation for Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) is that the reported utterances are mundane sounds mistaken as voice forming words. This report describes three online listening trials that were conducted to determine whether or not website visitors can correctly identify words that are thought to be EVP by listening to unmarked sound files.
A second consideration is that it is a popular wisdom amongst EVP practitioners that one must learn to correctly understand EVP. A variety of approaches were tried to test this theory, including polling experienced listeners, using questions in an attempt to assess interest and predisposition to believe in EVP and asking participants to indicate experience in hearing examples. Analysis of the trials is included, along with an assessment of the reliability of the results.
When the total number of words correctly recognized for the three trials is compared to the possible number, the overall percent Recognized words (%Rw) is 25.2%, indicating that at least some EVP do constitute recognizable words.
Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) is defined as voices found in recording media, for the presence of which, there is no apparent physical explanation. Lacking a physical cause for the utterances, the working hypothesis most popularly proposed to explain them is the Survival Hypothesis.1 Specifically, that a person is a nonphysical Self (sometimes referred to as the personality, point of view or consciousness) in a symbiotic relationship with a physical body, and at the moment of death of the physical body, the Self is free to “return” to its more natural nonphysical environment. The hypothesis further holds that there is a nonphysical aspect of reality in which the survived Self exists, and from which it is able to communicate “back into” the physical via the mediumship of a still physical person, either technology augmented or via the human channel.
Alternative explanations for EVP which depend on physical principles include naturally occurring sounds mistaken as voice, real but mundane voices in the environment (voice contamination), radio frequency contamination, technology artifacts and sound file processing errors (processing artifacts). Super-PSI explanations that do not depend on the Survival Hypothesis include “echoes of the past” from residual mental energy that is stored in an as yet undefined quantum field and the recording of thoughts of the living. An emerging theory is that the practitioner and/or an interested observer creates an expected reality (experimental result), which is then mistaken as a trans-etheric influence.
Analysis of these theories is beyond the scope of this paper but they are briefly addressed in the Association TransCommunication (ATransC) article, ITC White Paper.2 This paper is written with the assumption that EVP exist but how or why they exist is not addressed, nor is the question of their paranormality other than in the context of what is known about their nature.
Statement of Question 1: That EVP are ordinary sounds mistaken as voice is described as “pareidolia,” which is defined as “the erroneous or fanciful perception of a pattern or meaning in something that is actually ambiguous or random.”3 There can be little doubt that people do sometimes inappropriately assign meaning, but by definition, EVP is not pareidolia; however, for this statement to be true, then words reported in EVP must be distinguishable as words. Further, there should be some measure of agreement amongst listeners as to what is said.
Question 1: Can words in EVP be correctly identified by a website visitor without guidance.
Answer Format: A consistent measure of correctly identified words (Recognized words = Rw) greater than zero would indicate that at least some parts of the example EVP are real words.
Statement of Question 2: EVP are not formed with a biological system, but are formed in novel ways that produce sounds that represent words; they are simulated words. The words are often so arranged that they are not recognized as language without prior training. The assumption of these trials is that website visitors are “average” people ranging in experience listening to EVP from novice to expert. If the result of Question one is affirmative, then there should be a measurable difference in %Rw between novice listeners and experienced listeners.
Question 2: Is there an increase of %Rw with increased experience hearing EVP examples?
Answer Format: People who are experienced in listening to EVP should produce measurably higher %Rw.
Factors Influencing How EVP is Understood
The words of EVP should not be thought of as being formed by a biological system. Analysis has shown that they are simulations of words, and because of an often imperfect simulation, they are not understood in the same way as the same words spoken by a physical person. Because of this, some experienced practitioners have speculated that correctly hearing EVP is a learned ability.
Unusual Arrangement of Formants
It is fairly standard practice to classify EVP examples according to how easily they are correctly understood. A Class A voice can be heard and understood over a speaker by most people. A Class B voice can be heard over a speaker, but not everyone will agree as to what is said. A Class C voice is difficult to understand under any condition. An utterance may have one or two clearly understood words. Loud does not equal Class A. The majority of examples are Class C, and probably only one in several hundred are Class A.
The problem with this classification system is the assumption that all listeners have the same ability to understand the words in EVP. However, experience indicates that hearing the utterances is something of a learned ability and understanding them is not unlike learning a new language. That is, the words in EVP are formed in novel ways that often confound an untrained listener. This observation lacks the support of clinical studies, but there are a number of studies and learned opinions which may provide reference for further study.
Novel Voice Formation
Analysis of the voices by the Italian research group, Il Laboratorio4, indicates that the fundamental voice frequency is often distorted or missing in the utterances, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 2 includes illustrations created by forensic-quality software used by Daniele Gullà at Il Laboratorio. The software creates illustrations showing probable shape of a mouth when speaking particular sounds. The software will sometimes fail to properly determine the shape of the mouth necessary to form some of the sounds in EVP.
An important characteristic of EVP is that they are energy limited; they are typically only a few words and appear as packets of audio energy with about the same average power in the waveform. This is a generalization, but examples are often encountered in which short utterances (one or two words) are relatively loud while longer ones (four or five) tend to be a little quieter or loud with a trailing-off or garbled enunciation at the end. Extraordinarily long utterances tend to be delivered as concatenated packets of words with evident pauses between packets, as if energy is being gathered between efforts. In some cases, different speakers will finish a concatenated utterance, or several speakers might speak in unison, as if sharing energy to “get through.”
Figure 3 provides an example of an EVP which is delivered in two packets with an evident pause between packets. At left is the waveform view of the same example shown at the right as a spectral view. The first packet (region 1 in the spectral view) is most easily understood, while the second (region 2) seems to be better enunciated, but is not as easily understood. The second may be a different person attempting to assist the speaker, or alternatively, the single speaker may have achieved more control over the “circuit.”
Region 3 (right end) is a physical person speaking. The EVP would be characterized overall as a Class C. but Region 1 would be considered a Class B. If you look at the spectral view of the same sound file, you will see that area 3 shows definite formant formation while area 1 does not and area 2 is partially defined. The formant levels are indicated by the white hash marks on the right side of the frame. Area 1 is thought to say, “I’m fine” while area 2 is thought to say “love you mom.” I can make out the “I’m fine” quite well, but not the area 2 and certainly not the woman’s quiet voice, even though you see the voice is well defined.
Parenthetically, another point illustrated in Figure 3 is that, when there are clearly defined formants in an EVP, it is possible to put the signal through a low pass filter and take out some of the formants. Doing so usually does not hurt physical speech, but it can change how an EVP is understood. Also, as is noted above, noise reduction tools (not filters) use a sample of the waveform to build a profile, which is then used to selectively remove those frequencies by amplitude. If the utterance is formed from the noise, then in some cases, the utterance is removed or is altered to be interpreted as having a different meaning. So yes, it is possible to cause processing artifacts with inappropriate processing of the sound file, although such processing does not produce an utterance unless it is someone trying to find voice in a near-zero-level, flat-line waveform. In that case, it is possible to make radio-frequency contamination audible.
Hearing with Templates
Alexander MacRae has proposed a possible explanation for why some people have difficulty hearing and understanding EVP.8 In part, he explains that:
My article on hearing with templates makes the point that what we hear is not necessarily the same as what we are listening to. And then the point is made that templates are used in all recognition processes, whether recognizing phonemes (elements of words), patterns of phonemes which are words or patterns of words which are phrases. What you actually “hear” is the template. You can also hear all the other noises that are part of what you are listening to, but what you actually “hear” is the template that best fits the sound pattern.
If you listen to a sequence of phonemes that you have never heard before, for instance, “Gelarumipalat,” which is not a word in the languages that you understand, which does not have Latin, Greek or Germanic roots, what you will hear is a sequence of phonemes, pure and simple. If you listen to a recognized sequence of phonemes such as “angry,” you hear a word. And if you listen to a sequence of known words in a recognized sequence such as, “I am so angry!” what you “hear” is a meaning.
What you listen to and what you hear can be different things. There has to be a distinction, therefore, between EVP that is so good it is close to normal speech in good listening conditions which I call A-type EVP, and EVP that is not that good which I will call that B-type EVP. They are both EVP but they have different behavioral characteristics.
With B-type EVP:
Different people may hear different things;
What is heard using headphones may be different from what is heard using a speaker;
What is heard when one is told what it is, may be different from what one heard before being told what it is; and,
What one hears at one time may be different from what one hears at another time.”
The point is that the EVP researchers are identifying important reasons why EVP are not heard as normal speech. Novel voice formation and missing timing cues that confound the mind are just two of the reasons an average person might think that an example of EVP is just noise, or at best, gibberish. If known problems of missing context, noise contamination and utterances that are spoken too softly or too fast are considered, then there begins to be a case for treating hearing and understanding EVP as a learned ability, not very different than learning a new language.
As it applies to psi phenomena, the experimenter effect refers to the influence a “believer” has on the outcome of a process. The hypothesis is that, if the experimenter expects a positive result, it is possible that he or she might psychically facilitate that result. The reverse is true of those who are not “believers.” If there is a psi aspect of EVP, then this same hypothesis should be considered.
The experimenter effect suggests that the person participating in the listening trials might be an unreliable listener because of a predisposition to believe or not believe.
Agnosia: Loss of the ability to interpret sensory stimuli, such as sounds or images. (American Heritage Dictionary). Agnosia was once considered a rare condition, but since the work with inattention blindness, it has become clear that it is much more common than previously thought. An audio form of agnosia is also recognized, and what might be referred to as incredulity blindness should be considered in the analysis of listener ability to hear EVP. That is:
Incredulity blindness: A category of inattentional agnosia or inattentional blindness, in which an audio or visual example of a phenomenon is not experienced because it is so foreign to a person’s worldview. There are at least two forms of the experimenter effect. One is the difference in experimental results collected by “believers” and “skeptics.” The second is due to the difference in results reported between a “believer” and a “skeptics.”
Effective Listening Technique
Website visitors volunteer to participate in the listening trials, but do not necessarily agree to follow the recommended procedure for listening to an example. As suggested in the introduction to the examples “…an excellent technique for examining a possible utterance is to select the suspected wave form and listen to it many times. If words are present to be understood, the listener’s mind will sometimes, eventually recognize them.” They are also asked to use headphones, rather than listening via speakers.
This technique is used with an audio management program such as Audition, or the open source, Audacity. Most people experienced with EVP use a similar program, and as is shown in Figure 3, variations in the waveform are suggestive of utterances, so it is easy to select one pulse of the waveform and listen to it many times using the “Loop” feature. Once a word “emerges” into my awareness, it is easy to hear it later when listening to the entire file. In effect, the person learns how to understand words as formed by that communicator.
As of July, 2007, the Association TransCommunication (formally AA-EVP) website received an average of fifteen hundred unique visitors a day, making it an ideal platform for conducting online EVP listening experiments. Also, the site ranks high in search engines, assuring that both people seriously interested in EVP and the idly curious will find the page hosting the experiment.
The basic protocol utilizes a web page inviting website visitors to listen to audio files labeled with just the word, “Example” and a number. Visitors were asked to type what they heard in an unlabeled text field. This information was sent to an email address and also to a database on the website server.
A conscious effort was made to allow very little tolerance for what was considered a correct interpretation of the examples, and other than as noted below “almost right” words were generally not accepted as correct. The number of words contained in the examples ranged from one to seven words and each word was counted as a possible hit or miss. Allowance was given for the way words are commonly heard or reported. For instance, “Shut up” was counted as one word, because that is the way it is commonly heard, “spirit” and “spirits” were equally accepted, but “I’m” was not accepted when it was supposed to be “We’re.”
The resulting database was manually tallied based on the number of words correctly reported for each example by each participant. Data is not available for how likely any one word in the English language is to be guessed in any single attempt. However, it is predictable that some words are more likely to be guessed than are others, especially if the participant has previously listening to EVP examples on the Internet. For instance, words like “the” and “is” are commonly found in phrases, as are “I,” “I’m” and “we.” Names are often in EVP examples, and some names are more common than others. For these reasons, no effort was made to evaluate the responses based on deviation from chance guessing of words. Instead, a straightforward count was made to establish average percentage of correctly reported words, compared to the total number in the example multiplied by the number of entries.
Normalizing Quality of Examples
Some examples are simply harder to understand, and so, a means of predicting how hard an example is to understand would be helpful for the analysis of the results. In an attempt to establish this measure, participants were asked questions designed to determine their experience in hearing EVP or inclination to believe in their validity as natural phenomena. The intention was to find a way to say that this participant has, say a skill level of five on a scale of one (beginner) to ten (expert), and the %Rw for the person was n%. Then to compare all entries for that example versus average skill level to establish a quality index for the example. Overall, this was not successful, although the data is provided and comments have been made for each trial.
Five examples thought to be Class A were used. In an effort to avoid recognition by participants, they were selected because they were not widely used. Participants were asked to select from the following options:
Please select one or more the following descriptions that best describes you:
I have studied EVP and believe they are caused by discarnate people.
I have studied EVP and believe that there is a physical explanation for them.
I consider myself a skeptical person when it comes to the paranormal.
I have been academically trained in the sciences.
I am academically trained but not in the sciences.
There was a problem in determining the number of correctly identified words as compared to the participant’s background because participants were able to select more than one response. While the raw data contains this information, it was generalized as:
I have studied EVP and believe they are caused by discarnate people.
I consider myself a skeptical person when it comes to the paranormal.
I consider myself a skeptical person when it comes to the paranormal and I am an academically trained scientist
I have been academically trained in the sciences.
I am academically trained but not in the sciences.
No background marked.
The responses were stored on the internet and also delivered via email to my computer. (The raw data is available for analysis on request.) In the first experiment, a response came as (actual-typical):
Example 1: shut up vicki good job vicki Example 2: we can’t go in the Example 3: the voice is mine Example 4: hi ,mom Example 5: big speech from the mommy Studied evp and believes evp: Studied evp and believes physical: Skeptical: Skeptical Scientist: Trained Scientist Layperson: Remote Name: nn.nnn.nn.nn Remote User: Date: 08 February, 2007 Time: 11:59 AM
After one hundred “qualified” responses, the experiment was stopped because of the time required for processing the results and because there was an almost exponential increase in attempts to sabotage the experiment with misleading responses. Judging by the “Remote Name” (IP address), after indicating they were skeptical, some were coming back a second time, saying they had studied EVP and believed it to be phenomenal and then typing random characters in the response field. All duplicated responses were discarded.
“Qualified” respondent actually wrote a response for at least one example, and the response was something other than random characters. Blank entries for individual examples were counted as a “miss” as long as there was some form of response for at least one example; however, entries with no attempted word identification for all five examples were discarded.
The five examples included nineteen words. Example 1 sounds as if it was “Shutup Viki” repeated twice, rather then the actual “Shutup Vicki, just shutup Vicki.” Many gave the correct first half and the assumption was made that the second half was mistaken as a repeat. (Repeating the example in the same recording is a common practice.) As previously noted, “shut up” was counted as one word because that is pretty much the way it is heard. Thus, a “shutup Viki” response was counted as four words because we feel the participant assumed a repeat. Other decisions made for judging correct word identification included:
“Were” is okay for “Where’s”
“Sticky,” “Dickey” or “Becky” was not counted for “Viki” but “kiki” was
“Than” is accepted as “thanks” but “Think” was not accepted
“Hay” was accepted for “Hi”
“Mommy” was not accepted for “money”
“Bob” was not accepted for “mom”
Trial 1 Results
There were ninety-six “qualified” responses resulting in a possible 1,824 words. There were 612 correctly recognized words (Rw) or ”’overall %Rw = 33.6%”’. Based on how participants answered the profile questions:
I have studied EVP and believe they are caused by discarnate people.
%Rw = 40.9% (35.4% of participants (34 people))
I consider myself a skeptical person when it comes to the paranormal.
%Rw = 28.0% (32.3% of participants (31 people))
I consider myself a skeptical person when it comes to the paranormal and I am an academically trained scientist.
%Rw = 20.0% (5.2% of participants (5 people))
I have been academically trained in the sciences.
%Rw = 27.4% (5.2% of participants (5 people))
I am academically trained but not in the sciences.
%Rw = 28.3% (13.5% of the participants (13 people))
No background marked.
%Rw = 38.2% (8.3% of the participants (8 people))
“Shutup Vicki just shutup Vicki” recorded by Viki Talbott (5 words).
Possible 480 words (96 x 5) with 247 words correctly identified or %w = 51.5%.
“We keep looking for peace” recorded by Lisa Butler (5 words).
Possible 480 words (96 x 5) with 69 words correctly identified or ”’%Rw = 14.4%”’.
“Where’s mom” recorded by Martha Copeland (2 words).
Possible 192 (96 x 2) words with 85 words correctly identified or ”’%Rw = 44.3%”’.
“Hi mom” recorded by Teri Dabber (2 words).
Possible 192 words (96 x 2) with 84 words correctly identified or ”’%Rw = 43.8%”’.
“Thanks, thanks for the money” recorded by Vicki Talbott (5 words).
Possible 480 words(96 x 5) with 127 words correctly identified or ”’%Rw = 26.5%”’.
A second listening trial was conducted in an effort to better establish an average for %Rw and to determine whether or not it was possible to relate ability to hear to background. Five examples thought to be Class A were used, along with one example spoken by a physical person. Once again, they were selected because they were not widely used, in an effort to avoid recognition by participants.
Background information: The background information participants were asked to provide was different from Trial 1 in an effort to find a more useful way to profile the participants. They were asked:
Identifying the mundane utterance: Near the end of the trial, participants were told that one example was mundane and participants were ask to use a provided check-boxes to indicate which one they thought was mundane.
Testing for response fatigue: The number of correctly recognized words (Rw) for example six was unexpectedly low so examples one and six were reversed during the trial to see if the Rw world changed. Such a change in Rw would seem to indicate that participants were experiencing “fatigue” in trying to listen to so many examples.
The EVP, “It’s Jamie” had a %Rw of 56.6% when it was Example 1 and a %Rw of 62.3% when it was Example 6. The differential is 5.7% with a gain for being the last example.
The EVP, “I survived” had a %Rw of 22.5% when it was Example 1 and a %Rw of 27.4% when it was Example 6. The differential is 4.9% with a gain for being the last example
Response format: As in Trial 1, the responses were stored on the internet and also delivered via email to my computer. (The raw data is available for analysis on request.) A response came as:
Normal Speech: Yes 4 Example 1: jeremy Example 2: im flying Example 3: we come to get roxanne Example 4: this feels weird Example 5: you’re crazy Example 6: im in your barn Education: Subject of education: Background in evp: Have studied a little Opinion about evp: May provide proof of survival after physical death Spam control: 2 B1: Submit Remote Name: nn.nn.nnn.nn Remote User: Date: 07 July, 2007 Time: 05:52 PM
The same rules were applied to grading correctly reported words in Trail 2 as was used in Trial 1. For instance:
Any word that began with a “J” and ended with a “m” and a “ie” ending, such as “y” or “e.”
Not accepted: Words like “Jane” and “Jenny.”
“I’m” was not accepted for “I”
“Survive” was accepted for “survived”
Trial 2 Results
The mundane example “Will you tell me the grump’s name?” was not counted in the tally. The maximum number of responses for the remaining five was 217, but as few as 184 were counted in one example because some participants made no entry. Overall, there was a possibility of 2,844 recognized words. 855 words were recognized for an average of 30.1% (Overall %Rw = 31.0)
“It’s Jamie” recorded by Ginny Sawyer (2 words).
Possible 434 words (217 x 2). 249 words were correctly identified or %Rw = 57.4%
“It’s Frank” recorded by Karen Mossey (2 words).
Possible 426 words (213 x 2). 207 words were correctly identified or %Rw = 48.6%
“Will you tell me the grump’s name?” recorded by Martha Copeland (7 words). This is a mundane voice spoken by Martha Copeland. Possible 1365 words (195 x 7). 449 words were correctly identified or %Rw = 32.9%
“We’re still in spirit” recorded by Vicki Talbott (4 words).
Possible 832 words (208 x 4). 191 words were correctly identified or %Rw = 22.9%
“Tell her it’s Satan” recorded by Martha Copeland (4 words).
Possible 736 words (184 x 4). 102 words were correctly identified or %Rw = 13.9%
“I survived” recorded by Martha Copeland (2 words).
Possible 416 words (208 x 2). 106 words were correctly identified or %Rw = 25.5%
Trial 3 was an attempt to determine whether or not it was reasonable to ask participants to estimate their previous experience in listening to EVP examples. Participants were also asked to identify any organization with which they were affiliated. This question was intended to permit identification of a control group, such as a teacher’s students or members of the ATransC. All examples were recorded using an audio recorder as transform EVP (transformation of available noise into words), except for one recorded using the radio-sweep method as an opportunistic EVP (just in time sounds selected to form words). See Locating EVP formation and detecting false positives. (Radio-sweep is accomplished with a modified radio popularly known as “ghost boxes” or “spirit boxes.”)
Response format: As in the other trials, the responses were stored on the internet and also delivered via email to my computer. (The raw data is available for analysis on request.) A response came as:
Example 1: NO ONES HELD ME Example 2: ROB IS PEEKING CAN HE HELP THAT Example 3: THIS IS SOOO DIFFICULT Example 4: HEAVENS THE BEST Example 5: YOU SHOULD MOTHER _ _ _ _ A Example 6: HELLO Posit science results: 7.25B Organization: AAEVP Experience: 8 Spam control: 2 B1: Submit Remote Name: Remote User: xx.xxx.x.xxx Date: 02 February, 2008 Time: 08:08 PM
IP addresses were examined and multiple entries from the same IP were deleted, except in the instances in which the reported words were identical. In identical, duplicated entries, only one was counted; the assumption being that the duplicate was accidental.
The same rules were applied to grading correctly reported words as was used in the other trials, so that:
Death was accepted for dead
Catherine was accepted for Cathy but not captain
McTaulk not accepted for talking
Shaw, Sha, Shraw, Shah and Saul were accepted for Shawn but not Sean, Sal or Saw
Talk was accepted for Talking
Help was accepted for helping
Death was accepted for dead
Merrill was accepted for Marilyn
Words like Kevin not accepted for Cathy
Help me was not accepted for Helping but was given one word for help
Weak was accepted for Week but not speak
Trial 3 Results
results of your test below, but this is optional.197 entries were accepted for a possible 4,334 words to be recognized. 804 words were correctly recognized for an average of 18.6% (Overall %Rw = 18.6%).
“Joeys helping” Recorded by Margaret Downey. 2 words, had a possible 394 possible (2 X 197), 121 words were correctly identified or %Rw = 30.7% 42 responses were “Someone help me” or close variation of this.
“Not this week. We can help” recorded by Margaret Downey. 7 words (Radio Sweep) had a possible 1,379 possible (6 X 197), 34 words were correctly identified or %Rw = 2.5% “Have to speak” or “Do I have to speak,” was a common response. There were 100 “speak” responses, and if “speak” had been accepted for “week,” %Rw would be %Rw = 9.7%
“This is Shawn talking” recorded by Margaret Downey. 4 words, had a possible 788 possible (4 X 197), 343 words were correctly identified or %Rw = 43.5% 7 responses were “This is so difficult” and 6 were “This is from the top.” “This is” accounted for most of the hits for this example.
“Cathy, you’re dead” recorded by Margaret Downey. 3 words, had a possible 591 possible (3 X 197), 216 words were correctly identified or %Rw = 36.6% 60 responses begin with “Kevin.”
“You should never step out” recorded by Lisa Butler. 5 words, had a possible 985 possible (5 X 197), 83 words were correctly identified or %Rw = 8.4% 40 responses began with “This is” and 20 began with “we should,” “said” or “shall.”
“Marilyn”recorded by Lisa Butler. 1 word, had a possible 197 possible (1 X 197), 7 words were correctly identified or %Rw = 3.6% 6 responses were “Hell,” 56 were “Hello,” 20 were “Help” and 16 “Sarah.”
Experience Hearing EVP vs. %Rw
This plot shows the distribution of (self-reported) experience and %Rw. Each the number in each point represents the number of entries represented. The average experience level is about 3.6 with an average %Rw = 20.3% The two numbers for experience level 10 is without and with (second number) the single result of fifteen correctly recognized words. (The total numbers reported here deviates from the overall average because some people failed to indicate estimated experience.)
The graph does not include entries that did not offer an experience level.
If understanding EVP is a learned ability, then an improvement in %Rw should be seen with more experience. But as can be seen in the table below, the %Rw is almost flat. one possible explanation for the lack of improvement may be the human nature tendency to overestimate personal ability. It is difficult to know how much experience one has, or how “good” one has become in listening to EVP when interested people are so few and far in-between. For this question to be properly asked and answered, it appears that a standardized hearing and experience tests would need to be administered before the actual listening trials are conducted.
Posit Science Results
As a way to evaluate how well participants hear voice in noisy environments, we asked participants to take the Posit Science Speech in noise” hearing test (No longer available) You will be asked for the results of your test below, but this is optional.
Nineteen people reported a Posit Science result. -15 is the best possible result. The average was -6.8 with an average %Rw = 19.4%. Overall, participants had a %Rw = 19.4%, indicating that hearing ability alone is not a major factor in the ability to understand EVP.
Question 1 was to test the pareidolia hypothesis, and if %Rw was greater than zero, to establish parameters for how EVP are heard. Whether or not EVP are mundane sounds mistaken as voice should be able to be determined by whether or not sound files thought to be EVP can be heard to say what EVP experiments think they say. With an average percent recognized words or %Rw = 36% for Trial 1, %Rw = 30% for Trial 2 and %Rw = 18.6% for Trial 3. Based on total number of words recognized for all three trials, the overall average of %Rw = 25.2%, it seems clear that at least the examples used in this exercise are composed of sometimes intelligible words, and therefore, are not figments of an experimenter’s imagination.
17 examples (One mundane voice and one radio sweep, the rest are transform EVP made with a plain old recorder.)
9,002 possible words
2,7271 words correctly recognized.
25.2% Overall %Rw
Question 2 addressed the idea that EVP are formed in novel ways that produce sounds that represent words, and that the words are often so arranged that they are not recognized as language without prior training.
In Trial 1, people who indicated that they have studied EVP scored a %Rw of 40.9% (34 people), as compared to 28.4% for the other participants combined (62 people). This is a difference of 12.5%
In Trail 2, people who have recorded EVP had a %Rw of 33.0% (14 people) while the people indicating having no experience with EVP scored 21.9% (79 people) for a difference of 11.1%.
In Trial 3, %Rw based tallied by self-reported experience levels was nearly flat from no experience to considerable experience.
The results of Trial 1 and 2 seem to indicate that learning does improve performance, which seems to support the hypothesis that one reason people new to EVP often report hearing EVP as just noise is that they have not learned to hear the utterances. However, participants were asked in Trial 3 to estimate their experience in hearing EVP, and for the most part, reported experience versus %Rw did not support the self-hypothesis that learning is required.
Cooperation of the Participants
During the first trial, the editors of Wikipedia active in the EVP article at the time were told that there was a trial under way. Directly after that, responses began to be received that were first marked as being from a skeptical person and then the same IP came back one or more times marked as being from a “believer.” The responses also changed from an apparent honest effort to hear the words to mere random typing or obviously wrong responses. This escalated so that it was necessary to discontinue the trial when the majority of responses were of this nature. Wikipedia is controlled by editors who are ideologically in line with and strong defenders of mainstream science.
Single responses cannot be excluded just because it seems that there was no honest effort to hear the words; however, when there is more than one entry for a single IP, all entries associated with that IP were discounted, even when their %Rw was high. A negative of this policy is that some IP addresses are associated with publicly accessed computers, such as in libraries and schools.
The one exception to discounting responses with duplicated IPs is when the response itself is both consecutive and identical, in which case it was assumed that a mechanical error occurred and the first response was retained while the second was discounted.
A second form of vandalism comes in the form of unreasonable interpretations of an example. In the waveform shown here, changes in amplitude corresponds with the utterance–first part anomalous and the last part mundane. An interpretation of what is said should have some correspondence with the number of amplitude pulses, especially as seen in the spectral view at the right. In other words, if the listener makes an effort to hear what is said, what is typed in the response field should at least approximate the number of sound pulses, even if the typed words are not correct. There were many responses containing far too many syllables to be seriously related to the example. Yet, it is necessary to count such responses because there is no overriding reason to assume vandalism. This does, however, reduce the usefulness of the overall trial.
Wrong Words Reported
An intriguing result of these trials is that the wrong word is sometimes more often reported than the right word. This was tracked in the third trial, and for instance, the last example is Marilyn, but it was identified as “hello” in 56 of the 197 responses. in Cathy, your dead, ‘Cathy” was understood as “Kevin” 60 times. If “Kevin” had been the correct response, the %Rw would have been better than 45% as opposed to the reported 36%.
In some cases, expectations of the listener might make a response more likely. For instance, in the Marilyn, “Sarah” was reported 16 times. Sarah Estep is the founder of the AA-EVP and has recently made her transition. “Help” was reported 20 times, and is another often reported EVP.
A phrase beginning with a “Ca” sound and one beginning with a “Ke” sound is close enough that people might hear one as the other. Participants are asked to use a headset and listen to the example several times, but in fact, one listening via computer speakers is probably best that can be expected. Audio performance varies amongst computers, as does environments, and it should be expected that listening errors will have a negative influence on %Rw.
Improving the Protocol
Normalizing the example: The best practice for grading how easily an EVP example will be understood is the Class A (easily heard), B (poorly heard, but hearable) and C (usually only heard by the practitioner) classification system. This is generally established by the practitioner and is only rarely determined by a listening panel. If the hypothesis that learning is required to understand EVP is correct, then the practitioner is not reliable as a standard for classification, nor is a listening panel.
The clarity of EVP examples varies considerably, and the ones used in these three trials are no exception. They were selected because they are considered Class A, but I have nearly twenty years of experience hearing EVP, and if there is a learning curve, I am at it top and clearly am not a reliable standard. On the other hand, I have also played examples for many people, and have a sense of what the average person can understand.
Another factor in determining the quality of an example is that, if listeners are routinely told what the example is thought to say, they will be more likely to hear the example as a Class A. This is true even when the example might actually be a poor Class B. This is related to the listener’s expectation. For instance, if the example is recorded in a cemetery, the listener is more apt to assume an utterance is dreadful if the person assumes “dead” people are stuck there.
Normalizing listener experience: How well qualified the listener is to correctly hear an utterance is a second issue for hearing trials. As is seen here, self-estimation of ability may not be reliable. Online trials depend on keeping the interest of the participant, and based on the results, the best circumstance might be academic. An instructor can request that students take the necessary screening tests, and then using an affiliation question in the online trials form to identify the control group. Ideally, participants would be given a hearing test using the computer with speakers or headphone that would be used for the trial. In addition, a set of questions could be developed to determine the participant’s experience hearing EVP based on a psychology-style aptitude test.
An Ideal Protocol
EVP examples would be taken from a pool of previously screened examples. This screening would be accomplished by using this same protocol to establish a control listening panel, and based on the control group’s performance with examples, a set of examples that have been given a grade. Thus an example would have a factor based on control group score.
Website visitors participating in a trial would include a listening test and a survey designed to provide a factor representing experience. Thus the participant would have a hearing score and a score for experience.
Participants would then listen to a set of unmarked examples and type what they hear in an unmarked text field.
Listening results would be graded based on hearing ability, experience and the quality factor of examples.
With the degree of normalization described above, it should be possible to use the online listening trial protocol to explore subjects such as how experience and/or personality traits influence ability to understand EVP. There is evidence of a cultural influence on how trans-etheric influences are experienced, and the online listening protocol may provide an important means of controlling the examination of these ideas.
EVP is just an objective form of trans-etheric influence, but it is also easily induced. Any time the conceptual world of the etheric is examined by people and their attendant observer influence, variables become involved that cannot be easily controlled. That is one of the reasons deviations from chance has become the primary approach for psi functioning studies. With the on-demand objective results of EVP research, such variables can potentially be controlled, and meaningful results can be expected.
Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Biopsychocybernetics Research, Bologna, Italy (Il Laboratorio)
Gullà, Daniele, Computer–Based Analysis of Supposed Paranormal Voice: The Question of Anomalies Detected and Speaker Identification, Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Biopsychocybernetics Research, Bologna, Italy, ATransC web site atransc.org/gulla-voice-analysis/
Butler. Tom, Characteristic Test for EVP, Best Practices Development.
“Formants,” Handbook For Acoustic Ecology, Cambridge Street Publishing, 1999.
by Sonia Rinaldi, Brazil Previously published in the Winter 2013 ATransC NewsJournal
Some people still think that Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) transcontacts are difficult to hear, hard to understand voices. This is not always true; at least not with the techniques that have been developed by the volunteers of IPATI (translation from Portuguese: Institute for Advanced Research in Instrumental Transcommunication). These techniques produce a large number of voices of great quality in a single recording. We know this, because long ago we created a support group we affectionately call the “Team of the Eared.” This name emerged, of course, because their job is to evaluate our recordings.
Since IPATI is a research institute, it is necessary to do more than simply record for EVP and listen to the results. On the contrary, information is everything and everything must be studied. Only by evaluating the results can we gain an understanding of these communications and possibly find a way to improve them.
The Listening Team
A team of fifty-three members has been formed out of the more than six hundred volunteer members of IPATI. It is captained by Marlene Bernardo who has the invaluable support of Rita Seiler who is responsible for assembling the evaluation worksheets and Reinaldo Brito who is responsible for compiling all the data into graphs.
This great team of collaborators is a mix of people with all types of hearing, from those who have acute hearing to those who have difficulty hearing. They also have different equipment such as different sound cards or headphones. This mixture of ability and equipment allows us to obtain a more accurate estimate of the quality of our recordings.
Cláudia Moretto, friend and IPATI volunteer, was thirty-six when she decided it was time to have a baby. That was, more or less, three years ago. She arranged to make an EVP recording with her friend, Nilzinha, so that she could be guided by the head of the “Broadcasting Station” [in the etheric], which we call Mr. German. Both had learned to record for EVP using Skype, a technique we developed in IPATI and used when sessions need to be conducted at a distance. With this, Cláudia asked about the possibility of becoming pregnant and had as an answer: – “No momento, deixar” (translation: “At the moment, leave”). Knowing the way our German friend speaks, it became clear that Cláudia’s attempts to become pregnant would not work.
After having no success for a year, Cláudia conducted another EVP session through our station to ask the same question. Mr. German’s response was, “Em Breve” (translation: “Soon”).
Some months passed and Cláudia was undecided whether to undergo an in vitro fertilization treatment to conceive. That’s when she made one more recording and Mr. German said: “Vai ser mãe… mas precisar esforço” (translation: “Will be a mother … but will require effort”). With this answer, Cláudia did not hesitate to initiate the treatment and became pregnant on the first try.
This report is based on the recordings made in January, 2011 – when she was preparing for the birth of her child; due at the end of the month. Cláudia made transcontact at that time because she wanted to have the support of our trusted friends for the delivery. The answers from the session recorded via SKYPE were surprising.
Listening Team Analysis of EVP
The first table is from a worksheet prepared by Reinaldo, which was assembled by Rita and conveyed to the team to be used in the evaluation of EVP examples by Marlene. The table includes what is thought to be said by the etheric communicator and how the team member classified the sample. The two columns at the right indicate when the response was recorded in relationship to the question:
“A” indicates the response came before the question
“D” indicates the response came after the question
The messages are concerned with Cláudia and the birth of her child, Lorenzo. Mr. Orator is one of the “Broadcasting Station.” Original text is in Portuguese. The complete report and translation to English is provided by Sonia at: ipati.org/boletins/ingles/nv/bol27/ptbr27_en.html.
In this case, seventeen members of the team voted to classify the examples as about 31.5% of A+ quality, 26.6% of A quality, 25.3% of B quality and 16.6% of C quality.
An amazing phenomenon in transcommunication is that a high percentage of the answers come before the question. So, besides the quality of the examples, the team also considered the time the answers came in the recordings in relationship to the question.
For the recording made by Cláudia, Rita considered the position of the responses and Reinaldo produced the chart.
The chart summarizes something important: Of the twenty-three samples, six paranormal answers came before the questions, nine came after and eight of them appeared related to the situation but not the questions. In other words, they are data or comments that Mr. German wanted to make on his own.
Graphics for Cláudia’s Case
The audio samples are classified as:
A+ = Very clearly understood audio
A = Audio of average clarity
B = Reasonably clear audio
C = Poor audibility
These studies are repeated for each recording session. They provide valuable information that helps to develop a clearer impression of these phenomena.
For example, we learned that the frequency of responses before the question appears to be too high. How can this be? It might be statistically acceptable if there were just a few responses prior to questions, but here we see that almost half came before. At the very least, this information will reinforce the understanding that the responses are more than just chance.
It is through these studies, which are only possible thanks to the cooperation of many volunteers, that we can improve our work.
Brazilian researcher Sonia Rinaldi is the founder and coordinator of IPATI and is one of the world’s most progressive ITC researchers.
[Editor’s Note: The IPATI listening team is the most sophisticated application of a listening panel we are aware of. Listening panels are currently the most reliable tool for assessing the content of the messages in EVP. Individual listeners may mistake the normal as paranormal, but if several people agree on the content of an example without prior knowledge of one another’s work and what the practitioner felt was said, then researchers have reason to accept the objectivity of the utterance.
Much remains to be understood about the way people hear and understand mostly indeterminate voices (Class B and C). We agree that the IPATI listening team approach has the potential of increasing our understanding.]
This twelve-month trial was designed to determine whether or not information not known to a participant could be requested and received via Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) using EVPmaker with allophones.
A target object was left undisturbed in the same location at the beginning of each month for twelve months. Participants were asked to use only EVPmaker with allophones to produce a sound file containing the information identifying the target. To qualify submissions the project manager screened them for reasonableness. Those possibly containing usable information were submitted to a listening panel of people who were familiar with EVP but who did not know the identity of the target. If a majority of the listening panel heard information as reported by the participant, the submission was considered a valid submission. Submissions were rejected if a majority did not hear what the participant heard. Valid submissions were screened for a positive response by the project manager for inclusion in the study.
This trial did not produce positive responses based on the study’s protocol. However, the abundance of non-protocol EVP captured in the study might suggest EVPmaker is not suited for the type of communication this study was designed to capture. Also, participant knowledge of the target might have to be reexamined as several targets were identified either before the target was placed or after when the participant knew what the target was. Future studies may wish to look at these non-protocol results when designing a follow up study.
Background sound is often used as sound energy during the recording of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP). This sound may be ambient noise in the environment or sound purposely added to the recording environment such as the hiss of a radio tuned off station, flowing water or the sound of a fan. These imported sounds are said to supply the sound energy entities need to form voices.
While these sound sources can result in EVP, some practitioners proposed that the sounds or frequencies of the human voice would be optimal for the communicating entities to use to generate a voice. Different methods of experimentation using human vocalizations have been tried including foreign language recordings, some of which were edited and clipped to produce random bits of vocalizations with no discernible words or syllables. Radio-sweep using modified radios popularly known as “ghost boxes” or “spirit boxes,” has also been tried. This involves rapidly changing the tuning dial of a radio to produce pieces of speech.
In the late 1980s, Stefan Bion developed a computer program that he likened to a sound grinder. The software program, called EVPmaker,1 uses a random process to select segments of a buffer in which a raw, audio input file has been loaded. The resulting output file is a stream of randomly arranged short sound segments from the input file. EVP are thought to be formed via manipulation of the random selection process.
In 2008 Stefan Bion offered a file containing seventy-two allophones generated by SpeakJet™ 2 that could be used as the input audio file for EVPmaker. The output of these randomized allophones from EVPmaker, while robotic sounding, were used successfully by some researchers to obtain what they felt were meaningful and relevant communications.
Because of the standardization provided by using EVPmaker with the allophone file provided by Stefan Bion, the program was a good choice to use in a controlled study of EVP. All participants, individuals who attempted to record EVP communication for the study, would be using the SpeakJet™ Allophones2 as the sound source to input into EVPmaker.
The study was designed to ask each communicating entity to perform a task that would indicate understanding and cooperation. This task was to view a specific object that was set out at a specific location. The communicating entity was then instructed to tell the participant what that object was through the participant’s copy of EVPmaker with allophones.
Study question: Can the identity of a target object be recorded in the EVPmaker output file which is of sufficient quality that a listening panel is able to agree on its content?
A target object unknown to participants was placed in the same location at the beginning of each month for twelve months. Sufficient information about the location to uniquely identify it in the world was announced.
Participants, who responded to the public announcement, conducted EVPmaker sessions using the allophone file provided by Stefan Bion, but otherwise using any EVPmaker setting. They asked that the target be identified in the output file. There was no limit on the number of attempts.
Knowing only that the target was an object, participants listened to the output files and determined if a response had been recorded. Whether or not it was a likely response concerning the target object was up to the judgment of the participant.
Audio files the participant determined could include names of the target were sent to the project manager.
The project manager compared what the participant heard to the target. If the project manager agreed that the target was indicated in the file, it was sent to a listening panel.
Not knowing the target object, the listening panel individually reviewed the file and noted what if anything was said in the file. That information was sent to the project manager.
If a majority of the listening panel heard information as reported by the participant, the submission was considered a valid submission; if not, it was rejected. Valid submissions were screened for a positive response by the project manager for inclusion in the study.
The people who made up the study team were the project manager, the target keeper, three listening-panel members, two alternate listening-panel members and the participants.
The project manager developed the trial protocol, oversaw the project, communicated with the target keeper, listening-panel members and the participants, analyzed the data and wrote the monthly and final reports.
The target keeper was in charge of putting a new target into place every month.
The listening-panel members would review any audio files sent to them by the project manager.
The alternate listening-panel members would be enlisted to review audio files if one of the original three listening-panel members could not participate.
Participants were anyone who wanted to take part in this trial and could follow the study’s protocol.
The target for each month was taken from a list that had been prepared prior to the start of the yearlong study. The target objects for the year were only known to the project manager and target keeper. The target keeper would find objects that she felt fit the predetermined list of targets. She would then submit a picture and a brief explanation of the object to the project manager. On the first of the month she would place only this object on a specific shelf on a shelving unit in her home. The object would remain there undisturbed for the entire month. This target object would be taken away and replaced with the next month’s target on the first of the following month.
The following list shows what was requested and what the target keeper put into place for each month. A synopsis of her comments concerning the targets has also been included.
May: An abalone dragonfly pin designed by her husband.
June: One of the target keeper’s recorders.
July: Pink roses in an engraved black vase with “4546 B INDIA” on the underside of the vase.
August: A blue teacup with painted flowers on it. “JAPAN” was stamped on the bottom of the teacup.
September: Zephyr scissors with “CLAUSS NO 78 USA” on one blade. They had blue handles with white paint and black gunk on them. The target keeper noted that she has had them for twenty-five years and thinks of them as “our work scissors.”
October:I Am That, by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. It is not a “holy book” in the traditional sense, but the teachings within are certainly considered to be sacred by many.
November: Candle made for the target keeper by her son while in elementary school. It has layers of blue, yellow, red and orange wax poured into a baby food jar.
December: The target keeper’s favorite radio-sweep radio, a Duracell KP028 crank flashlight/radio, also referred to as a “3-in-1.”
January: A child’s pair of BluBlocker sunglasses that belonged to the target keeper’s son when he was little. The word “Taiwan” is printed in white on the inner right arm.
February: A peacock feather given as a cat toy by the pet store.
March: A red, flexible bracelet with the words, “Stronger Now.” The bracelet was bought from two girls who started ARCHFoundation.com.
April: A hammer with very faded print on both sides. One side reads “Diamond Island” and the other reads “Burro Cigars.”
The pictures of the targets (right) and what the project manager was told about them suggested that other target words could be applied to a target. Responses that were considered acceptable for this study had to be words or phrases that contained a word that could be used to identify the object. For example, in March the target object was a bracelet. The bracelet itself was a red, flexible bracelet of the type often used as a charity fundraiser. The best word for the target would be bracelet, but band or wristband would also be acceptable. Words that would be considered adjectives for the bracelet like red or flexible would be noted but not considered a positive response.
Participants for this trial were required to use only EVPmaker with the SpeakJet™ allophone file provided on Stefan Bion’s EVPmaker website. They were allowed to record their sessions using recording equipment of their choice. Files thought to contain information about the target were to be emailed to the project manager, along with text of what the participant believed was said. Inclusion of the practitioner’s voice was considered a valuable plus. Altering the audio file through filtering or noise reduction was not allowed.
Participants did not know what target objects were other than that they could fit on a standard-size wall unit shelf. They also knew the general location of the shelf that held the object. This was at the target keeper’s home in California on the middle shelf on the right-hand side of the wall unit.
After a recording session, each participant was to analyze and interpret their recordings while listening for a reply to the question: “What is the target object on the target keeper’s shelf?” If they heard something they felt might be the target, they would submit an email stating what they heard along with the audio attachment to the project manager.
EVP from EVPmaker is considered an opportunistic form,3 meaning the message is formed from available sound segments in the buffer. But output may also be used as noise for transform EVP 3 which are voices formed from background noise. Participants could submit either type of EVP for this study. If the participant’s interpretation of their submission identified that month’s target object, the project manager would send the files to the listening panel.
A listening panel was organized to review any files that might contain words that indicated the target for that month. It consisted of three primary and two standby individuals who had been enlisted before the study. The listening-panel members did not know what the target objects were and did not talk to anyone about their analyses. After reviewing the audio files, listening-panel members sent their interpretation of the files to the project manager. The project manager then compared the listening panel’s interpretations with that of the participants who sent the files. If two out of three of the listening-panel members heard something phonetically similar to what the participants heard, the submission would be considered a positive response.
In the twelve months of the trial, 648 audio files were submitted. In August, two submissions matched the target object, and in December, three submissions were a match. These submissions were sent to the listening panels but none met the protocol which stated that the target the participant heard must also be heard by at least two out of three of the listening-panel members to be considered a positive response.
Although not what this trial was designed to find, some interesting things did surface during the year of the trial:
There were seven possibly positive responses that were recorded in September but that appeared to refer to the October target object which was a holy book. The target keeper chose I AM THAT by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj for October. This book has a black and orange cover and the back of the book is orange. In September, the project manager received seven submissions from three participants that indicated a book. They were: “red book,”“green book,” “bible,”“Book is the key,” “scripture,” “a certified orange book(let)” and “popular book.” The listening panel reviewed all the files and out of the seven, three were identified. They were:
Book is the key.
Certified orange book
While these could not be counted as positive responses for the trial, the project manager felt the results should be noted for a number of reasons. First, up to this point in the study, this was the first time that a specific word, “book,” was repeated frequently and was submitted by several participants. Second, some of the references to the target, while not validated by the listening panel, did seem to point towards a holy or spiritual book.
Finally, the project managers and the target keeper both knew what the target was. But in addition to this, both had a connection to the target being prepared for October. The target keeper placed a book she felt connected to because of the book’s wisdom. The project manager, when developing the target list, felt that a holy book would be the one target that would receive the most positive results. She was anticipating the October placement of the book throughout September. While one cannot rule out coincidence for these results, could the knowledge of what the target was and the intentions of the project manager and the target keeper have played a part in the results?
Group intentions and how they affect the outcome of an event is being studied by scientists. The Institute of Noetic Sciences’, “The Effects of Distant Intentions on Water Crystal Formation: A Triple Blind Replication”4 results suggested that ice crystals formed from water exposed to distant intentions were more aesthetically pleasing than ice crystals formed from water from a control group. And the majority of Lynne McTaggart’s intention experiments5 have suggested that intention can affect plants and human project outcomes. EVP and participants’ intentions might also lend themselves to some interesting studies.
As documented in the chart, three submissions were accepted by the project manager for the December target, which was a radio favored by the target keeper for radio-sweep. These submissions were “Her radio,”“The answer … radio,” and “Transistor.” The project manager accepted “transistor” because small, handheld radios were often in the past referred to as “transistors.” Knowing what to listen for, the project manager could identify these responses but the listening panel, who did not know what to listen for, did not hear what the participants reported hearing. The question arises that, if the listening panel knew what the participants heard, could they have picked it out of the audio file?
How much does confirmation bias affect the analysis of skilled listeners? There were instances after the month’s target was revealed that participants reviewed audio they recorded during the month of that target and subsequently reported to the the project manager that they found audio that matched the target. The effect of knowledge about the target during the recording process needs to be explored and possibly reconsidered.
Another common result was the recordings of what participants felt were communicating-entity comments. Most of these comments were normal EVPmaker random selection EVP. Most were quite clear and many commented on the communicating entity’s ability or lack of ability to be able to help with the trial. Also on a monthly basis, there were submissions that were comments directed, by name, to the participant or to the project manager. Some submissions were negative in nature and a few did not make any sense. While several participants submitted these “comment EVP,” the majority were submitted by one participant.
Listening Panel Challenges
Throughout the trial, the listening panel was sent audio files to listen to and analyze. None of the listening-panel members knew what the targets were. Often, what the listening panel reported hearing was not phonetically close to what the participant heard. They also seldom agreed with one another as to what the same audio file was saying, if they heard anything at all. This may indicate the challenges one faces when trying to understand and analyze very short audio clips from EVPmaker using allophones.
The clipped, robotic sound of the short audio files, along with having no word cues, may make it difficult for listeners to find any recognizable words. It might prove useful to submit longer audio files to the listening panel so they could hear the participant’s voice asking the question, then have the communicating entity’s reply. However, this has its own sets of challenges as the communicating entity did not always come in after the question was asked. The entity responses and comments could come in anytime during the recording sessions.
Words created through EVPmaker, while having proper vowel sounds, may have dropped consonants, for example, the word “hammer” might be heard as “ammer.”6 Since EVPmaker voices seem to create modified words it might be useful to train the listening panel to be able to identify these “new words.”
Number of Participant Challenges
Several things need to be noted that may have had an effect on the results. While 648 submissions were sent to this study, the number of participants was low. There were never more than four participants per month and often there were only two or three. Also, from August 2010 until the end of the study, the bulk of the submissions were from only one individual. So while the sample size was respectable, the number of different participants was very small. The study was designed as a group project. Having a greater number of participants could likely have changed the results. The reason few people participated may have been because trying to find an unknown target in a sea of vocalization fragments is a difficult task.
Another point to note is the rigidity of the trial’s protocol itself. It is often apparent in the recording of EVP that what works for one person does not necessarily work for others. Also, successful techniques have been known to sometimes show a decline in productivity for no apparent reason.7 All these points should be addressed in the development of follow-up experiments.
Based on the files submitted by a small number of participants, the results indicate that gathering specific information (a target) that was unknown to the participants was not accomplished using EVPmaker with allophones and following the protocol for this study.
Although not a part of this study, it does appear that “comment EVP” that identified the target was frequently recorded. These results suggest that following this trial’s protocol, EVP could be recorded using EVPmaker with allophones but specific informational EVP was infrequent. The reason for this remains unknown.
The “holy book” results in September might offer a nudge towards what else might be needed to obtain information-gathering communication. An experiment could be designed to compare the number of targets identified between participants who know what the target is and those who do not. A similar study could be done to compare the results of participants who spend time having focused intentions towards a target and those who don’t. A participant’s knowledge of the target might also play into this idea about intention.
The development of such intention experiments would need to take more into account than the technical aspects of EVP communication. It also would have to explore if consciousness; intent and attitude play a part in EVP communications.
Finally, knowing what to listen for and how to interpret the speech coming through EVPmaker might need to be addressed. A tutorial for participants and listening-panel members on the communicating entity’s unique formation of speech in EVPmaker might change the outcome of any future EVPmaker experiments.
The author wishes to express her appreciation and thanks to Tom Butler for his guidance during the course of this trial and assistance in the preparation of this paper. Also the author wishes to express her gratitude to the individuals who assisted in this trial including the persons who took on the positions of target keeper, listening-panel members and all those who were participants in the study.
Radin, Dean, Nancy Lund, Masaru Emoto, and Takashige Kizu. “The Effects of Distant Intentions on Water Crystal Formation: A Triple Blind Replication” Petaluma, Institute of Noetic Sciences, Journal of Scientific Exploration, 22, No. 4, pp. 481–493, 2008.deanradin.com/papers/emotoIIproof.pdf
McTaggart, Lynne. The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and the World, Free Press, 2007. ISBN-10: 0743276957, ISBN-13: 978-0743276955. theintentionexperiment.com
by Tom Butler (Initially published in the Winter 2009 ATransC NewsJournal)
This study is based on the question of whether or not a practitioner’s ability to record for EVP can be influenced by the use of binaural-beat synchronization of mental processes. According to research conducted by The Monroe Institute (TMI), neuron activity in the two hemispheres of the brain are synchronization with and entrained to the beat-frequency between left and right audio signals supplied to the ears via a stereo headset. A slowly changing beat-frequency can change this synchronization, known by TMI as a “frequency-following response,” so that the listener experiences meditative-like states of awareness. A CD containing a frequency set designed for meditation and a CD containing the same set of frequencies plus a set intended to facilitate access to what TMI refers to as an “inner-self helper” were used. The CDs were only labeled as “A” and “B”. Volunteer practitioners were asked to conduct a series of ten recording sessions using each CD and make a self-evaluation of any changes from their expected success rate. No appreciable change in success rate was reported by the volunteers.
Association TransCommunication has conducted a study to determine whether or not the use of binaural synchronization can improve a person’s ability to record for EVP. Two audio CDs were used by each participant. One included a set of frequencies developed by The Monroe Institute (TMI) designed to facilitate meditation. The other was the same but included additional frequencies derived from analysis of a functioning trance-channel. (This technology is referred to as “Hemi-Sync®” by TMI.) (See The Monroe Way for background.) Here is a summary of the results:
These are the instructions each participant received.
The objective of this experiment is to evaluate the effect binaural synchronization has on the quality and quantity of EVP. Monroe Institute Hemi-Sync® technology will be used.1 See the attached article, The Monroe Way.
What is in the kit?
You have been assigned a tracking number, and all of your results will be recorded by that number rather than by your name until after the results have been evaluated.
You are all being asked to use the same equipment and technique. If you have not indicated that you already have a Sony ICD-B26 digital voice recorder that you will use, one will be mailed to you in a separate package.
It is assumed that:
You have an audio patch cable and know how to connect a recorder to your computer and how to record the audio into the computer.
You have an audio management program and know how to use it for audio capture, editing and saving.
You have a audio CD player that you can use for these sessions.
You have a set of headphones that you can use.
If this is not the case, please contact us before beginning the trials.
A USB thumb drive has been included in the kit. You are asked to use the memory device as a means of returning your recordings to the AA-EVP. The SanDisk memory stick has a folder named Documents which contains the folders:
2008 Hemi-Sync Trials
mp3 and wav formats of the Hemi-Sync CDs A and B
2008 Hemi-Sync Trials Results
Twenty folders for storing the results of twenty sessions.
The other folders are empty
A “U3” icon will appear in the bottom-right tray. Click on that and click on the “Eject” button before removing the memory stick from you computer. A window will tell you when it is okay.
Two 36 minute audio CDs have been included. One is marked with a large “A” and one with a large “B.” These are the sound files containing the Hemi-Sync tones and what you will be listening to for the EVP recording sessions.
A notepad has been included and you are asked to keep notes related to this experiment. When you listen to the resulting audio files, you will be asked to note what you hear and how well possible EVP agree with what was expected, and provide a brief description of how you feel about the circumstances.
A set of instructions have been included, which explain the protocol.
Please conduct twenty recording sessions during which you will make three one-minute recordings for EVP. Since Hemi-Sync leads your level of awareness to a deeply relaxed state, and the sessions are nearly forty minutes long, it is recommended that you conduct only one session in a six hour period. You are asked to complete all twenty session in three months, and to do this, you will need to average slightly more than three sessions every two weeks.
Please do not listen to Hemi-Sync while driving or during activity that requires your full attention. Just as with meditation, be sure that you are fully alert after using Hemi-Sync.
Copy the 2008 Hemi-Sync Trials Results folder from the memory stick to your computer. You will use the folders to store session recordings.
Find a comfortable location where you are not likely to be disturbed. A relaxed sitting position with a pillow to support your head and a throw to keep your body comfortable is recommended. You will want to be able to hold or pick up the recorder and turn it on to the record mode three times while you are very relaxed. You may also want to make written notes. (If you record verbal notes for future transcription, please use a second recorder.)
If you prefer, you can use the files in the memory stick to play the sessions through an mp3 player or directly from your computer. The native format is the one on the CD, so it is first choice. The objective is to have the highest quality playback, but the second objective is to have all session played on the same device.
Test the equipment and make sure that your recorder, player and headset are all functioning correctly. The two CDs are identical except one has an added set of Hemi-Sync frequencies intended to help you function as a mental medium. Listen to one of them all the way through so that you will know what to expect. Take advantage of this session to set the levels in your player and in the recorder. The alert tones in the CDs are a little softer than expected so you will want to turn up the volume in the player so that you will not miss them.
Each CD is arranged as:
0:00 — 10:00 Intro surf and up to working level
10:00 Record now sound
11:00 Stop recording sound
Return to working level
20:00 Record now sound
21:00 Stop recording sound
Return to working level
30:00 Record now sound
31:00 Stop recording sound
Brief return to working level
34:00 — 36:13 Return to C1 verbally guided
36:14 — 36:15 Silence
Before beginning a session, think of three questions you will ask and/or who you wish to contact. Begin a fresh page in the notebook with:
Time you expect to begin
Current weather conditions
Write a brief comment about your sense of wellbeing, energy level and attitude about the session.
Leaving space between each question for further comment, write what you will ask or say to the etheric communicators.
Write down the number in the recorder that will be associated with the three recordings for this session.
It is important to use questions that are meaningful to you so as to draw on your personal energy and focus. If you have a loved one in the etheric, you could ask for a personal message. Think of the kind of questions you have had success receiving results for in the past. The questions should be interesting to your communicator, as well. For instance, experience has shown that asking the same question session after session is met with fewer and fewer responses and maybe even complaints. The entities are pretty good at telling you what they have seen in your home, so you could put something on a table and ask what it is (a teddy bear or plant would be better than a rock). You could also ask them to tell you what you are wearing.
During the session
Make yourself comfortable so that your head is supported and there are no pinch points that will cut off circulation to an arm or leg. Your body will cool down during the session, so you may want to have a throw nearby. The Hemi-Sync tones will “take” you to a meditative level of consciousness. All you have to do is relax and enjoy the trip. If you have an itch, scratch it. If you need to reach for the throw, do so. The tones will gently take you back to level.
Think about your question. Visualize who it is that you wish to hear from. Desire to record the response you are hoping for. When you hear the “record now sound” turn on the audio recorder and say out loud your question or request so that it will be recorded, and then remain quiet until you hear the “stop recording sound.” When you do hear the tone, turn off the recorder and allow the tones to take you back to level. Be brief so that there is time for the EVP.
Begin thinking about your next question or request and repeat this process for two more record periods. After the third period, relax and allow the narrator to count you back to full consciousness. It is a good idea to express your appreciation for your communicators and tell them that you would like their help next time, as well.
Number of sessions
Please conduct twenty sessions beginning with the CD marked “A” and the next with the one marked “B” and then alternate between the two so that every other session will be with CD “A,” ending with CD “B” for session twenty.
Each session has three recording periods for a total of sixty one-minute recordings.
Analysis of the recordings
Copy the recordings into your computer and save them as a Windows PCM (*.wav) file (or Apple equivalent). If you are using Audacity, then “Export as a wav” file. The recorder will hold more than 60 minutes, so please save the files in the recorder, as well. Be sure to lock the recorder when you have finished.
Label the files in your computer as EVP Folder > 2008 Hemi-Sync Trials folder and then:
Your number-Session 1–CD A period 1 Your number-Session 1–CD A period 2 Your number-Session 1–CD A period 3 Your number-Session 2–CD B period 1
and so on for all 20 sessions and 60 recording periods for a total of 60 files.
During analysis, you will be looking for EVP, how many per one minute session and what you think of their relevance to your question. Please make a record of the results in the provided notebook. This is not a contest for the most EVP or most meaningful responses. The objective is for you to decide if an EVP has been recorded using the same standard as you have used in the past.
Assessment of results
After finishing the last (20th) session, please answer the following questions in the provided notebooks:
Please describe your playback setup and environment.
Did you record EVP during the Hemi-Sync sessions?
If so, explain your view of the results.
Did you notice any difference between the Hemi-Sync sessions and past experience in your usual quantity and quality of EVP?
If so, please explain.
Please pick one of the following:
I saw no change in my ability to record EVP between the Hemi-Sync sessions and my normal sessions.
I saw a slight change in my ability to record EVP, but the Hemi-Sync did not seem to be the reason.
There was considerable change in my ability to record EVP when I used Hemi-Sync.
True or False: I now prefer using Hemi-Sync for my EVP sessions.
True or False: I would recommend Hemi-Sync for anyone wanting to improve their ability to record EVP.
How would you change the protocol for this kind of experiment?
Please provide a statement of how you feel/felt about this experiment. Do you see value in this sort of effort? Did you benefit by participating?
Please save the sixty sound files into the USB memory stick provided in the kit, and return that and the audio recorder, the two CDs and note pad to the AA-EVP. It is important that the recorder is returned so that future experiments may be conducted using the same hardware.
Thank you very much for participating in this experiment. We will give you a report about our findings as soon as we can finish the data reduction.
The Monroe Institute, 365 Roberts Mountain Road, Faber, Virginia 22938, 1-866-881-3440, 434-361-1252, www.monroeinstitute.com.
The short report is that the study did not produce evidence that use of binaural synchronization improves Quality and Quantity (QQ) of EVP.
Ten people participated in the study. All used the same type of recorder, but background sound, where they recorded and when was optional. Six kits were returned completed and two returned blank. As of this writing, two were not returned. An eleventh participant withdrew before beginning because they found the tones irritating.
No obvious trend was evident after the resulting QQ of EVP was assessed and the opinions of the participants were considered. It was felt by some that they did better using their own recorder and using their more usual techniques. Most liked Hemi-Sync as an aid for meditation, although some found it too difficult to remain sufficiently alert to record during the allotted times.
Hemi-Sync is very effective in facilitating meditation. This experiment was inspired by the personal experience that it also facilitates mental mediumship. Not knowing what makes an effective EVP practitioner, it seemed reasonable to test whether or not what worked for mental mediumship would work for EVP, which is thought to involve essentially the same process.
The results of this trial must be considered inconclusive. An improvement in QQ was not evident, which is the necessary measure; however, the experiment itself was not conducted in a manner that allows reasonable assessment of the technology. Please see the “Recommendations”
Sincere thanks to the volunteer practitioners: Vicki Talbott, Richard Shenk, Keith Clark, Leslie Taylor, Billy Deluca and Teri Daner for their hard work to complete the experiment. We learned much that will guide us on to new efforts.
The experiment should be conducted in controlled conditions in which participants can be monitored, and the results can be more formally reported. The sound files lacked an induction process that might help a person have a better sense of the process and more effectively set listening levels. The record begin and end sounds were often missed. Participants should also be familiarized with Hemi-Sync for a time before beginning the series of experiments.
It is our belief that binaural synchronization may be an effective tool for improving QQ, but it is clear that more qualified researchers need to be involved. This study involved a complex protocol, many recording sessions conducted by volunteer practitioners and very poorly designed sound files. Meditating with Hemi-Sync is a pleasurable experience, but this assessment is based on the CDs available from The Monroe Institute. By comparison, the ones provided for this study did little to give the practitioner a sense of “induction.”
1. Listening to the sound material: between psychoacoustic perception and electroacoustic analysis
Listening to the material recorded during the Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) or Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC) experiments requires that the listeners pay particular attention. To judge and correctly classify what they will hear, they should have at least an overview of the psycho-acoustical dynamics of the human auditory system, and the fundamental principles of phonetics and acoustics.
This lecture will address these subjects and provide useful cues for considering the complexities of listening to and decoding the sound material which is fundamental to conducting serious biopsychocybernetic research (Note here that “biopsychocybernetic” is used as an alternative to the more obsolete “parapsychology” and “paranormal”).
1.1 First Stage: one or more subjects listen to the sound material.
In this stage, the personal characteristics of each listener must be taken into account. The human ear and the cerebral centers responsible for sound decoding have peculiar features that are unique for each subject.
The path of the sound vibrations goes through the outer ear duct, the tympanic membrane, the hammer, the anvil, the stirrup and the oval window, up to the cochlea, which is filled with a special fluid. A thick cord of nerves connects the cochlea to the brain.
The widespread belief that the human acoustic perception range goes from about 20 to 20,000 Hertz (cycles per second) seems to be inadequate. Some recent discoveries have shown that a person is also able to hear the so-called ultrasound when the transmitter directly touches the head bones, so that the sound does not have to travel through the air. However, human perception averages these signals so that only one tone is heard.
We hear all frequencies between 20,000 and 70,000 Hertz at exactly the same higher tone that we can hear in the air. A peculiarity of the human being is to have—somewhere inside the ear—a sophisticated spectrum analyzer which is capable of breaking the sounds up on a harmonic basis in much the same way as is seen in Fourier analysis. It would therefore explain the particular sensitiveness and accuracy of human hearing faculties compared to animals which also have less complex analyzers, with a lower dynamic sound capacity. For example, consider the complexity of the compound sound, which becomes grandiose in a symphony, and how sophisticated the human ear must be to distinguish the smallest nuances of every instrument.
1.2 Second Stage: differentiation of the sounds of language.
In addition to the subjective analysis made through our ear, an objective electro-acoustic analysis is useful. In fact, our ear could interpret some sounds, which occur in succession with a peculiar rhythm and intonation, as parts of a melodic chain of a language. This also occurs if the sounds do not actually come from a real human verbal source but from noises produced in a particular sequence, which can lead to a linguistic interpretation of the noise. This is referred to here as “psycholinguistics.” Please refer to Figure 3.
The problems encounter in decoding such sequences of sound essentially depends on the listener’s comprehension skills. Every person is different as far as the interpretative skills of sound are concerned. Some people are able to catch either small differences or sound nuances, or to reproduce at will sounds already heard and mentally compare familiar sounds with new sounds. When, for example, people study a foreign language, they are inevitably inclined to “hear” the sounds of that language as sounds of their mother tongue; but, after a little practice, they can begin to compare the new sounds with familiar ones, finding differences and similarities. Therefore, if they want to correctly pronounce the new language, they must exercise their ear to recognize new sounds.
The capacities of learning new sounds could explain the hearing differences between subjects who conduct EVP experiments and subjects who do not: EVP experimenters have selectively trained their ears to listen to those peculiar sounds.
Most of the sounds which surround us, including language, are made of various types of waves that are complex tones which do not always show a periodic pattern. A complex tone can be considered as the algebraic sum of more sinusoidal signals, each one with a given frequency and strength. If we know these two parameters for each sinusoid, we can determine the spectrum of the complex signal we are examining.
If the signal is periodic, from the breakdown of each sinusoid we will find frequencies which are a multiple of a frequency called the “fundamental frequency.” The fundamental frequency is usually the sinusoid having the lowest frequency and the highest sound intensity; the others are called partial or harmonic components.
The spectrum of a periodic complex signal, such as a human voice as shown in Figure 2, is discontinuous: it is a so-called, “line or discrete spectrum.” The spectrum of a pure sound is made of only one line (frequency), whereas the spectrum of noise is usually made of a spectrum called “continuous” (Figure 1) where the lines are very thick and placed one on top of the other, so that they make a continuous thickening (or, in some bands, like a noise made by some consonants). Therefore, the first classification of the sounds in different auditory types can be based on the discrepancy between the periodic and aperiodic vibrations (harmonic and non-harmonic spectra). This discrepancy is what we usually call “sounds” and “noises.”
Among the language sounds, the sounds called “vocoids” (vocalic) are usually of periodic type (simple tones), while the sounds called “contoids” (consonantal) are noises or have some noise components. In the spoken human language, the single sounds come together in a continuous connection: not only is the vibration curve of each letter affected by the letters between which is included and among which a common aura is produced, but also by the sounds which come before or after it in a given length of time.
1.3 Third stage: comprehension of the elements which characterize a human voice.
As we have just described, the complex tone which composes the human voice (but also many musical instruments) is made of a sequence of sinusoids. The sequence which has the lowest frequency is called “fundamental frequency” and the following sequences with a higher frequency are called “harmonics” and they can be odd or even multiples of the fundamental frequency.
In the human voice, the sound intensity, the timbre and the audibility are largely due to the number of harmonics in the acoustic spectrum. The voice of a child with a high tone has very few harmonics; the average voice of a woman has more harmonics, and therefore, it is more comprehensible. The voice of a man with a deep tone is far more comprehensible because it is richer in harmonics (more thickening).
The peculiar timbre of a human voice also depends on the position of the so-called “formants.” For example, the human voice can be extensively modified by the path it makes from the larynx to the outside, since more resonances are made in certain frequencies than in others. The range of possibilities is practically endless and a specific peculiar pattern of the harmonic spectrum results from each arrangement of the vocal path.
The study of the formants is particularly effective in research concerning the relation between the resonances of the acoustic sources and the timbre. In this field, the human vocal apparatus is the most expressive, and perhaps, the most complex system. Other sound sources cannot change their resounding features. In fact, the variations of timbre in musical instruments can only be caused by affecting the dynamic of the vibrant body but not the instrument resounding features, which apart from structural alterations, cannot be modified.
On the contrary, in the human vocal characteristics, the subject can modulate the timbre not only changing, as far as possible, the dynamic of the vocal chords, but also changing the use and the width of the resonant cavities. In the usual cadence of verbal speech, the total number of movements needed for uttering words from the lungs to the vocal chords, the lower and upper resonant cavities, the tongue and the lips, is about 50/60 actions per second. That is why the qualitative modulations of the human voice are undoubtedly more varied than any other sound source.
In actual fact, the vocal tract works like a filter, strengthening some group of harmonics called “formants.” In an adult, the resonances due to the oropharyngeal cavity are produced at about 500, 1500 and 2500 Hertz. They correspond to the values of the frequencies of the first three formants: these values allow us to mathematically calculate the vocal tract length that is about 17.5 cm. It goes without saying that the acoustic resonances change following the kind of sound produced and the subject producing it.
The Italian formant values are slightly different from the French or Russian ones, or those of other countries. Also, the same Italian formant values are different if they come from different regions or belong to dialects with or without a different accent. Moreover, as far as the main vowels of the Italian language are concerned, they correspond to different values which can be separately ascribed to each vocoid. The values of the first two formants—the most important—are usually sufficient to hear the differences among each vowel (i, e, a, o, u) as shown in Figure 4. The features which characterize the human voice are countless and it is important that the EVP/ITC experimenter is able to distinguish them clearly in order to compare them with the anomalous recorded sounds. It is clear that, at this stage, we should take into account the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the analyzed evidences in order to make a correct measurement. A bad recording quality partially jeopardizes the precise reading of the plots we want to interpret. Moreover, we could lose or hide some important spectrographic, morphologic and structural characteristics which would lead to lost information.
1.4 Fourth stage: detecting anomalies
Taking into account the main properties of the human voice, we should be able to know the nominal deviation from the predictable values of the analyses. In this field of researches, the phonetician comes into play. This is the person who studies the Articulatory Phonetics and Tonetics. The phonetician can recognize the type of spoken language following the so-called Phonetic Transcription Standards which use symbols to correlate any kind of sound to a language.
This is the most complex stage, both for the phonetician who makes the measurements and for the EVP/ITC researcher. They both must devise a standard classification of the acoustic events judged anomalous, in accordance with tables and parameters of comparison, and show the predictable deviation percentages from the standard.
2. Examples of analysis made on “unusual voices.”
Figure 6 and 7 refer to the analysis made on a magnetic tape where the voice of a Gracula Religiosa, a bird known also as Hill Myna, has been recorded. In this example, we have examined the word “Renato” that the Gracula has uttered on request of its trainer. The anomalies that I am going to describe will be clearer if you will look at Figure 8 and 9, where I have tried to faithfully reproduce the same word with my own voice, trying to imitate the bird voice. At the bottom of the diagram, we can notice the strange configuration that the computer gives us about its virtual reconstruction of the acoustic vocal tract.
The example certainly cannot be the voice of a human being!
In this case, having changed my voice, the “O” sounds more like a “U” but it can be represented in the table with almost normal values for the human voice. At the bottom, the vocal tract is normally structured.
Somebody will ask why we hear the word “Renato” uttered by the bird. It is a simple, and at the same time, a complex answer. The solution partly lies in the acoustic perception physiology and in the connections made by our cerebral database, when it is stimulated by a melodic sequence with particular linguistic attributes. In practice, the computer tells us that those sounds do not exactly correspond with the word “Renato,” as it is in the usual human elocution, but with a sound melodically similar that our brain decodes as such, and makes the appropriate changes.
If you make the difference between the average values of the first two formants of the analysed acoustic evidences, you will notice that—even if they are very different (718/1129 and 380/790 Hz)—their ratio is almost the same (410 against 411). It therefore explains our auditory sensation, since the formant ratio of the “O” does not change.
Something similar happened to a dolphin which could imitate the human voices with a higher register (high frequencies). It was significant that, besides the melody and likeness to a human voice for the Gracula, the ratio of the formantic structures (resonances) were similar to the values in the human vowels.
How the bird can learn sounds from us that do not belong to its language is another field of study. It is enough to know that some birds called “polyglot” or “imitator” are able to imitate the vocalism of other species. The phenomenon is also called “vocal mimicry.”
3. Some examples of analyses of sounds of presumed bio-psycho-cybernetic origin.
In Figure 10, we can see the spectrogram of a presumed anomalous voice recorded by microphone on magnetic tape by Michele Dinicastro (Research Manager of the Biopsychocybernetic Laboratory) in a silent environment. The voice would seem to pronounce the word “Gesù” (Jesus).
The spectrographic analyses show an approximate formantic structure almost without fundamental frequency and periodic vibrations typical of a voice of human origin. As you noticed from the spectrogram, the fundamental frequency and the laryngeal vibrations are not present. We can partly explain this datum because the voice is whispering.
In Figure 11, we notice in the top image the oscillogram of the voice, in the centre the trend of the fundamental frequency and at the bottom the virtual reconstruction of the vocal tract. It is interesting to notice that the fundamental frequency F0 is only detected in the last part of the sound “U” (in the dampening phase), as well as the vocal tract, which shows the presence of laryngeal vibrations typical of sustained sounds, like vowels.
The section with more acoustic power (“Ge”), which corresponds to the central part, does not have the fundamental frequency F0 and laryngeal vibrations. Therefore, the shape of the vocal tract is not outlined.
In the “U,” which is indicated with the vertical lines, the vocal tract has normal dimensions but anomalous structure. The involved zones have excessive dimensions in order to get out this sound with a correct posture. In addition, the pharynx, the epiglottis and the larynx are moved forward and are too long.
Figure 12 shows the value of the first two formants (F1 and F2) relevant to the “u” vowel in “Gesù.” The black spot indicates the average position of the formants and the type of the used phoneme. In this case, the sound corresponds to a slightly open “u” with average values ranging between the “o” and the “u” vowels. In the Anglo-American phonetic alphabet the vocoid position corresponds to a sound like “hood.” As it often happens in the Italian language, the length of the final “u” is short and confirms that the explanation given by Michele Dinicastro is correct.
Since in the “e” vowel which comes before, the formantic tracks are broken and there are no laryngeal vibrations, the automatic program does not show the formant chart, but if you look at the spectrogram just examined, you will notice some areas with a sound thickening traces at 617 and 2588 Hertz, which correspond to the values for a little closed and aphonous “e” sound.
Figure 13 shows a parametric analysis of an EVP recorded by Anabela Cardoso, which evidences the lack of information in the formant structure and in the sound dynamic. Many graphical sections of the analyses show the presence of three formants with a poor bandwidth and a progressively constant temporal trend. Some noise indications are detected with moderate thickening traces of pseudo harmonic components.
The progressive listening made in sequence of these sounds show a verbal elocution which is decoded by the listener as follows: E\RIO\DO\TEMPO.
The analysis of the vowel frequency range is quite difficult and the lack of laryngeal vibrations does not allow a reconstruction of the vocal tract and its phonetic representation on the formant chart. It practically can be considered as sounds structured in a segmental way which, if heard with a certain uttering speed, take on informational and linguistic meanings for the listener, something like a kind of a “quantic noise manipulation,” which is typical of the communication channel.
Even if there is a signal which is characterized by a great saving of energy, the decoding would seem correct because the compacting bands roughly correspond to those of the relevant vocalic sounds. If we had more spectral information, we could have identified further anomalous elements in the acoustic indexes between the place of articulation and the way of articulation, thanks to a more detailed analysis. Their classification is as follows:
Indexes of place, classified in three categories:
Locus of transition of F2
Locus of transition of F3
Frequency of noise
Indexes of way, classified in six categories:
Form and speed of the transitions
Locus of transition of F1
Continuity or discontinuity of the connections, intensities and relative lengths to differentiate hard and voiced consonants
4. Summary of the resulting anomalies in the preliminary stage of the study
Lack of the fundamental frequency or its partial presence with multiple fragmentations.
Lack of the vibration of the vocal chords in timbre sounds with or without the fundamental frequency.
Formantic structure sometimes replaced by a noise thickening in the relevant bands and showing a severe modification or a non-sinusoidal trend.
Anomalous increase in the signal strength of the second formant and strengthening of the upper harmonics, poor melodic texture and fragmentation of the spectrum.
Anomalies in the frequencies, with too high values of the fundamental and formants frequencies.
Anomalies in the time of energy distribution in the whole signal structure which would seem to be made of many small side by side energy-packages, where it is difficult to separate the different structural elements of the spectrum.
Anomalies in the signal periodicity detected in the autocorrelation analysis.
Anomalous changes in the spectrum density.
Anomalies in the utterance; it is difficult to obtain an acoustic chart.
Anomalies in the time flowing with inexplicable slowing down or speeding up of the speech.
Partial or total elision of the consonants.
5. Comparative analyses for speaker recognition.
The method for identifying a speaker or for comparing an unknown voice (usually coming from telephone or from environmental interception) with a well-known speaker (also recorded) started in 1937, during the proceedings against the presumed kidnapper of Lindberg’s son, the first man to fly across the Atlantic.
At that time, it was only made by an acoustic trial. Later on, with the help of the so-called phonic proof and further improvements, the method developed by L. Kersta in 1962 was used. Kersta’s method consists of analyzing a graphic track, called spectrogram, with instruments like the Sonagraph, made by Kay Elemetrics, or using similar methods of analyses carried out through a computer with a data acquisition card, as in the examples below.
The chances of identifying the speaker are based on the hypothesis that any subject pronouncing a phoneme adapts the oral cavity in an “univocal” way, depending only on the person’s physical characteristics (dimensions of the larynx, of the oral cavity, of the tongue etc.). These anthropometrical characteristics shape the starting spectrum obtained by the vocal chords, intensifying for each vowel, some frequencies and attenuating others, so that they are recognizable.
The graphic of the spectrogram permits the display of these frequencies, showing the increases in sound intensities and attenuations called “formants,” which is shown by the intensification and/or attenuation of some lines in the spectrum. These are typical in a certain numerical range called “range of existence,” of each vowel and also typical, but not as certain as above, of each speaker. Remarks similar to those made on vowels can also be made about voiced consonants, such as \M\, \N\, \R\ since they show a formantic trend. The “melody” of the speech can give us a further parameter of analysis.
Such characteristic can be found in every “non-robotic” speech and can be seen in the spectrogram as a slant in the track corresponding to the fundamental frequency (also called “pitch” or F0). In addition, the same characteristic can be found in the graphic of the F0 trend which can be drawn through the Cepstrum even if the “natural” melody is always altered in a counterfeit voice (musicality of the language). However, an average difference in highness (frequency or pitch), derived from a good number of elements, can be independent of counterfeits and intentional changes.
Taking into account all these remarks and the qualitative and noise problems due to communication channels, the problems listed above increase considerably when the presumed paranormal voices, which have a peculiar personality, are compared with the voices that the presumed dead people had in their lifetime. The expert very often does not have enough samples to make a sufficiently probative analysis.
The presumed paranormal voices have a spectrum of poor quality with a large amount of noise, maybe due to their own characteristics or to the noises of the communication channel. In messages received in different times and through different experimenters and instruments, the same presumed personalities produce fairly different spectrums, characterized by an unusual fluctuation in the range of frequencies and, above all, in the time domain. These fluctuations can mislead us into either a false identification or a false denial because of the vector segregation systems which works with a multiple fragmentation of the signal. In these cases, besides the statistical and mathematical methods, it is necessary to work manually. That is to say, to analyze their spectrographic tracks.
Since it is impossible to take a phonic sample with the same informational content as is done in the legal investigations, the research shows a high standard of errors. In some lucky cases, when we have the same words to compare, the research is more reliable and probative but it is a very rare event.
I must stress that the comparison must take into account the number of available linguistic events, besides the quality of the acoustic evidences and the noises of the communication channel (radio, telephone, recorder, computer, etc.). In other words, if the same informational contents are available, it is sufficient to have two words which last for two/three seconds to make a comparison. After the differential comparison with a matrix of at least 154 speakers (error of 4.4%) or 928 speakers (error of 2.8%), the result will be highly probative.
It goes without saying that with a speech which lasts at least 10 second and even if it does not have the same informational content, the comparison will be nonetheless acceptable, because some vocoids and contoids (vowels and consonants) for the analysis (10 or more vowels and consonants) are available and useful to draw up an histographic average of the speaker. Here below I will show you some examples of comparison between EVP voices and human voices in order to identify them (Figure 14, 15 and 16).
Figure 14 shows the matrix formant layout of the EVP received by Anabela Cardoso. In red, are represented the formant distribution values relevant to the paranormal voice of a dead person named Joao. In blue, are represented the formant distribution values relevant to the voice of the same person when he was still alive. This is the person who is supposed to have spoken the EVP message.
Unfortunately, due to the scarcity of the available evidences—that is to say only one word—it is impossible to identify the voice with the help of objective parametrical methods which give us a certain reliability.
The conclusions that we can advance is that such a voice can be considered compatible, that is to say not dissimilar, since the two vocal samples have the tracks of the formants F4 and F5, which mainly characterize the individual features of the speaker, similar for 74%.
A different example concerns a case of identification made on an average of 3 seconds of speech with regard to an EVP recorded in Grosseto, Italy, at Marcello Bacci’s centre.
Figure 15 compares the voice in life of a young girl, Chiara Lenzi, where the verbal elocution was recorded in two different occasions while she is giving out the following words: UN\BACIONE\A\TE\CHIARA. The Euclidean matrix distance is 2.58 for the same speaker. If we measure this distance on an EVP recorded in Grosseto, where the father, Dr. Giuseppe Lenzi, perceptibly recognised his daughter in the following elocution: UN\BACINO\A\TE\CHIARA, we notice a difference in the spectral values with a matrix distance smaller than that previously measured, as shows Figure 16. In this case, unlike the previous one, we can state that the comparative outcomes between the voices considerably prove the identification.
If it had been a comparison between two voices in a threatening phone call or in a legal case of speaker identification, the expert’s opinion addressed to the judge would have been: HIGHLY COMPATIBLE VOICES.
In some cases, as above, the anomalies are clear and lean toward a high paranormal index of probability. In other cases the ambiguity of the data does not allow a clear interpretation and differentiation of the event. In such cases, a predisposition towards one of the two different explanations, for instance, towards the normality or the anomaly, shall be chosen as a trend. It is therefore necessary to be very careful to interpret the analyzed instrumental data, because there are many variables at stake, as in the case of the “voice” of Gracula Religiosa.
In my opinion, the organizational capacity of these acoustic signals is of great Importance. The signal can change from a simple noise thickening with poor harmonic content and a low informational standard due to a difficult decoding, to a well-constructed and complex harmonic structure very close to the expression of human language, and with the possibility of decoding them with a high standard of informational capacity.
We think that the study of the psi interaction phenomena in Transcommunication, started at our Laboratory in Bologna (www.laboratorio.too.it) in a common research project with French and Brazil, will lay the foundations for improving the knowledge of these unusual phenomena. This works is unfortunately still ignored today by mainstream science and by many academic parapsychologists.
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Gullà. (2003), Riconoscimento ed identificazione tramite le impronte vocali, Relazione contenuta nel 2° Anno del Corso Multimediale di Biopsicocibernetica del Laboratorio di Bologna.
What I am going to tell you happened in Brittany on the 9th of July 2004, when we were on holiday. It was after dinner and I had just put a piece of aluminum foil on a plate of cheese to cover it. I know … It’s very prosaic and my mind was far from any experiment but this is what happened.
As I was sitting at the table chatting with my mother and my husband—I still can’t believe it—I looked at the recently covered cheese plate and my daughter’s face was printed on that foil just in front of us. I then started to take photos of this very amazing event which seemed truly incredible to me. While I was taking the photographs with my Minolta Dimage XT, my mother became nervous and thought it was silly that I photographed a plate and asked me why I was doing it. I got up and went near her to show her my small camera screen without telling her anything. She immediately recognized the face of her granddaughter and asked me where I had got it. I told her it was on the aluminium paper; she then got up and came to where I was, sat on my chair and without me telling her the place she immediately spotted this little face. Then the same thing happened with my husband. And my husband—who is not a good observer—exclaimed: “It’s incredible; I can see Bénédicte’s face!” and he burst into tears.
I took the photos because I was afraid to see the image disappear. But the truth is that the little face remained on the same spot of the aluminium foil until the 14th of July and in the meantime I took photos with another camera, a Nikon F-401. The Nikon was less convenient to photograph the little face because it does not zoom and I wanted to show the photos to other people….
On the 14th of July we had to return because our holidays were over and I had to hand back the plate which was not mine, it belonged to the house we were renting and so I unwrapped the aluminum foil. To this day I regret not having brought that plate with me for I think I could still have my daughter’s face imprinted on the aluminum foil! It was really silly of me not having brought the plate home. Many people, friends who saw the photos later on, had the same opinion: they could see Bénédicte’s face on them.
Marie-Hélène Bienaimé, France
Physiognomic Analysis Performed on an
Image Obtained through I. P. V. S.*
by Daniele Gullà”Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Biopsychocybernetics Research
* I.P.V.S. : Acronym devised by IL Laboratorio which stands for “Interazione Psi-Visiva di tipo Strumentale” (Psi-Visual Interaction of Instrumental type, more commonly known as ITC image).
The Case Under Investigation
The investigation consists of attempts to explore the authenticity of an alleged ITC image unexpectedly obtained when a plate covered with aluminum foil was photographed. In the photograph, the creases in the foil were apparently seen to have spontaneously taken on the visual configuration of the face of a deceased girl. The girl’s identity was immediately claimed to be recognized by her mother (who took the photograph) and by other relatives present at the time.
Description of the Case
The anomalous photograph that is at the center of the case initially came to the attention of Dr. Anabela Cardoso, who then arranged for it to be sent to me for analysis. It was shown to Dr. Cardoso by the lady responsible for taking it and whom Dr. Cardoso and I met while attending the International Conference of Infinitude held in Paris in 2007. Having inspected the photograph, Dr. Cardoso considered it of sufficient interest to be sent to me, together with photographs taken during the lifetime of the deceased daughter whose image it appeared to be. These photographs would enable me to carry out a possible verification of any similarities in physiognomic characteristics between the alleged ITC image on the tinfoil and the images of the girl shown in the photographs taken during her lifetime.
Technical Steps in Making the Anthropometric Comparison
The ITC image and one of the lifetime pictures of Bénédicte were normalized in terms of pixels and contrast, and subsequently, metric and morphologic measurements were taken of the two images. The two images were then superimposed one on the other so that the appropriate mark points (‘repère’ points) coincided. Morphologic Test of Pattern Recognition with Neural Networks: The test of morphologic compatibility was performed with the Neural Networks program utilized by the American intelligence services (FBI) known as the Universal Image Recognition program. This morphologic test takes into consideration the whole of the cranial structure of the human head, elaborating the contours of the “structural cage” and does not focus on the distances of single repère points. Instead it analyzes in a more general way the shape of the various parts of the cranium. The test was performed using the ONE_TO_MANY mode that compares the ITC image with 3,000 other images contained in the database of the Universal Image Recognition program. This database is composed of masculine and feminine somatic types of faces, all of European origin and aged between 10 and 70 years.
The final data is the result of a miscellaneous comparison of 3,000 x 3,000 or more precisely 9,000,000 comparative tests. In the final result visible on the screen in Figure 7, seven similar images were found but only one reaches the maximum score which surpasses the threshold of FAR (False Acceptance) and FRR (False Recognition Rate), which the program sets respectively at percentage values 0, 1% and 0, 03%. This image was one of Bénédicte’s lifetime photographs. That image reached the highest score and it was therefore identified as the face most similar to the ITC image with a rate of 98.97%.
Figure 2. Detail of the supposed ITC face enlarged and rotated through approximately 30 degrees
Figure 3. Four images of Bénédicte, the deceased French girl visually recognized by her mother as the subject of the ITC image in the aluminum foil, taken during her lifetime
Figure 4. This image shows the result of the superimposition of the lifetime image of Bénédicte’s face with the presumed ITC face. The similarity of the somatic traits is clearly noticeable.
It is possible to read on the central report of the computer screen printout in Figure 7 that besides the choice of the anomalous ITC image proper (which was also added to the database of the program), which is identical to the image for which a comparison was required because it is the same image, and therefore attained the highest score of 192000000 (file denominated “Photo David et Bénédicte1r.jpg”), the second most similar image with a score of 59136000 is Bénédicte’s lifetime photograph (file denominated “Photo David et Bénédicte-2.jpg”) shown on the right side of the computer print-out. This image, which gave a percentage similarity rating of 98.7% was therefore identified as the face most similar to the ITC image (The Italian Courts of Justice accept a reading of 95% when establishing cases of human identity).
Figure 5. The same operation was then carried out using another image of Bénédicte superimposed on the ITC picture with alignment of the repère points with morphing technique. The similarity of the faces and the apparent coincidence of the points are again noticeable.
Figure 6. In this analysis the distance relationships between the repère points of the two images were measured. Although the relationships are noticeably constant, with values in the region of number 1, there are percentage value changes that indicate the presence of some spatial deformations in the tinfoil of the ITC image that prevent definitive conclusions, from the metric point of view, as to whether or not the two images share the same identity.
Figure 7. Morphologic comparison between the ITC image and 3,000 faces performed with neural networks. Bénédicte’s lifetime image was recognized as the most similar to the anomalous image with a percentage of 98.97%.
The technological applications used in the comparative analysis have revealed several points of similarity. The morphologic comparison done with Neural Networks on a sampling of 3,000 faces shows that a high percentage of compatibility between the ITC image and the photograph taken during the young girl’s life exists. However, it should be borne in mind that
the alleged ITC image taken by the mother under the circumstances and with the exposure value (i.e. the time the shutter remained open during the shutter click) concerned, produced a particular effect of light/shadow on the reflective surface (i.e. the aluminum foil) that does not allow us to highlight identification marks capable of allowing an evaluation sufficiently sensitive to yield total compatibility with an image taken during the subject’s lifetime. Furthermore, it should be emphasized that my analysis is limited to measurements made on optical information whose authenticity and origin cannot be accurately determined.
Unfortunately, it was not possible to achieve an accurate comparison of the metric relationship between the points because, although a very marked similarity was found, the image containing the “extra” presents spatial deformations which are obviously due to the particular conditions of the creased aluminum foil on which the image was imprinted. Consequently, it was not possible to obtain precise anthropometric data from the image. Proper measurements could only be taken from Bénédicte’s lifetime pictures. The missing instrumental confirmation of the metric methodology does not, however, diminish the probability of a definite identification, even though we have to deal with comparisons between two images that differ from each other as to the material on which they are imposed. It would have been different if we had analyzed two homogeneous photographs and had found instrumental discrepancies with one of the two methods used.
Nevertheless, the morphologic analysis (which is more representative by virtue of its analysis of the images through the simulation of human vision) and the probabilistic comparison between the ITC image and the population of 3,000 faces in the database render the hypothesis of compatibility of the two faces valid.
Translated from the Italian original by Dr. Anabela Cardoso and originally published in No. 31 of the ITC Journal which is published 3 times a year. For subscription information, see itcjournal.org
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Research compilations for ambient magnetic conditions and psi functioning provided by S. James P. Spottiswoode suggest a negative correlation: “Retrospective analyses of putative spontaneous psi, or anomalous cognition (AC), events have shown a tendency for these to be reported on days of relatively low geomagnetic disturbance.”jsasoc.com/library.html
Haunting events and EVP are believed to be a psi function, but nevertheless, there has been no research reported that supports the view that EVP is influenced by the magnetic environment The following research report details an effort to determine if there is a detectable correlation.
Those who believe EVP to be real think that the voices of the dead are being recorded while those who do not believe in the paranormal nature of these phenomena claim that they are nothing more than stray radio waves or auditory pareidolia or apophenia. It is a proven fact that the human mind can create meaning out of insignificant sound and random noise. Those who support the paranormal nature of this phenomena claim that the voices are interactive and can be identified as someone who has died. The question then, is how do the deceased manifest their voices on the recording equipment?
Some EVP researchers, ghost hunters and paranormal investigators believe that entities use physical sound energy and re-modulate it to form words. In addition, there is anecdotal evidence that:
More messages are recorded at night or during stormy weather than during the day or when the weather is clear,
There is a relationship between EVP and electrical or moisture conditions of the atmosphere,
Other types of energy, such as light and magnetism, can influence EVP recordings (1).
The ghost hunting community overall believes that times of increased solar activity are ideal for ghost hunting. It is thought that, with enough energy in the air from charged ions and an energized electromagnetic field, manifestations, including EVP, are more plentiful and clear (9, 10). This belief is due to investigator’s personal experiences and the extrapolation and interpretation of the published scientific literature.
There are published studies in peer reviewed academic journals and books that describe a correlation between paranormal activity and geomagnetic fields (3, 8). Some studies have shown there is an increase in poltergeist (Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis or RSPK) events when there is an increase in the geomagnetic field (3, 6), while others found a correlation between an increase in the geomagnetic field and an increase in haunt phenomena, postmortem apparitions, and sensed presences (5, 8). The interpretation of these correlations is open to debate. Some think that the increase in geomagnetic activity either triggers and/or fuels the activity (especially in the RSPK studies) while others feel that the changes in geomagnetic fields and complex electromagnetic fields can induce hallucinations.
There is little or no formal analysis that increased geomagnetic activity leads to an increase in the frequency and clarity of EVP. This study is an attempt to determine if there is a correlation between geomagnetic activity and the quantity of EVP.
EVP: EVP from 2001 to 2005 were obtained from the Southern Wisconsin Paranormal Research Group case files, the South Jersey Ghost Research Group and the personal files of Cindy Heinen. The number of EVP recorded on each day were tabulated in an Excel spreadsheet. Both days with EVP recorded and days where recording for EVP was attempted but there were no EVP recorded were included.
Magnetic field variation can come from currents caused by solar radiation changes. Solarwinds can interact with the magnetosphere. The magnetosphere and ionosphere can cause magnetic field changes by themselves. Magnetic activity indices provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) are used to describe the variation in the geomagnetic field (13).
The a-index is a 3-hourly “equivalent amplitude” index of the local geomagnetic activity; “a” is related to the 3-hourly K-index.
The A-index is the daily index of geomagnetic activity derived as the average of the eight 3-hourly a-indices.
The Ap-index is an average planetary A-index based on data from a set of specific stations (11). The estimated planetary A-index from NOAA (12) was used for this study.
A-index values (24-hrs) of the following determine the geomagnetic conditions:
0 to 7 “Quiet” geomagnetic conditions
8 to 15 “Unsettled” geomagnetic conditions
16 to 24 “Active” geomagnetic conditions
25 to 35 “Minor storm”
36+ “Major storm”
To determine if there was a correlation between the number of EVP recorded and the estimated Ap-index, the number of EVP vs. the estimated Ap-index was plotted and a nonparametric correlation Spearman r analysis was performed using GraphPad InStat version 3.05 for Windows 95/NT, GraphPad Software, San Diego California USA, www.graphpad.com
To determine if there was a difference in the mean estimated Ap-index for when EVP were recorded vs. when no EVP were recorded, a nonparametric Mann-Whitney t-test was performed using GraphPad InStat.
Finally, to determine if a certain level of enhanced geomagnetic activity leads to more EVP, the mean number of EVP was compared for the following:
Ap-index of 0 to 7 “Quiet” vs. 8 to 15 “Unsettled”
Ap-index of 0 to 7 “Quiet” vs. 16 to 24 “Active”
Ap-index of 0 to 7 “Quiet” vs. 25 to 35 “Minor Storm”
Ap-index of 0 to 7 “Quiet” vs. 36+ “Major Storm”
Two hundred and ten data points were collected and spanned the time period of January 6th, 2001 to August 27th, 2005. There were 101 days with EVP and 109 days without EVP. The number of data points for each estimated Ap-index range/geomagnetic condition were: 0 to 7/“Quiet” = 61; 8 to 15/”Unsettled” = 82; 16 to 24/”Active” = 39; 25 to 35/”Minor Storm” = 18; 36+/”Major Storm” = 10.
0 to 7/“Quiet” = 61
8 to 15/”Unsettled” = 82
16 to 24/”Active” = 39
25 to 35/”Minor Storm” = 18
36+/”Major Storm” = 10.
Figure 1 shows the number of EVP plotted against the estimated Ap-index. Spearman r = 0.02882 (95% CI –0.110 to 0.1675; P=0.6779; not significant). r = 0.02882, 95% CI –0.110 to 0.1675; P=0.6779; not significant
Estimated Ap-index when no EVPs were recorded vs. estimated
Ap-index when EVPs were recorded
Mean number of EVPs for “Quiet” vs “Unsettled”
Mean number of EVPs for “Quiet” vs “Active”
Mean number of EVPs for “Quiet” vs “Minor Storm”
Mean number of EVPs for “Quiet” vs “Major Storm”
Table 1 shows the results of the statistical analysis for the various comparisons.
There is a general belief among the hauntings investigation community that an increase in the geomagnetic field enables paranormal manifestations to be more plentiful and clear. It has been speculated that this extends to EVP as well (9, 10). These beliefs are based on investigator’s personal experiences and conclusions they draw from reading the published scientific literature. There is little if any formal analysis indicating that increases in geomagnetic activity leads to an increase in the number of EVP. This study explored the possibility that increases in the geomagnetic field (as measured with the estimated Ap-index) would lead to an increase in the quantity of EVP.
There was no significant correlation found between the estimated Ap-index and the number of EVP. In addition, there was no significant difference in the mean number of EVP recorded during “Quiet” geomagnetic conditions vs. the mean number of EVP recorded during “Unsettled”, “Active”, “Minor Storm”, or “Major Storm” geomagnetic conditions.
This study has several limitations:
First, the EVP data was collected from three different sources. Since identifying an EVP is highly subjective, different people may classify different things as EVP.
Second, the number of EVP data points became very small when analyzing the different geomagnetic conditions. For example, there were only ten data points in the 36+/”Major Storm” geomagnetic condition. This can limit the statistical power to determine a significant difference.
Third, this study does not address the issue of whether or not EVP have more clarity with elevated geomagnetic conditions. EVP classifications are extremely subjective and were not available in the data sets used in this analysis. This issue needs to be studied in a similar manner.
Fourth, this is only one study based on three data sets from three different sources. It should be repeated with more data sets. It would also be interesting to look at other parameters besides the estimated Ap-index. Formal analysis of various atmospheric conditions would also be interesting.
Despite the limitations, this study has shown that there doesn’t appear to be any correlation between geomagnetic conditions and the number of EVP recorded. However, more studies will need to be done looking at various other factors to see if any other environmental conditions can affect the quantity and quality of EVP.
Butler, T. The White Paper on EVP. atransc.org/theory/white_paper-evp.htm
Roll, W.G. and Gearhart, L. (1974). Geomagnetic perturbations and RSPK. In W.G. Roll, R.L. Morris and J. Morris (Eds.), Research in parapsychology, 1973 (pp.44-46). Metuchen, NJ : Scarecrow.
Gearhart, L. and Persinger, M.A. (1986). Geophysical variables and behavior: XXXIII. Onsets of historical and contemporary poltergeists episodes occurred with sudden increases in geomagnetic activity. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 62, pp.463-466.
Persinger, M.A. and Koren, S.A. (2001). Predicting the characteristics of haunt phenomena from geomagnetic factors and brain sensitivity: Evidence from field and experimental studies. In J. Houran and R. Lange (Eds.), Hauntings and poltergeists: Multidisciplinary perspectives, (pp.179-194). Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, Inc.
Roll, W.G. and Persinger, M.A. (2001). Investigations of poltergeists and haunts: A review and interpretation. In J. Houran and R. Lange (Eds.), Hauntings and poltergeists: Multidisciplinary perspectives, (pp.123-163). Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, Inc.
Persinger, M.A. and Richards, P.M. (1995). Vestibular experiences of humans during brief periods of partial sensory deprivation are enhanced when daily geomagnetic activity exceeds 15-20nT. Neuroscience Letters, 194, pp.69-72.
Persinger, M.A. (1988). Increased geomagnetic activity and the occurrence of bereavement hallucinations: Evidence for melatonin-mediated microseizuring in the temporal lobe? Neuroscience Letters, 88, pp.271-274.
Chaney, S. (2006). I’ll give you the sun and moon… TAPS Paramagazine, Vol. 1, No. 6, pp.13-14.
Farrell, M. (2005). The astronomy of ghost hunting. Ghost! Issue 2, pp.70.
by Tom Butler Previously published in the Fall 2011 ATransC NewsJournal
Based on a number of recent demonstrations by multiple practitioners, ATransC commissioned a study to determine the suitability of that technology for real-time, two-way communication. After three years, a “failure to replicate” style report was published. This article is a discussion of procedural concerns with the study and a discussion of lessons learned which may guide future studies.
Stefan Bion developed a computer program named EVPmaker which uses a random process to select and combine segments of a sound file to produce a new output file. EVP are thought to be produced by the manipulation of the random process. To make the program more controllable for research, Stefan recently provided a sound file containing seventy-two allophones generated with the SpeakJet™ chip-set developed for robotics.
Allophones are small segments of speech, which when combined, can produce “spoken” words. The output from EVPmaker is a steady stream of allophones, which when intentionally selected by the communicating entity, produce EVP messages.
In 2008, Margaret Downey demonstrated real-time conversations using EVPmaker with allophones. An example here. Other practitioners reported similarly meaningful communications using the same technology, giving reason to think the time was right to closely examine real-time communication.
Thanks to a $10,000 donation to the Sarah Estep Research Fund from a member and a second donation from Becky Estep in memory of her mother and founder of the Association, Sarah Estep, ATransC contracted with Windbridge Research Institute to conduct a study. The assumption was that a report from impartial researchers would be more credible than if ATransC members conducted the study. The research question agreed to by ATransC was:
Can the EVPmaker software using the SpeakJet allophones data set produce real-time answers to questions that are posed by an operator under controlled conditions that eliminate conventional explanations for the results?
The project began June 2008 and the resulting report was published in the Summer 2011 Journal of Scientific Exploration. (Article is here) However, the final report to ATransC was delivered October 2009, and from the following comments from the report, it became evident that it was being reported as another “failure to replicate” article:
Taking all of these analyses into account, this study did not find evidence that the EVPmaker software using the SpeakJet allophones data set can produce real-time answers to questions posed by an operator under controlled conditions that eliminate conventional explanations for the results.
The data in this study tend to suggest that the interpretation of EVPmaker conversations is a subjective process, the content of which is meaningful primarily (and perhaps solely) to the operator.
Examining the Windbridge Study
The study took just over three years from start to published report and cost ATransC about $12,000 including overhead. The ATransC objective was to have independent researchers evaluate the technology and help determine the best protocol for replicating the quality of existing examples. The study consisted of four phases: literature search, data collection, data analysis and final report. A single practitioner was used to produce ten sessions containing EVP with transcripts indicating what was heard. Data analysis consisted of allophone frequency analysis, listening panel, message grading as used for mediumship studies and speech recognition software.
It was possible for the practitioner to conduct the EVP sessions at home because of a computer that was configured to provide much the same controls as could be applied in a laboratory. One practitioner was used. The practitioner could do as many sessions as needed and was tasked with selecting and submitting what was heard as the top ten sessions. Besides the recorded sessions and the data file from EVPmaker indicating the sequence of allophones, the practitioner also provided a written script of what was heard as EVP in each session. As agreed to by ATransC, there were no constraints on what the practitioner asked the etheric communicators to evoke an EVP.
The study produced examples which the listening panel agreed on, but the one with the most agreement was discarded as a statistical “outlier” with the comment:
One of the 10 samples—Session 6 (“I’m here for you”)—fell just under the “hit” threshold with a mean of 2.99 (± 0.12). However, it was determined that this value is a statistical outlier* and its removal from the data set should be considered. If the scores given to Session 6 are removed from the analysis, the resulting updated mean for the remaining nine samples falls from 1.15 (± 0.05) to 0.86 (± 0.05). This shows that the perceptions of the listening panel received an average score less than what was deemed a “slight match” to the operator’s perception.
* Convention dictates that values three times the interquartile range above or below the mean be considered outliers.
It is important to note that Class A EVP are, by definition, “outliers.”
Open-ended questions make it very difficult to use the “reasonableness” criterion.
Based on an ATransC advisor’s comments, it is essential to use more than one practitioner.
The data-collection methodology used by Windbridge is an excellent approach to establishing research controls for unattended EVP sessions.
The frequency of occurrence of allophones in the control sessions was compared with the practitioner sessions because (from the final report):
It was hypothesized that if communication involving English words was present in the Active Sessions, certain allophones might be present more or less often than in the Control Sessions
Not knowing what might come of it, we concurred that this was an interesting test. However, we cautioned several times that the words in EVP produced by EVPmaker are often formed in novel ways. As shown below, the researchers also noted this in the Speech Recognition part of the study. If words in the sessions are heard by people even though they may only be phonically similar to the spoken word, it is unlikely that a change in distribution of allophones between control and practitioner sessions would be detectible.
A second factor is that there may be only a few intended words and many naturally occurring words in a session. For the very many allophones generated in a session (1,675 for a three-minute session), would a Class A utterance even show up in such an analysis?
Without more study of this technique, it is very difficult to know if the right assumptions have been made by the researchers. From our assessment, it appears to be unreasonable to say that frequency analysis is a realistic technique for detecting the presence of anomalous influence on the selection of allophones.
An online listening panel was selected and presented ten sound clips from control sessions and ten from the practitioner sessions. An important point in this test was that the examples used from the practitioner sessions were ten of those EVP reported as being heard real time.
One of the questions asked was whether or not the listener heard words in the samples. An average 73% answered “Yes” for the practitioner sessions and 63% answered “Yes” for the control sessions. Roughly half-heard words in each of the twenty examples they were asked to judge.
The grading system the researchers used has potential for future research, especially the way they graded what listeners reported hearing. However, one word responses were counted, including such words “I,” “yes” and “for.” EVPmaker output includes numerous naturally occurring sounds resembling common one-syllable words. This is apparently the case with the control sessions, resulting in both groups having a similar number of reported words.
Witness panels do work, but one protocol does not fit all forms of EVP. Word-like sounds naturally occur in EVPmaker output, making it necessary to use grading rules which will ignore one-syllable words. EVP is considered communication, and a second consideration is the reasonableness of a response. For instance, a stand-alone word like “oracle” should be ignored unless the practitioner has specifically asked questions for which it is appropriate. One cannot say the word is present if a listening panel does not agree, but since short words are sometimes spontaneously formed by EVPmaker, care must be taken not to include them in the analysis. A methodology would need to be established for determining which is the case.
Judging Content of Reported EVP
As they do for messages in mediumship, the researchers scored the reported EVP with what the practitioner asked or said and reported that:
Of the 124 responses, roughly one-third (31%, 38) received a score of 0 [No fit]. Similarly, another third (34%, 42) received a score of 3 [Obvious fit]. The remaining third of the responses (35%) received median scores of 1 [Fit with minimal interpretation] (20) or 2 [Fit with more than minimal interpretation] (24). The overall mean was 1.56 ± 0.11, a score at the middle of the scoring range, and the higher end of the 95% confidence interval fell below 1.8.
Based on the distribution of these scores, it was concluded that responses perceived by the operator did not consistently contain information that logically matched her questions.
Of course, there remains the fact that nearly a third of the responses did agree with the practitioner. The conclusions arrived at by the researchers beg the question, “How can a 31% agreement be discarded when one is speaking of something that is not supposed to exist?”
Lessons learned: Content judging appears to be a good way to establish a numerical value to the objectivity of a reported utterance. That is essentially what analysis of results from a listening panel is supposed to provide. The rules of “convincingly objective,” however, should be based on reasonable consensus.
Speech Recognition Program
The researchers “trained” a speech recognition program to understand phrases spoken with the SpeakJet allophones. They then attempted to use that program to find the reported EVP phrases. From the report:
It is evident from this comparison that these 10 phrases that the operator heard during the real-time EVPmaker Active Sessions were not present in the EVPmaker output at those times in the sessions. However, similar vowel sounds were often found in the output. For example, when the operator heard the phrase “you are here,” the allophones being “spoken” by EVPmaker actually “said” something like “ooch k hoe are teer.” Similarly, when the operator heard “I’m here for you,” EVPmaker was “saying” “I oo we’re kk door you.”
Here is the example which was discarded as an outlier.
Reported phrase: I’m here for you. Allophones from EVPmaker: \OHIY \UW \WW \IYRR \KO \EK \DO \OWRR \IYUW Associated phonetic sounds: (“I oo we’re kk door yoo”)
The computer program was trained to find words in allophones “properly” arranged to form those words. It is difficult to “hear” what this sounds like by reading the phonetic sounds above. They were heard by the practitioner and many of the listening panel as “I’m here for you,” This is an example of how allophones might be arranged to approximate the intended words. Words that would be understood by a human but not found by the program.
Speech recognition programs have been tried for EVP many times, but to our knowledge, with no meaningful success. We made this clear to the researchers, but they insisted they could make it work. Trying to keep an open mind, we agreed. In fact, they did not make it work and we believe this part of the analysis should have been discarded as a bad idea.
Lessons learned: At this time, speech recognition is not a realistic tool for EVP formed with EVPmaker. It may be useful for transform EVP since forensic voice analysis has been successfully used to compare “living” and discarnate voices.
The Journal of Scientific Exploration* is a peer-reviewed publication which has published two other “failure to replicate EVP” -type articles. Based on this and our attempts to communicate with the society, we do not count it as a friend of EVP/ITC. We have no visibility as to who the “peers” were and our assumption is that they are peers in science but not peers in ITC. In truth, being amongst the very few organizations friendly to the concepts of survival and transcommunication, we expected to have to publish the final report in the ATransC NewsJournal.
“The idea that you don’t show anybody, including your colleagues, results until they are peer-reviewed is something new in science. And it’s brought about because of media attention. I don’t think that’s good.”
This is the first point we need to make. Peer review is not vetting. It is academics agreeing that the paper is academically sound, while vetting by subject matter specialists would have pointed out that many of the assumptions and procedures were inappropriate for the subject.
The basic scientific method is observation leading to hypothesis which predicts outcomes that can be tested to further refine the hypothesis. This is important and appropriate to the study of transcommunication. However, many of the tools of mainstream science are not appropriate for this study. Most glaring is the statistical discard of an example because it was understood to much more often than the others.
The listening panel and judging content procedures are essentially the same. As is clear in judging content, they are subjective considerations of objective phenomena. Being subjective, it is necessary to constrain the results to plausible communication. This was done in judging content but counting one and two-syllable words as “Yes” for presence of words only serves to provide fodder for statistical analysis. In fact, the presence of EVP was noted, making the conclusion that EVP were not present unfounded. From the report:
Thus, consensus among participants during the listening panel did not rule out pareidolia (finding patterns in sound that are not there) as a possible explanation for the perceived presence of ITC in the Active Sessions.
Based on the distribution of these scores, it was concluded that responses perceived by the operator did not consistently contain information that logically matched the questions.
The researchers had been advised that previous attempts to use speech recognition have failed. Most EVP are formed in novel ways, which is especially true of EVPmaker. In fact, this is the common problem of frequency analysis of allophones and the speech recognition attempt made by the researchers. Both were interesting ideas which after seeing they did not detect phenomena known to be present, should have been abandoned. The report should have looked more like “We tried this but it did not work,” rather than, “We did this and it showed that phenomena were not present.”
Here is the research question used in the published report:
Can the presence of ITC be objectively detected in real-time ITC sessions recorded by an experienced EVPmaker operator in which the operator claims successful contact with an external entity has occurred?
There was a shift in emphasis from the original question (at beginning of this article) which highlights the breakdown in communication between Windbridge and ATransC. It is ATransC policy to promote open, candid collaboration and to make research results available to the average person. That was one of our requirements. ATransC is a nonprofit organization and funding this study had the potential of attracting more donations to enable future studies. Instead, the researchers refused to allow us to discuss the study until the final report was published—three years later.
The unavoidable conclusion is that research about techniques and human factors, such as protocols for listening panels, should be conducted by subject-matter specialists, and that work should be vetted by subject-matter specialists. Attempting to force-fit methodologies of mainstream science has not added to the understanding of these phenomena, except to show what does not work. There is a class division between academically trained but uninformed scientists and informed but generally poorly trained subject-matter specialist which impairs collaboration. This makes it necessary to conduct this work with the resources of the paranormal community.
Conclusion about EVPmaker
Despite the conclusions arrived at by Windbridge that EVP thought to be produced by EVPmaker are probably imaginary, there remain important examples of EVP from that technology which are very objective. So what is reasonable guidance for members? There can be no doubt; EVPmaker should not be recommended to people who are new to EVP. The difficult to follow output too easily leads people to find meaning where none was intended.
An example recorded in another study, “Her radio,” illustrates the complexities faced by researchers. Close examination of “radio” shows that it is actually a transform EVP—one formed by morphing noise to produce a clear expression. So in fact, that EVP is not a demonstration of EVPmaker’s capability. It could have been recorded with an ordinary audio recorder using background noise.
The ATransC recommendation will be that EVPmaker should be considered a specialty tool to be used by people already accustomed to recording EVP using a recorder with possible background noise (transform EVP). EVP from EVPmaker should be examined to determine whether or not it is actually transform EVP.
This is a requirements specification for a computer/smartphone app that will function as an Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) recording system and a node of a consciousness array.
There are no plans at this time to issue a request for proposal; however, developers are invited to participate in development of these requirements. The resulting design specification is to be released under the Creative Commons License (cc). A research-ready version is required, as is a commercial version.
Please use the contact tool if you wish to participate in this discussion.
A standardized platform for the collection of EVP that uses only speech synthesis, and that does not depend on the modification of audio-frequency energy for voice formation, would provide researchers with a controllable, easily replicated tool for the analysis of the processes involved with EVP formation.
Voice formation in EVP has been demonstrated in three basic technologies: transform EVP is formed by modifying audio-frequency energy to simulate human voice; opportunistic EVP if formed by the selection of “just in time” bits of sound–primarily human speech–to form a new sound stream; and, environmentally stimulated EVP is formed by using detected changes in the energy of the environment to operate a speech synthesis process to form voice. Speech synthesis may be used in lieu of “live” voice in opportunistic EVP.
The basic objective of this set of requirements is to provide a highly portable computer and computer program which is self-contained and includes the functions listed in Functional requirements, below.
Environmentally stimulated EVP is a relatively unexplored form of EVP. EVPmaker has been around since 2000, but has always depended on prerecorded live speech. The use of speech synthesis in lieu of live speech is also very new. While much is known about transform EVP, environmentally stimulated EVP is relatively unknown. Excellent examples recorded by Margaret Downey of both EVPmaker using speech synthesis (an allophone file) and the operation of the Paranormal Puck.
There have been other examples of the effectiveness of this technology that are sufficiently convincing to show that Downey’s work can be replicated so some extent by others. Important features of transform EVP that makes it more personable for contact with loved ones are lost with speech synthesis, but the ability to eliminate many of the factors that cast doubt on the nature of EVP makes the use of speech synthesis a mandatory requirement for this project.
It would be based on a computer/smartphone app.
There would be a speech synthesis program along the lines of the Lingvosoft This is an in-computer replacement for SpeakJet.
A program like EVPmaker that functions as a shell for the platform and provides an operator interface.
An audio management program, probably Audacity since it is free and can be modified, to capture, store, and if necessary, process the output of the shell. This should capture the operator’s voice on one channel and the output of the synthesizer on a second channel while sending the output of the synthesizer to a speaker. Both channels should be stored as individual sessions.
For research, an interface/movement logger should be available and counts as part of the base platform.
The whole package should be affordable for casual investigation.
Be able to be operated by one person walking around in a dark building.
Possible Further Options
Voice recognition and storage in a separate file.
Use of environmental detection devices to augment the random process.
Such extras as camera and environmental microphone.
Support of the Computer array consciousness study.
Personality modules designed by operator for personal flexibility.
The platform should be designed in a way that it is clear that no external radio signals are being used, and that no prerecorded EVP are in the output.
The working hypothesis for this project is that individual consciousness functions as an element of a global awareness, the nature of which remains undefined. Further, that this consciousness has an influence on random processes, and therefore fluctuations in this global field can be detected as changes in the randomness of those processes.
The Global Consciousness Project (GCP) conducted a long-term experiment designed to detect the interaction of a consciousness field with Random Event Generators (REG). Results of these experiments appeared to confirm at least a deviation in randomness of a widely distributed array of REGs.
The assumption here is that there must be an array of random processes that report to a central location for analysis, and that the experiment consists of analyzing the accumulated REG data for deviation in coincidence with naturally occurring events in the world. For instance, The GCP Results indicate a deviations in randomness in the array associated with major world events. The 9-11 terrorist attack on the USA showed as a major deviation in randomness some minutes before the actual attack with, quoting the GPC: “The final probability for the formal hypothesis test was 0.028, which is equivalent to an odds ratio of 35 to one against chance.”
From the Global Consciousness Project website: “The original ‘benchmark’ experiment used a commercial random source developed by Elgenco, Inc., the core of which is proprietary. Elgenco’s engineering staff describe the proprietary module as “solid state junctions with precision pre-amplifiers,” implying processes that rely on quantum tunneling to produce an unpredictable, broad-spectrum white noise in the form of low-amplitude voltage fluctuations.” John Bradish of the PEAR team, used thermal noise in resistors as a white noise source. Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) experimenters will sometimes use an unterminated diode as a microphone substitute and a source of noise.
The proposed project consists of:
A computer program that can be downloaded from a server by volunteers, and installed on their computer. The program would function in the background (low priority) and use random processes which are native to the computer to produce a log of deviation from the norm of randomness for that computer. The program would function whenever the computer is on, and report to a central collection process when the computer is online. See the Technical section for a discussion of this program.
A computer server-based process which will receive log reports from participating computers and look for patterns of deviation from randomness. This program should store the results and display results on an Internet page intended to give the public an “at a glance” view of any possible deviations.
An oversight committee that will attempt to correlate any possible deviation from chance with world events, and publish the information for website visitors. This committee would also be responsible for writing appropriate reports and managing the project.
Objective of this Project
The objective of the DCA project is to establish a far-flung array of centrally reporting computers to function as a research test bed for consciousness research. Previous research has shown that something influences the randomness of REGs, and that there is an apparent correlation between that change and human behavior. For instance, one reported observation of REG changes is that an increase in order near the even may be countered by a decrease in order elsewhere. A sufficiently dense array should show this result and its extent if it is a valid observation.
This project is expected to eventually be merged with the Digital EVP Platform to produce a general purpose research tool for etheric studies.
Hardware REGs are expensive, and for the proposed project, an unrealistic requirement. Since the key objective is to have a string of data, changes in which can be reliably detected and quantified, the next best choice appears to be processes native to the ordinary personal computer. For instance, the audio management program, Audacity is open source software under the GNU General Public License (GPL). There are a number of qualified programmers developing plugins for the program, and it should be possible to solicit development of a plugin that uses Audacity’s white noise generator to satisfy this requirement. The process envisioned here is that the white noise spectrum would be quantified to indicate the average power per frequency range–based on EVP research, preferably weighted in the voice frequency range.
A computer routine would be necessary, which periodically assesses the “norm” of this power distribution, and that norm would be either used as an off-setting bias to normalize the data for that computer, or as the deviation indicator itself. This point needs the consideration of qualified audio engineers.
Use of the computer’s random number generator process should be considered as a second source for assessing randomness. Again in EVP research, we have seen a difference in apparent susceptibility to psi influence amongst technologies. Consequently, output from the broad-spectrum white noise and the narrow spectrum random number generator, considered both individually and in tandem, should give a reasonably clear report of whether or not measurable deviations in randomness occur in relationship to events.
It would be interesting to provide current feedback to the volunteer with perhaps a simple colored dot of about 1/2 inch diameter in the lower-right corner of the computer desk top. Perhaps it could display green for no deviation, deep blue for a lot more and deep red for a lot less.
Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) uses an array of volunteer PCs for its research, and as a nonprofit organization, may cooperate in helping Open Source Science develop the download-polling and assessment program. The American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena (AA-EVP) is nonprofit and can sponsor this project under the Etheric Studies Initiative if a nonprofit status is required for contributions or technical support.
Determination that the project has merit and if so:
Identification of online computer resources for a server
Determination of an adequate random data source for personal computers
Acquisition of software for managing the array
Determination of analysis and reporting approach
Development of the central analysis program–what are the success/failure factors
It may be a good idea to solicit technical sponsors. For instance, Dean Radin would benefit by a well-designed experiment that would add data to his research. Perhaps he and others would agree to manage this project. I (Tom Butler) am not really qualified to manage this project, nor can I give it the necessary time.
Input from the public, scientific community and other editors is welcome.
by Anabela Cardoso Republished from NeuroQuantology | September 2012 | Volume 10 | Issue 3 | Page 492-514 Please see the entire article at NeuroQuantology.com
A relatively novel acoustic phenomenon has inundated the Internet and specialized literature. Several Associations, some of them with an important number of members, have formed around it in many countries. In the Anglo-Saxon world the phenomenon is called EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) and is usually assumed as electronically mediated communication from or with the deceased. The first tests aimed at verifying the reality of these claims were carried out in Sweden and in Germany, in 1964 and 1970, under the direction of Professor Hans Bender from Freiburg University (Bender, 1970; 1972; 2011). The present report describes in detail the tests designed to record the allegedly anomalous electronic voices, or EVP, under controlled acoustic conditions. Series of experiments were carried out in Vigo, Spain throughout a period of two years under conditions controlled to the highest degree achievable. Several operators were involved in the many tests conducted in Acoustic Laboratories and professional recording studios equipped with very high levels of acoustic shielding. The protocols and procedures followed in the experiments, as well as the results obtained, are herewith described. Several extra voices were recorded during the many experiments performed for which no normal explanation was found.
The reality of the apparently anomalous electronic voices was confirmed in acoustically controlled environments with different operators.
With the exception of the June 17, 2008 radio voices, none of the voices or whispers described in the present report were heard live during the tests. Extra voices, originating from undetectable sources, were identified in the following situations:
Under controlled speech and controlled acoustic environment – AC as sole operator at the Metropolis and at the University of Vigo; Iñaki at the University of Vigo and at the Metropolis.
Under controlled acoustic environment and uncontrolled speech – AC, Portuguese operators and participants (PN and Francisco) at the Metropolis; AC, IH and UH at University of Vigo; the same and Iñaki at the Metropolis.
Under uncontrolled speech and uncontrolled acoustic environment – AC and the Portuguese operators outside the Acoustics chamber of the Superior School of Engineering; AC and Iñaki at the same place.
The voices seemed to benefit from the presence of noise in the environment (particularly human speech and metallic clicks). The very few voices recorded without any explicit noise had quite lower amplitude than the voices registered with a background of explicit noise. The amplitude of the voices seems to be related to the level of background environmental noise extant in the room when the voices appear recorded. Probably to other variables, too but those remain undefined and need further research.
The voices were louder, clearer, more abundant and flowing when uncontrolled direct human speech by two or more people prevailed, independently of an acoustically controlled or uncontrolled environment. Above all, they seemed to benefit from a situation where the operators’ frame of mind was lively and energetic, and perhaps also from a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. On the other hand, they seemed to be negatively affected if the operators were focused on the experiment.
The voices seemed to benefit from a slightly chaotic situation – AC, Portuguese operators, PN and Francisco at the Metropolis; AC, IH, UH and Sound Technician ML at the Laboratory of Acoustics. The voices did not seem to be significantly more abundant when an artificial basis of human speech was used (Psychophone* and EVPmaker) as acoustic background source.
Methods, the psychophone and the EVPmaker software methods proved to be highly unreliable, not because they are particularly bad acoustic backgrounds for the production of the voices but because they are undoubtedly a source of uncertainty and ambiguity in the analysis of the results. They can very easily originate pareidolia and/or projection of meaning based upon expectation. Very particularly with the EVPmaker software, it is easy to find “results” in recording-sessions where they do not exist. In addition, an erroneous interpretation of the content of possibly anomalous utterances found in the recording is very likely. Most of the EVP “results,” published in the Internet, fall into one of these categories.
The equipment and location of the experiments did not seem to weigh on the formation of the voices but the highly sensitive microphone Bruel & Kjaer used at some of the University experiments appeared to capture more voices than the other microphones.
The content of all the voices recorded in the tests, with the possible exception of “altus”, were pertinent to the situation and/or to the operator(s)
From the results of the present research, this author fully corroborates Professor Alex Schneider, the Swiss physicist from St. Gallen who closely followed, studied and replicated some of Raudive’s work, when he declares in his Appendix to Breakthrough:
“Other investigators choose the moment when a transmitter starts to beam out the carrier wave just before beginning to transmit a program or else they select a slow-speaking lecture program in which the pauses between groups of words are so considerable that call signs can be interspersed. A carrier appears to be necessary, or, at any rate, desirable… a number of voices sound as though they were constituted from the homogeneous noises spectrum by some physically unexplained process of selection” (ibid, pp.340-341).
Moreover, in view of the results, a pertinent question is to find out if there are parallels between the allegedly anomalous electronic voice phenomena and so-called paranormal events of a different nature. Apparently, one of the distinctive characteristics of paranormal events is their occurrence in situations when they cannot be easily controlled. Professor Hans Bender is quoted as saying (translation):
“If we tentatively admit the still questionable factuality of ‘spooks’, then [the attempt] to keep hold of it by photographing, filming or by recording acoustical phenomena will have to face the difficulty that the phenomena apparently elude a critical grasp. The impression almost suggests that the intelligent forces mock the observer and produce a phenomenon just there where one cannot get hold of it” (Bender, 1979).
* Editor: A psychophone compares well as an early form of radio-sweep.
Anabela Cardoso has published the ITC Journal (itcjournal.org) since March, 2000. She is amongst the few ITC practitioners in the world able to communicate using Direct Radio Voice (DRV). Since 1998, she has communicated with an etheric communication station which identifies itself as Rio do Tempo (Timestream).
An Empirical Study on the Psychological Aspects of Interpreting Electronic Voice Phenomena by John E. Buckner and Rebecca A. Buckner Previously published in the Skeptic Magazine Vol. 17, No. 1, 2012
A common theme in ITC research concerns how people experience the phenomena. Studies conducted by the ATransC indicate that, on average, people correctly understand Class A examples about 25% of the time. (For Class B and C transform EVP radio-sweep, that approaches 0%.) Dr. Mark Leary has conducted similar studies with similar results. See also: Phantom Voices
This common theme of so little agreement in what is said in a reported EVP example naturally leads to a second common theme. That is, the presentation of EVP examples to the public by EVP researchers and practitioners that few or no listeners are able to understand. This leads to an unavoidable assumption that the practitioner is delusional.
Of course, the assumption that people who believe in things paranormal are delusional is contagious, and ultimately leads to qualified researchers avoiding anything paranormal, little or no funding for research and an increased probability that the conservative mainstream will eventually begin enforcing anti-fortunetelling laws … again.
Here is an article that was published in the Skeptic Magazine. It can be read on John Buckner’s page on Academica.edu. We are offering it to you here because it is a reasonably well-considered study that asks all of the right questions. The fact that it was published by the skeptical should not overshadow the message it offers to the paranormal community: Pay attention to how you look to the public. Either follow the rigor of using a listening panel and carefully planned protocols for your field work or help the rest of us by refraining from sharing your examples with the public.
From the article
“Overall, the results of this study support the psychological explanations for EVP. The phenomenon was reliably produced in the sense that teams generally identified potential EVP, but they were inconsistent in identifying when an EVP occurred or in their interpretation of the alleged communication. Still, it is possible that the one matched EVP is a result of communication with the deceased. Another possibility is that noise was generated from some other source and follows a particular pattern, which caused the teams to interpret the noise in a similar fashion. We feel the latter explanation is more likely the case, given the physical explanations for EVP, such as human error. Unfortunately, the limited experience we’ve had sharing this information with proponents of EVP has been somewhat disheartening. The matching EVP identified by two of the teams seems to over-shadow the 150 potential EVPs identified that did not match. This is an example of the confirmation bias, or the tendency to look for and find confirming evidence for one’s beliefs and to ignore the disconfirming evidence. This is a very common effect found in paranormal circles, most notably psychic readings in which the sitter remembers the handful of hits and forgets the numerous misses.” This article is here.