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Communicating with the Dead (Original)

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Trent
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« on: January 06, 2008, 08:58:06 pm »

Trent

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   posted 01-17-2005 10:10 PM                       
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electronic voice phenomenon (EVP)
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.--Paul Simon, "The Boxer"
Electronic voice phenomenon is the alleged communication by spirits through tape recorders and other electronic devices. The belief in EVP in the United States seems to have mushroomed thanks to Sarah Estep, president of the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena, which claims to have members in some 40 states and publishes a newsletter. Estep claims that in the 1970s she started picking up voices on her husband's Teac reel-to-reel recorder. She is sure that the voices are spirits, proving there is life after death. Estep also claims to hear voices of aliens on some of her tapes. She says she has taped some 20,000 ghosts and aliens. Aliens don't speak English, however, so she is not sure what they are saying.

Interest in EVP apparently began in the1920s. An interviewer from Scientific American asked Thomas Edison about the possibility of contacting the dead. Edison, a man of no strong religious views, said that nobody knows whether “our personalities pass on to another existence or sphere” but

it is possible to construct an apparatus which will be so delicate that if there are personalities in another existence or sphere who wish to get in touch with us in this existence or sphere, this apparatus will at least give them a better opportunity to express themselves than the tilting tables and raps and ouija boards and mediums and the other crude methods now purported to be the only means of communication. (Clark 1997: 235)

There is no evidence, however, that Edison ever designed or tried to construct such a device. And he probably did not foresee spirits communicating with our tape recorders and television sets.

While it is impossible to prove that all EVPs are due to natural phenomena, skeptics maintain that they are probably due to such things as interference from a nearby CB operator or cross modulation. Some of the "voices" are most likely people creating meaning out of random noise, a kind of auditory pareidolia or apophenia. And now that the phenomenon has a number of devoted followers (a recent Google search for "electronic voice phenomenon" yielded 12,200 hits, with this article coming up number one!), some hoaxers have probably entered the fray.
http://skepdic.com/evp.html


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