By DeAnn T.
If you’ve ever watched a ghost hunting show, talked with a paranormal investigator, or even just perused the internet reading about ghosts and hauntings chances are pretty good that you’ve heard the term “EVP”. What exactly is an EVP? Why are they important? Paranormal investigators get pretty excited about them. So…..let’s discuss.
EVP is short for Electronic Voice Phenomenon. These are recordings you find on your recorder, some intentional, some not. Most times, an investigator will do an EVP session. They will take their recording device (any type will do, I have a cheap digital recorder that I purchased at Wal-Mart. You can use the recording device on your smartphone, anything really, that will make a recording,) and ask specific questions in hopes that a ghost or spirit will answer back. Sometimes someone will be recording something other than a specific ghost session. Maybe they are recording some training notes, a school lecture, a home movie, and an unexpected voice will appear on the recording. These are both EVPs.
As in different types of hauntings, EVPs can be both residual and intelligent (see my ghost theory articles on the WISPS site). An intelligent EVP will answer questions asked. Sometimes they may be cryptic, but meaningful one or two words, on occasion a full sentence.
EVPs are a strange phenomenon. Usually, you won’t know they are there until you get home from an investigation and review your recordings. Using a good audio filtering program can help enhance and hear the weaker EVPs that you get. Sometimes, one recorder in a room will pick it up, while another recorder just a few feet away will not. Sometimes the sound is audible in real-time, but this is less common.
An interesting example is of a recent investigation that WISPS conducted at Asylum 49 in Tooele, Utah. I was leading a group of about 8 investigators and we were doing an EVP/flashlight session in a conference room know to be a favorite place for a child spirit named Christian. We were asking if here were there, if he could tell us his name into the recorder, etc. After about 5 minutes we audibly heard children’s voices in the hallway right behind us. We all stopped for a moment, and in our various recordings, you can hear us saying “Did you just hear kids talking? I think that was a child.” Keep in mind, no one there that night was under the age of 18. After reviewing the recordings later, there was indeed an EVP caught at that moment. When we heard it in real-time it sounded as if 2-3 children were talking in the hallway. What we actually heard, as evident in the recording was, “I’m over here mommy.” This was an intelligent response to our questions of “Christian, are you here? Can you talk to us?”
There are different classifications of EVP, dependent on clarity and volume. They are outlined here.
Can EVPs be contamination or debunked as something else? Yes, absolutely. The most common form of contamination is an investigator whispering. It seems a natural thing to do. There you are, in the quiet, dark, hoping a seemingly, or actually, skittish ghost will whisper something into your recorder. You don’t want to miss it or talk over it, so whispering seems the way to go. Not so. Ghosts whisper. Not so much whisper as their voice quality is wispy and comes across as a whisper. If you are doing an EVP session and you or someone in the group inadvertently whispers, simply mark it, “So and so just whispered”. Also, mark any noise that could be misinterpreted later on. “George sneezed”, “My stomach rumbled”, “I made the chair squeak”, etc.
The same investigation referred to above had a handful of “EVPs” that we had to ignore, because we couldn’t confirm that it wasn’t someone in the group who forgot to not whisper.
Some other common EVP debunks:
When your brain incorrectly interprets random patterns as being familiar patterns. “The human brain likes to recognize patterns, and if a person listens to enough noise the brain will detect words, even when there is no intelligent source for them.” (Wikipedia)
Skeptics site the “noise floor” theory to debunk EVPs. (From Wikipedia) – “the electrical noise created by all electrical devices – in order to create white noise. When this noise is filtered, it can be made to produce noises which sound like speech.”
The spontaneous finding of connections or meaning in things which are random, unconnected, or meaningless”, and has been put forward as a possible explanation.” (again, Wikipedia). Apophenia is related to pareidolia but different.
Debunking theories aside, and there have been times when I think every investigator has heard something that they thought was EVP and it wasn’t when you hear a whispery, intelligent answer to your question, it sends shivers up your spine and confirms even more that you aren’t wasting time on your investigations of the supernatural.