Debunking the Skeptic: Refuting the Arguments in Opposition of Electronic Voice Phenomena
Electronic voice phenomena are the voices and or sounds recorded on audio or video tape and are usually only heard after the tape is played back. EVP was first explored by Thomas Edison in the 1920's and was further developed in the later 1950's by Friedrich Juergenson. On the heels of Juergenson, Konstantine Raudive conducted similar research with similar findings: both Juergenson and Raudive reported contacting their mother's from beyond the grave via recordings. Today EVPS are explored by hundreds of researchers worldwide, in an effort to both understand and master the science of electronic voice phenomena.
The skeptical arguments posed in opposition to the validity of electronic voice phenomena are numerous. What is important to remember, however, is that just because many arguments against the validity of EVPS exist; it does not imply that such arguments are compelling or irrefutable. By examining some of the popular arguments in opposition of electronic voice phenomena, it becomes clear that many arguments do not stand up to open-minded analysis. Let's take a look at some of the most popular arguments posed:
Argument #1: EVPS are the result of people deriving meaning out of natural noises and is a form of auditory pareidolia. Pareidolia is the false perception or misinterpretation of an unclear stimulus that is observed as something clear or palpable.
Rebuttal: Although some natural sounds may come across as EVPS and produce "false positive evidence,” such an argument certainly does not explain all EVPS. During analysis, EVPS are sorted into three classifications: A, B, and C, respectively. Although it is quite possible to misconstrue EVPS that fall under the "C" classification, the skeptical argument that Class "A" or even Class "B" EVPS cannot be clearly identified is nonsense. The reason for the distortion of class "C" EVPS is twofold. First, such EVPS are usually whispers, can be either heard in the background of an audio tape and/or over someone else speaking at the time. Second, upon filtering, class "C" EVPS often require significant noise reduction for clarity. This is not the case for class "A" and sometimes class "B" EVPS. When classifying EVPS, especially those that fall into the class "A" category, such EVPS appear on tape as clearly as if an individual was standing next to the researcher and speaking during the time of taping. What's more, producing similar results on a fairly consistent basis weakens the argument for obscurity.
Argument #2: EVPS are the result of nothing more than the power of suggestion.
Rebuttal: Again, in some cases this might be true. However, our team has captured EVPS that we have shared with clients during disclosure without suggesting to them what it is we have heard. The client then positively identifies what we have heard. Thus, the argument for priming is weakened. What's more, such an argument suggests that people do not have the ability to think for themselves or make deductions about what it is they perceive. What makes this argument completely fall apart is the fact that the researcher who analyzes EVPS does not always have someone present to suggest what it is they are hearing. How can one individual analyzing audio tape be primed to hear something when there is no one else available to provide suggestions? Such a question leads to the next argument.
Argument #3: EVPS are the product of expectations: they are what people either believe should be heard at the time or they are what the individual wants to hear.
Rebuttal: Again, upon a cursory review of some EVPS this argument is plausible. Yet, if we consider it at a deeper level, the argument's strength wanes. It is true that if an individual poses a question like, "Is anybody here?" They may expect to hear a "yes" or "no" response. This is logical if questioning in a "yes" or "no" format. What is difficult to explain away are the interactive, intelligent answers you receive when you ask questions or even when you don't ask anything at all. For example, our team often tapes the initial interview with clients and often times we will get intelligent responses from voices other than the clients. In fact, on one particular investigation, the clients asked us if we would like to be invited to their former home to investigate any activity that might be present and immediately after the client provided the invitation a class A EVP appeared saying: "We're in it." This was certainly an unexpected response as we were all pleased to find the response on tape.
Argument #4: The use of white noise causes a researcher to pick up stray sound waves or cross modulation from other electronic sources and nothing more.
Rebuttal: Some white noise source may indeed capture stray sound waves. A radio station tuned between stations, a television set between stations, or scanners can pick up sound waves from other sources. However, white noise can also be obtained by using a CD as a white noise sound source or even something as simple as a household fan. Such sources cannot pick up stray sound waves. What's more, even if the recorder picked up stray waves, it certainly cannot explain away all EVPS, especially those that are both intelligent and interactive.
Argument #5: EVPS have to be replayed repeatedly to be understood, therefore they are merely misconstrued. After repeatedly listening to something you will hear almost anything.
Rebuttal: This may be the case sometimes. Yet, how does this argument explain some EVPS, especially class "A" EVPS that are heard immediately? What's more, how are such EVPS heard clearly by many individuals, or several members of the same team?
Argument #6: EVPS are the products of people with a predisposed belief system.
Rebuttal: This argument is not always accurate. Just because a person practices certain beliefs, it does not mean that they will either believe or disbelieve in the validity of electronic voice phenomena. Such a statement stereotypes people and could not be further from the truth. Many scientifically minded, logic-oriented individuals believe in the validity of EVPS. Likewise, there are many who do not: like with any other subject matter, it is the choice of the individual to believe or not. The belief in EVPS is something that crosses the borders of all religions and all belief systems and it is not something that falls into the category of predisposed faiths or ideas.
In short, the debate pertaining to the validity of electronic voice phenomena rages on. What is important to bear in mind however, is that both the believers and the skeptic's arguments are a necessary process in discovery. Through constructive debate, clear conclusions can be drawn and with each new argument that arises, the possibility to learn and grow from such experiences also occurs. Finally, remember that the art of debate is not about trying to convert someone's thinking-it is more about trying to get to the bottom of a controversial matter. Not all minds meet in the middle and until they do, it is up to the individual to decide whether or not electronic voice phenomena is a valid experience or not.
Article written by: Dayna Winters and Patricia Gardner
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