Electronic voice phenomena, or EVP as it will be referred to from now on, are recordings of “voices” on an audio or videotape to which there are no visible source known. These “voices” are not audible to those taping during the act, though they become audible during playback. For over a hundred years, the term EVP (electronic voice phenomena) has been used to describe a phenomenon that occurs when recording.
It could be said that the term EVP has its base on H. Desmond Thorp work Etheric Vision, where he seems to coin the phrase “the voice phenomenon”. Granted his explanation of this was supposed to be shown in a later work, which did not pan out. Is this the only suggested origin of the term? No, there are several listed on several websites that deal with EVP’s. It has been a very popular subject since it was first discovered. Even Thomas Edison was supposed to have an interest, during his later years, with recording “disembodied voices”. The advent of greater technology has spurred a more varied interest, and allowed amateur investigators to participate.
Modern paranormal investigations use the collection of EVP’s as one source of evidence for the paranormal. Skeptics of EVP’s are fast to point out that there could be other sources for the so called “voices”. It is in this respect, we need to address how we collect data and the terminology in which we discuss our findings.
I propose that there is a flaw in terminology. The use of this term already denotes a bias towards the data in which you are collecting. To be scientific, if this is your aim, you must allow the data to guide your interpretations not the other way around. I hope to show that the use of a new term is more scientific in nature.
Am I saying that use of the old term should not be used? The answer is no. I content that while investigations are being held that the new term be used. Only after the data has shown that the item in question is in fact a “voice”, should the old term be used. Simply understanding the term itself and what it presents will help with understanding. Stating that you are “doing an EVP” is declaring what your evidence is before you can have collected or analyzed it.
DEFINITION OF THE NEW TERM
EAA – Electronic Audio Artifact
Audio artifact refers to an audio anomaly that is usually accidental or unwanted, resulting from interference that overlay high or low frequency sound over the track being recorded. Because there are always technical restrictions in the way a sound can be recorded, audio errors often occur. These errors are termed artifacts. An audio artifact is sometimes a type of digital artifact and in some cases is the result of data compression (not to be confused with audio compression, which also may create artifacts). All EVP’s are artifacts, but not all artifacts are EVP’s.
Because skeptics say interference from electronic sources such as CB radios, and Police band radios and other waveform communications is a real problem, it is important to acknowledge their existence. Artifacts can be caused by incidental reception of audio transmissions. This new term is used for any audio anomaly captured by the audio recorder until such time that the possibility of extraneous interference of outside transmission sources can be eliminated.
Furthermore, not everything that gets categorized as EVP is a “voice”. Footsteps, scuffing, movement can be overheard on the audio gets the same label. These events, while important for further research, are in a sense nothing more than audio artifacts. It is still important to investigate such, however an EAA none the less.
Why should we use this term first, instead of EVP, when describing the phenomena? The skeptics argue that the phenomenon is not scientific enough proof, since there are other possible causes of the “evidence”. As noted before, they claim that other waveform communications could cause the interference being recorded. These types of interference are said to be caught on a recording and it not noticed. That is something that has not been addressed by current terminology. It is kind of like the adage, “talk the talk, walk the walk”.
With the trend of scientific investigations into the paranormal on the rise, it means that we have to be as unbiased as possible. This is yet another reason that we take out our preconceived assumptions out of the terminology. To be truly scientific we have to let our data guide our understanding. We have to realize that use of technology does not make something scientific. It is the methods that we use, and the competence in which we do the research involved that makes research scientific. Technology is a great tool, but our language guides our interpretation of the data. If we want to be taken as scientific, and use the technology to aid in our research, then we need to use the language appropriately.
Our ability to collect and analyze data is not lacking. It is this fact that should drive us to collect, analyze and re-collect. What is lacking is theory. While I understand the tradition of using the term EVP, it is starting to become apparent that categories of evidence and terminology are increasingly important. With the amount of amateur groups wishing to conduct research in this area, we (as a field) need to set guidelines in order to bridge the gap in theory.
The use of the terminology brings us one step further along the path. Once terminology is able to become somewhat universal, the closer we come to our end goal. That is a unified field.