A guide to Electronic Voice Phenomena

A guide to Electronic Voice Phenomena

Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) is something many people will think they have not heard of before now. However, anyone who has watched films like The Sixth Sense or TV programmes including Most Haunted will have come across it.

What is EVP?

EVP are sounds captured on electronic recordings, usually unintentionally, that appear to be human voices saying complete phrases or particular words.

The sounds are only heard after the tape is played back; while the tape recorder is in the room, it sounds as though the surroundings are silent.

It has become a popular technique among paranormal researchers trying to see if they can open up other channels of communication in particularly high-energy locations.

History of EVP

EVP has a long history dating back to the earliest days of sound recording. Indeed, famous scientist Thomas Edison said in an interview with Scientific American that he thought a sensitive recording device could present the best way of speaking to spirits if they were there to converse with us.

Since then, people have been trying it all over the world. American photographer Attila von Szalay began attempts in 1941 and said he had succeeded with a new reel-to-reel tape recorder in 1956.

Parapsychologist Konstantin Raudive popularised the technique by making more than 100,000 recordings and inviting uninvolved participants to listen to and interpret them.

Today, EVP is usually carried out with portable digital voice recorders and has been made more popular by movies including White Noise and The Changeling.

What do the sceptics say? 

In his 2009 book Pseudoscience: A Critical Encyclopedia, author Brian Regal insists that EVPs come about because of the recording process itself and therefore have "alternative, nonspiritual sources".

Other theories include interference from the many electronic devices we are exposed to today being picked up on the tape and pareidolia.

This latter term refers to the desire for the human brain to see patterns in random stimuli – it's a form of the ability we have to see the face of Jesus in our toast – and is one of the most popular explanations for EVP. 

Psychologist James Alcock is a supporter of this and insists that belief in EVP is the product of "hope and expectation".

A continuing belief

Nevertheless, those who have heard EVP are certain they have picked up something very unusual on their tape recorders, with some saying the phrases they heard were specific to them.

As a result, there are a number of organisations dedicated to studying EVP, while parapsychologists and spiritualists continue to be as interested in it as those early pioneers following Edison.

Several suggestions have been put forward as to why EVP might occur if it is real. The first is that the voices are those of people who have died and are still close to their loved ones.

The second is that the voices come from another dimension, which touches on complex physics and links up with the idea that there are worlds and perhaps even a universe parallel to our own, where the boundaries sometimes slip to let communications through. 

Finally, the other theory is that EVP voices are either angelic or demonic, which is the idea favoured by the directors and writers of horror films and is technically linked to the first hypothesis.


To conclude, we are unable to prove that EVP does feature voices from the dead or another world – but we are also unable to disprove the phenomenon, and so research will undoubtedly continue until evidence is gleaned one way or another.

Until then, it is a fascinating subject and one you can learn much more about by reading online articles and listening to radio programmes about EVP. Since EVP could be a version of the way spirits use to communicate with mediums, speaking to one of our experts here at http://www.psychicsonline.co.ukPsychicsOnline may also prove interesting.

Perhaps you could even have a go at capturing voices on your own digital sound recorder.

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