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PSYCHIC STUNTS
GHOSTLY VOICES
by
Michael Daniels PhD
 
The Stunts

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What are Raudive Voices?

Electronic voice phenomena (EVP) were first discovered by the Swedish artist Friedrich Jürgenson in 1959. Jürgenson was recording birdsong using a reel-to-reel tape recorder. When he replayed the tapes, he heard faint but intelligible voices in the background, even though there was no-one else in the vicinity when the recordings were made. By repeating the procedure, Jürgenson found that the voice recordings could be reliably replicated.

Taking their inspiration from Jürgenson's work, these phenomena were subsequently investigated by the German parapsychologist Hans Bender and by the Latvian psychologist Konstantin Raudive. Following the publication of Raudive's book on his research (Breakthrough, 1971) these phenomena are now often referred to as "Raudive Voices".

Recording Raudive Voices

Several methods have been used to record Raudive voices. Traditionally a tape recorder (reel-to-reel or cassette) is used although it is now possible to use digitial recording (see below). The following procedures are commonly used:

  • Recording using a microphone in a quiet room, or with the microphone sealed in a soundproofed box.
  • Recording with no microphone connected.
  • Recording "white noise" (hiss) from a radio that is tuned between stations.
  • Recording using a crystal set (diode receiver) plugged into the microphone socket.

Recordings typically last only for a few minutes. This is because intense concentration is required in order to hear the voices on the tape, which usually has to be replayed several times in order to decipher the speech. Use of headphones is recommended.

Listen to Raudive Voices

If you have a sound card and a decent browser, you can hear Raudive Voices now by clicking on the buttons below. These are short snippets of a longer recording that I made using the simple procedure described in the next section. To hear the voices at their best you should play them at maximum volume through headphones. In both cases you should be able to hear a definite "English" male voice. You may need to replay the recordings several times in order to make out the words, which are quite indistinct. The first clip seems to be saying something like "Do you like potatoes?". The second clip sounds to me rather like "five thirty and four-eye". Different words may suggest themselves to you.

evp1.wav (42K)

evp2.wav (40K)

How these recordings were made

After a number of experiments using microphones and radio hiss, none of which were particularly successful, I decided to try electronically generated white noise. This has the advantage of ruling out the possibility that a microphone may pick up a distant voice or that stray radio signals may intrude into the between-station hiss (critics have suggested both possibilities). Rather to my surprise, I obtained immediate results. Both the above samples were taken from my first one-minute recording. In addition there were several other similar voice fragments within the same recording. Furthermore, I have found the method to be replicable. So that you can try out the method for yourself, here are the technical details of the procedure that I followed.

Using a digital audio editor (Cool Edit), I generated 60 secs of white noise (sample rate 44100, mono, 16 bit). This produced very faint suggestions of a voice, but too indistinct to make out any words.

I then decided to transform the recording using the editor's noise reduction facility. After this, I amplified the resulting waveform until it was loud in the headphones. On listening carefully to the recording, a voice or voices could clearly be heard.

In order to produce files small enough to be downloaded on the Internet, short snippets were selected and the sample rate was converted from 44100 to 8000. The files were then saved in Windows PCM format (wav). This conversion has led to a small decrease in sound quality, but the voices are still easily recognisable.

Comments

Electronic voice phenomena have not been widely studied by parapsychologists, who have generally been quite sceptical of the whole procedure. In addition to the criticisms mentioned above, it has been argued that the voices are simply subjective intepretations - that we tend to hear voices in random patterms of sound rather in the way that we often see faces in random visual patterns. The suggestion is that because of the significance to humans of speech and facial recognition, the human brain has an in-built tendency to create these perceptions even when there is no "objective" basis for the experience. For others, however, the Raudive Voices are genuinely mysterious, even paranormal. Some even believe they open up the possibility of communication with the dead.

Links to Related Sites

Suggested Reading

Bender, H. (1972). The phenomena of Friedrich Jürgenson. Journal of Paraphysics, 6, 65-75.

Ellis, D. (1975). Listening to the 'Raudive Voices'. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 48, 31-42.

Raudive, K. (1971). Breakthrough. New York: Taplinger.

Smith, E.L. (1974). The Raudive Voices - objective or subjective? Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 68, 91-100.

Smyth, F. (1981). The ghosts in the machine. The Unexplained, 2(20), 398-400.

Smyth, F. (1981). Whispers of immortality. The Unexplained, 2(21), 418-420.

 
 
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