Saturday, October 8, 2011

Paranormal Investigations Could Learn From The Past

Since its independent (and arguable) discovery in 1959 by Friedrich Jurgenson in Sweden and Attila Von Szalay in the US, EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) has grown to be the biggest tool used (and misused) by paranormal teams across the globe.

In the early years of experimentation, a greater degree of success was achieved when stochastic resonance was employed to amplify the signal. Generally, this was in the form of background 'white noise'. But these days, one would be hard-pressed to find any team doing this.

What happened to the work of these pioneers?

I have a clue, but I'll keep an open mind for the moment.

It seems that most people these days view (consciously or otherwise) the whole ghost hunting / paranormal investigation meme as having manifested over the past decade with the advent of several reality programs on basic cable.  But for many of you, the truth is entirely different.

In reading an account in a book of mine about a ghostly voice recorded on tape, a Maryland-based paranormal team was mentioned and it struck me that this was around 1986, decades before the dawn of Ghost Hunters. Furthermore, when I researched topics for my book, I often stumbled across various psychical groups and ghost hunting assemblies with lofty sounding names dating back decades earlier.

We sometimes forget that there have been trailblazers and mavericks (no, not the vehicles) on the paranormal path for many years. They did some groundbreaking work, experimenting with equipment and methods, trying out new hypotheses and discarding things that didn't work.

Was that the case with stochastic resonance in EVP experimentation? Or is it that after a while, when the guides and how-to's started coming out, and then the television shows, people just became lazy. We went from eager minds and learned men to the disciples of Ghost Hunting For Dummies.

So, remember in doing your own research to actually do some research. Learn from others besides those on TV and be willing to throw out anything. This field is wide-open; there are no set laws.  If break-throughs are to be made, it will be by the intelligent-minded mavericks who put more effort into research than into promoting their team.


Ken Summers said...

My main issue with white noise generators being used with EVP recording is quite simple: it creates a lower-quality EVP that is more difficult to discern. We all know how many fuzzy, muffled clips are floating out there with people saying, "Oh, that is saying ___" when all you can really hear is the syllables at best. It might lead to improved results, but those results will meet with far more ridicule.

There is a lot that can be learned from ghost hunters of the past, though. Unfortunately, since most have faded into obscurity, we never really hear anything about them. Ideally, there should be some archive accessible to the public showing work, successes, failures, etc. of these past individuals where people today can go and do thorough research. Investigators today seem to have a more guerilla approach, starting from scratch and not building on what's been done before. It'd take an organized effort (and a collective one as well) to really start making conclusions about different methods and deductions within the field. For now, things are far too scattered, chaotic, and uncooperative to progress.

Autumnforest said...

As always, thought provoking. I'm going to be specializing my focus on EVPs compared to other evidence on hunts and keeping rather meticulous accounts of types of activity, personality types encountering them, locations, geomagnetic conditions, and more. I'm looking for correlations. I believe certain people are more likely to see and others to hear activity. So far as the use of white noise, I'm not a big fan of it. I recently went to a well-noted parapsychologist's lecture about EVPs and he was explaining how having a person tune two old-fashioned analog radios at the same time back and forth makes them a medium and they will hear the words that apply to a message. In other words, random words on the radio are plucked out of the air and applied any way the medium sees fit to in interpret them since the message is just for that person, supposedly. He said it was much more controllable than someone setting up 8 recorders in a room and using a controlled situation in which all sounds are tagged in the room. I asked him how the hell that was more controllable and accurate having someone play with radios? I'm not sure I understand the idea of using RF for communication. It's kind of like saying that you can talk to someone across town without speaking to them by using email. Duh. Yeah. Nothing magical there. I hope to try some experiments with EVPs including imprinting a message psychically onto a blank and wrapped tape, as well as burying a recording unit in the ground in a box. I'd also like to disconnect a microphone and see if a recording unit still gets a recording on it and I'd like to psychically ask the questions and see if they are answered. One of the things that I'm curious about too are the randomness of words that are said in response to questions. If sound waves are not necessary to "speak to the dead," then it's possible that a spirit would read the mind of anyone in the room and respond to what they're thinking and not necessarily auditory questioning. Still, we have no way to control the possibility of PK in all of the recording process. It's an intriguing arena and I hope to do some serious and controversial testing.

Cullan Hudson said...

I'm not sure everyone is on the same page as to what "white noise" is, but I'd be willing to test the stochastic resonance theory because it's something that's been well established in many signal to noise ratio experiments and even in fluid dynamics. In effect, we're merely talking about an added signal that is stochastic (utterly random), which often has the odd effect of amplifying the very signal you're trying to draw out the most. I'm not quite sure I completely understand the physics behind the principle (why the introduction of this random signal would draw out instead of drown out the test signal) but it seems to work. However, if we're talking about radios and such, I wouldn't go that route for sure.

And, yes, Ken. I think we need a connection to the work of the past. It seems the paranormal--even for those deeply vested in the cause--is a field that keeps restarting itself every few years.

merricat said...

Autumn - you said "I believe certain people are more likely to see and others to hear activity."

You don't need to believe, this research has already been done. These is a very specific "type" of person who possesses a series of specific qualities or traits.

Also, statistics are available regarding the "radomness of words."

People doing this manner of work, (EVP) need to either learn or work with a forensic audio analyst.

I really like your proposals of posing your queries via psi.

Cullan Hudson said...

Merricat, are you aware of specific research? I'd love to check it out. There isn't much peer-reviewed work of any scientific caliber in the paranormal field, sadly. Whatever we can get our hands on is always of interest.

merricat said...

" There isn't much peer-reviewed work of any scientific caliber in the paranormal field, sadly."

Oh, but there is! If you throw all the paranormal investigation psuedo-science aside and begin exclusively focusing on the work in the field of parapsychology you will find what you are looking for.

Cullan Hudson said...

Do you know of any that are available for review? I would like to take a look at them. At one time parapsychology encompassed ghostly manifestations and haunting phenomena, but I know in recent decades those serious scientists still engaged in the work are focusing solely on psi-phenomena, ESP, etc...