Fallibility From Beyond: A Critical Look at Electronic Voice Phenomenon

The paranormal masscult has long advocated mining flawed evidence from sources such as Electronic Voice Phenomena, or as the ghost shows refer to it, EVP.  Taking root in the late 1800’s, and rising to prominence in the 1950’s, the idea of using technology to record interactions from the other side was first proposed by Thomas Edison in a 1920 interview in the periodical Scientific AmericanIt is important to log that Edison was not, in fact, a proponent of spiritualism, and that blueprints pertaining to a ‘ghost phone’ that he purportedly invented are nonsense, and the stuff of urban legendFor the pittance of true believers, EVP is a three-pronged proposalIt elicits either:

  • Communication with the dead
  • The psychic brain ingrams of the interviewer, or
  • Leaked transmissions from a parallel dimension
Both serious scientists and Christian researchers reject the idea of novel explanations for this kind of data, believing the sounds to be either Rorschach audio, or as skeptic Joe Nickell has stated- artifacts created by faulty equipmentThis article will scrutinize the stormy history of this style and examine two of the more popular methods for obtaining instrumental trans communication, digital tape recorders, and spirit boxes. 

A Brief History

Since Guglielmo Marconi’s first radio transmission in 1895, the history of Electronic Voice Phenomena had long been regarded as an ambiguous potentiality which makes the failure of digital recordings more probableThe actual phrase was spun off Latvian doctor Konstantin Raudive who referred to his recordings as Electronic Voice ProjectionCuriously, Father Roberto Landell de Mour of the Brazilian Catholic faith is regarded as the first to toy with using a radio for spirit communication.  American Atilla Von Szalay is regarded as the one who struggled to achieve serious contact in 1948 when he used 78 RPM recordings to augment his spirit photography; not entirely successful, he obtained rather more interesting results when he collaborated with parapsychologist Raymond Bayless, and switched to an analogue, reel-to-reel recorderSzalay deemed his research successful when he documented arguable recordings such as ‘This is G!’ and ‘Hot dog, Art.’  Since the dawn of the medium, portable, digital voice recorders have been regarded as inferior, and unreliable by more balanced proponents: this is due to the amount of RF (Radio Frequency) contamination which bombards the recording with intrusive, outside broadcastsThe lay demonologist will observe that more earnest practitioners have tried—to varying degrees of mediocrity—to shield these sessions in RF protected domains.  Failure, and statistical outcomes have haunted the paranormal community, though, to the point where some tantalized boosters claimed that, like mediumship, EVP is an ability.

Spirit Boxes?

The chronicle of spirit boxes is no less elusiveGhost hunters brought these devices into their weapon store in the 1980’s. There has long been an inclination for this method because data is perceived to be available in real time as opposed to the laborious review and rewinding of digital recorders.  Queries are made, and answers are provided from increasingly cooperative entities in the evergreenThis is made possible by what are essentially radios that channel surf without endThe paranormal conference believes that interaction is made possible by a complex process involving enhanced levels of electromagnetic radiation for which the Christian academic will find no viable, numerical proof beyond what the other guy said.  The prototype for these devices, called ‘Frank’s Boxes,’ were developed in 2002 by inventor Frank Sumption who claims that he was instructed on how to build the tool by disembodied souls. The hack pin having been intentionally removed with pliers, the box scans AM/FM, and other low band frequencies in order to create a sound matrix for discarnate creatures to use.  In this way, messages can be modulatedThe question is, are spirit boxes truly machines of what Ernst Senkowski called Instrumental Trans Communication, or as Karen Stollznow commented in the Skeptical Inquirer, ‘standard instruments used in substandard ways.’  Paranormal thought supposes these apparatuses to be implements for bridging the gap between worlds; Christian investigators regard them as broken radios.  The problem here is one of auditory pareidoliaDr. Neil Bauman defines this as part of a hearing obstacle where the resourceful human brain attempts to provide its best guess as to what sound it’s hearing.   There has been research with sinusoidal waveforms where individuals reported hearing prompts for words that are not there via the power of suggestion.  


In total, it is apparent that Electronic Voice Phenomenon has enjoyed a disputable aggregate of success.  Neither digital recorders, nor spirit boxes (in reality, radios that malfunction by design) are provable modes of communication with another realm, however the lay inquiry must also include the possibility that demonic forces—empowered to lie--could use hardware like this to derail spiritual livesThe injunction against divination is clear in Deuteronomy 18:10-12 for this reason. Either way, a demonologist must first be dedicated to Christ, and the truth, not the preternatural. 

Tracy Garnett holds a BA in English, with a minor in Radio & Television from Northern Kentucky University. He also holds certification in Parapsychology from the Koestler Unit at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and is a trained Lay Demonologist with the Fraternity of Christ the King.


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