4. Voices on Tape: Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP)
I didn’t say that it was possible, I just said that it happened!
—Sir William Crookes
For more than 50 years experimenters all over the world have been tape-recording “paranormal voices”—voices which cannot be heard when a tape-recorder is playing but which can be heard when the tape is played back. Many of the very short messages claim to be from loved ones who have passed on. These are not just random noises or words⎯they use the experimenter’s name and answer questions.
There are thousands of researchers around the world who have been researching this most fascinating psychic phenomenon. It is particularly relevant to my argument since it follows strict scientific procedures and experiments have been duplicated under laboratory conditions by all kinds of researchers in many different countries.
Persistent investigators get a powerful shock when they decide to investigate Electronic Voice Phenomena because by using the proper method of tape recording they are likely to hear voices of loved ones or friends who have died.
Colin Smythe and Peter Bander
That’s exactly what happened to Dr Peter Bander, a senior lecturer in Religious and Moral Education at one of the colleges of the Cambridge Institute of Education. Bander, a trained psychologist and a Christian theologian with an intrinsic hostility towards psychic phenomena, expressly stated before his investigation into the voice phenomena that it was impossible for those who are “dead” to communicate with us. He said that it was “not only far-fetched but outrageous” to even think about it (Bander 1973: 3).
When publisher Colin Smythe asked Peter Bander to get involved with the voice phenomena in 1972, Peter’s answer was unequivocally “No”. So Colin Smythe himself experimented on a tape recorder following the procedures outlined in Constantine Raudive’s book, Breakthrough (1971). He asked Bander to put the tape recorder onto Record for a few minutes. Then he rewound it and let it play. After ten minutes he was about to give up when suddenly, Bander says:
I noticed the peculiar rhythm mentioned by Raudive and his colleagues… I heard a voice… I believed this to have been the voice of my mother who had died three years earlier (Bander 1973:).
Controlled experiments rule out stray radio signals
Later Colin Smythe published Voices from the Tapes in which there are four pages of photos showing different participants in Bander’s later experiments. These were carried out under the strictest control conditions. On one occasion EVP experiments were conducted in soundproof studios to filter out stray broadcasts. In the space of 27 minutes some 200 voices were received. Comments from observers quoted in Bander’s book include
Ken Attwood, Chief Engineer of Pye, who stated: I have done everything in my power to break the mystery of the voices without success; the same applies to other experts. I suppose we must learn to accept them (Bander 1973:132).
Dr Brendan McGann, Director of the Institute of Psychology Dublin, said: I have apparently succeeded in reproducing the phenomena. Voices have appeared on a tape which did not come from any known source (Bander 1973:132).
A.P. Hale, Physicist and Electronics Engineer, stated: In view of the tests carried out in a screened laboratory at my firm, I can not explain what happened in normal physical terms (Bander 1973:132).
Sir Robert Mayer LL.D., D.Sc., Mus.D. concluded: If the experts are baffled, I consider this is a good enough reason for presenting the Voice Phenomena to the general public (Bander 1973:132).
Ted Bonner of Decca and RTE said: This is no trick. This is no gimmickry; this is something we have never dreamed of before (Bander 1973:106).
The Pye Laboratory tests conducted by Colin Smythe and Peter Bander prior to the publication of Breakthrough were set up and paid for by the Editor-in-Chief of England’s The Sunday Mirror.
Ronald Maxwell, a reporter for The Sunday Mirror, had supervised the tests and had prepared a three page feature article with photographs which was very supportive of them. He was delighted that the electronics experts chosen by the newspaper had verified that the voices were genuine and that no trickery or fraud was employed.
However at the last minute the extremely important article was stopped without explanation by the Editor-in-Chief who refused to have the story in the paper. As Peter Bander put it:
The experiment which had been arranged and paid for by The Sunday Mirror had yielded results which did not please the man at the top (Bander 1973:68).
Maxwell and Cyril Kersh, the features editor, tried again a week later. This time they had collected information and statements from leading scientists including Mr Peter Hale. Again the Editor-in-Chief refused to publish it (Bander 1973:68).
Pioneers of EVP
Peter Bander’s experiments were inspired by the research of Dr Konstantin Raudive. Dr Raudive worked in Germany to duplicate the research done by Friedrich Jurgenson who by chance in 1959 rediscovered the Voice Phenomena.
Raudive’s classic research under the English title Breakthrough (1971) was based on 72,000 voices he recorded. Work on the Voice Phenomena had actually started in the 1920s with Thomas Edison who believed that there could be a radio frequency between the long and short waves which would make possible some form of telepathic contact with the other world.
It is worth noting here that the pioneers of radio and television, Marconi, Edison, Sir Oliver Lodge, Sir William Crookes, John Logie Baird, were all convinced of the reality of spirit communication and were using their professional skills to demonstrate it. Marconi, one of the developers of wireless radio was reportedly working on a system to communicate electronically with the afterlife at the time of his death.
The first voices were captured on phonograph records in 1938 and on tape recorders in the early 1950s. Since the Bander book was published in 1973 the work has been taken up by thousands of researchers in many countries.
The Vatican supports EVP
Unknown to many Christians⎯Catholics, Protestants and Fundamentalists—the Catholic Church has been actively positive and encouraging towards investigation of the Electronic Voice Phenomena.
Two of the earliest investigators were Italian Catholic priests, Father Ernetti and Father Gemelli, who came upon the phenomena by chance while they were recording Gregorian chants in 1952.
Father Gemelli heard his own father’s voice on the tape calling him by a childhood nick-name saying “Zucchini, it is clear, don’t you know it is I”.
Deeply troubled by Catholic teaching in regard to contact with the dead the two priests visited Pope Pius XII in Rome.
The Pope reassured them:
Dear Father Gemelli, you really need not worry about this. The existence of this voice is strictly a scientific fact and has nothing to do with spiritism. The recorder is totally objective. It receives and records only sound waves from wherever they come. This experiment may perhaps become the cornerstone for a building for scientific studies which will strengthen people’s faith in a hereafter. (Italian Journal Astra, June 1990 quoted in Kubis and Macy, 1995: 102)
Pope Pius’ cousin, the Rev. Professor Dr Gebhard Frei, co-founder of the Jung Institute, was an internationally known parapsychologist who worked closely with Raudive, a pioneer in the research. He was also the President of the International Society for Catholic Parapsychologists. He himself is on record as stating:
All that I have read and heard forces me to believe that the voices come from transcendental, individual entities. Whether it suits me or not, I have no right to doubt the reality of the voices (Kubris and Macy, 1995).
Dr Frie died on October 27, 1967. In November 1967 at numerous taping sessions a voice giving its name as Gebhard Frei came through. The voice was identified by Professor Peter Hohenwarter of the University of Vienna as positively belonging to Dr Frei (Ostrander and Schroeder, 1977).
Pope Paul VI was well aware of the work being done from 1959 onwards on the Elecronic Voices by his good friend, Swedish film producer Friedrich Jurgenson, who had made a documentary film about him. The Pope made Jurgenson a Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory in 1969 for his work. Jurgenson wrote to Bander, a British voice researcher:
I have found a sympathetic ear for the Voice Phenomenon in the Vatican. I have won many wonderful friends among the leading figures in the Holy City. Today “the bridge” stands firmly on its foundations (Ostrander and Schroeder, 1977).
The Vatican also gave permission for its own priests to conduct research into the voices—Father Leo Schmid, a Swiss theologist, collected more than ten thousand of them which he discussed in his book When the Dead Speak published in 1976, shortly after his death.
Another Vatican-approved researcher was Father Andreas Resch who as well as conducting his own experiments began courses in Parapsychology at the Vatican’s school for priests in Rome (Kubris and Macy, 1995).
In 1970 the International Society for Catholic Parapsychologists held a conference in Austria and a major part of that conference was concerned with papers on the Electronic Voice Phenomena.
In England in 1972 four senior members of the Catholic hierarchy were involved in the famous Pye recording studio tests conducted by Peter Bander.
Father Pistone, Superior of the Society of St Paul in England, said in an interview after the tests:
I do not see anything against the teaching of the Catholic Church in the Voices, they are something extra-ordinary but there is no reason to fear them, nor can I see any danger.
The Church realizes that she cannot control the evolution of science. Here we are dealing with a scientific phenomenon; this is progress and the Church is progressive. I am happy to see that representatives of most Churches have adopted the same attitude as we have: we recognize that the subject of the Voice Phenomena stirs the imagination even of those who have always maintained that there could never be any proof or basis for discussion on the question of life after death. This book and the subsequent experiments raise serious doubts, even in the minds of atheists. This alone is a good reason for the Church supporting the experiments. A second reason may be found in the greater flexibility of the Church since Vatican II, we are willing to keep an open mind on all matters which do not contradict Christ’s teaching (Bander 1973:103).
His excellence, Archbishop H.E. Cardinale, Apostolic Nuncio to Belgium, commented: Naturally it is all very mysterious, but we know the voices are there for all to hear them (Bander 1973:132).
The Right Reverend Monsignor Professor C. Pfleger commented: Facts have made us realize that between death and resurrection there is another realm of post-mortal existence. Christian theology has little to say about this realm (Bander 1973:133).
Bander’s book contains a photograph of the Right Reverend Mgr. Stephen O’Connor, Vicar General and Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain to the Royal Navy, listening to the playback of a recording on which a voice had manifested claiming to be that of a young Russian naval officer known to himself who had committed suicide two years earlier. Dr Raudive had recorded the message independently at an earlier session.
Since the 1970s the Vatican has continued to sponsor extensive research into all areas of parapsychology including Electronic Voice Phenomena.
In 1997 Father Gino Concetti, one of the most competent theologians in the Vatican, said in an interview: “According to the modern catechism, God allows our dear departed persons who live in an ultra-terrestrial dimension, to send messages to guide us in certain difficult moments of our lives. The Church has decided not to forbid any more the dialogue with the deceased with the condition that these contacts are carried out with a serious religious and scientific purpose (printed in the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano—cited in Sarah Estep’s American Association Electronic VoicePhenomena, Inc Newsletter, vol 16 No, 2 1997 )”
Clearly, the Catholic Church realizes that science is making enormous, inevitable, irreversible and cumulative progress which nobody is in a position to stop.
ATransC (Association TransCommunication)
The American Association for EVP (AAEVP) started by Sarah Estep in 1982 has now evolved into the Association TransCommunication (ATransC) under the leadership of Tom and Lisa Butler. While EVP is still an important part of its focus, the new name reflects the international nature of its membership and the fact that its focus is on “Objective Evidence for Survival,” which means those phenomena that can be documented with technology including physical mediumhip.
The Association is a teaching/learning organization and offers support to those interested in working with EVP and learning to be more objective in interpreting voices. Tom and Lisa Butler’s book There Is No Death and There Are No Dead (2003) is a wonderful introduction to scientific investigation of the afterlife.
A number of experimenters have written detailed moving accounts of their evidential voice communications with loved ones who have died via EVP. Highly recommended is Martha Copeland’s I’m Still Here the story of how she continues to work with her daughter, Cathy, from the other side. Martha has formed a group within ATransC called the “Recording Circle Bridge to the Afterlife.” Cathy has come through with children who are on the other side to connect with their loved ones who are participate in the recording circle.
Conducting your own experiment in electronic voice phenomena
The basics of EVP recording are very simple. Use a digital tape recorder or record straight to an audio recording program like Audacity on a computer. Open with a prayer of intention and request your loved ones to try to come through. According to Association TransCommunication: “the entities use sounds in the environment to help form the words. Most recording situations have some background sounds (like a computer hum) but it may be necessary to add noise with something like a fan or running water. Some people use foreign language radio, crowd babble or audio tapes; however, as more has been learned about EVP, the recommended practice has been to avoid the use of radio static or live voice of any form.”
Ask a question like “do we have any spirit visitors?” “Can you tell me your name” and let the tape play for a minute or so. Once you have about ten minutes of recording play it back and listen for any voices that were not there when you recorded. Listening with headphones and analyzing the tape on a computer using an audio editing program like Audacity can help.
The Association TransCommunication website has a lot of information and resources. You may find it helpful to read the free download of Sarah Estep’s book, Voices of Eternity. Tom and Lisa Butler’s book, There is No Death and There are No Dead, was written as a textbook for EVP and should be of help for your effort to record the voices.
ATransC warns new experimenters of the human tendency to try to find meaning in random sounds and suggests that you always get honest feedback from co-researchers without telling them what you think is being said.
Tom and Lisa Butler do not recommend radio-sweep technology (often called a ghost box or spirit box) some of which are being sold for more than $1,200 US. Even through it is easy to work with and you always get an output, there are no reliable studies showing that radio-sweep actually produces EVP.
Extract from A Lawyer Presents the Evidence for the Afterlife by Victor Zammit and Wendy Zammit
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published May 2013
Size: 229 x 152 mm