Even though I didn’t love the ending of White Noise, I admit that I got caught up in the plot about ghosts and possibly making contact.
We all miss those who pass on to the other side. And I’d venture to say that we all harbor that tiny seed of hope that we could, one day, speak to those beloved friends and family members who have passed on.
But does electric voice phenomena really occur?
EVP – IS IT REAL?
I’m sure we’ve all watched those ghost hunting shows at least once in our lives. Electronic recordings are one of the staples of those shows. But amidst the static, is it possible those scratchy sounds equate to words from the beyond?
Made famous for their purported communications with the dead, the sisters didn’t use recordings to contact the ghosts of those who have passed on to the other side. Rather, they became famous for their seances where mysterious ‘rappings’ could be heard.
Then there’s Edison’s spirit machine, which he is said to have described thus:
“I have been at work for some time, building an apparatus to see if it is possible for personalities which have left this earth to communicate with us.”
Even though no prototype was ever found, rumors and speculation over the years seems to point to Edison’s desire to use science to explain (or perhaps verify) the ability to talk to ghosts.
EXPLAINING THE VOICES
So, taking away the romanticism of being able to speak to those dearly departed loved ones one last time, is there a logical explanation for those voices?
There’s actually a scientific term for the phenomena called pareidolia, but it isn’t reserved only for auditory hallucinations. Shapes or images, sounds and even the Rorschach inkblot test are versions of experience.
In terms of auditory pareidolia, one of the most well-known cases involves a Swedish film producer named Frederick Jurgenson. After recording birds singing, he purportedly heard voices of deceased spirits in the recordings. One of his students, wanting to recreate the phenomena, ran blank tapes through a tape recorder in a quiet setting. He also recorded a radio tuned between stations, and claims to have heard voices in the static, including that of his deceased mother.
Critics tend to brush off any reports as wishful thinking of the recently bereaved, or as one inadvertently picking up voices from faraway radio broadcasts.
Similar to other pareidolia, most people believe that in looking for messages in random places, or listening for voices, that the mind places meaning where it might not otherwise exist.
WOULDN’T IT BE NICE?
I for one would love to be able to talk to my dad or my grandparents or friends who have passed. Yeah, it makes a cool horror movie, but it would also be kind of comforting just to have that one last chat, even if it’s just a word or two.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN GHOSTS?
So, what do you think? Do you believe in ghosts? And do you think they can contact the living?
Can the dead really talk to us from beyond the grave? If so, is it like White Noise or maybe like the ghosts in The Others?
Have you ever tried to record voices of those who have passed?
Check out this page at The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, where they have a number of recordings for your perusal
- Alternative Realities: The paranormal, the mystic and the transcendent in the human experience by Leonard Geroge, PhD