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« Tsunami Death Toll Continues to Rise The RantsAcademic Validation of Pseudo-Science Bullshit »

Based On a True Story? White Noise and EVP
2005.01.02 (Sun) 23:38

Is it just us, or has there been a disturbing trend of entertainment endorsing crackpot bullshit lately? We've talked about the SciFi channel, and their endorsement of ghosts and spirit mediums. CourTV, a usually fact-based network, has gotten into the act as well with Psychic Detectives — supposedly true stories of psychic involvement in law enforcement. This month, White Noise is scheduled for theatrical release, and is a perfect example of what we're talking about. During the previews, they mention that you can learn more about EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) at the web site for the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena. Also, while we were watching parts of the recent Twilight Zone marathon on the SciFi channel (one of the few things we will watch on that channel), we saw a bunch of crossover promotions for both White Noise and the SciFi series Ghost Hunters, another example of the entertainment industry's validation of bullshit.

As an interested party, we went to the AA-EVP website to "learn more". What we learned was about what we expected — that this is just more of the same old bullshit with a shiny new movie to make it look more mainstream. In a nutshell, EVP encompasses a combination of traditional photographic pareidolia (which is the same bullshit "phenomenon" that causes people to see Mother Teresa in a cinnamon bun), spirit photography, and a sort of pareidolia for the ears. A few tips from the AA-EVP FAQ:

Is there any danger in EVP?

...

Obviously, no one starts taping, automatic writing, or playing with the Ouija board, thinking he will become possessed or obsessed. But it can happen.

...

It is possible for an entity to masquerade as someone you are seeking to make contact with—even a loved one. It is also possible that a "low level" entity might tell you something that is not true, but that is something that they believe you want to hear. This is probably why many of the prophetic EVP have not come to pass.

...

A prolonged period of carefully listening to EVP samples has been shown to increase the experimenter’s sensitivity to sounds and flickers out of the corner of their eyes. In this way, experimenters report an apparent increase in their clairvoyant ability. Since we feel that everyone is inherently clairvoyant, and that the ability can be improved through practice and training, it seems reasonable that working with EVP might increase clairaudience or clairvoyance.

So, EVP is right up their with Ouija boards on the scale of believable, fact-based events. Good to know. Also, we must be careful not to become possessed — important safety tip (thanks, Egon). And thanks for providing the rationale to explain why prophetic EVP messages just aren't coming true as often as, say, psychics whose average is, well, average. With all bogus crap of this nature, an escape clause is key (see John Edward and his "write it down if it doesn't make sense, and see if it makes sense later" line). And finally, thanks for the tip about improving our clairvoyance! We've been doing weight training for our muscles, and hitting the treadmill for cardio improvements, but until now, we didn't know what to do to improve our clairvoyance. Whew!

Let's look at EVP itself. We'll touch briefly on the visual examples which are basically spirit photography and pareidolia. Spirit photography, which utilizes pareidolia, is generally explained by tricks of the light from the camera, double exposures, and hoaxes. Pareidolia is the act of the human mind discerning patterns where there are none — interpreting natural or "random" visual stimuli as a meaningful image. This can happen in the case of spirit photography, or with ordinary pictures and videos, or on other objects. In general, the human mind is prone to seeing patterns, especially human forms and faces. The predilection for faces can be traced to the human brain's biological specialization in recognizing and differentiating human faces. Since we are so good at this skill, and since we practice it almost constantly, it is easy to see how our mind might see a face where there is none, as long as the lines and shapes are somewhat like that of a face. The AA-EVP has the following examples of photographic and video EVP on their web site. Browse through them if you like. As you can see, nothing new — just the same old tired crap.

The auditory component of EVP is very similar to the more traditional visual forms, but this seems to be the new angle. Basically, people turn on some form of background noise, hit record, and wait — the AA-EVP suggests the following in their FAQ:

Experimenters commonly use a fan or radio static for background sound—anything that creates noise that is relatively steady-state, and that can then be filtered out. We have also had many reports that "canned" sound as you find in a CD is less desirable for EVP than is "live" noise as you get with a fan or radio static. We have no idea why this may be true, but our recommendation is to use the fan or radio, even running water.

This background noise is recorded, and replayed. If something "interesting" is heard, the sound sample is isolated, filtered, enhanced, and otherwise changed as much as necessary in order to make the "interesting" sounds into something vaguely intelligible. And when we say vaguely, boy do we mean it! Here are some examples of these "extraordinary" voices and their ever-so-clear messages, taken directly from the AA-EVP web site. These EVP samples fall into the first category which we lovingly refer to as CI-EVP (Completely Imagined EVP).

% "This is Ron" (or "Click" as his friends call him)
% "Egypt Air" (or "Swoosh click, swoosh" as that airline is often called in the Middle East)

One good example of CI-EVP that lays this out pretty well is the "Jason" example, again taken directly from the AA-EVP web site. In the first sound file, we hear the unaltered sound of someone asking "What is your name?" — followed by two clicks that are supposed to mean "Jason," if you believe the EVP folks. The next clip is the "cleaned up" or "edited to make it sound more like what we want it to sound like" version, which is still just two clicks, but sounds ever so slightly more like "Jason." What a load of bullshit.

The AA-EVP site has this to say if you aren't quite able to make out the messages, even after they are properly "enhanced":

After an audio recording is made, the experimenter must then listen to the sound track very carefully for any hint of intelligent sound. Since the recording is often made with a background sound source, the experimenter must learn to listen "around" that noise, or "into" it to distinguish noise from message. This is very similar to learning a new language, in that you may need to "train" your mind to recognize words that are spoken with a different cadence, and often, at different frequencies, than normally spoken words.

The thought here being that, if you know what the message is supposed to say (thanks to the handy file name and explanation provided), and you listen enough times, your mind will eventually create or imagine the desired association. We did something like this once as well. We turned on our voice recognition software, put the microphone on the table, and went around hitting and tapping objects in the room without talking at all. The text that the program recorded from these taps was the following:

Dole with low in fat and-go for all. It is that only an end in "an issue that only that would need only thing would be a day she only two young women only and needs to use the new sample on the person in history that was in no way the unions Ellison's the username News and main reason In a series of using an easier thing is the only reasons to own and the NFC on new to me to see say the NFC games E. long Delhi, India was 80 years or low-life use them the online they knew if I can only one that they know all the FAA the man they live in the new the new

We called it a Beat Poem, and figured we could recite it accompanied by light bongos and a subdued bass line. The idea here is that if a computer can "hear" words where there are none, we can only speculate what a creative mind might hear, especially if that creative mind is desperately trying to hear something. Another biologically developed specialty of the human brain is language. Just as we see patterns in visual stimuli due to our brain's skill in discerning facial features, we hear patterns in auditory stimuli due to our brain's skill in discerning meaning from patterns of sounds. The phenomenon — pareidolia — is the same. Our brains are constantly trying to derive meaning from any stimuli introduced to our senses — even a series of meaningless clicks will send our minds racing to figure out a pattern, whether it is a simple rhythm that intrigues us, or phonetic sounds that seem to comprise a spoken word.

Of course, these vague clicks aren't the only examples of EVP. There are other examples where someone asks a question, and receives an answer, but with a twist — the answer is heard in reverse! So, when played back in reverse, we hear the question (in reverse), followed by the answer, in clear, straightforward...clicking noises. We refer to these as WiP-EVP, for reasons explained below. The AA-EVP has this to say:

Intelligible messages are often found on the reverse side of the audio tape. Some examples include a fragment of the experimenter's voice which you will hear in reverse. The entity then speaks normally. You may want to think about this for a moment, because no known mechanism is able to cause reverse voices.

Hmmm...where shall we start on this? First, does "the walrus is Paul" mean anything to anyone? Haven't we been here before? Hearing messages when regular sounds are played in reverse is a well known form of bullshit. This is why we refer to this second type of example as WiP-EVP (Walrus is Paul EVP). Second, the very obvious fact that jumps to mind is that, in reverse, this means that the answer "from beyond the grave" actually came before the question was asked. Then again, we can only assume that spirits just know what the question will be before they even hear it. Sorry, silly point. Our bad. Third, we want you to think about the file linked here. We created it. We also created the file here, which is the first file played in reverse. The first file is a series of noises, followed by one of the members of the Two Percent Company asking a question. The second clearly depicts that question in reverse, now followed by a clear answer to the question. How did we do this given that "no known mechanism is able to cause reverse voices"? Easy — a sound editor. I guess it isn't so hard to fake this kind of thing after all.

We found another interesting type of example on the AA-EVP site as well, one which we call TSL-EVP (That Sounds Like...EVP). In these examples, people don't even bother with static or white noise — they just tune a radio to a given channel and see what they get. In one example, an English-speaking person tunes to a radio broadcast in French and asks a question. All the while, the French broadcast continues, and after the question, there is a part of the French broadcast which might sound vaguely like a relevant answer. Here's another example that we found of this same kind of "phenomenon" — this weird Japanese song that an English-speaking person thought sounded like some dubious English lyrics.

Try listening to the shortened mp3 first, and see if you can discern any English words. Then highlight the invisible text below to see the words, and listen to the mp3 again:

[TV says doughnuts are high in fat, kazoo. Found a hobo in my room. It's Princess Leia, the yodel of life. Give me my sweater back or I'll play the guitar.]

Does it sound exactly like these words? Heck, no. But it's close in spots, and if you know the target words in advance, and you listen a few times and say them in your head, you can hear it. And yet, the entire thing is still in Japanese. You can watch the complete Flash movie as well, if you like, which shows the English lyrics on the screen. Those wacky Japanese — incorporating secret English messages (about some pretty random stuff) into their own spoken language! We wonder what you hear if you play it backwards...?

There is one other category of auditory EVP: the examples that are really stunningly clear, and are certainly human voices. A few examples can be found on the AA-EVP site. So what's the explanation for these "phenomena"? Uh, if we recall, some of these people are putting on a radio between channels. Have you ever done that? If so, then you know that every so often, frequencies that are close to the one you are tuned to often come into tune, ever so slightly, and you hear a little bit of sound from another frequency. Hell, it even happens when you're tuned to a specific channel sometimes — we start getting a Spanish radio station interspersed with our regular radio station when we're a few blocks from the mall. Could this be the explanation for these clear voices? Abso-fucking-lutely. We refer to these examples as TNF-EVP (The Next Frequency EVP). Of course, they could just be hoaxes as well.

Don't get us wrong — entertainment that embraces impossible and fantastic concepts and events in order to move their story forward are great, and personally we love movies, television, books, and other forms of entertainment that fall into this category. The problem comes when people start to pitch this crap as "real" and not just a story. To us, it's the same thing as needing to believe that in 1997, the machines will take over and start building Terminators...or that we're all really plugged in to the Matrix...in order to enjoy those movies; it's just plain stupid. You don't need fiction to be real in order to appreciate it; that's the wonderful thing about human imagination.


— • —
[  Filed under: % Bullshit  % Greatest Hits  % Media & Censorship  ]

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.twopercentco.com/rants/tpc-trkbk.cgi/24

Comments (34)

The Two Percent Company, 2005.01.29 (Sat) 00:43 [Link] »

For any skeptics who doubt us skeptics, we have included some notes on the media files in this Rant. While all files are linked locally, those attributed to the AA-EVP are in fact from the AA-EVP web site. If you would like to verify that yourself, you can do so on the following pages:

% Butler Examples (including "This is Ron", and both versions of "Jason")
% Estep Examples (including "I Found You There")
% Laurent Examples (including "Do You Pray to God")
% Weber Examples (including "Egypt Air", and "I Live in Spirit")

You may have noticed that the links provided above are to http://www.whitenoise.com/ and not to http://www.aaevp.com/. This is apparently due to mirroring put in place by the AA-EVP due to high demand. If you are still skeptical of our sources, you can go directly to the AA-EVP home page at http://www.aaevp.com/ and click on Examples > Voice Examples. From there, our chosen sound files can be found under the recordings of Butler, Estep, Laurent, and Weber.

[Note 2005-03-11: the sample sound files are now back on the AA-EVP site, so all links have been changed back. We'll do our best to stay on top of this.]

Also, in case you don't know, you can find the the original source of the Hyakugojyuuichi flash animation at http://www.eviltrailmix.com/animutation/. It is actually fairly famous in some circles, and was created by Neil "Trapezoid" Cicierega from a Japenese Pokemon song. According to everything2, these are the Japanese words, the made up English words, and the actual English translation, in that order:

Kimi-tachi to no deai wa zenbu
TV says donuts are high in fat, kazoo
I remember all of them well

Chanto oboete 'ru
Found a hobo in my room
My first encounters with you guys

Kizutsukeatta koto mo atta kedo
It's Princess Leia, the yodel of life
There were also painful moments but

Sore wa (e~to) wasureta
Give me my sweater back, or I'll play the guitar
Speaking of which (uhhh) I forgot

Seems like the actual translation doesn't make much more sense than the made-up words...



cathy Nye, 2005.06.29 (Wed) 17:39 [Link] »

Though it sounds absurd, I am the owner of the pix that was used in the movie trailer with the small child and a b/w pix of a lady in the same. White noise writers used it and it is VERY real. I beg to differ on the same old tired photos comment. It is THE clearest photo of phenomenon of its kind. The b/w lady is my dead sister-in-law. Very Real. and very used without permission from me..



The Two Percent Company, 2005.06.29 (Wed) 23:46 [Link] »

Having not really paid much attention to the content of the trailers — since we had little desire to see the film — we really have no recollection of the pictures to which you're referring, cathy; so please forgive us for being unable to comment on them. If you like, you can request a direct e-mail address from us on our Contact page, and e-mail us a scan of the photos. Then we'd be able to respond more knowledgeably with regard to your claims.

As for the filmmakers using those photos without your permission — hey, if that's true, go ahead and sue them. Use of unique images without the owner's permission is certainly a valid basis for a suit. White Noise certainly didn't make that much at the box office, but if your claim to ownership really holds water, you're entitled to some portion of what they did earn. Don't let us stop you.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.07.14 (Thu) 16:08 [Link] »

Well, cathy, since you never got back to us with your pictures, all we can do is offer some general information. Although we haven't seen the images you are referring to, we have seen a number of photographs of "ghosts" and other supposedly paranormal events. Without exception, they have not been in any way "unexplainable."

In our experience, if an image is "too good," it is usually a hoax. We'll give you the benefit of the doubt, though, and assume that your picture isn't a deliberate fake.

That explanation aside, many ghostly images are so vague that they fall into the category of pareidolia. We referred to this above, and you can read more about it in the Skeptic's Dictionary. In short, it is the tendency of the human mind to see patterns where there are none. This can cause someone to see a "ghost" in a photograph where there is really just a smudge on a camera lens, or reflected light, or any number of other normal happenings. Simple pareidolia tends to explain the overwhelming majority of the ghostly images that we've seen.

Of course, there are some images in which a person's face is undoubtedly visible. Again, barring intentional deception, the most likely culprit that we've seen for such images is double exposure. A double exposure results when part or all of a given frame of film is exposed more than once, resulting in part or all of a second image being superimposed on the first. It can happen accidentally with film cameras, and it has happened to us more than a few times.

We suggest that you investigate these possible explanations (among others) for your photographs before pointing your finger at a ghost. Just because something happens that you can't immediately explain, there's no reason to assign a supernatural cause. Usually, if you do some homework, you can find other far more plausible explanations. An article in the Skeptical Inquirer illustrates what we're talking about nicely, and would be a good place for you to start, cathy.



Levi C, 2005.10.05 (Wed) 00:07 [Link] »

you should not call this evp stuff bullshit just by listening to some samples on that aaevp site. I have recorded for this phenomenon because i did not believe it and i have come out with some interesting results. More interesting than some of the evp samples on a lot of ghost sites ive visited. If you would like to hear any of the ones ive recorded id be happy to email them to you. To me there is no way that the voices ive recorded are made up in the mind. I recorded most of them late at night where noone would be outside at the time and certainly not IN the house where the voice of an unknown being is obviously recorded. Theyre just too clear to say theyre imaginative and ive been able to turn down every possible explanation for what ive recorded. Listen to mine and tell me if you still think this evp stuff is "bullshit". But im sure youd still find something to say to explain how it isnt real because your the kind of person who just doesnt want it to be real plain and simple and you and I both know that.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.10.05 (Wed) 11:58 [Link] »

Wow, Levi! You mean to say, the particular examples of your pet phenomenon that we've listened to just happen to be fake, but your pet phenomenon is still real, gosh darn it? That's such an original line, Levi; do you write for Leno?

You know, we've just covered a similar claim in our most recent Rant, and here you come spouting the same tired spiel. You know what? We're not biting.

How exactly would you propose to "prove" that your examples of EVP are genuine, Levi? You'd e-mail them to us? And then, presumably, we'd be so blown away by the creepy, and kooky, mysterious and spooky, altogether ooky voice phenomenon you've sent us that we'd overlook the fact that neither we nor any other independent observers were present to witness you recording this crap. And of course, if we didn't immediately disavow our skepticism and become "true EVP believers," you would simply point to your statement that we're "the kind of person who just doesnt want it to be real," right? Is that kinda how you imagined your triumph, here, Levi?

See, we're not idiots. Loudmouths, maybe. A bit sure of ourselves. Filled with healthy doses of ego, intelligence and skepticism, in roughly equal parts. But not idiots. Your offer is, well...silly. If you would like to "prove" that your paranormal phenomena are real, don't bother us — head straight for the JREF One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge, do not pass Go, and try to collect one million dollars. We don't have the time, resources, or inclination to bother with every credulous, deluded crackpot that comes down the pike — the JREF folks do it professionally, and that's fine by us. Go talk to them, and see just how quickly your special and oh-so-unique claims are "proven."

That said, just so that you can't claim that we refused to listen to your, er, "evidence," you may feel free to e-mail one or two of your recordings to us at [errata AT twopercentco DOT com]. Note that, as we said, the lack of an independent observer witnessing the recording process makes them pretty useless. Also note that we posted a completely fake example of EVP above, and that we managed to create some pretty convincing ones while we were messing around with the sound editor, so even if your examples are really creepy, we aren't likely to be impressed by anything other than your audio mixing skills.

And by the way, we'd love for EVP to be real. Not only would it mean that people can survive in some form after death, but it would also mean that we could talk to our departed loved ones without turning off the television. What more could we ask for? However, in reality, it is pure and utter nonsense. So, we will continue to call it bullshit because, well, it is.



Levi C, 2005.10.05 (Wed) 20:42 [Link] »

ok great insults. Anyway i'll email you some evp(oops I mean faked voices that I made for people who would choose to deny it even if I recorded it right in front of their eyes). Of course your not gonna believe me and of course your still gonna call it bullshit, I know that. I have no reason to have faked these voices. I recorded to help myself believe in something that I didnt believe, not to get people like you to believe. The whole reason Im even wasting my time typing you all this
is because honestly it makes me mad to have recorded these voices and for you to think that I faked them. Believe what you want. I know I didnt create them so it excites me to know that there is something after life besides becoming worm food. Note that these voices when measuring the frequency levels or Hertz are either above or below normal human hearing levels. On average 300Hz or below is considered infrasound or below human hearing and 20,000 Hz or Ultrasound would be considered above human hearing. The point is that believe it or not(howd I know you were gonna pick the not)these voices arent voices of anyone who was in my laundry room, where I recorded most of the them, or noises made from inside or outside the recorder. Me and my mom are the only ones here and im pretty certain that neither me or her sound like the voices that ive recorded. Although you think anyone who believes in these sort of things are idiots, I never called you idiots. Im sure you all are very intelligent people and im sure that everything you believe or choose not to
believe is the truth, because I mean your just so smart. What am I even doing sending this to you everything that seems to defy the norm is bullshit isnt it. silly me



Tiefling, 2005.10.26 (Wed) 10:50 [Link] »
I recorded to help myself believe in something that I didnt believe....

That's probably the most telling point in your rant, sir. So many people who "objectively" investigate supernatural phenomena are actually trying to find ways to make themselves believe in it.

It's amazing to me that in the 21st century, the masses still don't approach the supernatural skeptically.

To the Two Percent Company --- great job debunking this phenomenon!



The Two Percent Company, 2005.10.26 (Wed) 12:03 [Link] »

Sweet merciful Jeebus, Levi, those EVP samples are amazing! It's the final clinching proof...that you live in an apartment building or a duplex, and are recording the goings-on of your neighbors. Of course, we wouldn't rule out the possibility that the "voices" were made by a nearby television set or radio, or that the experiment was recorded over a previously used tape, with an earlier voice that is still slightly audible over the relative quiet of an empty room. We aren't kidding here, folks — go ahead and listen to these two samples yourself.

(To be clear, we didn't name these sound files; Levi did. Are the voices saying what he thinks they are? Perhaps. If you listen to them without knowing the file names, you might not discern the same exact phrases (we didn't). The important thing here isn't the exact phrasing, it's that they sound an awful lot like...muffled voices.)

Sound files provided by Levi:
% Casper's gonna get a beatin' when Poppa gets home...!
% Paul Reiser isn't in the mood for Italian tonight.

You know, we figured these "spirit voices" would at least be mysteriously confusing and obscure, with lots of auditory pareidolia...but you took us in another direction entirely, Levi. It turns out that, if you're right about the phrasing of the messages, they're just things that people say in normal everyday life, and they sound like muffled voices you might hear through a wall. You know, as if you recorded them in the laundry room of an apartment building or something. Let's see, where did you say you recorded them?

... these voices arent voices of anyone who was in my laundry room, where I recorded most of the them...

Seriously, come on, Levi. You're either fucking with us, or you're majorly deluding yourself.

Okay, on to your comments. First, you refer to us as:

...people who would choose to deny it even if I recorded it right in front of their eyes...

Well, in an important way, you're correct, Levi. The difference between you and us is that we realize that it is possible to fool the senses; for one's brain to fool one's self. So, as a result, we realize that seeing (or hearing) isn't necessarily believing. We imagine that if you understood this better, you wouldn't be so easily fooled.

I have no reason to have faked these voices. I recorded to help myself believe in something that I didnt believe, not to get people like you to believe.

It's important to note that we are not saying that you have faked these recordings. You certainly may have, but we'll go ahead and accept the given that you didn't, at least for the purposes of this discussion. So, you may have had no reason to fake the voices, but you certainly have reason to imagine supernatural voices where there are none. As Tiefling said just above, by saying that you recorded these voices to help yourself believe in EVP, you are spelling out your reason for trying this experiment. In short: you apparently wanted to find spirit voices, so it wasn't all that hard for you to convince yourself that you had found them. Hell, you even said later in your comment that it makes you feel good to know that there is life after death. By going into the experiment with a preconceived notion of what you wanted to find, as well as an emotional stake in finding it, you all but ensured a "positive" outcome. That isn't a very scientific approach, Levi; it's basically a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The whole reason Im even wasting my time typing you all this is because honestly it makes me mad to have recorded these voices and for you to think that I faked them.

Again, we never said that you faked them. In fact, we think it's far more likely that you are simply deluding yourself. If it makes you mad to know that we still think you are voluntarily delusional and that your recordings are bullshit...well, you'll have to learn to deal with that. We can only assume that we'll learn "the truth" once we're dead, right? Hmm. Why is it that the elusive "proof" available for all of these bullshit claims always keeps us waiting until after we're dead? Hey, once we're dead, maybe we can visit you in your laundry room and admit the error of our skeptical ways! Go ahead — press Record, hold your breath, and wait for us.

Note that these voices when measuring the frequency levels or Hertz are either above or below normal human hearing levels. On average 300Hz or below is considered infrasound or below human hearing and 20,000 Hz or Ultrasound would be considered above human hearing.

Actually, no. The lower limit of human hearing is in the range of 16 to 20 Hz, not 300. But we'll let you slide on that one. However, you're missing a vital bit of knowledge here, Levi: if these voices were originally generated at infrasonic frequencies, then they were recorded (assuming, for the sake of argument, that your recorder is capable of it) at infrasonic frequencies; therefore, if you played them back on any machine (that was even capable of generating infrasonic sounds), they would still be infrasonic, and human ears would still be incapable of hearing them. (The same would hold true for ultrasonic frequencies, above 20 KHz.) So you'd be listening to a recording that, to human ears, would just be dead air (how poetic!). You never would have thought twice about the absolute silence you'd just recorded. So, unless you have some pretty snazzy audio equipment, you are, at least on this one point, full of shit.

Now, assuming that you meant to say these were very quiet voices — low amplitude sound as opposed to low frequency sound — then their subsequent audibility on your recording is not a big "mystery." You could easily use almost any sound mixing application to crank up the volume on what were probably barely audible sounds from one of the mundane sources we discussed above. It isn't all that hard — we just did it ourselves for a lark. It took about five minutes, and that included eating a snack. Boy, these sure sound a lot like your samples, don't they, Levi? Add a little extra background noise to our original to make the muffled voice a little harder to hear, and we'd bet that the end product would be damn near the same.

What am I even doing sending this to you everything that seems to defy the norm is bullshit isnt it. silly me

No, Levi; everything that doesn't provide a shred of testable, repeatable, observable evidence is as close to bullshit as makes no odds, so we call it bullshit. Defy the norm all you like — just give us some evidence that you have actually done it. Preferably evidence of the "convincing" kind, m'kay?



Levi, 2005.10.30 (Sun) 15:10 [Link] »

First off, that’s very ignorant of you to assume that you know the setting of where I live. I will admit though that you have helped me believe in the reality of these voices even more by showing me to look even closer for the possibilities for where these voices could’ve came from. The funny thing is that every possibility that you came up with for the voices, I can refute. I do not live in an apartment complex nor do I have any neighbors beside me. I use a digital recorder and I don’t have a radio. There are no television sets nearby our laundry room and just because there is a laundry room in our house does not mean I live in an apartment. Come on people I know your smarter than this. I must admit that I am proud of you to have noticed that the voices seem to have a human feel to them. I mean it seems like the voices I sent you were saying, “just things that people say in normal everyday life”. Wait, if these voices are from dead people, and dead people are people who were once living, never mind I won’t go any further with that. Also you are being somewhat of a hypocrite. You say that I’m only believing that these voices are coming from spirits because I convinced myself that they were because I simply wanted them to be. You disbelieve in the spirit phenomena all together because you simply choose not to. I would probably be right in saying that you probably have never experimented yourself for this phenomena you call “bullshit”, and if you did you probably would have a “preconceived notion of what you wanted to find”. Your preconceived notion being that you love to prove other people wrong, especially those you think that are less intelligent for believing in such a farfetched idea of there being a “life after death”. My approach to this may have not have been that scientific but at least I had an approach. The only experiments you seem to have performed are experiments where you were trying to disprove it, which certainly isn’t a bad thing of course. But maybe, if you haven’t already, you should try to record some e.v.p. for yourself. Roll around in the “bullshit”. Go somewhere where you can say for sure that there was no tv, or radio, or people around at the time. Maybe you should try proving instead of disproving for once.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.10.30 (Sun) 18:25 [Link] »

Okay, Levi, we'll patiently explain why everything you've said is, once again, a load of shit.

...that's very ignorant of you to assume that you know the setting of where I live.

First, we never said that you lived in an apartment — we made a joke about that, and followed that joke up with a host of other perfectly normal explanations for your "spirit voices." If you didn't get the joke, that sounds like your problem, not ours, and hence your ignorance. Reading comprehension is such an important part of any discourse — work on yours.

The funny thing is that every possibility that you came up with for the voices, I can refute.

We seriously doubt that. Based on your list, we see plenty of other options for the source of these voices. Does your dwelling have ductwork of any sort? If so, sounds travel surprisingly well through ducts, which means that the source of the sounds could have been anywhere in your house, not just somewhere near the laundry room. Frankly, though, we have no desire to examine the numerous possible sources of these voices one by one. That's something that you should have done, but failed to. Again, this is your problem, not ours.

I must admit that I am proud of you to have noticed that the voices seem to have a human feel to them.

Why? We covered examples of EVP recordings that actually are voices in our post above. What's so revolutionary about this statement on our part?

Also you are being somewhat of a hypocrite. You say that I'm only believing that these voices are coming from spirits because I convinced myself that they were because I simply wanted them to be. You disbelieve in the spirit phenomena all together because you simply choose not to. I would probably be right in saying that you probably have never experimented yourself for this phenomena you call "bullshit", and if you did you probably would have a "preconceived notion of what you wanted to find". Your preconceived notion being that you love to prove other people wrong...

Like most of the nutters who visit our site, you have slipped into the half-assed psychoanalysis portion of your commentary, and like the rest, you too are absolutely incorrect. Let's look at this horseshit comment one piece at a time, shall we?

First, you claim that we say that you went into the experiment wanting to hear these voices. No, Levi — you said that; we just pointed out the significance of that statement (as did Tiefling). So, that part is incorrect.

Second, you say that we don't believe in EVP just because we choose not to. No, Levi — we don't believe in EVP because there is absolutely zero scientific evidence for its existence. There's a big, whopping difference between those two reasons, which you probably don't understand, and which we have no desire to step through with you again. So, that part is incorrect.

Third, you state that we have either never experimented with this "phenomenon" or that, if we did, we did so with a preconceived notion that we wouldn't find anything. No, Levi — you are wrong on both counts. We have tested EVP personally, and we did so with an open mind. However, just because we found things that kinda-sorta sounded like voices, we didn't do what you did and jump to the supernatural explanation. That isn't how science works. In fact, the sample EVP that we posted in our last reply is a good example of a simple test. We recorded a silent room, then cranked up the volume to reveal (*gasp*) voices! Rather than shouting out to the world that we had proof of the afterlife, we looked into simpler explanations, and we discovered how normal sounds could cause these "voices." If you took more time to do the same analysis on your own recordings, you would likely come to a similar conclusion. Instead, you are busy being a true believer. So, that part is incorrect.

As a note, and we've covered this before, the notion that we haven't taken part in experiments in the field of the supernatural is a load of shit as well. Our reply to another nutter from another post applies equally well to you here, Levi:

Then you assume that we haven't performed or taken part in any of our own experiments. That is 100% untrue. Between our members, we have taken part in numerous experiments of the paranormal. We have done so ranging over the years 1985 to 2005, and we don't plan to stop any time soon. Some have been conducted by us, while others have been conducted by well-known paranormal investigators in university settings. We'd hazard a guess that we've been involved in far more (and far more rigorous) testing of the paranormal than you've even just seen on television. So be careful before tossing out half-assed assumptions — you might end up looking foolish. Er. More foolish. Even more...ah, skip it.

We're tired of you now, Levi. You're wasting our time. Your EVP samples are laughable at best, and you have nothing but anecdotal evidence to back up your claims. If you really want to change our minds, go contact James Randi and get him to set up a test to check out your claims. Once you've collected the million dollar prize, you can come and rub our noses in it. Fair enough?

If, on the other hand, you are happy to just passively believe in your make-believe voices without so much as a shred of evidence, go right ahead. Just stop pestering us with your nonsensical bullshit. Accept the fact that we require far more evidence than you do in order to believe in something, and move on with your life. Of course, the fact that you require damned-near zero evidence makes that an obvious statement. This, Levi, is your deficiency, not ours. Frankly, your arguments make you sound like those of a child trying to convince us that Santa Claus is real.

Oh, and as a note, we don't believe in Santa, either, even with all those presents as proof; so you can quit that argument before you even get started.



Levi, 2005.10.30 (Sun) 22:43 [Link] »

What! you dont believe in santa either?! I feel sorry for you guys..haha. Anyway ya ill leave you alone now yall take care



Daniel, 2005.11.21 (Mon) 13:43 [Link] »

Heh, I watched the movie "White Noise". Not a bad flick, but I was a little surprised at the "documentary" horseshit at the end. First they state clearly that background, "white noise" is required to make the EVP recordings audible. Then they recommend using an automatic tape recorder to capture them. One that has a light indicator to signal when recording is actually happening.

If you have a constant stream of "white noise" (variable pitch, frequency, amplitude) occuring this whole time, couldn't this just as easily trigger the indicator?

It amazes me, the sheer amount of people who buy this crap without question.



Lemont, R., 2005.11.29 (Tue) 20:45 [Link] »

Dear Two Percent,

Far be it from me to assume anything about you and your associates, but would I be right in thinking that you are reasonably new to this world, in your twenties anyway perhaps?...

The reason I ask is simply due to establish why you have your apparent take on life.

From reading some of your replies to Levi, it would appear that you feel that believing in something paranormal is idiotic, and believing in science is wisdomly. I have to say in some instances, yes, you are correct, and things should be analysed and discerned carefully for the correct outcome to be attained. However to totally rely on science as a source of your belief system, is actually rather ignorant too....

With age you will hopefully lose some of your strong skepticism and contemplate things which science cannot explain.

Before you question my intentions, I myself am a Physics professor in the United Kingdom, so I can talk without fear of sounding patronising.

One thing I would ask of you is to consider your religious beliefs if you have any, particularly the creation of the world.
Research the ways in which Darwinian theory has been put together, and perhaps my friends, you may come across something you would not expect.

Thank you for reading, and I await a response with baited breath.

P.S I hope that you would respond to my post with courtesy and valour, as opposed to simply trying to offend or upset myself or others who read it. :-)



The Two Percent Company, 2005.11.30 (Wed) 19:41 [Link] »

No, Lemont, you would be incorrect in thinking that we are "reasonably new to this world," and no, we are not in our twenties. Your first instinct was correct — assumptions will get you nowhere.

We have our "apparent take on life" due to the application of reason and healthy skepticism. However, you seem to have come to an incorrect conclusion as to how we apply our scientific approach — that is to say, it is not applied to issues of emotion or social interaction. Such unquantifiable subjects are just that: unquantifiable, and therefore not subject to such an evidence-based approach. With regard to those issues, our conclusions are based on compassion, understanding, survival, and mutual benefit. As Albert Einstein, who also took a scientific approach to all concrete subjects, put it:

"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary."

There are certainly some phenomena which "science cannot explain" — the emotions we feel when we look at a beautiful painting, or hear rap music, or think of our family and friends (setting aside for a moment the bio-chemical reactions in the brain and nervous system). However, you'd be hard pressed to come up with an objective phenomenon that cannot be examined through the scientific method...since, as far as we're aware, there aren't any.

So we do not "rely on science as a source of [our] belief system" — we utilize science as a tool to draw our own conclusions based on the evidence. As a physics professor, we would imagine that you can quite easily grasp this distinction. That said, there is absolutely no need to "lose some of [our] strong skepticism," as it fortunately prevents us from falling prey to all of the usual bullshit that comes down the pike — from pseudoscience, to medical quackery, to psychic frauds and organized religion.

You see, we apply the approach we took to EVP to all concrete claims equally, as one could gather from actually reading through a few posts on our site. No, we do not subscribe to any religious beliefs, as there is no supporting evidence for a single one of them. We believe our planet came into existence through the accretion of gravitationally attracted matter left over from the birth of our sun. Period. If you're trying to go a bit wider in scope, we have yet to have a firm opinion on the "creation" of the entire universe as of yet, since we haven't examined all of the available evidence; however, if you think we're leaning towards creation by some form of deity, you'd be mistaken.

And any person who refers to evolutionary theory as "Darwinian theory" in this day and age has, to us, very little to offer on the subject. In general, when someone makes such a reference, we're left with one of two possibilities: either that person has no comprehension of the huge advances in the science of biological development since the time of Darwin, which — given your stated vocation as a scientist — we find it hard to imagine in your case; or that person is trying to incorrectly paint the theory of evolution as a dogmatic belief. If it's the former, we'd suggest a hop across the pond to check out the new "Darwin" exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, followed by some research into the developments in evolutionary theory since the time of Darwin. Perhaps as a teacher, your "student muscles" have atrophied, but we'd like to think that you're intelligent enough to understand the facts if they are presented to you. If it's the latter, and you are attempting to paint evolution as a religious belief, then either lay out the arguments that support your assertion (via our Contact page, please, as this post is about EVP), or stop wasting our time. Be warned, though: if this is your aim, we've heard more than a few variations of the "Darwinism as socio-politically motivated belief system" mumbo-jumbo from the religious zealots and the conspiracy theorists, so we're liable to see through the usual specious claims.

Was that courteous and valorous enough for you, Lemont?



Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2005.11.30 (Wed) 19:44 [Link] »

We're with you, Daniel. No matter how many credulous gawkers we come across, we're always amazed at what some people are willing to buy into. And the stupidity they are willing to employ in order to "validate" their silly beliefs.



Greg, 2005.12.16 (Fri) 20:03 [Link] »

Honestly, I am not sure whether all claims of EVP, the supernatural, and religion organizations are bullshit.
I'm guess that I'm a "fence-sitter" leaning towards the side that some of it could be true. Some of my belief system stems from the fact that I believe in the all-powerful nature of God. The logic being that, if God does exist, why can't spirits?

There are plenty of logical reasons as to why it's bullshit, but not nearly all of it can be explained away. How can you ever prove, either way, that someone saw an apparition?

The skeptic that you have referred to who is offering a million dollars for proof of a supernatural event, has I believe tested less than a thousand claims since he started. How does that sample size compare to the number of claims that have been made in history? Is this guy really an unbiased experimenter, knowing that if he does admit to evidence, that he’s going to have to pay a million bucks?

Your quote from Einstein used to illustrate your views on certain unquantifiable social phenomenon:

"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary."

My quotes from Einstein:
Interviewer: "Do You accept the historical Jesus?"
"Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life."
Einstein 1929
"God does not play dice"
Einstein

Thank you for reading this.
Greg



The Two Percent Company, 2005.12.16 (Fri) 21:58 [Link] »

Greg,

It goes without saying (as far as we're concerned) that you are free to believe what you want to believe, but it's important to note that your statements are not entirely correct.

Some of my belief system stems from the fact that I believe in the all-powerful nature of God. The logic being that, if God does exist, why can't spirits?

First and foremost, there is zero evidence for the existence of God, so using that assertion as a foundation for beliefs in other unproven phenomena is not logically sound. We get the sense that you realize that, but we wanted to point it out just in case. Second, even if God was proven to exist, that would in no way make any other faith-based belief more likely. It's like saying: "Well, if God exists, then why can't there be small magical gnomes that live in our anuses?" The two phenomena have no relation to one another, and the existence of one in no way proves or even leads to the probable existence of the other.

There are plenty of logical reasons as to why it's bullshit, but not nearly all of it can be explained away. How can you ever prove, either way, that someone saw an apparition?

Can every claim of the supernatural be explained by logical, scientific means? Yes. Quite simply, lying can explain quite a bit, and various psychological issues can explain others (the malleability of memory, subjective validation, and others). Has every claim been explained? Of course not. Most such claims are nothing but anecdotes which can't definitively be proven or disproven. However, anecdotes are not an acceptable form of evidence in a scientific analysis.

The skeptic that you have referred to who is offering a million dollars for proof of a supernatural event, has I believe tested less than a thousand claims since he started. How does that sample size compare to the number of claims that have been made in history?

The number of people that James Randi tests is a direct result of the number of people who submit their claims for testing and who pass the initial screening. Most self-proclaimed paranormalists manage to find every excuse under the sun to avoid being tested by non-credulous researchers, which substantially lowers the number of tests that Randi's organization has conducted. In addition, most people who try to apply for the challenge are unable to even pass the simple screening process, which is both a sign of the dubiousness of their claims, and a further reason why Randi has tested so few claimants. You can see a partial list of applicants on the JREF website to get an idea of why they have failed to pass muster.

However, the implication that you make — that no matter how many people Randi has tested, it pales in comparison to the total sum of all paranormal claims made throughout history — is pretty silly. That is the kind of expectation that many believers try to shove onto critical thinkers — that they need to disprove the existence of every single claim of the paranormal. That isn't the case. The people making these claims have only to prove that their claims are true one time in order to overturn the notion that no paranormal events are real. For example, if just one person could prove that on one day they really and truly communicated with a spirit from beyond the grave, then the existence of that ability would be proven. Pretty simple compared to the expectation of disproving every silly anecdote ever told since man began walking upright, huh? And yet, not one person has ever met this burden of proof. To us, those centuries of human knowledge now work against a belief in the paranormal; since, in all that time, no proof has been offered beyond unsubstantiated anecdotes. For more information, read our post about the impossibility of disproving the paranormal.

Is this guy really an unbiased experimenter, knowing that if he does admit to evidence, that he's going to have to pay a million bucks?

Randi doesn't act as the judge in any of his tests. Instead, there is an independent panel assigned to judge the success or failure of the claimant to prove their claims. In addition, the million dollars is in the JREF's account, in a restricted trust for use only as payment in the Million Dollar Challenge. You can view the IRS form 990 for yourself (we link to it from one of our posts on Allison DuBois). So the money is there, and is set aside for this very purpose. Since it can't be used for anything else, why would Randi care if he had to shell it out? In addition, the man holding the money isn't among the judges. That's pretty sound protocol, Greg. You can read more about the rules on Randi's site.

Interviewer: "Do You accept the historical Jesus?"

"Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life."

Einstein 1929

So, the question is, where'd you pick that one up from, and who quotemined it to begin with? See, that particular gem is from George Sylvester Viereck's interview of Einstein in The Saturday Evening Post of October 26, 1929. There are several problems with your implication that this indicates an "acceptance" of Jesus on Einstein's part, at least in the fundamentalist meaning of recognizing the divinity of Jesus. As most people of a religious stripe do, you've plucked this quotation from a larger context, and distorted the actual meaning of Einstein's words. You seem like a nice enough guy, so you get off with a warning this time; but please, be very wary of Einstein quotations that seem to support specific religious beliefs, as such quotations are either outright fabricated or taken out of context by fundamentalists. It irritates us when folks try to make Einstein out to be a "religious" man by some mainstream religious definition. Einstein definitively said, in The Human Side (1954):

It was, of course a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
[Our emphasis.]

So, it's pretty clear that Einstein did not believe in the Christian Jesus myth. Not to mention which, Einstein was of Jewish descent. He would have no reason to "accept" Jesus in a religious sense. Accepting the historical Jesus simply means that one thinks the man might have actually existed — accepting the biblical Jesus would imply some sort of religious bent. Based on our own research, we would say that we have no problem "accepting" that a man named Yeshua may indeed have lived in Nazareth nearly two millennia ago; in fact, one of us took a class back in college that explored this very possibility. However, by no stretch of the imagination does this imply that we think that the man was anything more than an ordinary man.

If you read the rest of the Post interview, you'll see that Einstein was certainly "enthralled" (his word) by the man, Jesus, and believed the Gospels to be so artfully written that one could really get a sense of the man's personality. None of this implies that Einstein believed in Christian theology, and his other statements (that we've provided) clearly falsify such a proposition.

"God does not play dice"
Einstein

Again, just a warning this time, Greg: you are using this quotation way out of context. Einstein believed in the "god" of Spinoza, a non-entity that infused every molecule of matter in the universe equally, rather than some actual "persona" that created the world, interferes with it constantly, and has any opinions about what happens in it. This particular quotation was actually his frustrated response to the concept of quantum probability physics, which suggests that no phenomenon or event exists solely as one specific possibility, but rather encompasses a variety of possible outcomes that form a gestalt whole which we tentatively call "reality." Einstein didn't like that idea, and fought against it for much of his life, even as he tried desperately to come up with a grand theory of unification that would reconcile the disparities between various cosmological theories (like relativity and quantum mechanics). And hey, wouldn't you know it — here we are in the modern age, and scientists have actual physical evidence that quantum physics is an accurate description of certain physical phenomena. So the "god" Einstein was referring to does play dice with the universe. Therefore, even if Einstein had used this quote with the literal intention you infer (which he didn't), he would have been wrong, anyway.

In the same November 9, 1930 New York Times article in which Einstein's discusses "ethical behavior" (in our quotation which you reproduced above), he also made his opinion of the Judeo-Christian concepts of God and soul quite clear:

I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own — a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms.

Now that is a definitive statement of Einstein's beliefs.

The bottom line is that Einstein was not a Christian, nor religious at all in any commonly accepted sense of the word, no matter what kinds of quote twisting and fabrication some people may try to employ. We doubt very much that you are the one who lied here — in all likelihood you grabbed these quotes from someplace two or more generations removed from the point of textual distortion. Just be careful when tossing around the words of others — you never know when you'll be shown to be demonstrably wrong.



Greg, 2005.12.17 (Sat) 00:24 [Link] »

Very interesting. I will be more careful next time I make quotes. It's evident that Einstein was talking about the laws of the universe as being God, not the Christian God in any sense of the word. Sorry about that.

Thank you for respecting my belief in God, as an entity. I realize, that as of yet, there is no way to scientifically prove the existence of God. All I really have is my intuition that has come from a religious upbringing, reading books, contemplation, and life experiences. I believe the answer to questions like, 'Who created the universe?', is God-the deity. Whereas, a scientist would likely say, 'There is no scientific proof of that, therefore I do not believe it'

As it relates to the existence of spirits, what proof do you have that Jesus, whom I think you agree existed, was an ordinary man?



The Two Percent Company, 2005.12.17 (Sat) 12:27 [Link] »

We have no "proof" that Jesus was an ordinary man, Greg, save for the fact that every verifiable birth that science has witnessed has been, well, ordinary. So, our assertion that he was ordinary fits perfectly with the empirical data provided by centuries of other ordinary people.

You may have heard the expression: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." This case interprets that phrase just about as literally as you can get: our assertion that Jesus was an ordinary man is an ordinary claim — it makes no assumptions that are unusual in relation to our scientific (by which we mean empirical) knowledge of the world. We're sure that you know lots and lots of ordinary people, none of whom are the offspring of deities. Making the claim that Jesus was ordinary, just like the folks we see today, is a pretty run-of-the-mill concept, which dovetails nicely with what we can actually observe of the universe. It's the simplest hypothesis that fits with observable facts — for instance, the fact that nobody in living memory has been any sort of demi-god.

The claim that Jesus was something other than ordinary — that he was extraordinary — is, by definition, an extraordinary claim. Because there has never been any scientific observation of such a phenomenon as the Christian definition of Jesus, the burden of proof lies upon the believers, who are making this extraordinary claim.

In our own studies, we have come to the conclusion that there was very likely a man, called "Jesus" by later storytellers, who existed during the era described in the New Testament, and who may even have been a progressive thinker with exceptional charisma. The idea that a plain old ordinary guy lived back then is quite indisputable — unless you would dispute the fact that at least a few million plain old ordinary guys were hanging about back then. The idea that the superheroic avatar of an immortal deity was living back then demands evidence — because there is no evidence of any other such mythical personae to support that hypothesis. Therefore, without evidence to the contrary, we can safely assert that, if Jesus existed (which we're pretty confident he did), he was an ordinary man just like any other (which we're pretty confident he was).

In a simplified form, it's kind of like asking how we can prove that we will die one day. Well, we can't prove that in the sense that you're referring to unless we keel over right now (and that's not in our plans for today). However, we're guessing that you have no trouble believing in the overwhelming likelihood of our eventual deaths. Why? Because so far, every person that we are aware of who has been born over the centuries of human history has eventually died. Over all that time, we don't know of one person who has lived perpetually. As a result, we take it as a given that we will all die. Our assertion that Jesus was an ordinary man is based on the same line of reasoning.

Hopefully, that answers your question. We certainly respect your right to believe in a God that you have a personal relationship with, whatever we may personally think of the belief itself. We also have tremendous respect for you in light of your ability to acknowledge a mistake, and your interest in making your own personal journey of discovery, wherever it may lead you. We hope that whatever your final destination is, you reach it happily and wisely.



Greg, 2005.12.18 (Sun) 01:51 [Link] »

You guys are sincerely great. It's truely a pleasure to find people of such intellect. In my world, it's pretty hard to come by.

Thanks for trying not to crush my beliefs and I also respect your beliefs, as scientists.

I will continue to challenge my beliefs, as I think you challenge yours, in the never-ending quest to understand this mysterious universe.(sorry if that seems a little too poetic)

Best Wishes,

Greg

P.S. I would be honored if you would read a book by Lee Strobel, entitled 'Case for Creator' and let me know what you think. It's one of many books that have reinforced by belief God, the diety.(and subsequently, my leaning towards the existence of spirits. I do remember your point about no logical relation between God and the existence of spirtis, but I respectfully disagree.)



helena, 2006.08.30 (Wed) 11:37 [Link] »

You might be interested in the phenomenon you're describing in Classical Antiquity.

At one of the oracles of Apollo in Asia Minor (which one escapes me at the moment), the consultant went through some sort of ritual and then was sent out the backdoor with the instructions that the first words he happened to hear were the god's message to him. This seems comparable to turning to a random radio station to receive an oracular response.

Along somewhat the same lines the ancients would often consult sacred scriptures for oracles by randomly opening the book and taking the first passage they lighted upon as the answer. For Christians, of course this was the bible and it continued into the middle ages when it was called the ars notaria, or scribal art. The most famous instance of it was practiced by St. Augustine. At the time when he was still trying not to become a Christian, he was sitting in his garden reading when he heard children on the other side of the wall chanting, "Tolle! Lege!" — roughly "pick it up and read it!" He happened to have a new testament on his desk and he randomly reached a verse from one of the Pauline letters which led him to finally accept Christianity.

It was a little harder for pagans, since they favor scrolls as a form of publication (they used notebooks just like ours, however, for drafts and informal writing). But the problem was solved in one the Greek Magical Papyri (trans. published under that title by Hans Dieter Betz). There the consultant is instructed to roll three dice and read them as digits. He is then provided with a matrix of all the possible combinations corresponding to a selection of quotations from Homer which is meant to be the oracular answer he is looking for.



Anders, 2007.06.14 (Thu) 00:36 [Link] »

I've recorded some things on DIGITAL (DAT) tape with good mics, quiet HUMAN voices that are right up to the mic, not through a wall, not distant etc. It only proved that there is SOMETHING going on that I cannot explain. I was at a hospital museum wing in Brisbnane Australia, a retired nurse was showing me around the artefacts there (she was suspicous of the mic and the recorder, but very chatty and helpful). I recorder all her conversation and my questions to her, and a deep voiced male. There was no man with a deep rugged voice 'guffawing' heartilly after a comment I made to the elderly retired (female) nurse about the glass needled syringe she was showing me. It is a clear as day, and right up to mic like a man's hearty chuckle.
I am not saying it is a DECEASED person on this tape, but this person was NOT there, at least not visible to my eyes. It was not a radio transmission, or a man walking past (it is a tucked away antique wing at RBH hospital, a museum, and seemed like I was the first guest all month!) - very very clear and only that one obvious laugh, no fading in or out of other sounds or static etc.

Electricity is real, it is also invisible.

On another occasion I recorded a grumpy sounding man quipping 'stop maoving the latch!' when I was trying to close a gate a memorial statue over a grave in Toowong cemetary, Brisbane. It is there, and I don't give a damn if you believe me or not. I believe I cannot provide an explantion for what I recorded that fits any simple logical explanations that I have or have read elsewhere. But you are making your negative, cynical point a bit too loudly I think, and you are not open to new ideas it seems. I do think some of your other points about charlitans and their money grubbing BS are valid.

I just felt for the man (Levi) who sent you his EVP's (even they were a bit muffled and scratchy), but that doesn'y prove you are right to assume he is crazy or making stuff up. He was probably assuming you would be open to other possiblities, not just 'I think I hear dead people'...but he was wrong, as you are just a couple of lonley smartarses, really.

Why be so sceptical of everyone one and thing that doesn't fit your paltry life experience like a glove? You shot him to peices (but disproved nothing) and yet you have nothing to offer but bile.

With your overactive cynicism you may spoil the discovery of exciting possibilities that may exist for anyone brave or foolish enough to want to look and listen to the mundane for long enough, including your own bitter selves.

I only know that I cannot hear or see everything that is there around me with my own eyes and ears (like radio or micro waves, sure, or electricity), and that may include some human presences or other dimensional overlap. Quantum physics is looking more and more interesting. You'll have fun with that, won't you?



Bronze Dog, 2007.06.14 (Thu) 11:15 [Link] »

Anders, try actually understanding our position, rather than bashing the Hollywood version.

1. How about providing the recording and letting us make the judgment of what it says, rather than telling us what you heard, predisposing us to hearing it? Humans are very talented at forcing pattern recognition when there is no pattern.

2. So far, all the EVPs I've listened to sound like static. It's quite limited, though, since EVP supporters I bump rarely bother DOING anything in an open manner. They just like to whine about how eeeee-ville us skeptics are because we demand results. It's nothing but bile, and we have to reply by pointing out how nihilistic that bile of yours is.

With your overactive cynicism you may spoil the discovery of exciting possibilities that may exist for anyone brave or foolish enough to want to look and listen to the mundane for long enough, including your own bitter selves.

It's that closed-minded "I CAN'T BE WRONG, AND YOU'RE EVIL FOR THINKING OF THAT POSSIBILITY!" mentality of yours that's cynical. Why do you woos have to be such downers?

And try reading this list before posting your next reply. We've heard all those distractions, semantics games, projection, and so forth over and over. It's very, very insincere, propagandistic, defeatist stuff.



Jason Spicer, 2007.06.16 (Sat) 14:54 [Link] »

Anders, how could you possibly know for sure that the noise you recorded wasn't a radio transmission? I commend you for not claiming to know what the sound was, and I don't even dispute that you recorded something unexpected, but why are you so quick to rule out simple, even routine, explanations?

Radio transmissions come from lots of sources (even mobile ones, like aircraft) and reflect off of things unpredictably. It's pretty hard to completely rule out radio cross-talk unless you're using well-shielded equipment in a CIA bunker.



Bronze Dog, 2007.06.16 (Sat) 17:18 [Link] »

I remember one unusual story in recent news: Apparently a woman started receiving a transmission from one of the space shuttles on her TV.



TimmyAnn, 2007.06.16 (Sat) 19:17 [Link] »

Actually, it was on her baby monitor, but yeah, I saw that, too.

When I was a kid, my older sister used to play the organ and sometimes she'd be playing a song and all of a sudden we'd hear an airline pilot communicating with the tower at the airport a few miles away.



Blair, 2009.02.22 (Sun) 03:50 [Link] »

Einstein was a stinking satanist, basically built and asked for the n-bombs to be deployed, then tried to act like he was against war and WOMD for the rest of his life so he would be looked at like a "nice" man. You can call this freak a genius if you want. But to me a genius has to be a good person, and Einstinkers legacy is completely failed in this most important regard.



Bronze Dog, 2009.02.24 (Tue) 18:11 [Link] »

Wow, talk about off topic. First off, the scientists who developed the nuke were trying to beat the Nazis to the bomb. You do realize that, don't you?

Second, what evidence do you have that it was an act? Are you claiming psychic powers?

Third, science is the tool we use to know how the universe works. It's hard to be a good person if you have the power to perform good deeds. Knowledge provides power.

And no, you can't isolate good knowledge from bad knowledge. When you research a question, you have no power over what answer the experiments will provide.



Tom Foss, 2009.02.25 (Wed) 00:21 [Link] »

Fourth, Einstein was a Pantheist, not a Satanist. Since he denied a personal god, I imagine he wasn't too keen on a personal devil as well.

Fifth, there is nothing inherent in the term "genius" that means "good person." In fact, quite a lot of geniuses are assholes. So much so that it's kind of the stereotype of geniuses.

And finally, you historically illiterate twit, Einstein's contribution to the development of the atomic bomb consisted of two things: figuring out that mass could be converted to energy and vice versa, and writing a letter to Roosevelt about the dangers of the Nazis building an atomic bomb first. He wasn't even the first person to write such a letter, just the first person to get FDR's attention. He didn't work on the Manhattan Project, he wasn't involved in the design or development of the bomb, and ultimately he regretted writing the letter in the first place. It is the height of absurdity to claim that he "basically built and asked for the n-bombs to be deployed" when he never even set foot in the room where they were being built.

If discovering a principle of the universe and writing a letter can give someone the blame for something that they otherwise had no involvement in, then I guess Isaac Newton was one "Dear Monsieur Guillotine" away from being at fault for the French Revolution.

Next time you plan to open your mouth and let something stupid fall out, try learning something first.



Jeremy de Vere Hunt, 2009.08.12 (Wed) 09:06 [Link] »

What I find most amusing about the whole "paranormal" controversy is the way some believers react to others disbelief as though this denies their faith. Believe what you want, the Universe doesn't care just don't confuse belief with reality. We all believe in concepts such as love, morality, jealousy etc. but they have no "real" existence beyond what we give them - hell look at economics! I personally believe that Santa exists, because I enjoy it. I don't need proof of his existence and more than that any proof would actually reduce my belief because it would tend to suggest that Santa is an actually person rather than a supernatural entity. I also do not go around expecting everyone else to believe in Santa, try to force my beliefs on to anyone else or hold the opinion the anyone else's disbelief denies my faith. If you want to believe in EVP or anything else, do so, don't keep bugging people about supposed "proof" for your beliefs - they are just a story you tell yourself to cope the fact the Universe doesn't give a shit about your existence. More than that, if you want to fight someone on their home court, be prepared to fight by their rules. Two Percent Company's forum, Two Percent Company's rules - come up with proof or go somewhere else and stop feeling challenge by other's disbelief, it just shows your utter lack of faith in your own beliefs.



Shelley Johnson , 2010.08.21 (Sat) 02:48 [Link] »

I don't know if E.V.P. is real and I really don't care, but I did like that movie......Twas pretty cool....,



Sakura, 2011.11.16 (Wed) 09:33 [Link] »

On the subject of audio pareidolia, I thought the Two Percent Co might be interested in this very recent, real life example from a long running criminal case here in New Zealand. If this can happen to a number of long serving police officers, well, how easy must it be for believers in the paranormal to subscribe to the EVP phenomenon. Here's the story.

In 1994, David Bain returned to his family home in Dunedin, New Zealand, after his paper run to find his entire family of five shot dead. He called the police who quickly arrested and charged him. He was convicted in 1995 and spent 13 years in prison before finally being aquitted on retrial in 2009. Bain has always maintained his innocence. One of the reasons for his aquittal was new doubts raised over the contents of the tape of his call to emergency services the morning of the murder. In the tape, Bain is clearly distressed while talking to the operater, and at one point says something under his breath that the police interepted as "I shot the prick." Forensic audio experts contest that he's saying "I can't breathe." A forensic linguist in Australia used this tape in an experiment, which can be found here http://helenfraser.com.au/forensic/index.htm#transcription



Jeff from the Two Percent Company, 2011.11.16 (Wed) 21:21 [Link] »

Thanks for the link and the rundown, Sakura. As we'd all pointed out to the True Believers in this ancient thread, it's so easy to hear what you "want" to hear, or what you're told you'll hear — since our brains process human speech as a lot more than just sound, it's one of the easiest things to influence through the simple power of suggestibility.

(The McGurk effect is a great illustration of this particular phenomenon. According to Wikipedia, the effect is not as prevalent in languages with certain phonetic attributes, or in cultures that make less use of eye contact in conversation, which strongly suggests that the language you grow up learning has a profound impact on the way you process language — and perhaps even all auditory input — itself.)

The fact that the police used this tape as "incontrovertible evidence" of David Bain's guilt is both incredible and revolting. For myself, I'm sure that I was influenced by reading your breakdown ahead of time...but fuck me if I can even begin to hear any "sh" sound in what Bain says in the middle of the call. The fact that it sounds like he repeated (or started to repeat) the phrase "I can't breathe" right at the end, and the fact that he very clearly was having trouble breathing throughout the call, kind of makes it a no-brainer from my perspective, and the fact that he was held for so long on this sort of "evidence" is just another example of how even the cops aren't immune to fallible human perception and memory, just like the rest of us. (Which is, of course, why it would never even matter if they did use psychics or other alleged paranormal techniques — that fact alone would not confirm the existence of supernatural phenomena.)

Not knowing much else about Bain's case, I wouldn't want to go on record proclaiming his guilt or innocence...but if that muttering utterance (which might not be "I can't breathe," but I can't remotely see how you get "I shot the prick" out of it!) was the best the cops could do, they seriously dropped the ball on this case.




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