I go through periods of time where I am truly frustrated and upset with the whole notion that we can, or are, contacting the spirits of dead people. First of all, there is no way on Earth to prove that assertion. We assume it, but that requires a huge leap of faith that I am not always comfortable with. For one thing, the voices we hear on audio don’t seem terribly intelligent, well spoken or even nice. They repeat something that we said, they simply limit themselves to “no” (this seems to be their favorite word), or they will knock and tap about the room. On several occasions, I have heard them say “do it,” in response to a query or some other, short and direct response. The “little girl” that followed around Camarillo just loved to sing and rarely answered any questions. She even, I dare say, followed another investigator and me to Linda Vista, humming loudly enough to earn us a spot on two television shows once her voice got around on the Internet. I say “she,” ‘he,” or “they” without having the foggiest notion who “they” are. Rarely, if ever, do these ‘spirits’ identify themselves, and so more often than not, we end up playing parlor games. “Make a noise. Tap a wall. Make the lights flash”.
I quickly run out of things to say to the spirits, since they are not forthcoming. We assume, maybe correctly, maybe not, that these spirits are making a huge effort to communicate with us, and therefore they can’t do much beyond one-syllable words and a few random noises. I listen to hours of audio. Most of what I think is paranormal turns out not to be. Maybe it was me, sighing too loudly, or someone else who forgot to tag a shift or a bodily noise. Sometimes I’m utterly amazed at the “proof” I collected, such as the infamous photograph of an evil entity that turned out to be a reflection of my own hand in a window. I try to bounce back from such episodes, but sometimes the lingering and persistent notion that I am deluding myself makes further investigations seem pointless, beyond the social interaction that I enjoy and need.
Then, of course, my instinct kicks in. Taken as a whole, my experiences and those of my team are NOT easily explained in terms of mass delusion or wishful thinking. As a whole, there is something very real happening that I do not understand. Even though I am really frustrated with the voices on audio for saying completely uninteresting things, at least I am hearing something that is utterly mysterious. That’s worth something, right? Allow me an example: in one of our audio clips, one of our team members asks if I want to turn the lights on, and before I respond, there’s a fast, whispery voice that says, “Turn it on”.
WHY? Who the hell is hanging around that cottage making mundane comments about the lights? In another clip, I ask if anyone minds if I take a flash photograph. A male voice (whispered) responds: “Do it.” OK, thank you for encouraging me to take a flash photo—that’s nice and all, but why aren’t you saying something about life after death, what it’s like to meet your Maker, or if the colors are different in Summerland? What is the deal with the commentary? In most of my audio from that night (I will not reveal dates, locations or names). I hear an ongoing, whispered conversation that runs through most of the evening. Of course, I can’t make out what is said; it’s like listening to a conversation that takes place on the other side of a wall in the middle of the night, when you can’t sleep.
I suppose the “Other Side of the Wall” is a fortuitous way to phrase the issue. They are, literally, on the “Other Side” of a wall (which is Death). So. Something is interacting with me. I don’t know what, or who, it is. This makes me nervous. I don’t really like the fact that someone I cannot see or even hear at the time, is commenting on my and other’s actions in the room. In fact, the more that I think about it, I’m not so sure that we are dealing with ‘passed over’ humans here. It seems to me that what we are hearing are fragments of consciousness, not whole identities. The whole identity of a once-living person is NOT in the room with us. It’s something left behind, a kind of intelligence that has split from the original human being. What would one call that?
I don’t know how to wrap my head around this. There are many who would, at this point in my analysis, jump straight to the Demon hypothesis. Even though there is nothing in the Bible that states ghosts or spirits cannot be contacted, many Christians and Catholics believe that anything responding to one’s inquiries is demonic in nature. There is no evidence to back that up. However, I will say that after listening to perhaps hundreds of EVPs now, there is a certain pattern that I find disquieting. To better organize my thoughts, I will list the Seven Characteristics of Electronic Voice Phenomena. Why only EVPs? My rationale is that the vast majority of our data comes from audio. It is VERY rare to catch a true anomaly on film or video, and I would venture to say that in the 4 years that I’ve been investigating, we have maybe 2 strange video clips and three odd photos. We have plenty of meaningful and amazing personal experiences, but we can’t offer those to the public as proof of anything. Other electronic devices such as the iOvilus or EMF readers are useful, but only in conjunction with other, corroborative data. So, we have our sound bites.
1. Audio captures similar sounding voices. There is not a tremendous variety of nuanced voices out there in the ether. We tend to get similar sounding male, female and child voices. The lack of individual variation may have something to do with the media in which sound travels. This may explain the distortion in our audio; we don’t know how “spirit voices” are imprinted on digital recorders. Do they utilize familiar sound waves? Is there some undiscovered mechanism that carries these voices? Can we call them “sounds” at all, from the standpoint of classical physics?
2. ‘Spirit’ voices can sound inhuman or robotic. A substantial minority of EVPs have a metallic or robotic undertone. Some of them sound machine produced, even in the absence of machines that might be confused for intelligent voices. I am at a loss to understand or explain that phenomenon.
3. Voices captured on audio tend to be repetitious. As I’ve noted above, it’s rare for a truly original EVP to come through. Most of them are repeating short phrases or single words. It’s as if there were a very limited vocabulary with which they are working, or it’s just too complicated to form longer or more original sentences. One could argue that if you only have the energy to say one or two words, you’ll choose the words that seem most relevant to the question or the situation. However, that does not explain the almost aggressive “do it” EVPs or those that seem to be almost confrontational. An example of a confrontation EVP comes from an investigation where someone asks, “Do you know my name?” and the clear response is, “Is that all you want?” This was an exception to the one or two word rule, and we were thrilled; this happens so rarely. Most of the time, I am amazed at how homogenous the responses are, how predictable; what kind of person is this?
4. These voices are the most active and interested near the beginning of EVP sessions and tend to taper off over time.
It usually happens like this: we walk into a room, a building, wherever we are investigating, and the feelings are the strongest right at the start of our sessions. It’s when we are still setting up, chatting, not doing anything in particular to attract spirits or souls when we get our most shocking and interesting communications. It’s this casual lack of awareness that seems to attract activity. Just when we are concentrating the least on contact, someone out there makes the strongest bid for our attention.
5. Individual identity is almost impossible to establish.
The more we NEED to prove who someone is, the less likely we are to figure it out. When we are tracking a theory, most of the time we are led in an entirely new and unexpected direction. The “spirits” seem to delight in taking us down the wrong path, or playing with our expectations. Just when we think someone’s friendly old grandfather is returning to leave a message of love, we hear on playback a woman speaking backwards.
6. Voices captured on audio can mutate over time.
I’ve gone back to listen to an EVP and discovered that I no longer understand what it says, or it appears to say something different that what I originally thought. How this might happen is beyond me; perhaps every time I listen to my audio, I do so with different ears and expectations. Some of my best EVPs are consistent, but others have become something else. This is very disconcerting, since I suspect that someone is messing with me through my computer. If that sounds paranoid, well, that’s what happens after enough years of paranormal investigations.
7. Paranormal voices are layered and complex; there is always more being said than you think at first.
If I go back and listen carefully to old EVPs, I usually find that I missed something. There are more voices than I originally hear; of course, I can’t make out what they are saying, and it tends to be that strange, whispered conversation that I can’t decipher or comprehend. These voices are layered over one another, as if they were coming through in various frequencies, much like a radio picking up several, random stations. That is, I suppose, the most apt metaphor . . . we are attempting to “tune in” to realities that exist in frequencies that we cannot perceive by normal means. God knows what the message may be. There may be no message; perhaps what we are hearing are just stray thoughts from millions of minds crisscrossing eleven dimensions. If that is the case, then we are simply driving ourselves crazy listening to the static of the universe.