Advocates of Electronic Voice Projection (EVP) claim they can use radio equipment to communicate with the dead. But are they just hearing what they want to hear?
In 1969, a mysterious middle-aged Latvian doctor turned up in Gerrards Cross with a large collection of tape recordings.
He had, he said, been conducting experiments in communication with the dead, and had established contact with Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and many other deceased 20th Century statesmen. The recordings – 72,000 of them – contained their voices.
His name was Konstantin Raudive, and he called his technique Electronic Voice Projection, or EVP.
It wasn’t real-time interactive communication. You asked your questions, and then left the tape running, recording silence.
But listening back, through the mush and static, you could sometimes just about make out people speaking.
Gerrards Cross was the home of a publisher, Colin Smythe, whom Raudive hoped would publish a book on his findings.
Smythe was keen, but he needed to persuade the chairman of the publishing company, Sir Robert Meyer, that this wasn’t all a hoax. So Raudive laid on a series of electronic seances in Gerrards Cross, one of which Sir Robert attended.
As luck had it, the late pianist Artur Schnabel was on the line, and spoke – at least to the satisfaction of Lady Mayer, who was also present and had known Schnabel. The book, called Breakthrough, went ahead, and EVP was on the scene.
More technologically up-to-date than spirit slate-writing and less messy than ectoplasm, it dragged the world of spiritualism into the late 20th Century.
Nowadays, EVP is a standard tool of ghost hunters worldwide. There are hundreds of internet EVP forums and many serious and well-educated people who see it as proof positive that the dead are trying to talk to us.
For example, Anabela Cardoso, a former Portuguese career diplomat who lives in Spain and publishes the Instrumental Transcommunication Journal. She has a well-equipped recording studio and claims to have replicated the Gerrards Cross findings.
“My voices are not little voices,” she says. “They are loud and clear and totally understandable.” She offered to send me a CD.
Meanwhile, Smythe is still living in Gerrards Cross.
Raudive had wanted us to believe that Hitler spoke to him in Latvian, not a language he ever mastered while alive. He said things like “kindle willingly”, and “you are a girl here, or else you are thrown out”.
I put it to Smythe that these were surely not the kind of utterances we associated with the Fuhrer. But, he points out, it could be identity theft.
“A communicator is not necessarily going to be truthful. They could be using the names of famous people in the hope of that they will be taken notice of.”
So what happened to the Raudive tapes?
In a store room in Smythe’s house, almost impossible to get into for boxes, we finally found seven quarter inch reel-to-reel tapes, probably unplayed for four decades. And on one was Raudive, summoning up the dead.
According to a book published at the time by Smythe’s partner, a Russian voice at that session said “Stefan is here. But you are Stefan. You do not believe me. It is not very difficult. We will teach Petrus.” But on the tape there was nothing, just hiss.
On another occasion, the broadcaster Gyles Brandreth was present when Raudive produced the voice of the late Winston Churchill, speaking what everyone present agreed were words from Land of Hope and Glory. “It was, credibly, Winston Churchill,” Brandreth remembers.
But when we listened together to the tape, he had to agree that it sounded nothing like Churchill – it was far lighter than the familiar gravelly voice. “Maybe it’s the young Winston,” Brandreth suggested. “Or a Churchill impersonator?”
But who impersonates the young Churchill? We couldn’t think of anyone.
When Cardoso’s CD arrived I was disappointed that the voices, in Spanish and Portuguese, were not really very clear. According to her translations, they said things like “There is a rabbit on your head”. But Dr Cardoso was, like other EVP investigators, definitely recording voices.
So what’s going on?
The simplest explanation is that EVP voices are just stray radio transmissions. Usually they are so faint and masked by static interference that it’s hard to make out what they are saying, and the EVP investigator has to “interpret” them for you.
That might seem like a weakness but that’s also their power. As Joe Banks, a sound artist, points out, a dead person speaking in studio quality wouldn’t be nearly so convincing as a voice you must strain to hear.
Banks has an ongoing project called Rorschach Audio. He suggests that the voices are the aural equivalent of inkblot tests devised by Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach. He argues that while the EVP experimenters think they are doing parapsychology, they are actually unwittingly carrying out psychology experiments.
For example, if you take recorded speech and replace every sixth of a second with white noise, the speech is still comprehensible. But if instead of white noise you use silence, it’s much harder to understand.
We are naturally well-adapted by evolution to imaginatively reconstruct speech against a noisy background – imagine trying to whisper in a windy forest to your hunting companions.
EVP enthusiasts, Banks thinks, aren’t idiots. They are just being fooled by audio illusions that take us all in.
But once you start experimenting with EVP, it’s hard to stop. After Breakthrough was published, Raudive progressed from voices captured on tape to voices coming from animals, in particular a budgerigar named Putzi, who spoke in the voice of a dead 14-year-old girl.
Similar work today is being done today by EVP researcher Brian Jones in Seattle.
He records the noises made by seagulls, dogs, cats, and even squeaky doors and crunching pebbles. They all contain voices. One dog says, “Where’s Sheila?” referring to its owner. Another complains of its owners, “they always sail away”.
Jones thinks he can capture thoughts that somehow are in the air. “I have documented a lot of things that are pretty stunning that way,” he says.
He would like to use his techniques to help solve crime, or to pick up the thoughts of stroke victims who have lost the power of speech. So far, he has been shunned by private detectives and doctors.
But the EVP community really want to believe they are onto something. And many of us find the idea of communicating with the dead so tantalising, so appealing, and yet so elusive that it’s easy to see how normal psychological mechanisms can be co-opted into making us believe in the unbelievable.
Upgrade to Large Hadron Collider that could ‘unlock new dimensions’
The world’s largest particle smasher is kicking off a major upgrade to churn out 10 times more data and help unlock the secrets of physics.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, started work Friday on a project to boost the number of infinitesimal collisions, known as ‘luminosity,’ in its Large Hadron Collider by installing high-tech magnets.
CERN says the upgrade is expected to produce greater data starting in 2026.
They said the upgrade will allow the Higgs boson ‘god particle’ to be defined more accurately, and to measure with increased precision how it is produced, how it decays and how it interacts with other particles.
In 2012, the LHC was used to prove the existence of the Higgs Boson—also dubbed the God particle—which has allowed scientists to make great progress in understanding how particles acquire mass.
In addition, scenarios beyond the Standard Model will be investigated, including supersymmetry (SUSY), theories about extra dimensions and quark substructure (compositeness) will be examined.
CERN says the collider ringing the French-Swiss border near Geneva has worked well since operations began in 2010.
CERN, perhaps most famous for confirming the subatomic Higgs boson six years ago, says the budget for the High-Luminosity LHC is about $950 million.
The work involves heavy civil engineering at the LHC’s two main sites in Switzerland and France which are run by Europe’s physics lab CERN, that will allow it to operate in a high-luminosity mode from 2026.
The project will involve the replacement of high-tech components along 1.2 kilometres of the machine, such as magnets, collimators and radiofrequency cavities.
It will also see the construction of new buildings, shafts, caverns and underground galleries, as well as tunnels and halls to house the new cryogenic equipment, as well as power supplies and cooling and ventilation kit.
The HL-LHC requires about 130 new magnets, in particular 24 new superconducting focusing quadrupoles to focus the beam and four superconducting dipoles.
Sixteen brand-new ‘crab cavities’ will also be installed to maximise the overlap of the proton bunches at the collision points.
Their function is to tilt the bunches so that they appear to move sideways – just like a crab.
‘By 2026, this major upgrade will have considerably improved the performance of the LHC, by increasing the number of collisions in the large experiments and thus boosting the probability of the discovery of new physics phenomena,’ CERN said.
The aim is increase tenfold the amount of data which can be picked up by the LHC, which is housed in a 27-kilometre (17-mile) ring-shaped tunnel buried more than 100 metres underground that runs beneath the border of Switzerland and France.
The powerful accelerator, which began operating in 2010, smashes high-energy protons into each other at velocities near the speed of light.
These collisions generate new particles, giving physicists an unprecedented look at the laws of nature in the hope of better understanding particles and matter.
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Sounds and Whispers — What You Need To Know About Poltergeist
The expression poltergeist comes from the combining of two German words: poltern (crash) and geist (spirit or ghost). So in other words, a noisy or unruly ghost or soul. Although less common than conventional hauntings, reports of poltergeist activity dates back to the first century. In contemporary times the phenomenon has generated several major films and television programs .
So with this in mind, here are the eight main things that you need to know about poltergeists.
1. Parapsychologists can not agree on what they are
Some parapsychologists see poltergeists as a sort of ghost or supernatural entity that are accountable for physical and psychological disturbance. Other people think that such activity originates from”unknown energy” associated with a living individual or a place. Sceptics, on the other hand, favor ordinary explanations like attention seeking, pranks and trickery.
2. Poltergeists often favor women to men
A person-focused poltergeist tends to (although not necessarily ) involve a female adolescent who’s experiencing emotional turmoil when the activity begins. That said however, not all so called”focal agents” are teens. Indeed, William G. Roll, a pioneer in poltergeist research, discovered that the age of people reporting encounters of poltergeist activity ranged from eight to 78 years.
3. Some of the best poltergeists are thought to be fakes
In 1967, in a lawyer’s office at Rosenheim, Germany odd things started to occur in the presence of the 19 year old secretary Annemarie Schaberl. Paintings and overhead light fittings started swinging, while fluorescent tubes unscrewed themselves and massive spikes in electrical activity occurred. The speaking clock was also called multiple times per minute and furniture was moved. The authorities, utility company officials, physicists and parapsychologist Hans Bender investigated with no explanation. However, many think it was a bogus — all because of concealed nylon threads — particularly given that the incidents stopped when Schaberl left the company in early 1968.
4. Poltergeists like to mess with your stuff
Poltergeist activity usually starts with minor isolated episodes . This may include unexplained sounds or familiar objects like your keys or your telephone moving from their usual place. However, while poltergeist activity is normally short lived — manifestations typically lasting around five months — several instances have persisted for many years.
The Chilliwack poltergeist in Canada, for example was active for just two months between 1951 to 1952. During this time period the Poltergeist produced violent and loud hammerings on walls accompanied by occasional flying objects. The Brother Doli Case, on the other hand, included a range of phenomena — stains, carvings of images and Welsh words, normally of a religious nature — and those persisted for many years.
5. Experts are still undecided regarding the Enfield poltergeist
Among the most well-known poltergeist cases to happen in the UK involved the Hodgson Family, and their newly occupied council house in Enfield, North London. Between 1977 and 1979 it had been the scene of demonic voices, things moving without explanation, levitation and odd sounds. Events focused on the two teenage daughters Margaret and Janet.
A number of trustworthy witnesses observed phenomena — these witnesses included a police constable, a press photographer and researchers from the Society for Psychical. While researchers did discover some evidence of pranks and fakery, it was considered that a number of the poltergeist episodes were genuine.
6. Some believe that psychological stress can cause activity
Some ghost hunters and paranormals suggest that poltergeists are in fact the emotions of troubled individuals — built up during times of stress.
This concept, called Spontaneous Recurring Psychokinesis suggests this built-up stress then unconsciously projects outwards in the kind of emotional energy, which impacts the physical surroundings and creates the phenomena attributed to poltergeists. However, there’s not much evidence to support that idea.
7. Others think they are souls of the deceased
A lot of people think that spirits of the dead are responsible for poltergeist activity. This is believed to be because individuals who experience them perceive an underlying intelligence and purposeful communication with an otherworldly being. This view proposes a disembodied consciousness — or soul — survives bodily death. But there also isn’t any compelling scientific evidence to support this opinion .
8. However, sceptics put a lot of it down to misinterpretation
Misinterpretation is likely to happen when people think that a place is haunted and they’re searching for signs to verify that. This way, a lot of poltergeist activity can actually result from inaccurate perception of natural phenomena. Just take the case of the women haunted with a ticking clock, it had been actually found that the sound was created by a tiny insect. Other instances like”the curse of the spinning Egyptian” — an Egyptian statue at a Manchester museum seemed to turn itself during the day — have both been explained by physical elements like minor seismic activity, underground streams and even rainfall patterns.
Prominent psychiatrist says ‘genuine victims of demonic possession who seek exorcisms should NOT be ignored’
A prominent psychiatrist dealing with the “world beyond” is saying that not only is demonic possession very real, the victims of possession should not be brushed aside. The number of people looking for an exorcism has risen in recent years putting more of a demand on priests and psychiatrists attempting to help people.
The number of people seeking exorcisms has risen worldwide, and it isn’t just psychiatrists taking notice. The Vatican even recently completed training for exorcists amid the rise in what some believe to be demonic possession. But whether an outsider believes in possession or not, many do believe they need to be delivered from the demons inside them, making it very real for the victim of possession.
In April, at the Vatican training course for exorcist priests, participants were told that the demand for exorcism is booming as a result of a decline in Christian faith and the internet providing easy access to black magic, the occult, and Satanism.
With 25 years experience in a private psychiatric practice and as a professor at New York Medical College and Columbia University, Dr. Richard Gallagher has a rare vantage point to observe human behavior; and then there is the inhuman. As a sought-after psychiatrist in cases of demonic possession, Gallagher said the initial step in determining the need for exorcism is discernment. Dr. Gallagher has evaluated hundreds of cases of possible possession and, in a wide-ranging and rare interview with The Telegraph UK, explains why he believes, as does the Catholic Church, that the phenomenon is genuine.
In the US alone, the number of priest exorcists has increased from twelve to fifty over the past decade. While demand for exorcism continues to surge, Dr. Gallagher’s medical assessment of whether a person is mentally ill or possessed by demons will help determine whether an exorcism should be conducted. Describing the Rite of Exorcism as a “delicate and necessary ministry”, the Pope admonished that exorcist priests must be selected with “great care and great prudence.”
Although there are many others who evaluate victims for possible mental illnesses and possession, Dr. Gallagher is one of the few psychiatrists who is willing to even talk about demonic possession. He has also written a forthcoming book on the subject, being published by Harper Collins, called Demonic Foes, A Psychiatrist Investigates Demonic Possession in the Modern United States.
“There are many other psychiatrists and mental health care professionals who do what I do – perhaps not to the scope that I do – who seem hesitant to speak out,” he explained. “That’s what gives my work some singularity. That I have had so much experience and that I am willing to speak out. I feel an obligation to speak out. I think that I should,” said Dr. Gallagher.
Gallagher also noted that of the cases referred to him for possible possession, they are people who “suffer tremendously.” He said: “There is very strict criteria for determining the person’s problem. I am not just intuiting. I’m dealing with it from a very scientific point of view.”
“There are cases of spirit possession in pretty much every culture,” he said.
Dr. Gallagher has directly observed 100 full blown possessions over the past twenty-five years. He has attended a few hundred other exorcisms as an observer, none of whom were his patients. He only attends exorcisms where the team “knows what they’re doing,” and that includes proper restraint of the victim to prevent that person from trying to run away or attack the exorcist. In the United States, the victim must sign a legal form indicating they have agreed to the ritual. According to Dr. Gallagher, when the demonic is accessed, the demon is in control and “would do all sort of things if not restrained”
Dr. Gallagher also says that demons have been observing human beings since the beginning of time. “They’re [demons] very, very smart. The intelligence level of a fallen angel, which is what I call them, is far superior to human beings. Which is why they denigrate human beings. They sometimes call us ‘monkeys’,” he said.
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