I believe it's caused by the tendency of the brain to try to fit a pattern to the chaos - even if there isn't really a pattern there. This is (e.g.) akin to the phenomena of coming home to one's empty house and, hearing nothing but the whoosh of the blower on the furnace, being sure that the radio is on (playing music or a DJ's voice). Upon attending to the "radio," one realizes it is not on and there really is no discernable intelligence contained in the noise.
On the subject of this new film, the plot of which you will all no doubt be aware of by now, has anyone ever experienced unaccountable EVP on any recording they've ever made? I have, but cannot in all honesty ascribe it to anything supernatural. From having trawled through Google, however, it appears quite a few folks *are* believers. What thinketh the Panel on the matter?
"What is now proved was once only imagin'd." - William Blake, 1793.
Not unaccountable. I can feed white noise to headphones and select a particular melody and then listen to it as it surfaces out of the noise. Same process as running noise through a Hi Q filter. A sinewave come out as if from nowhere. regards john
It happened to me once on an old TEAC 4 - track tape recorder. We were bouncing vocal tracks back and forth to free up a track, and all of a sudden a clear, basso-profundo voice chimed in singing right along with us (two tenors)- pretty eerie at first. I have no idea where it came from, subharmonic I guess.
I read in sci.electronics.design that John Larkin wrote (in ) about 'White Noise', on Wed, 5 Jan 2005:
If this is about 'spirit messages' from tape recorders, there was a guy who made much of this in the 1970s (IIRC). A sort of former-day Geller. The spirit messages came in Swedish, German and an obscure language called Latgalian, which his mother spoke. Very convenient if the artefact was barely identifiable!
I heard these 'messages' in the 1960s when trying to make a kit Truvox recorder work after the guy who bought it for a local club gave up. It did work, after a while, which was a reasonable outcome considering that all the paperwork had been 'lost'.
If you recorded a blank tape with maximum mic gain, the resulting noise contained snatches of text and sometimes a soprano singing a few notes. What was *really* magic was that the messages were different every time you replayed the recording. (;-)
Regards, John Woodgate, OOO - Own Opinions Only.
The good news is that nothing is compulsory.
You mean as in our evolved tendency to make faces out of abstract patterns? I guess so, in many cases, that's true. However, the BBC did play one recording (on an item concerning this subject) on Radio 4 this morning that had to be something else. It was definitely a woman's voice that seemed to be saying "lie down" but I couldn't be sure as the radio I happened to be listening to it on was one of these tiny, tinny, Japanese jobbies and didn't do the Beeb's broadcast quality tapes justice. Anyone else hear it?
"What is now proved was once only imagin\'d." - William Blake, 1793.
I saw the trailer for the movie, and it piqued my curiosity. So I Googled it the next day and turned up some interesting reading and audio samples. There seem to be two main schools of thought. One holds that EVP can be impressed directly on an audio tape (but can only be heard on playback, not actually heard "in the air" at the time of recording). The other maintains that a "carrier" of some sort must be generated, and the spirits modulate this carrier somehow (AM seems popular) and the intelligence is recovered by some process of demodulation. Then again, I suppose that the bias oscillator in a tape recorder could also be supplying a carrier that's amplitude-modulated by some external force acting upon it.
I was amused to find one site that offered a schematic for a detector you could add to your gear to make it more sensitive: a diode and a coil. In other words, a crystal set... guaranteed to pull voices out of the air for sure! :)
Some of the audio samples I heard were pretty obviously random noise upon which wishful thinking had forced some kind of meaning. ("If you slow down these gurgles and bleeps and play them backwards, and apply a narrow bandpass filter, you can clearly hear the voice say 'hey dude'"). Then again, some other samples were distinct words, albeit faint, enough to creep you out if you entertain the possibility that the recordings could be genuine and not man-made.
Once it's been recorded for transmision then the effect is 'locked' and we'll always hear it the same way. But it's the original source reproducing equipment that will add variability to every play. It's own noise artefacts randomly modulating existing noise. Make a number of recordings from it and then select out and record the finest example of ghost-speak and the film studios and TV will fall over themselves to buy it. As John W. mentioned, the odd effect was different every time they listened.
Anyway I'm losing confidence in the ability of the Beeb to report anything technical. If it's not some rap artiste or DJ being interviewed on their fine body of work or some kiddy singer or Z list personality, then the Beeb haven't a f***ing clue.
I'd heard of the name, and at least it's not a political movie (!). (ISTR some political pundit using the term "white noise" to refer to some other pundits). So I looked it up, there a very short plot description here:
and lots of "user reviews" here:
I googled for it, found out what "Electronic Voice Phenomena" is, and geez... didn't I just mention Art Bell somewhere? Yes, in the "Did we ever go to the moon???" thread in sci.astro.amateur.
Speak of the devil, this recent news article has some interesting history regarding a faulty erase head:
And as far as such "phenomena" in electronic equipment, I once heard a CB radio transmission, apparently from a taxi cab (this was the 1970's), playing LOUDLY through a transistor guitar amp. Radio interference happens all too often, as many posters here can attest. :(
I suppose the question reduces to "Well, what if mundane things such as unwanted AM rectification and partially erased tape are ruled out?" and my short answer is I just don't believe it.
A book I really enjoyed on the subject is "In Search of the Light: The Adventures of a Parapsychologist" by Susan Blackmore. These Amazon reviews sum it up fairly well, though I should write my own:
What I got out of the book was the power of belief - the belief in paranormal phenomena by all the researchers, and that hard evidence of some phenomenon was "just around the corner." In traditional scientific studies, these biases would be very bad. They're bad here too, but you would think that if there were "something there" to be found, these would be the people to find it and it could later be verified by researchers with less bias and better methods. In a strict scientific sense you cannot prove the absence of something ("Absence of evidence is not evidence of absense"), and it seems the author ends the book still having hope, if "not knowing." But it sure helped me dispell any possible belief or "curiosity" I may have had in that stuff.
A good tape recorder will have playback electronics that generates substantially less noise than any tape it plays back. I'm not saying the original was played back on a 'good' recorder, though...
I have no doubt that the perceptions of a recording of random noise can be different every time it's played, even if it's the exact same thing played every time (record it to a CDR and it plays back in any decent player, and and any truly varying noise background will be 90dB below the playback "signal"). Both the perceptions and the actual noise can vary, but at least we can control for the actual noise.
That's a shame, I've heard good things about BBC news over the years, that they were the last bastion of good news reporting. It seems I and many others became disillusioned of US news sources years or decades ago, if we ever thought they were reliable.