Looking for something scary to do this Halloween season? Try recording the voices of ghosts in your home or in a nearby haunted location. Every ghost hunting show takes a moment to give a definition for Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP), one of the more shocking and abundant pieces of evidence paranormal investigators obtain.
EVPs are sounds that are caught on audio recorders that could not be heard during their recording. Sometimes these sounds are strange and unidentifiable, but sometimes they are clearly voices. The question is, where are the voices coming from?
EVPs have been a staple in paranormal investigation for the last few decades. One of the earlier references to the phenomenon comes from an interview with Thomas Edison in Scientific American. He was asked about being able to use his devices to contact the dead, and responded that he was not sure about life after death, however...
...it is possible to construct an apparatus which will be so delicate that if there are personalities in another existence or sphere who wish to get in touch with us in this existence or sphere, this apparatus will at least give them a better opportunity to express themselves than the tilting tables and raps and Ouija boards and mediums and the other crude methods now purported to be the only means of communication.
The modern method of obtaining EVP recordings consists of going to an allegedly haunted place, and bringing with you some sort of recording device. Researchers will record for long periods of times while wandering around and sometimes asking questions or talking to the disembodied spirits that may be lingering about. When you have a group of researchers wandering about for a long time, there is usually a lot of audio to then review afterwards. In the popular Ghost Hunters television show, they show the investigators reviewing audio; what you don't see is that they are reviewing hours of material.
This is one of the more grueling aspects of paranormal investigation. However, the hard work can pay off when a great EVP is found.
Skeptics say that EVPs are interference from radio waves, CBs, walkie-talkies, cell phones, or a great number of other electronic devices. They also say that sometimes people are hearing things that just aren't there. Perhaps hearing sounds in the static that appear to be voices, but are not. This psychological phenomenon is called pareidolia. It is when random images or sound are perceived as something non-random. This is always a danger in paranormal research, for instance when people believe they see a face in the static of a video.
Many EVP recordings believed to be paranormal are probably due to the circumstances described by skeptics. However, EVP recording is a popular practice because some recordings are much harder to explain. Sometimes the sounds are unmistakably words, and sometimes they are in response to very pointed questions. Even in these cases, we cannot definitively say these are voices from people who have passed away, but it can leave one perplexed as to their origins.
Some of the best EVPs I have heard were collected by my cousin's college paranormal group and local ghost hunters in October of 2006 at the Tivoli Center in Denver.
The Tivoli is an old brewery in the heart of downtown Denver that now serves as the student union for the Metropolitan State College of Denver, the University of Denver and Colorado Community College. The Tivoli and the area around it have been preserved to remain as it has been for decades. The old nearby homes serve as faculty offices. The basement of the brewery used to be an old bar, and has an eerie feeling, with exposed brick walls and creaky doors. It is no wonder that it has the reputation as a haunted location.
As they say the proof is in the pudding. In the video below, you can hear the EVPs collected during the paranormal investigation of the Tivoli in 2006, and then you will see my cousin, Jason Cordova, giving some history of the Tivoli and the area. Just so you can be left with the spine-tingling creepiness of the strange voices caught in the recordings, the EVPs are played again at the end. You decide whether this is a case of pareidolia, radio interference or voices from beyond.