Where Do The Voices In EVPs Come From?
This article is more than two years old and was last updated in August 2022.
Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) are the mysterious sounds of disembodied human-like voices of unknown origin that are heard through electronic devices.
They are usually heard in the form of sounds imprinted on an audio recording, but there's no agreed upon mechanism that explains how voices are captured as EVPs, in fact even the origins of these voices are disputed.
One thing that most paranormal investigators agree upon is that most hauntings fall into one of two categories, either residual hauntings or intelligent hauntings, these classifications may also be relevant to EVPs.
Residual hauntings are a type of haunting, where the witness is seeing, sensing or experiencing the residual psychic or emotional energy of a person or an event that took place at that location in the past. For this reason, residual hauntings are sometimes called place memories.
Residual hauntings are said to be an imprint of energy that has been left behind by someone who suffered a tragic traumatic premature death, usually a murder, suicide or execution. It's said that the energy used by the body and the brain in resisting death can be so immense that those events can be replayed either on the anniversary of the event, when atmospheric conditions are similar, or when someone is susceptible or in tune with that energy.
As residual hauntings represent nothing more than a reflection of the past, you can't communicate with them. The visions seen are not aware of their surroundings. They cannot interact with you and are not aware of your presence.
A residual haunting can be a vision, or even a sense of foreboding in a particular room or location where something traumatic has occurred, but it can also be audible. There are many examples of audible residual haunting, from phantom footsteps, to the sounds of music playing in the courtyard of a castle, or horses galloping across a battlefield, and of course disembodied voices.
It's not known whether these events replay for everyone or just those who are open to these types of energies or who have psychic abilities. This raises the question of whether an EVP could be an imprint or a recording of residual energy.
If the voices in an EVP recording don't directly answer you back, this could be an indication that you are dealing with a residual haunting. This may also be the case if you capture footsteps, cries, laughter, or just about any other unexplained noise.
Most, if not all, EVPs are likely to be the result of intelligent hauntings, also known as interactive hauntings. In this type of hauntings a ghost or spirit may manifest or communicate in some way. Because there is believed to be an awareness or consciousness of sorts behind these ghosts, they are able to hear your questions and answer with relevant responses.
The goal of any EVP research is to capture intelligible responses that relay meaningful messages. For this to be the case, you would have to be dealing with an intelligent haunting.
Although there are lots of unknowns, including whether ghosts really exist, what is commonly believed is that ghosts and spirits don't have physical bodies, therefore they have no vocal cords. So it could be argued that they can't produce a voice in the same way that living humans do.
However, this isn't strictly true. It's widely agreed upon by paranormal investigators that ghosts are able to move objects, slam doors, and break items. Therefore they must at times be able to take a physical or partially physical form, or at the very least be able to manipulate the physical world around them. If this is the case then they should also have the ability to vibrate the air around them in order to make sounds, which are at a basic level vibrations in the air.
The idea that they can do this, either at will or in certain conditions, is backed up by the common belief that ghosts are also able to produce direct and audible voices - we hear the sound of their clothes rustling, and even their footsteps.
In the early séances of the late 1800s, mediums believed that spirits were able to spontaneously form physical vocal cords to speak through using a substance called ectoplasm. This is one theory that could explain direct voice phenomenon, but when it comes to EVPs, the voice isn't actually heard out loud so it could be that the voice is imprinted in the recording using a kind of psychic energy or manufactured electrical interference.
No matter what method is used to make the recording, the leading theory about the origins of EVPs is that they are the voices of the dead - whether that be in the form of residual or intelligent spirits - this isn't the only theory. It's entirely possible that the voices heard in EVPs aren't voices of the dead, but are in fact voices from another point in space, time, or a different dimension.
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Many within the paranormal field believe that a portal or vortex can allow an entity to cross over in to the physical world we live in from the plane of existence that ghosts inhabit - the spirit world. There's also a growing number of claims that they could be inter-dimensional gateways or even doorways to a different point in time, either the past or the future. This is based on claims that objects and artefacts have fallen through portals. Items like feathers, arrowheads and ancient coins have been found in places where they have no business being.
The idea of other planes of existence isn't too far fetched. There's growing support from leading scientists for the many-worlds interpretation, which suggests that there are one or more, perhaps an infinite number of complete universes co-existing with us on a plane we are not aware of.
It's for this reason that some paranormal researchers believe that hauntings could be caused by beings from another dimension, and that ghost could be explained as beings living in one or more parallel dimensions. When conducting experiments with EVPs, there's no way of knowing whether we are inadvertently communicating with living humans in a parallel universe, as it is we're communicating with spirits of the dead.
It might not just be the barriers between realities that ghost hunters are breaking down, but space and time. Ghost hunts are usually conducted in haunted houses, castles, or other locations which are believed to be haunted. This means that over many years lots of different groups of paranormal researchers focus their attention on the exact same location in an attempt to make contact with spirits. Some believe that it's possible that their psychic energies could be coming through and could be what is causing spiritual contact and even the voices in EVP recordings.
If it isn't the spirits of the deceased that we're communicating with and it is in fact the focussed energy of ghost hunters from the past, then these people in the past have made contact with us here in their future. This means it could also be possible for today's ghost hunters to make contact with people in our future.
Communication between the dead and the living, or in this case the two points in time doesn't normally consist of a linear conversation, instead it's a voice imprinted in an EVP recording, the movement of the planchette over a Ouija board, or tapping to indicate 'yes' or 'no'. Perhaps this is because it is the subconscious psychic energies being drawn to each other. Those taking part in an investigation may not even realise what messages they're throwing out into the past or future.
Space and time is so intrinsically linked as the spacetime continuum, that if it's possible to communicate through time, then it should also be possible to communicate with different physical locations throughout the universe.
There's no real way to know where the voice in an EVP recording is coming from. Even if the voice identifies itself by giving you its name in the recording, this could mean you're communicating with the spirit of that person, but you could also be in communication with their living counterpart in an alternative reality.
Subconscious Psychic Imprinting
A final theory on the origins of EVPs is that they're not coming from a spirit or another being at all, instead they are audible imprints of the EVP practitioner's mental thoughts that are subconsciously recorded on to the recording through psychokinesis. Especially given that our thought are an electrochemical process in the brain.
Spirits are believed to be our souls or the energy that gives rise to our consciousness living on outside the body. If we are willing to accept this disincarnate energy is capable of affecting an audio recorder, then it could also be the case that the energy or soul within a living human can have the same effect.
As a living human, we are consciously aware of the intent of what we're about to say, as well as the words, before we form the sentence aloud. If a spirit's conscious energy works in the same way, they it's possible that it is this mental intent that causes an imprint in an audio recording. This means that a paranormal investigator who is focussing on the question they've just asked to the spirit could unwittingly mentally project the answer they hope for or expect on to the recording. It might be that the investigator is subconsciously willing the spirit to answer with a specific word or phrase.
One famous EVP researcher, Konstantīns Raudive, might have helped back up the theory that EVPs are the result of some form of psychic projection rather than an audible sound. He often used a germanium diode in a radio circuit to capture EVPs. Modern day researchers now plug a similar diode into an audio recorder instead of a microphone. A germanium diode is a low resistance electrical component and isn't capable of capturing audio in the same way that a microphone does. This means that any voices captured using this method were never audible sounds.
If EVPs are a result of our own subconscious thoughts being imprinted in the recording, then it becomes harder to tell if the voices heard come from the depths of our psyche or from a spirit. In order to validate that a voice isn't the result of our own thoughts, the EVP would have to impart information that none of the investigators present are aware of. This information would then need to be validated after. This would help to prove that the voice hasn't come from the investigators as they weren't aware of this now-proven information before-hand.
However, where information is known by an investigator or generic phrases are spoken in the EVP, it's impossible to rule out the fact that the EVP could be unwittingly caused by the investigator themselves. For this reason, when attempting to capture EVPs, you should aim to collect information that you are not aware of that can be corroborated later. Information such as names, dates of birth, next of kin, or anything else that you could verify in record after the investigation.
If you want to explore this theory further, then you could try a psychic projection experiment. This involves using an audio recorder and intentionally focussing on one specific word which has been written down in advance. You could either try this alone or as a group of people all concentrating on the same word. Will the word to appear on the recording, while leaving the audio device recording for 30 to 60 seconds, this should be enough time for the imprint to occur without the need for you to review long audio recordings afterwards.
The person reviewing the audio shouldn't have been part of the original experiment and shouldn't be aware of the word in advance. It is their job to listen to the audio objectively and write down any words they hear. If the theory is correct, then the word they write down should match the one you wrote down before the experiment.
If the experiment is unsuccessful, continue to repeat it and re-try it with a different word each time. EVPs aren't captured on every attempt and there's no scientific understanding of what allows them to be captured, so it may be that you have more luck in subsequent attempts.
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