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Skeptical Analysis of the Paranormal Society

"Le doute n'est pas une condition agréable, mais la certitude est absurde."

—Voltaire

EVP Conversation with Patrick Burns

Our conversation with Patrick Burns regarding EVP Three, which supposedly says "Be nice".

Click to hear the EVP

Alison

See? You don't want me to be skeptical... it would ruin our entire relationship :)

Alright, alright.

The inflection is wrong.

EVP is not just about being able to hear a real sentence and being fairly sure that the proper sounds are being used to create that sentence. It also should sound like something someone would actually say... and the way they should say it.

Let's say that the EVP is a command to "be nice" (which, unfortunately, is also an incredibly small sample of sound. The odds of getting two syllables side by side that could be construed as speech are fairly high. It would seem that the longer the EVP, the more impressive. The more syllables you add, the less likely the possibility that they randomly came together to form a thought. Example: "Oh my", "Gee whiz", "Help me", "Do it"... all those things would make perfectly comprehensible EVPs, but are two common sounds combined. If you get one that says "My name is Louise and I'm stuck in this house. It's really unattractive on this side," then it's practically impossible.)

When I listen to the clip, it seems like the emphasis of the thought would probably be on "Nice". "Be NICE". But then, in listening to it, the voice trails up and off. Either it sounds like someone with an accent, someone with a swollen tongue, or a random sound that happens to have a human speaking quality. The pronounciation also isn't good. It's entirely possible that "be nice" is the meaning given to it because the sounds aren't actually a complete thought at all. Also, it sounds like the person has a serious lisp. To me, the EVP could just as easily be "Vee Mith". Which doesn't mean anything, so it's a lot less interesting. What would be kind of neat is, when an EVP is collected, to try and replicate the same sounds the voice makes yourself. Can you say "be nice" and make it sound like that? Do you know anyone who can? If not, maybe that's not what it's saying.

The other problem with EVPs is that the vast majority are audio only. There is no reason that I've ever heard that the voice recorder in a camcorder shouldn't be able to pick up EVPs as well. It's still a voice recording device. So why add another piece of equipment? Also, if you use a camcorder, you've not only got the EVP at the end but also decent proof that no one was around and/or speaking at the time.

Patrick

Re: the skeptical analysis of my EVP... I think I started off saying...

"That does it! It DID ruin our relationship. Its OVER between us. I want my ring and varsity jacket back! :P"

Then on a serious note went on to say you are correct that random noises can be and are mistaken for speech, but I believe my sample was a bit TOO clear and a bit TOO loud (apparently louder and closer to the mic than my own voice) to be just a random sound - like feet shuffling in the grass or gravel that happen to sound like someone whispering a short phrase. Never mind the fact I cant think of anything that might make a random sound "voice" like THAT.

And I don't think you can say the inflection is "wrong" - we live in the south! I can introduce you to LOTS AND LOTS of people (some very prominent business people) who speak with "wrong" inflection all the time, not to mention butcher the English language every time they open their mouth. ;) The "voice" to me appears to be scolding me "Be NICE!" yes, I've had people verbally scold me like that and put extra emphasis on NICE! I think I've even scolded my own kids "Be GOOD". In fact they are being a bit crazy at the moment. I just told them both "be NICE!" using the same inflection as this EVP sample, and it doesn't sound unusual to me at all. Then again, I'm a parent - few things do! lol

Re: EVP on camcorders... We can and do get EVP on them! Any device that can record audio has been used in EVP research. In fact since digital camcorders - even low-end models - have CD quality or better audio, they make for a superior device IMO to record EVP on than a low-fidelity digital voice recorder. Problem is, few of us use them for that. For those of us "wealthy" enough to own a camcorder, most of us unfortunately neglect listening for EVP on our tapes; instead concentrating to see what visual anomalies were recorded. But I have recorded EVP on my camcorder before. Thats a good point though. I'm an "audio phile" and strive to record the best quality audio I can. When I finish writing my "how to ghost hunt" instruction manual, I may even recommend people (if they can afford it) leave the DVRs at home and use a Mini DV camcorder to record their audio - even if its ONLY used for audio and the lens cap stays on! :)

So over-all, great technical analysis you've done! I love your rationalization. I simply don't agree with your assessment in THIS instance! :P But thats OK! We can agree to disagree!

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