Analysis of Electronic Voice Phenomena

by Perette Barella

I've just been doing research on EVP - Electronic voice phenomena. People have noticed out you can record noise from the air and hear voices. This is true, it works. The question is, where do these come from?

The folks at AAEVP come across as trying to sound like unbiased researchers but who have some real convictions that they're talking to a spirit world. They're excited because a movie is coming out, White Noise, that involves some of this EVP stuff.

I'm spiritual and would like there to be more to the universe than just a big machine. On the other hand, I'm a skeptic because people come up with wacky ideas and are easily convinced of dumb shit. So I've been looking into this stuff to form my opinion.

I'm listening to some clips that someone has interpreted. I'll list the expert's reading, followed by my alternatives:

"Think you better six"
"Think you're better than six"
"Think you're better than sex"
"Think you'd better take this"
Backwards: Sounds like backward speaking.
I have no idea where they came up with what they heard on this one.
"Out of the fire".
"our devices"
"how divine"
"how to buy"
Backwards: "Howard Wright."
Why am I listening backwards? Because looking through the expert's interpretations, he does this. So I'll do it too.

There's some agreement on an --ow--ta--ai-- pattern that we're both hearing, but coming up with some real variation on what these could actually be.

"Shoot hurt"
Actually, it sounds like a noise, not a voice to me. Distinctly not white noise, true. Some sort of machine, or like an old rusty water pump. Maybe a sound effect?
"That shocking ... the way down"
"It's starting to do thinking..."
"It's static. What'cha thinking?"
Again, agreement on partial patterns: --t's But, overall, not agreeing.

I pick out these next few bits, but am unable to figure out how they match to the authority's transcript.

"Hey" or "Eight"
Unknown translation
"Derelicts", though could be "Daryl's" or "barrels".
Unknown translation
"She Climbs In, Princess you talk to her-homework for you"
"Second cousin" ... "Sick of vibes"
"Sick gun" ... "
"Sick of..." ... "Say goodbye"
"She comes..."
Actually, it sounds like it's two voices. There's a change of pitch for the last tone, so I think the "ibes" or "bye" is a different speaker maybe saying, "I've..." "Second cousin", "She climb in"... similar, again not in agreement though.
"think this the end"
"Cheek bone"; "Sad".
"Chipotle"; "Said".
"chick pole"; "Fed".
"Chip pole"; ...
Then there's a sequence of noises that sounds like tuning issues. For those who have only ever dealt with digital tuners, on the old analog systems where you turned the knob, you get weird high-pitch noises and stuff as you tune in a station - that is, adjust the knob so you're tuning 96.500, instead of 96.45 or 96.475. AM and FM (amplitude modulation versus frequency modulation; two different ways of piggybacking the sound wave onto electromagnetic waves for transmission) have different noises. Your digital tuner does all this instantaneously and precisely for you, so you don't get to hear these noises anymore. The closest modern-day sound would be when a mobile phone was in analog roam before they took the old analog systems down.
"...the news"
Unknown translation
Or it could be a fragment of the word "possessed."
"I'm Christa" or "This is Christa"
"The rocket's up all day."
"Rock is up all day."
"Rocket's up all way."
"Rock a couple twig."
"Rocket couples meet"
"Rocket couples week"
"Dave, complete me static"
"Dave, compete with ..."
"Rock and roll..."
"Not all all"

Okay, so I'm convinced: this is bullshit. Yes, there is something being picked up via some receiving process, and in some of the cases it probably is voice. But if you listen in the background of the voiceover (not the host) of the skit "Fast Food's Biggest Mistakes"1 , you'll hear music. That wasn't noise in the room when I recorded the segment, but it was there when I listened with my headphones on. If I'd listened long enough, I could have figured out which radio station my crappy $15 microphone was picking up.

We're surrounded by electromagnetic noise. It's everywhere, and every piece of electronic stuff picks it up. Usually, it's small enough we can't hear it. But, if you take a enough samples and you don't have larger signals to hide the occasional bit of noise you collect, you're going to get some snippets of stuff (and if you've got a really crappy microphone and a big ass set of transmitters nearby, you'll get more than an occasional one!). These EVP folks are picking these up, recording them, amplifying them, then using their imagination and subconscious to create stories about the word snippets they collect. I'm sad to say, because it would be neat, but it's crap.

In fact, it's likely there's an example of subconscious influence on my translations: If you read back, one of my interpretations was It's static. What'cha thinking? I was concentrating on listening and transcribing what I thought I heard and didn't write that intentionally. Nevertheless, given the context, it's very plausible that a thought in the back of my head— that this was a lot of noise to try to make stuff out of— made it's way into what I was hearing. Before I consciously gave up trying to extract data from the recording, hearing that was my intuition telling me that was I was listening to was just noise.

Related Reading

Pseudoscience (pseudoscience.html)
An article (also by me) observing several essential differences between science and pseudoscience.


  • 1.   Looney's Hack Show, The. Available as AVI or Quicktime video.
  • 2. Sources: