Over the last two decades researching anomalistic/paranormal phenomena one thing has become certain, there is not a lot of certainty. The inherent problems with researching that which is “unknown” is that we are very limited in what we do “know” and how directly related what is known to the unknown we research. Whew.
Do digital cameras have a better chance at revealing “ghostly” manifestations or are film cameras the better option? Does analog audio tape more adequately reproduce the voices of the unseen world due to it’s influence-ability by electromagnetic fields or are the chip-sets in digital recorders more sensitive to the “spirit” world? Questions like these, and others like them, have been bandied about for decades and although more “scientific” research may show one form of investigation producing “better” results than another one we should always be prepared to either reclassify collected data if not relegating it to the file cabinet in the basement.
What are we talking about?
When we speak about, or construct ideas about, Electronic Voice Phenomena we quickly become aware of the multitude of camps that people belong to. Some people believe that any type of recording device will disclose words from the after-world while others are staunchly convinced that only the right type of devices will reveal our mysterious speakers. Of course these voices which many believe to be paranormal very often play their part by refusing to conform to any specific testing. When I say this I know it will draw controversy from the groups that have “figured out” how these voices can manifest yet I say it because we bear witness to it happening. Saying paranormal phenomena like EVP conforms to certain rules and only works in a certain manner, at this point, leads to a slippery slope. The Earth may have been believed flat for centuries but it never really was an those who challenged the idea were scorn and ridiculed for thinking to the contrary.
We see a great example of science accepting various ideas in one form with the concept of wave-particle duality. The principle of complementarity, (that some articles may have various properties which appear to be contradictory) in physics is one that all researchers, paranormal researchers included, should find fascinating as it begins to allow a more fluid structure to the ideas we try and discuss.
The assumption that because some of our scientific ideas work for us right now so they must apply forever to everything for all times is heavy-handed at best and bigoted at worst. To say that anomalous voices are only one thing, (only and always a wave never a particle), can not only discourage research in new directions but on a more personal note can create animosity between researchers who are all trying with the resources available to explain this mystifying universe in which we live.
If need be, new, linguistic terms should be created for the various structures of paranormal research. Words are immmmportant to the exchange and construction of ideas and the paranormal field is limited in its vocabulary for describing the experiences had by those involved. When we hear or say the word “ghost” what do we mean? Not all ghostly manifestations portray themselves in the same manner; is a poltergeist different from a transmissive visitant? What do we even mean by transmissive visitant?* It does seem that there are various types of EVP – some that are created through the movement and change of air pressure resulting in an audible voice while another is generated solely by the fluctuations in electromagnetic fields, still others seem to be only generated with the assistance of a carrier wave or background noise. And, while all of these may be considered by one person or another as audial apophenia they still should each be given a distinct term by which they can be referenced. As an example:
EVP: Electronic Voice Phenomena – The broad umbrella term for the research and investigation of anomalous sounds and voices caught through the usage of electronic technology. The term remains in use due to it’s widespread and long-term usage. It lacks specificity and therefore can be used in a general manner.
BVP: Bearing Voice Phenomena – This term makes specific that the sounds were recorded by way of a carrier wave, noise generator, white/pink noise or other physical audio medium.
DVP: Discernible Voice Phenomena – This is a voice or sound which is actually heard by the human ear and can as any audible sound be recorded.
DSM: Desynchronic Sleep Manifestations – These are recordings, audio or video, which are made onto a ferromagnetic medium while the investigator sleeps.
EMVP: Electromagnetic Voice Phenomena – This term applies to any sound which is not registered by the human hear but is recorded via the transmission of electromagnetism.
I by no means think that these terms should be used but the community of researchers who are currently engaged in the research of paranormal/anomalistic phenomena should at some point begin to classify with language of what they are doing. It will cut down on confusion and quell in-fighting. It will also assist the field down it’s path to being recognized as a more serious. I know many people scoff that words are as influence-able as I make them out to be but just think of the damage done, to our shared field of interest, by the word “Ghostbuster” and you’ll see just how much words make a difference… after all, isn’t a large part of EVP itself really just trying to make sense of words?
By the way, earlier in this post I spelled “important” incorrectly on purpose.
*Transmissive Visitant: An alleged visitor from the non-corporeal world that can allow the transmission of energy, in any of its forms, into the realm of human experiences.