QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2005-05 > 1116420711
Date: Wed, 18 May 2005 08:51:51 EDT
Voices of the dead, or voices in your head?
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Can voices of the dead be heard on ordinary audio tapes
recorded in a quiet room?
Swedish archeologist, documentary maker and artist Friedrich Juergenson
pioneered research into Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP). Eighteen years after
his death, interest in EVP is surging thanks to the horror movie "White Noise"
in which Michael Keaton receives messages from his dead wife.
"We picked up maybe 60 new members after the movie," said Lisa Butler, who
runs the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena (www.aaevp.com)
together with her husband Tom from their home in Reno, Nevada.
Their Web site recorded 88,000 hits the day after the movie opened and the
Butlers appear on the "White Noise" DVD's extra material, demonstrating how to
The Butlers see the voices as evidence of life after death and say they have
recorded the voices of Tom's father, Lisa's mother and her paternal
grandmother. "We have been recording the voices for 15 years and have proved to
ourselves that it's possible to reach loved ones," said Lisa Butler. "We have done
Believers say getting in touch with a dead relative through EVP can help the
grieving process and the association's roughly 400 members include parents
whose dead children have contacted them through EVP, said Lisa.
The voices cannot be heard live, only when a recording is played back.
Messages are often short, such as "I miss you" or "I love you," and are usually
just louder than a whisper. Anyone can record and hear them but not everyone
manages to establish contact with lost family members, say the Butlers.
"There are always entities on the other side who are willing to talk to you.
But getting a loved one, a specific person, is a little more of a challenge,"
FACT OR FICTION?
"White Noise" dwells on the dangers of communing with the dead and the
moviemakers say one in 12 EVP messages are "overtly threatening."
"That's pure science fiction," said Tom Butler.
Skeptics dismiss EVP as the by-product of stray radio waves or over-active
human imagination. Even in the esoteric world of parapsychologists, the concept
is frowned upon.
"I find the idea of EVP simply ludicrous. The human brain is designed to find
meaningful patterns, even where there's only randomness. So it's not
surprising some people believe they have heard something in the noise," said Joakim
Westerlund, who does research into parapsychology at Stockholm University.
Undaunted by such comments and the occasional accusation from religious
groups that they are dallying with demons, the Butlers recommend non-believers
try out EVP for themselves.
"This is something that each and every person can do, and when you get a
voice it's life-changing," said Lisa Butler.
Juergenson first heard strange voices while recording bird song in 1959.
Recording silence and white noise from the radio, he identified one of the
voices as his dead mother and concluded that all such voices must come from beyond
In a colorful career, the Swede who died in 1987 at the age of 84 conducted
archeological excavations at Pompeii and under St Peter's Basilica at the
spoke 10 languages and as an artist was commissioned to paint portraits of
In 1999, Swedish composer and sound artist Carl Michael von Hausswolff
stumbled across Juergenson's archive of 1,000 tapes. He now chairs the Friedrich
Juergenson Foundation which put out a CD "Best of" the EVP recordings and an
English translation of Juergenson's 1967 book "Voice Transmissions With the
"He is a lot more famous now than he was five years ago," said von
Hausswolff, who called Juergenson's research "a kind of pioneering work into the
From time to time, Juergenson's recordings are featured along with sound art
in galleries, and von Hausswolff has organized exhibitions about his life and
"A guy who devotes himself to something this odd is something very much out
of the ordinary. People like that deserve a medal," said von Hausswolff.