Abbreviated Title: EVP v. EAA
Word Count : 942
Last Date of Revision: 03 December 2007


• Term use

To maintain a scientific mind set while conducting paranormal research, the field must adopt new terminology to better fit the desired framework. By using a general term for artifacts that are found on recording devices initially, and then determining the nature of the artifact. After analysis, if the object found is a “voice” then it will keep the old term.

EVP, or electronic voice phenomena, is recording a “voice” on an audio or videotape to which there are no visible source known. These “voices” are not audible to those taping during the act, though they become audible during playback. For over a hundred years, the term EVP (electronic voice phenomena) has been used to describe a phenomenon that occurs when recording.

It could be said that the term EVP (electronic voice phenomena) has its base on H. Desmond Thorp work Etheric vision, where he seems to coin the phrase "the voice phenomenon". Granted his explanation of this was supposed to be shown in a later work, which did not pan out. Even Thomas Edison was supposed to have an interest, during his later years, with recording “disembodied voices”. The advent of greater technology has spurred a more varied interest, and allowed amateur investigators to participate.

I propose that there is a flaw in the use of the old term EVP. The use of this term already denotes a bias towards the data in which you are collecting. To be scientific, if this is your aim, you must allow the data to guide your interpretations not the other way around. I hope to show that the use of a new term is more scientific in nature.

Am I saying that use of the old term should not be used? The answer is no. I content that while investigations are being held, the new term be used. Only after the data has shown that the item in question is in fact a “voice”, should the old term be used. Simply understanding the term itself and what it presents will help. Stating that you are “doing an EVP” is declaring what your evidence is before you can have collected or analyzed it.

EAA – Electronic Audio Artifact
Audio artifact refers to an audio anomaly that is usually accidental or unwanted, resulting from interference that overlay high or low frequency sound over the track being recorded. There are always technical restrictions in the recording of a sound; due to this, errors can often occur. These errors are termed artifacts. An audio artifact can be the result of data compression (not to be confused with audio compression, which also may create artifacts). All EVP’s are artifacts, but not all artifacts are EVP’s.

Because of possible interference from electronic sources such as CB radios, and Police band radios and other waveform communications is addressed as a real problem, it is important to acknowledge their existence. According to skeptics, artifacts may be caused by incidental reception of audio transmissions. This new term is to be used for any audio anomaly captured by the audio recorder until such time that the possibility of extraneous interference of outside transmission sources can be eliminated.

Why should we use this term first, instead of EVP, when describing the phenomena? The skeptics argue that the phenomenon is not scientific enough proof, since there are other possible causes of the “evidence”. As noted before, they claim that other waveform communications could cause the interference being recorded. The problem is that they are right. These types of interference can be caught on a recording and it not noticed. That is something that has not been addressed by current terminology. It is kind of like the adage, “talk the talk, walk the walk”.

With the trend of scientific investigations into the paranormal on the rise, it means that we have to be as unbiased as possible. This is yet another reason that we take out our preconceived assumptions out of the terminology. To be truly scientific we have to let our data guide our understanding. We have to realize that use of technology does not make something scientific. It is the methods that we use, and the competence in which we do the research involved that makes research scientific. Technology is a great tool, but our language guides our interpretation of the data. If we want to be taken as scientific, and use the technology to aid in our research, then we need to use the language appropriately.

The goal of modern paranormal research is to maintain a scientific framework in order to present more widely accepted evidence. If this is true, the vocabulary of the field should reflect this thought. By acknowledging the weaknesses and addressing them, more acceptance will be gained by sceptics who often critique the manner in which the evidence is presented.

In the end, is the old term still viable? The answer is yes, but only in circumstances in which the “voice” has been analyzed and can be said to actually have a “voice” in it. The old term can still be used, after the fact. It is not gone, but it needs to change in order for the field to grow.

Brad King – Ball State University, Anthropology Department
Dr. Colleen Boyd – Ball State University, Anthropology Department