Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) are voices and sounds which appear on electronic recordings for no apparent reason. Some people attribute EVP to paranormal causes, saying that these sounds are caused by communications from ghosts, aliens, spirits, and so forth. Others suggest that these sounds may be caused by perfectly explainable things, such as feedback or improper recording technique. In any case, EVP are among a large family of topics which are discussed by the parapsychology community, with some people fervently believing that EVP is paranormal in origin, while others regard it as a hoax.
The concept of the paranormal first began to attract a great deal of interest in the early 1800s, with the rise of Spiritualism. Spiritualists believed that they could communicate with “the other side” through people known as mediums, and a large cottage industry of mediums arose in the 19th century to feed popular demand. Spiritualists also described paranormal experiences, ranging from abductions to hauntings, and Spiritualism later grew into parapsychology, which purports to be a scientific study of paranormal activities.
One early researcher on EVP, Konstantin Raudive, worked on the issue in the 1960s, publishing several landmark works in the field. Some people refer to EVP as “Raudive voices,” in a reference to this pioneer. Raudive believed that EVP communications were generally short, often just a word or phrase, and he suggested that they were communications from the dead.
There are a number of ways to record EVP, and proponents of a paranormal explanation for EVP often use multiple recorders and other techniques in an attempt to make their recordings as test-proof as possible. Some people simply record white noise, listening for signs of EVP, while others claim to have identified EVP in recordings of speeches, songs, and so forth. EVP also allegedly comes through on the radio waves, and in the static between television stations.
There are plenty of mundane explanations for EVP. Strange anomalies often arise even in professional recording studios, and sometimes strange tricks of the radio waves can occur, transposing voices and snippets of material. People who claim to hear EVP could also be exhibiting pareidolia, the tendency to hear familiar patterns where there are none, or apophenia, in which people identify meaning in a random event or pattern.