Saturday, June 27, 2015

Communicating with the Other Side -- ITC & EVP, Part 2

Paranormal investigators who use ghost boxes do so with the expectation these devices may provide a means of communicating with the Other Side. But ghost boxes might as well be black boxes. Sure the results can be very impressive, but where are these results coming from?

(This is the second in a series of articles on ITC -- Instrumental TransCommunication -- and EVP and their role in paranormal investigating. If you missed the first article in the series, click here. You might  want to revisit the final part of that article anyway to get a running start into this one!) 

For one thing, we have to remember that EVP are *not* human voices.

That's a hard concept for us to wrap our heads around. Sure, one of the possible origins of the voices are the survival of  personalities after death, but the voices recorded are not really their actual voices. In fact, many paranormal researchers point out EVPs can fall outside the expected frequencies and characteristics generated by human vocal cords.

EVP stands for Electronic Voice Phenomena, and the operative word is electronic, which has two senses: 1) voices captured through electronic equipment, but also, 2) voices *generated* through electronic equipment. That means EVP are not disembodied voices since they occur as the result of electronics -- they are, after all, electronic phenomena by definition! -- and therefore produce human-like speech but not human speech.

This is true whether we're talking EVP produced by ghost boxes or audio-only digital recorders since even direct recordings capture sounds that need to be replayed in order to hear.

Nikola Tesla
A Short (& Selective) History of EVP Capture
EVP production has a history dating back to the beginnings of practical electronics.

Seems like every time a new technology emerged -- telegraph, wireless radio, telephone, audio recordings -- inventors and users reported strange and inexplicable messages. Even Nikola Tesla picked up unexplained voices, and since no one else was transmitting within range at that early stage of radio development, he assumed he was receiving conversations from nearby planets.

Thomas Edison considered the phenomenon, correctly deducing that EVP (a term that wouldn't take on coinage until the 1970s) would be a matter of a device sensitive enough to amplify very faint signals.

In his private diary, Edison writes, "I do myself hope that personality survives and that we persist. If we do persist upon the other side of the grave, then my apparatus, with its extraordinary delicacy, should one day give us the proof of that persistence...."

Oscar D'Argonell described voices with discarnate voices through early telephones in 1925, and Edgar Wallace captured the first EVP on a 78 r.p.m. record cutter in 1932. By 1947, Attila von Szalay reported success using magnetic tape. Father Ernetti of the Experimental Physics Laboratory at Catholic University in Milan conducted oscillograph experiments with a wire magnetiphone in 1952, but when the wire broke, he still recorded voices -- and conducted and recorded conversations with his dead father.

78 r.p.m. record cutter
When Swedish scientist Friedrich Jürgenson was recording bird songs in 1959, he also captured a voice commenting on his work. In further recordings, he captured his deceased mother's voice telling him, "Friedrich, you are being watched." He shifted his scientific focus to EVP.

Over subsequent decades, researchers like Konstantin Raudive, Franz Seidl, Marcedllo Bacci, Americans Scott Rogo and Raymond Bayless, Hans Otto-Koenig, Sarah Estep, and many others from around the world have continued to accumulate instances of EVP. Every time a new or refined technology advanced, EVP occurred in the new form-- as though voices on the other side were indeed "watching" progress and responding.

 And on this side, paranormal researchers -- especially the Association of TransCommunication (ATransC) -- have pulled together enough data to propose a growing list of characteristics that seem to distinguish these EVP. (In particular, take a look at the ATransC "TransCommunication White Paper" to skim through a list of 21 characteristics.)

There seems to be plenty of evidence of reported communication throughout the 20th Century, often from scientists and researchers who stumbled onto EVP even when they weren't looking for the phenomenon.

Ghost Box Tech
But let's fast-forward to 2002, and the invention of the first ghost box by Frank Sumption, often called "Frank's Box." The purpose of Sumption's device was real-time communication with the dead, and he claimed he got inspiration for the design from the spirit world -- guess they were "watching" him as well!

Frank's box was perhaps the first device to combine white noise and radio frequency (RF) scanning to provide sounds that spirits could use for communication, and it received its share of criticism from skeptics and paranormal investigators alike, citing that even though words were random, the experience was still explainable as auditory pareidolia – a situation created when the brain incorrectly interprets random patterns as being familiar patterns. Not to mention other sources of transmission such as Citizen's Band radio!

Fair enough, and one of the plausible objections to many subsequent iterations of ghost boxes over the next dozen years. But the latest generation seems to have sophisticated the process in a way that no longer relies on RF. 

And at that point, the game just got more interesting -- the subject of the next article. (Click here to read the next article in the series.)

* * *

We're having as much fun analyzing the results of our investigations over the past year as we did conducting those investigations for our book, WILD WEST GHOSTS.

There are puzzling experiences and encounters aplenty out there, and you just may want to pick up a copy of the book for either armchair musings of your own or else as a guide for some of your own expeditions into the fascinating world of the paranormal.

You can pick up the book as either an e-read or a trade paperback. Visit our Website for the links.

In the meantime, happy hunting!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Using ITC & EVP for paranormal investigation - ITC & EVP, Pt 1

Paranormal investigation has its share of esoteric alphabet soup, and skeptics have developed an equally bewildering array of specialized jargon to propose alternative explanations.

When we committed to serious paranormal inquiries for our book WILD WEST GHOSTS, we decided to employ an investigative approach called ITC -- Instrumental TransCommunication. In a nutshell, ITC is  the investigative strategy of using electronic devices to elicit communication with the Other Side.

Seemed like the right approach for us since neither of us has much -- okay, let's be honest, *any* -- psychic ability.

We relied upon a number of specific devices, including electromagnetic field meters (add EMF to the soup). Most ghost hunters operate under the assumption that disincarnate entities draw upon electromagnetic energy to manifest or communicate in the physical realm. (Yes, that's a big assumption -- one we'll come back to later.) Establishing baseline readings first, investigators can then monitor fluctuations in EMF that might indicate the presence or interactive willingness of a spirit.

Our primary GB: an EchoVox,
which generates sounds
rather than words, but
also a reverberating
feedback loop of sounds
We also used more conventional electronic devices such as digital cameras, camcorders, and digital audio recorders, but we decided to use Ghost Boxes as well (often referred to as GB in the trade). A fairly new innovation, ghost (or spirit) boxes provide a flow of potential sounds or words that, again in theory, spirits can manipulate in order to communicate with investigators. Many such devices rely on rapidly and randomly scanned radio frequencies (RF) as a source of ready words. Others fall into a category that generates random phonetics or phonemes only, requiring spirit manipulators to splice together provided sounds in order to create words or phrases.

The words that come through either a ghost box or digital recorder are collectively called EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon).

Ghost box technology is new enough that many within the paranormal community itself are still skeptical of the phenomena; at the same time, the results of these devices have garnered many strong advocates.

As n00bs to the field, we were oblivious to this in-house controversy and jumped right in, using a ghost box during all our own investigations. We also got immediate -- sometimes startling -- results.

Just to be clear: we were operators, not sound engineers, and hadn't a clue how long the technology had existed or how it worked. Think of us as drivers rather than mechanics. But since we started offering our GB findings as evidence of the paranormal, we soon realized we needed to get a better handle on just what was going on.

We can't help but break into something of a wry smile at skeptical tirades that paranormal investigations employ "pseudoscience." Wry because of the Copenhagan Interpretation of quantum mechanics. (Let's add quantum mechanics to the alphabet soup as QM.) Quantum theory underpins much contemporary electronics -- from transistor radios to lasers to quantum computing. Even though no one can figure out how it works at the quantum level, QM works 100 percent of the time.

So scientists find themselves on the horns of a dilemma: either accept they can't explain it (yet) and use it anyway, or continue to wrestle with the inexplicable. It's like a black box no one can see into but which "spits out" correct answers every time. To accept that it works and let it go at that (QM whiz kid Richard Feynman's ultimate solution) seems metaphysical and unscientific. But that's where QM theory stands.

Ghost boxes are something a "black box" as well. The engineering and circuitry aren't that mysterious -- the devices either scan RF signals or else generate their own random phonemes -- but what results from GB-generated sounds in a paranormal investigation -- that's a whole other realm, literally. Results can seem spot on and undeniable in context.

But do they originate from the supernatural?

We've come full circle to the assumption EVP represent disincarnate voices of personalities surviving into another realm. But the assumption is huge. It's like a potentially faulty syllogism -- the logical construction of two premises and a conclusion in the form of "if A is true, and B is true, then C is true." For EVP, the syllogism might read this way:
  • A: Ghost boxes produce EVP
  • B: EVP are voices of the dead
  • C: Therefore, ghost boxes produce voices of the dead.
To accept this syllogism, paranormal investigators have to build a convincing argument that premise B is true. That, or resort to a version of the Copenhagen Interpretation, allowing the sounds that come out of ghost boxes as a kind of black box we can't explain.

Is there enough collaborative evidence to accept premise B? That's the important question, and the focus of the next article, which delves into the history of the GB as well as the nature of EVP, plus share some resources for those who, like us, want more answers.

* * *

We're having as much fun analyzing the results of our investigations over the past year as we did conducting those investigations for our book, WILD WEST GHOSTS.

There are puzzling experiences and encounters aplenty out there, and you just may want to pick up a copy of the book for either armchair musings of your own or else as a guide for some of your own expeditions into the fascinating world of the paranormal.

You can pick up the book as either an e-read or a trade paperback. Visit our Website for the links.

In the meantime, happy hunting!

Friday, June 12, 2015

WILD WEST GHOSTS ... is out!

We are delighted to announce that the publisher has released our new book on Colorado haunted hotels.

Wild West Ghosts is available from a variety of sources, including both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It will also appear in a expanding number of independent book stores and tourist shops in Colorado and the western region.

Here are some online links to order your copy:

Please check out (and like!) our Facebook page for the book to see the latest updates as well as upcoming book talk events we've scheduled for the coming weeks across the Mountain West.

Here's what reviewers are saying:

"These are not 'ghost stories,' but rather are a collection of documented paranormal evidence that the authors collected at each of these wonderful Colorado hotels from the past... Wild West Ghosts is your tour guide to a wild ride of haunted locations that will definitely keep you from getting a good night's sleep!"
- Shane & Jennifer Herrin, founders of Small Town Haunts

"We live in a mysterious world filled with peculiar happenings, and Mark and Kym have done a fantastic job illuminating some of the curious corners of our world so that all of us may see them. This book is a wonderful addition to any library but keep it in your travel-bag, not on the shelf."
- John E.L. Tenney, co-host of Destination America's Ghost Stalkers reality series

"Wild West Ghosts is a must-read not only for those passionate about the paranormal world but also for Old West history buffs or anyone who loves to travel and experience a wonderful overnight stay. The coolest part of all is that they provide very specific local information, much like a travel guide, that will allow you the opportunity to find each of these beautiful locations and to do your own ghost hunting...and perhaps experience the very same paranormal events!"
- Timothy Yohe, paranormal investigator and founder of Paranormal Insights

* * * *

The book may be out, but what we're learning from those investigations is ongoing. Next week, we'll start sharing new findings from our evidence that are still developing since the book went to press.

Happy hunting/hauntings, all!

Friday, June 5, 2015

S/O to our indispensable paranormal community

The past year's journey into the paranormal has introduced to us to more than just things that go bump in the night (or day). It's been an introduction to a fascinating exchange of ideas and an opportunity to cultivate both friends and mentors.

As we stand poised to launch our new book, WILD WEST GHOSTS, we want to take a moment to reflect not on analyses of EVPs and anomalous activity but rather on the good will and support of our paranormal community.

The friends we've made in the  Google+ communities that we've joined have been a constant source of new ideas and puzzling findings. Friends and followers who have experienced that world secondhand through our writing, we want you to know that these are a dedicated bunch of folks. They burn the midnight oil in some really creepy locations (sometimes even in their own homes!) ... and wait ... and wait ... and, sometimes, extraordinary things happen.

To each and everyone of you in these groups, we say, "Thanks for the warm welcomes and the generous sharing!"

We also want to shout out our thanks to the fourteen hotel owners and staff, who allowed us into their haunted locations. Without exception, they invited us in and supported our every request. (And, we might add, the results and material we collected were amazing.) These are the people you'll meet if you use our book to visit these paranormally special locales.

Thank you!

There are also several individuals we want to single out who helped us specifically with the content of our book. These folks read our manuscript, made suggestions, and offered kinds words to help make the final product a better book:
  •  Shane and Jennifer Herrin
This dynamic pararnormal duo founded both Small Town Haunts and The Daily Ghoul -- and these publications are a constant resource for anyone serious about the supernatural world. They're also active with their own investigations. Check them out!
  • John E. L. Tenney
John has been a longtime and well respected paranormal investigator even before co-hosting Destination America's reality series Ghost Stalkers, and his kind words about our project have encouraged and sustained our own determination to seek the truth.
  • Timothy Yohe
Tim, an even more prolific writer than we are, offers astounding insights from his own investigations and about the supernatural world in general through his Paranormal Insights blog as well as his weekly newsletter. And we can't wait for his own forthcoming book!

Finally, we want to give a vigorous hat-tip to those who lended critical copyediting eyes to the manuscript: Debra Anderson, Marty Grantham, and Teresa Milbrodt. Included in that team, of course, is our publisher Larry Meredith of Raspberry Creek Books. He's been with us in "spirit" every step of the way!

* * *
We'll announce venues where the book will be available next time, as well as locations of a half dozen initial readings we're offering in Colorado and Montana over the next few weeks. In the meantime, please feel free to check out the WILD WEST GHOST Facebook page, which will post regular updates as we tap our feet waiting for publication.

The book may be done but our paranormal journey is just beginning, and the following week we'll begin a new series of articles about the fascinating phenomena of ghost boxes and what we're learning.

Until then, happy hauntings, all!