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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The History of EVP

Electronic Voice Phenomena, or EVP, has increasingly received attention over the years, as it is seen as some kind of "scientific proof" of an intelligent presence trying to communicate -- whether with the living, or simply because it is compelled to do so. Recently, movies such as White Noise, and TV programs such as Sci-Fi's Ghost Hunters have made the acronym a household term.

But the history of the collection of these recordings is as fascinating as the phenomena itself:

Thomas Edison, American inventor of the lightbulb and the phonograph, was actually working on a device which would provide whatever sources create these sounds, "a better opportunity to express themselves than the... crude methods now purported to be the only means of communication." Many may have thought this the product of old age and senility, but Edison's device -- if it was ever finalized and built -- was never revealed. Edison died in 1931.1

In 1959, a Russian artist named Friedrich Jürgenson took a tape recorder outside his Stockholm villa to record birds. Upon playing the tape back, he thought he heard voices discussing the songs in Swedish and Norwegian. At first, he thought he had simply intercepted radio transmissions, but upon further research and more recordings, became convinced that he had captured voices of dead friends and colleagues. In 1964, he published a book entitled Voices from the Universe.

Former psychology professor turned parapsychologist, Konstantin Raudive, was so impressed that he met with Jürgenson and declared his breakthroughs to be empirical scientific evidence of life after death. The two worked together closely until 1969, when differences caused them to part ways. Raudive continued his work on his own and pioneered the "white noise" concept, hooking his equipment up to radios, believing that voices could be heard in the static between stations. Some of his confidants included Adolf Hitler and Carl Jung. A book on his research was published in 1968.

Shortly thereafter, Raudive claimed he had been visited by envoys from NASA, who asked "unusually pertinent questions." Raudive continued his research until his death in September, 1974.

1: Because it was stolen from Tesla, and suppressed by the FBI.

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