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Most investigators are aware or quickly learn of the term Pareidolia. Also referred to as matrixing we know in a nutshell that our brain tries to make sense of random patterns and that is why we see elephants in the shapes of clouds and faces in the steam patterns on our shower doors. If you want to know more detail, you can find it in our previous article on Pareidolia here.
Pareidolia is just our brains trying to be smart.
Did you know there is also an audio version of this phenomenon?
In the late 70's early 80's Rock Bands supposedly had satanic/subliminal messages hidden in their records and if you played a record backwards at a slow speed you could actually hear these satanic/subliminal messages?
Reports of people that will swear they are hearing a conversation in another room of the house when no one is there (Even I've had this)?
Other common phenomena are people saying that they can hear a musical tune when there is no radio in sight.
Audio Pareidolia is the culprit (and possibly a bit of Musical Ear Syndrome too).
Let's break this down.
Anyone that has dabbled with EVP’s knows the unsaid but said rule.
When reviewing an EVP, do not tell people what you think you hear. Let them work it out for themselves. The difference between a Class A and an inaudible EVP capture.
The reason for this? Once you hear this word, your brain will automatically interpret the noise to be what you have been told it is.
This is also the case when watching paranormal shows that play an EVP capture, that you just cannot make out what is being said, the production replays the clip with a subtitle of what was said on the EVP to help you out with what was or what the paranormal crew perceive was being said, and you automatically now hear the word, although the sound hasn't changed you can now hear the word, have you just been manipulated by the show and have induced audio Paredoila imposed upon you without really realising what has just happened to you.
Don't worry, you won't be the only one fooled into this kind of Pareidolia, especially if the show is shonky and they do this to make their evidence fit in with there investigation to try and make it credible?
Even if you are hearing something completely different, if you are told there is a male spirit saying hello, that is what you are going to hear.
Why? Audio Pareidolia.
The word Pareidolia is defined as a psychological phenomenon involving a stimulus (an image or a sound) where our mind interprets a familiar pattern of something where it doesn’t really exist. We wrote an article with an explanation of Pareidolia here.
If you understand the visual version, basically it is exactly the same, but with sound.
A simple way to explain this is from a seminar that was hosted by the Klinge Brothers.
They did a whole section on EVP. They get sent EVP's all of the time. Quite often, Brad explained they would always have people saying they were getting the word ‘Chicken’ coming through on EVP. In probably every case, it would make no sense for the word chicken to be coming through and why would it be coming through all over the world?
Brad had a simple explanation for this. You know the sound when you are holding your EVP recorder and your finger or thumb quickly flicks across the microphone? It causes a "CHIII" type sound.
Are you putting two and two together?
That’s right, they were not hearing the word chicken.
Their brains were hearing this noise and not able to make sense of it, so it told them they were hearing the word chicken because it is the most familiar word to that kind of sound.
This is exactly how audible Paredoila works.
A credible paranormal investigator would know about how to hold there EVP recorder when investigating, so not to create noise whilst holding the device' it is important not to shuffle the device between your fingers or keep passing it from hand to hand, creating false positives that you swear are real EVP noises, but man-made noises, even if you were unaware you were doing it at the time.
Another example of this is people hearing voices or music within constant background noise. It can be as simple as a fan in your bedroom of traffic constantly driving past. People say they can hear a tune or people talking but they can’t quite make out the words.
There is no conversation happening in the next empty room, your brain is trying to make sense of the noise.
Musical Ear Syndrome is another little trick of the brain we need to be aware of too. It is most common in people that have some sort of hearing loss or tinnitus (a rather annoying condition where you have a constant ringing in your ear as you have just come out of a loud rock concert).
They are also referred to as musical hallucinations because basically, people can hear musical tunes when there is no music playing. It is most common for this to happen at night in bed.
Why is that?
The environment is usually quiet. Due to lack of stimulation, your brain starts to search for some entertainment. Cue the nagging ringing in your ear.
Your brain can’t make sense of it so tricks you into thinking you are hearing some sort of musical tune.
Is this why during investigations when everyone is quiet an investigator may think they are hearing a music box playing for example or a piano tune playing in another room?
Basically, we can’t trust our brains.
This is a debunker that a sceptic will use to close down a discussion with paranormal investigators.
It is also why some investigators (I have yet to have met one) do not trust things like the spirit boxes or portals or why they don’t consider an EVP to be definitive proof of the afterlife.
Are spirits really speaking to us through these devices or is our brain interpreting random noises to be words we recognise?
This is up for you as an individual to decide.
Me personally, I would trust an EVP coming through an SB7 Spirit box over that of a Psychic Medium telling me what a spirit is allegedly telling them.
I guess as investigators this is just another thing we need to be aware of and adapt accordingly.
If you are aware it is happening, you can maybe really figure out what is going on.
Is there really a voice coming through or is it something else. Put your investigator hat on and work it out.
Does this mean that I think all EVP is our brain tricking us? Personally no I do not (cue the hate emails about me being uneducated).
We at GITUK do believe in EVP.
If we didn’t, we wouldn’t work with it.
We just try to be a little smarter about it. We talk about the different classes A, B & C which relates to the quality of the EVP we have caught.
Unless it is completely obvious and everyone thinks it is saying the same thing and no enhancement whatsoever is needed, we will throw it out.
For us, it has to be class A and it has to be a really good class A.
Some Class B audio is accepted if all we have had to do is clean up the background sound if the voice is quiet, but it has to pass muster.
Anything else, in my opinion, is most likely to be audible Pareidolia or a voice but inaudible to understand or even guess at what was being said.
This is just our personal opinion and there will be investigators that think differently.
This is good! This is what makes up our field and gives us something to talk about.
We as investigators, however, just have to be aware that audible Pareidolia is really a thing the next time we review that next batch of audio recordings or pick up that spirit box. The same when we take a picture with a camera, hence why we take multiple shots of the same frame to help us debunk Pareidolia.
It is amazing how over time, and gaining more experience when you are out investigating haunted locations, how you adjust your investigating style or how you review your audio evidence when you are aware of the little tricks our brains play on us!
If you can’t trust your brain, what can you trust?
Get in touch with us, tell us what you think or about your experiences we would love to hear from you, contact us via our Facebook page, or email us at. email@example.com