Tuesday, December 2, 2014

EchoVox, Spirit Box, SCD-1 and what is WRONG with all of Them

Most ghost hunting TV shows use EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) as a staple for demonstrating the existence of paranormal entities. Everywhere you look, people are asking questions in dark places while running a digital recorder, Spirit box or EchoVox. When the recording is played back, there are often answers to their questions.

Before we look at any of the video evidence, though, I would like you to ponder a question: If these are audio recordings of sessions talking to spirits, WHY are they always posted as videos? I'm serious about this. Just stop and consider that question. You will find that it is very important as we go on from here.

It's become very popular to mix digital recording sessions with devices and smartphone apps that "assist" in communication. This method is so quick and easy - and works every time - how could anyone resist? Most of what is on YouTube today is probably from a device or app. Again, though, audio devices that mysteriously require a video to work correctly... hmm...

EchoVox: Pre-packaged Assisted "Communications"
The EchoVox app - latest version


EchoVox is a smartphone app that has a database of phonemes. Phonemes are parts of words, and with 24 consonant phonemes and 20 vowel phonemes you can make every word in the English language and most of the words in other languages as well. EchoVox has all of these, and it will play those phonemes as soon as you hit the Start button. It is claimed by its maker in rather vague terms that EchoVox mixes the phonemes with information from your device's input, whatever that means. Are they trying to say that the phonemes of the app's database are somehow altered by environmental sounds...say, from the microphone?  Well, EchoVox plays a barrage of phonemes even if you don't give it access to the phone's mic. I know that, because when I first tried it, I didn't give it access to the microphone and it still played the phonemes. The microphone only goes into effect if you turn Echo on. If you don't do that, it won't even ask permission to access the microphone. Based on microphone on/off tests, the phonemes are just played randomly. The app uses 4 "channels" of phonemes, but I think that the channels just have speed differences plus different levels of distortion, and that's all.

When you have a lot of phonemes being thrown at you, some of them are going to sound like words. There's just no getting around that.  There are all the phonemes of the English language bombarding your ears in both male and female voices. Words will be heard. So, on what basis are we thinking that the phoneme collection - which is what Echovox produces - represents paranormal communication?

That claim is based on "accurate answers" to questions. Sure, the phonemes are random, and that's all that is really here, but if you get the right phonemes to make words, and those words are the correct ones to answer your questions, then there MUST be something to it, right?

EchoVox has become really big in amateur paranormal research. You'll find thousands of videos on YouTube, and there are even several Facebook groups devoted to Echovox and populated by over one thousand "serious investigators." The developer has also added variations on this theme such as BlackVox, which is the same thing but with a pentagram and scarier-sounding voices included. Yeah, I'm sure that helps.....

Adventures in Assisted Spirit Communication

I paid for this app because after all the claims, I had to see it in operation for myself. So even if I felt kind of stupid about it, I did the usual things: I asked if anyone was present, what is their name, do they have any messages. That sort of thing. I recorded all the questions and answers. (EchoVox will record everything for you, IF you turn the "Echo" feature on. If you do that, I'd suggest setting it to 0 delay or the echoing of your own voice will drive you crazy.  You can also just use a digital recorder.  I went for the EchoVox internal recording feature at first - and I was excited by the results. It did seem like there were intelligent responses to my questions, and even though I knew that the device deluged you with phonemes, and I knew about audio pareidolia, it seemed like maybe there was something there. I guess I wasn't that interested in the "how" - mostly I only cared about the positive results -- until it was proven to me that it was just audio pareidolia. Here is how that happened....

I transferred some of my best stuff to a portable digital recorder so I could play my fabulous results for all my friends. At first, I would tell them about all of the incredible, true answers I got - and then they would listen to the recording - sure enough, they heard them too! Confirmation!

But then, I played it for another person without telling him what to listen for, and he just got nonsense sounds - couldn't pick out much of anything except a word or two he mentioned, which I had not heard on that recording. So then I told him what I got and asked him to listen again with headphones: This time he heard my answers. Success! ..... So maybe... yeah.... EXCEPT for an important detail I should mention: I played the wrong file. I had several on there, and I played an Echovox session with different answers (according to what I had heard). I told him what I heard on the file EVP-1 but I played EVP-2 instead. Yet he heard the answers I had told him to listen for! They were the "wrong" answers for the file he actually listened to, though.
 
Then I tried my files with other people without telling them what answers to listen for. Some heard answers and some didn't, but the ones who heard answers to my questions never heard the same answers I heard. Not one of them.

As a last test - on myself, I put the audio on my computer and cut it up into separate questions and answers; one file for each question; one file for each answer. Then I mixed them up so questions were paired with different answers.... and I still thought I heard correct answers. So audio pareidolia was definitely confirmed.

TL;DR Audio Pareidolia

Audio pareidolia is a very powerful effect. It happens because the brain doesn't really process a whole group of sounds, determine they are words and then match them with your brain's database for conscious understanding. That would be way too slow: A conversation would be over before you figured out what the first sentence said. Instead, your brain picks up a piece of a word, a phoneme, matches it with its database of words according to context (expectation), and then delivers that product (a whole word or sentence) to your conscious mind.

This is the reason we all have times when we were very sure that person A said X when they actually said Y. And we would swear up and down that they actually said the thing that they didn't say - because that is what we really heard. We just heard it wrong. They said what they said, our brain grabbed onto the wrong phoneme, or completed a phoneme into the wrong word, and we consciously heard the other person say something that they didn't actually say.

Audio pareidolia is also why you may think you hear the phone ring when you're in the shower (when it's not actually ringing) or why you might think you hear someone say your name in a conversation that turns out to not be about you at all. Your brain takes fragments of sounds, latches onto them based on a preconception of what meaning might be derived, then delivers the word(s) that it THINKS might be present to your conscious mind.


EchoVox (and its cousins) is an app that is designed to take advantage of this phenomenon of brain function: Echovox has a database of phonemes in several voices, and the phonemes (parts of words) are spit out randomly, at whatever speed you select in the 4 bank speed section. By default, this is quite fast - like a bunch of people yacking away at top speed. The microphone input has NO effect on these phonemes. They are just random. You can prove that for yourself by turning the mic off. If you can't do that on your device (it's just the Settings app, scroll down to EchoVox and tap it, then turn off the switch that gives permission to access the microphone) then plug a dummy mic into the jack. It won't change the phoneme barrage at all; it's exactly the same. So that's how EchoVox works; a big phoneme soup! And you can't help but hear words in that pile of word pieces - because phonemes are what words are made of and the human brain only needs pieces of words to deliver whole words to your conscious awareness. Last but not least, you will hear the words you are expecting to hear - the words that are contextually appropriate - because that is how your brain works. I wish there was more to it than that, but there isn't. YOU CAN CONCLUSIVELY PROVE THIS FOR YOURSELF - READ THE 'DO IT YOURSELF TESTING' SECTION BELOW.

The Spirit Box

Spirit Box (technically P-SB7 by ITC) is an older device working on the same principle, but derives its phonemes from radio broadcasts. With the Spirit Box, what you have is a little handheld scanner that rapidly scans FM (or AM) radio frequencies. Unlike a police scanner (which may be more familiar to some) the Spirit Box doesn't stop when a signal is picked up, it just keeps going. It's blowing by radio station after radio station. The TV show Ghost Adventures loves this little radio scanner.

I probably don't have to tell you after all we've been through, but what that means is that you're getting phonemes from the radio stations; bits of words here and there.  And now that you understand the basics of audio pareidolia, you know what is going to happen, right?  Yep. So EchoVox supplies a full set of phonemes in multiple voices while the Spirit Box relies on phonemes from rapidly scanned radio stations. And like EchoVox, the "proof" comes in the form of videos - because they need to have captions so your brain will know what to hear.

And just to make the madness complete, Spirit Box now has an app version, called SCD-1. It works exactly the same way, the only difference being is that the app version draws phonemes from Internet radio station podcast feeds. There's no practical difference and the effect is the same. SCD-1 stands for "Spirit Communication Device, number 1" - but you're not getting spirits. Like Spirit Box, you're getting actual people talking on radio stations, and then your brain creates an artificial meaning in order to give you the illusion of communication. That's the only thing that it does. If you enjoy fooling yourself, you can have some fun I guess, but there must be a cheaper way to do it. The SCD-1 is outrageously, almost criminally expensive.

Back to my earlier question: Why does everyone take audio recordings and put them in a video? At this point, you should know the answer. Your brain needs an expectation trigger in order to hear specific words and phrases, so you won't hear their amazing messages from beyond the grave unless you are told what to hear via captions - or possibly the person telling you what is said and then replaying the "message" so you'll get it. It's just a trick of the mind because the human brain works that way (with a caveat which I will place in the footnotes).

I mean, think about it: If you linked me to a lecture by Stephen Hawking or... I don't know, an interview of Mariah Carey - would you feel the need to tell me what to hear in order for me to "get" what they're saying? Of course not, because they're speaking real words (in Stephen's case, we're not even talking about a human voice but an electronic one - and STILL no captions are needed). The reason these phoneme cannon recordings need to be captioned is because they're just phonemes, LOTS of them, not actual words, and the brain needs an expectation trigger in order to know which phonemes to lock-in on to turn into words and phrases.

Oh, I have to give a dishonorable mention to Ghost Adventures, here. If you use this device in an area with lots of radio stations, it sounds pretty much like EchoVox; a barrage of phonemes but with bits of songs being played on those stations, here and there. On the other hand, if you take this device out to the desert of eastern Oregon, or some similar place where the stations you can pick up may number in the zeros, you'll just get a steady, rhythmic whoosh-whoosh-whoosh sound - the scanner locking to each frequency for a tenth of a second, then moving on to the next where it does the same - and so on.  On Ghost Adventures, the sound is clearly edited. All you have to do is use a Spirit Box once to realize they don't sound as portrayed on the show. On the show, it's a very formed, pattern click-click-click static until there's a voice giving a message. That really never happens with this device, for the reasons stated, and cannot happen in real use. So they're editing out the phonemes from other radio stations. And the people involved KNOW that's going to happen, which is why the star of the show mutes the device as he speaks - to cover the edit. Of course, this is also the tv show that recently tried to sell a spider descending on a thread from the ceiling as something supernatural, so they're pretty much beneath contempt and appear to have no ethics at all.

Bottom Line: With apps such as EchoVox and devices such as the Spirit Box, there's no input from spirits or anything else as far as we can tell, it's just all the phonemes of the English language being thrown at you, and the ones that meet your expectations for an answer will stand-out in your mind. They'll probably even seem louder than the background chatter. The human brain does that. All of the "answers" are coming from your own mind via your brain's natural inclination to make intelligible words out of minimal input. And of course, if you have to tell someone else what to hear in order for them to hear it too, it isn't real. I guess if you have spirits that must be spoken with, you'll have to find yourself a good psychic medium. Probably, anyway; I have a longshot alternative explanation in the footnoes.

Random Example Video

So now that you know the truth, let's put this to the test! I don't want to hear any crap about how it's just my opinion. I'm talking about well-documented science of how the brain works, but you  won't be satisfied until you see this effect in action. I made a random choice of an "amazing" spirit communication - and the one I chose was chosen only because it came up in the first page on YouTube and is very short...

 To do this, you will need to follow my instructions. It's something I already mentioned, though, so this is just a reminder. You're going to watch a video of the EchoVox app in action. Except you MUST NOT watch it the first time through. Get a pad and paper, then start the video and turn your head away. DO NOT LOOK AT THE VIDEO.  Write down every word you think you hear (not counting the "investigator's" words, of course - just stuff from the stream of phonemes). Since you have 4 banks throwing phonemes blaring at you, every once in a while two or three of them will come together by sheer coincidence to make an actual word or phrase. There are only 44 phonemes that make up every word and every name, so when you are being hit with a barrage of them, SOMETIMES you'll get real words. Even so, maybe you won't get anything. Your brain needs to pick a context in order to infer meaning. But if you are thinking that ghosts are talking to you, then maybe that is all the context you need. Remember, no looking! ....Yes, I know, one of the captions shows up in the preview here. I can't help that. Just try to listen for words and forget about what you're told to hear...

As I said, I picked a short one so I wouldn't be torturing you too much, but you can do this with ANY of these videos of EVP sessions, regardless of the device involved. Just look away from the video the first time through and write down your own impressions. Sometimes (as happened here at one point) the person who is doing to the recording will give you an audio cue as to what answer is expected - so you'll hear that. But if you go back and listen carefully, the word you thought you heard isn't really there. It's just a phoneme. Your brain did all the work and filled in the details.

Now, if you like, you can go back and watch the video, and see what you were supposed to hear, according to the person who posted it. Did you match them very often? No? Of course not, because their "answers" were based on their own expectations for answers. Your expectations are different, so your answers will tend to be different. But with them telling you what to hear, you'll probably clearly hear their messages now. Try this with as many videos as you like, but you're going to find out fairly quickly that audio pareidolia is all that is going on, here. Sorry.

Old-School EVP Recordings


EVPs are obtained by other methods, too. In paranormal TV shows, you're more likely to see someone using a digital recorder, like the one shown above. They will hold the recorder up to their mouth, ask a question, then immediately stick the recorder out into the air and wave it around, like they are interviewing a moving yet invisible guest. For non-TV paranormal teams, digital EVP recordings are a staple.

The problem with that is that these recorders have variable sensitivity and when you stop talking the audio gain instantly goes to maximum - so they  pick up any noise whatsoever. Contact noise (like moving your fingers on the body of the recorder) will be the loudest things that get recorded. Of course there will be noises during that moment of "silence!" There's more, too: the rustling of your clothing as you move, clearing your throat, barely audible mumbling you might do subconsciously, stomachs growling, someone speaking in another room or outside of the building.... You won't be aware of any of these things when they happen, but the recorder will pick them up. With playback, now they seem supernatural, because you didn't notice them when they happened. Add audio pareidolia and magically you have a message from dead people.

Do-It-Yourself Testing

Digital recorder videos can be analyzed the same way as EchoVox videos: Just listen to them without looking at them. Write down any words you think you hear, and when you are done then and only then watch the video to see what happens. Unless the investigator also tells you what to hear in addition to the captions, you won't hear it. Except in perhaps a rare case: Sometimes the investigator's question will have such an obvious answer that your brain will immediately know what it is supposed to "hear." Sometimes the investigator is simply muttering the answer (perhaps subconsciously) and giving a real message that way. Sometimes the recorder will pick up someone speaking in another room. With EchoVox, on top of pareidolia you'll also have phonemes come together in the random assault on your ears that accidentally form words. But mostly, it's all pareidolia. This simple test will debunk 99.9 percent of EVP videos out there. And you can prove that yourself.

If there are any true EVPs out there, then this is the test to find out: Have a number of people listen to the audio only, with no cues as to what they are supposed to hear, and have them write-down (not speak) what they think they heard. Look at their notes after you are done. If you give them suggestions as to what to hear, you've killed the test: You're just trying to trigger their pareidolia mechanism. SO NO CUES!

If all of them agree on a phrase being spoken, it might be something. Maybe: If the answer wasn't obvious from the questioner's context, and if you can show that it wasn't the investigator muttering or a real live person in another room or outside the building speaking. Super mega bonus points if the message is not only intelligible to everyone but also contains information that can be verified but couldn't possibly have been known to the investigators or test subjects.

On the other hand, if your test subjects can't agree, it's because audio pareidolia is in operation and they don't have enough context to trick their brains. That's all.  And congratulations, you just conducted your own scientific investigation!


VERDICT: Debunked. Devices like Spirit Box and apps like EchoVox are just phoneme generators. They take advantage of the fact that the human brain is pre-programmed to latch-on to any shred of a word, and turn it into a real word or phrase - and this process happens entirely subconsciously, so people think they really heard something. Digital recorder EVPs are not entirely debunked but they also typically rely on captioning ambiguous environmental sounds to trick your brain into hearing words. Obviously, if it is real then nobody will need to tell you what to hear. Otherwise, there's nothing paranormal going on - to a 99 percent certainty. My only reservation will be contained within the footnotes.

There is something scam-like happening though with the various apps and devices, because there is a moneymaking opportunity which takes advantage of a known brain phenomenon. That is, "known" in the sense that anyone who has done any research at all knows about it. The average member of the public probably doesn't know, though, and that's where the scam comes in. And to the people who make money off of that, all I can say is shame on them. These developers are walking a very fine line between running a legal scam and outright fraud.


FOOTNOTES:
(1) I did say there was a caveat, although it's a big long-shot I feel obligated to mention it since apparently I'm the first human on earth to notice this: Here goes... If we must, let's talk about pareidolia and all the special messages you see on YouTube: Ghost boxes, Echovox, and all that - all that must be captioned in order for other people to "hear" the special message that the original person heard.

Obviously, the words are not really present in the sounds - that's why you have to have captions. When you hear a message, it's only in your head. But did you ever ask yourself (apparently nobody does); where did the message in your head come from? ...Well, your own brain, right? Right. But where did your own brain get the idea to make a particular choice and give you a plain message from gibberish?

Let's consider the use of psychic mediums for spirit communications. Now of course the skeptics here will all say it's bullshit because they think everything is bullshit. They used to spend time debunking quantum mechanics, too, until they had to shut up about it. Ever notice how skeptics never do a mea culpa? They never admit when they're wrong, they just go on to the next topic? Skepticism is a no-lose proposition; you just say no and it didn't happen until you start looking foolish then you shut up about it and find something else to ridicule and belittle. Being a skeptic is a great because you get to feel intellectually superior to the rest of the world and you never have to say you were wrong about anything, ever, nor do you have to do any actual work beyond negating everything anyone else says.. But I digress.... Skeptics will say any kind of spirit communication can't happen because spirits don't exist and nothing exists but the material world, and so forth. On the other hand, Dr. Gary Schwartz, professor of psychiatry and surgery at the University of Arizona says mediumship is real, and he can prove it. What if he's right?

So if Professor Schwartz and others are right, then it is possible to make psychic contact with the spirits of the deceased. At least, *some* people can do it. Are you with me so far?

Only certain people have that knack, and it's a small minority of a minority (I think most of the people who *think* they are psychic mediums are probably fooling themselves). BUT... if it's real, even for a tiny percentage of people - even only one person, then there is a mechanism behind it; a way the conscious mind can interface with the spirit world. And if there is a mechanism, then we all have it but most of us are unable to latch onto that stream of information and pull it up into our consciousness (like every human has a voice but few can sing opera). At best, it would be a tiny subconscious influence for most people.

At this point, the argument should be a real no-brainer but I will spell it out: Spirit communication is possible via some brain (third eye/pineal gland?) interface for everyone (must be true if there is even one person EVER in this history of mankind who did it) but most people can't bring the information stream up to the level of conscious awareness. Pareidolia happens at the subconscious level: The brain creates whole words and phrases out of sounds, and that happens before your conscious mind hears anything. Spirit communication is also potentiated at the subconscious level. It's the perfect intersection of non-conscious processes; where any spirits could influence the words your brain manufactures from random sounds, and thus deliver a message.

Not sure how you would prove or disprove that other than delivering message content that can be subsequently verified but could not have been known to the receiver. ..But there it is. By the way, I do NOT authorize anyone to use this argument to sell their pareidolia wares. Since I invented it, I own it. I will come after you if you do that! :) It's intellectual property rights at work. ...Others are free to quote me, but you must give correct credit to this author. Sorry, but I just want to make sure my own intellectual work isn't used for evil purposes.


(2) More information on pareidolia in general and audio pareidolia in particular:
Paranormal Research: EVPs - things you should know
Audio Pareidolia at The Rogue's Gallery
Pareidolia on Wikipedia
Bridgtown Paranormal Group on Audio Pareidolia
PsychCentral
Visual and audio pareidolia examples


(3) If you want to do the world a big favor, and dispel some ignorance, save a link to this page and post it every time someone puts up a new EVP video. Everyone should know the truth - it's only fair.

EDIT: Confirmation from the other side. The "other side" in this case, being the builders of these devices. Now, it's difficult to believe that any of these hawkers of paranormal gadgets actually think they work - but you'd expect them to keep their mouth shut about it. It's how they make their living, after all! Nevertheless, one gadget developer came clean to Popular Mechanics in an email: Bill Chappell (inventor of the Ovilus and many other paranormal gadgets) explained his view on the paranormal in a blunt email saying "I do not believe in Ghosts or Spirits."
The inventor says he's built hundreds of devices and performed countless experiments over the last decade trying to understand the phenomena of EVPs and instrumental transcommunication. "The unmistakable conclusion," he wrote. "It is us, we are the ghosts."

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this post or blog is meant to suggest that the supernatural or paranormal does not exist. The fact is, I don't know. All I can do is look at the evidence to see if it stands up to the test of very simple scrutiny. If it passes, yay. If it fails, oh well... there's always next time. Investigators are human. I'm human. We all make mistakes. My pointing out the mistakes that others make should not be taken to imply that they are wrong in general, or that the things they investigate are only the product of imagination. 

52 comments:

  1. Nice write up. Can you perform an experiment using Steve Huff's "Portal" and/or Incredible Box? These seem to give very clear, detailed responses compared to the older apps.

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    1. Or, you know, you could do it. :) Steve Huff was someone I found interesting before he started to sell the SCD-1 pareidolia app. That was the moment I realized he was as full of crap as the rest of the hucksters. Unfortunate. The problem with "clear, detailed responses" is typically they are only clear to a person who knows what to expect from the context. Pareidolia works that way: If your subconscious knows what it is supposed to find, it will figure out a way to deliver it. Divorce the audio files from the context and expectation, and then see if there what you thought was there is actually there or not. Spoiler alert: no.

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    2. Steve Huff is a FRAUD, FAKE. Giving the Paranormal world a bad name. Asshats like him don't need to be in this field. But he has folks out there that think he is some kind of expert. He's a Douche Canoe.

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    3. Steve Huff is a pioneer in this field and has more subs then anyone on Youtube doing ITC. It's jealousy what you are seeing and nothing more, so what if he sells his boxes and makes money doing it, he has his right to make a living like anyone else. His comments on his site are 90% positive and growing.

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    4. So you are saying that all theoretical science experiments are fake, There is no after live after death.

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  2. I think your annalysis is very thought provoking and is one of the very few answers to this obvious fraudulent money making scam. I did your experiment an several ghost box sessions along with some friends and you are absolutely right. Hopefully reading this will save a lot of people time and money. I know it did for me.

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  3. Thanks for the awesome info! I hope many people read this as it saved me a lot of time and money. Like many I was almost suckered into this paranormal trend but after understanding how the human mind can confuse random phonics for actual answers makes perfect sense. I've heard a lot of debunking theories on this topic but this is the first rock solid fact that puts the case to rest thank you!!

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    1. You're welcome! Keep spreading the word. We won't convince any of the true believers in these devices and apps but we might be able to save others from the money pit.

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    2. So use are saying it doen't work?

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  4. Exactly I saw his Robin Williams video and everyone goes it sounds like RW of course it will he has told us before we view what voice to hear and how has not seen a RW movie or show. Lame Mr Huff very sad to see you are just a money making machine.

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  5. I think Mortis the Wizard on YouTube is a rare exception of someone who is truly contacting the dead with very clear and direct communication for the most part and doesn't even monetize his videos. He can get the spirit box to repeat back nearly any word he asks it to, quite fascinating. And the spirit box the ghost adventures crew use has the antenna completely removed to avoid any radio signals coming through and only spirit voices can be heard.

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    1. Checked it out, thanks. It appears that Mortis the Wizard is mostly a wizard at editing. Clever but not supernatural. There are many obvious ways to fake this stuff, I'm surprised only one person has gone there. The rest don't do so, probably because they are true believers instead of show men. I'm not saying he does it for money. I don't know. People do things for attention more often than money.

      As far as Ghost Adventures is concerned, I already pointed out that they edit the audio. No Spirit Box has ever sounded like they portray it in the show. Anyone who has actually used one as I have will notice this.

      I'm glad you brought up the antenna thing, though, because this is one subject I didn't cover. You can remove the antenna on the Spirit Box to reduce sensitivity. If you live in an area with many radio stations, you'll get a constant barrage of phonemes which can be off-putting. With the antenna, the Spirit Box is as sensitive as any portable radio but if you remove that antenna then the sensitivity drops dramatically. However, it is not that it is no longer picking up radio stations because the circuitry itself has signal sensitivity. But now the stations will be weaker and more static will be present. This works much better for triggering audio pareidolia than having to deal with many strong signals. However, it isn't paranormal and as we've noted the Ghost Adventures audio is "enhanced" ...I'm trying to avoid using the word fake, because it would be rude. I believe in the supernatural but I do not believe supernatural theater. And that is all you'll ever get on television.

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    2. actaully, i do have clear as day class A communication on my p-sb7. its scary at times, so i do believe him cuz like mortis, i really have the box answer every single question of mine, and repeat any word i ask, and its always clear as if they are in the same room as me. even answering my question before i get it out all the way. if hes editing, then im sorry to say i may be one of the few in the world then who does actually recieve direct communication every time. i dont believe steve huff, or ghost adventures, or practically anyone, but after getting responses my self, on my own equipment, im excited to say, it is possible. there are a lot of fakes out there. but some are real.

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  6. Thank u for letting me experiment with this kind of investigation.... You have made a fantastic point on these "ghost boxes" i was going to invest in the scd-1 & vocubus but not now. I did the experiment & im shocked but convinced. Once sgain...thank you.

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    1. You're welcome! I spent the money and time, so so I'm glad I saved someone else from all that.

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  7. Hello, I had a question . I started to speak with spirits through my old 3yr old lap top . Using nothing but Vocaroo a free online recorder. Then i play it back using Audacity . I can hear very clear when using this old lap top and also sometimes so loud i do not even need headphones to hear them. But i just got a new lap top and when i use it i get nothing but noise and lots of breaking up and crackling . Not voices but i can hear them trying as i ask them to speak . I have conversations with them and they answer . I speak to my parents and my spirit guides and friends that have passed on and other spirits through my old lap top. What can you tell me that can help me understand why my old laptop works and my new lap top is not getting the same fantastic results? I have saved all my full evps and my clips . I have not bothered with any i tried with the new lap top as it is useless to even try to figure what they are saying . The spirits said they were trying to help me with that issue but to no avail . I want to be able to use my new lap top like i do the old one but not sure what to do, I even set the audio , sound the same way as my old one but nothing good . Any ideas?

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    1. That's a very interesting problem. Although it might be tempting to say that there is something wrong with the new laptop, I think it might be more about how YOU feel about it. About the new laptop, I mean. You probably feel less connected with it than you did with your older machine?

      Here's the thing: Ultimately, the real instrument in spirit communication is you. The true receiver. Laptops, apps, and devices are all appliances. Like a toaster that doesn't make toast unless a human being operates it, spirit communication doesn't happen except for the operator. And that's you.

      Have you considered a regular program of meditation? You need to connect yourself to the big picture out there. I don't think one laptop versus another is the problem. You are the instrument, and maybe your instrument just needs a little tune-up. :)

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  8. Well, all i have to say is i downloaded the echovox 2.0 to my phone and the first time with 7 people being as quite as they could i turned it on.....first words were my full name several times...gots no reason to lie ...also said my grandfather name. What we did was all sit down and listen with a note book so after we turned it off we could compare what we heard. Well everyone of us had name down my grandfather's name which was there as well...we all had exact same things written down. Sorry, but no one had different answers. Now explain how 7 people some saying its bs and others not get the same things written down that we heard???????? I do get the vowel thing cuz the woman voice that stutters bad and is like aaaa ee eee. Oooo ....yeah but There is no way in hell just out of 7 people can be wrong....

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    1. Yes indeed, seven people can be wrong. Groups of people in even larger numbers have been wrong many times throughout history. You want to believe, so you do believe regardless of whether or not the "proof" you have is valid or not.

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  9. Now come on! The commenter claims she did pretty much exactly what Chriss asked her to do to test this and she (commenter) claims her results were the ones Chriss said would likely not happen. You can assert that the commenter isn't being truthful, which is possible, but not that she didn't pass the test Chriss set out for her (if the commenter is being truthful). The only question is, is this commenter being truthful? the answer to which is, we have no idea.

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  10. When I hear complete sentences, sometimes said "behind" the phoneme sounds, it is difficult to not scratch my head and think, "Wow! How did I hear that?" I'm wiling to believe it is not real, but I'm just as willing to believe it is when responses are so clear. And I'm not editing my own stuff or posting any of it. I believe that a healthy skepticism is always good to have. Nevertheless, there are some mysteriously accurate and clear responses that I don't believe are easily explainable.

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    1. Well, it seems like you have a good attitude about it. :) I can't really comment on anyone's personal experience. I'd only say that if you read the article, you'll note that what we experience consciously is actually pre-processed by our brains in at least two steps. And those steps happen below conscious awareness, which is how the phenomenon of pariedolia arises.

      That said, having others listen to your audio without you giving them any clues as to what to listen for, and having them write down their guesses as to what might be there, will give you a better idea of what you have.

      I'd love for someone to come up with some objective evidence but I've yet to see it. I won't rule out the possibility that it will happen. However, I think it's highly unlikely to happen via these devices and apps. If solid evidence comes, I suspect it will come from an as-yet uninvestigated area.

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    2. Truly you will never have the ability. So don't try, it takes a true heart, eyes to see, ears to hear & empathy. It is real. I see them, I hear them with my unassisted ear. They are with me in my home. I use the apps & record their voices without the apps.l get the same ones-on just a recorder as I do the apps. Yes, Huff has documented all this phenomena, not just with the wonder box.It takes one to know one.

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  11. Here is the problem.. Everyone trying to test the phenomenon the same wrong way.. If everyone could hear messages from lets say "spirits," because we really don't know and can't back it up, then it would have been long developed when the first audio geniuses did their research. With that being said, it wasn't "developed" but it was documented that there was intelligent communication and these were scientifically researched documents. Ok, so here we are,apps and lots of "gifted" persons all asking "spirits" to say their names?? really? lol it reminds me of that question some people pose about "if you could talk to anyone dead or alive, what would you ask?" I don't think I ever heard someone respond "my name" lololol
    ok enough humor.. If it is a special phenomenon then it would only be logical that it takes a special gifted person such as "Nostradamus" for example or perhaps a musician with a gifted ear, etc. and off it is in fact spiritual then i would say its safe to assume that a person who is in touch with that essence would help it along as well. Now, that could very well be the reason you or anyone who listens to your recordings or video etc. can't decipher messages. And Pariedolia is very real as you pointed out so then the way you test can never prove authenticity. You just need a different perspective is all. So don't test the app, don't ridicule the developers, because like you said yourself, all you need is sound and for those gifted to hear these apps are definitely useful. However those who are not, can definitely be frustrating or even dangerous. Its my belief the only way to test the phenomenon is by the messages.. I Mean its the obvious and only way. You think someone or something is hanging around to give you the very important message of your name?? I suggest using your echo feature and stop talking, there is nothing you can ask or say, its all about what they can get across to you and how it can help you or perhaps your community etc. its not a toy and its not for just anyone - Peace

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  12. Except Ghost Adventures ripped the antenna out of the spirit box so that it cannot pick up radio stations. Guess you missed that part

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    1. No, I didn't. I said they edit the audio. The antenna removal is irrelevant in this case. Also, I should point out that the way this device is constructed, removing the antenna does not stop it from picking up radio stations. It only reduces the number of stations that will be picked up. But again, since the audio is edited, it's not really important how many stations are involved.

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    2. Sigh. Did you remove the outside antenna & the internal antenna coil. If you didn't remove the inside antenna parts you are going to pick up some radio stations.
      I've done this & did test it out by removing the outside antennae & the internal parts of the antenna.
      It works just the same as Ghost Adventures SCD-1 works. I have a first generation model that has been modified.
      Maybe someone could come over & remove the internal parts so you're not picking up radio stations.
      I agree about Pariedolia & have done experiments where people write down what they hear. They were not told what was being said. It's pretty amazing when everyone gets it right without knowing what the other person is writing down.
      Just like Pariedolia is tricking the mind into believing what you're hearing there is another trick that unfortunately people succeed at. You gain a number of followers and suddenly you're an authority on everything & people start to believe everything you say without trying it themselves. Unfortunately those people that lead others astray are the worst kind.
      And how do you know that Ghost Adventures edits the audio? I know their admin & they do clips instead of run 4 hours of audio for you but they don't edit things together to make you think you heard something.
      Are you there at the location & during the editing to make such a claim? If you're not there during the editing process how can you say that?
      Oh how accusations are made to make people seem more important than they really are.

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  13. I understand the mind can play tricks and is always working to make patterns and find links, but, when you ask specific questions and get specific answers to what you just asked its hard to deny that the probability of that happening is many thousands to one. From any word or phrase that could be asked at any time on any station to chances that you picking it up and exactly the same time is extremely slim but yet it happens on many times on a simple evp session. I don't. Believe any apps I'm into the hand held devices. No one can deny the amount of times you receive those direct answers so many times in a short periods of time and not say that there has to be a link...and not one in your head since we are talking about clear words and phrases not mumble jumble

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    1. That's some very strange logic you have there. The human mind makes the meaning at the subconscious level, and delivers that meaning to the conscious mind. That's how brains work, you know?

      So there aren't any odds involved. The brain is working the way it's supposed to: giving you the answers you seek.

      On the other hand, your answers will not be my answers, because our brains and expectations are different. And THAT is something you can test for, and prove. So the odds of getting answers to specific questions will be more like 1:1 ..but your 1 will not be my 1.

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    2. Your whole logic is that the brain is finding patterns and people hear what they want to hear, that can only be plausible when hearing unclear and undefined messages. Not clear words and phrases. If what your saying is true then surely in everyday life between people there would be constant mis communication due to ' everyone just hearing what they want to hear '

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    3. Well, first of all, there are no "clear words and phrases" in Echovox. There are only phonemes. If you think there are clear words and phrases, then that is just your brain tricking you.


      And second, yes, in everyday life, you "mishear" what people say all the time. I covered that in the article. You heard someone say "yes" to your question, when they actually said "no." Miscommunication is indeed quite common, that's why we have a word for it.

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  14. Yea we all know that but how about when 3,4,5 people are in the same room and all hear the same things being said?

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    1. Yes, what about that? As I explained in my DIY test that proves these things are pareidolia, your subjects must write down what they think they heard and only compare notes afterward.

      What you are describing here generally works exactly the same as the captions on videos: One person says they heard "____" and this influences others to believe that they heard the same thing. Again, this is well-known and well-proven psychology here; nothing speculative.

      And that is why any potential witnesses must be interviewed separately and/or report their experiences separately; free from contamination by the experiences of others.

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  15. Your article definitely got everyone's attention! Only thing I wanted to say was not all video captured EVPs are fake. I happen to have a video of a spirit box session, and in response to a question there's a man's voice that very clearly answers. Interesting though is nobody on the video responds or appears to hear the man's answer, and it was only while reviewing the video that we found the EVP. I do not fake evidence and never even posted the video because I knew nobody would believe it.
    I personally don't like using the spirit box and only pull it out as a last resort in an effort to get a spirit to interact.
    With all that said, I really did like your article. Thanks for all your hard work.

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    1. Thank you. To be clear, I'm not saying that anyone's videos are fake. What I think happens is that a person believes they hear something in the random phoneme barrage, so they add captions to the video to make sure everyone gets what they heard. The problem with that is that it contaminates the evidence, as I've proven with the DIY test.

      I don't think the producers are intentionally faking anything, though. At least, not most of them. There will always be a few lowlife amoral scum that produce fake evidence, but most of the people are, in my opinion, sincere and only trying to share what they think they've found.

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  16. I would recommend you watch this very interesting video in which EchoVox clearly states the names of people in a room.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWqNh3zhFJc

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    1. i have had the echovox name everyone in the room in order...in the same voice. I am sure the creator will give you the code to have checked out as he has already done that for others that want to find out how it works.

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    2. Yes, I think we all know how it works at this point: It is a random phoneme generator spitting out phonemes - parts of words - in 4 voices, with channels that have varying levels of distortion effects. That's it, there's nothing more to it Your brain, however, is a remarkable instrument that turns phonemes into whole words, and the words your brain creates tend to align with your expectations. Brains are truly amazing. Random phoneme generators, though, are not interesting or exciting.

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    3. i think the article writers mind is just convincing her that it is all fake. Like when I captured the EVP don't trip then was pushed down the stairs seconds after. Purely fake. Just like when I captured "Watch out" on the echovox right before a notepad when flying across the room. Guess I did not witness that either. I have used echovox for over two years. not just a little while to prove a theory. i have actually done actual research and decoded the app. what you say is not true about the echovox. I have had it run 2 hours in my house with nobody home (said nothing). not one word. just random sounds. Rooms full of people hearing the same thing seems a little odd that we are all making the same words out of random garbage. The theory doesn't stick. You only want it to. It has spoken different languages but only when ask questions in those languages. it will call you bad names. My wife is a medium....and you probably have something to say about that being fake as well. But she has validated what the device is saying often hearing the answer from spirit before it comes thru the device. I have had my wife tell me during an investigation to not move cause my chair would break, not more then 3 seconds later I went down. No warning. Not to mention I heard my late sisters voice come thru the device only the one time and only when we were talking about her daughter. I don't buy your research as you just "tried" the app out without doing extensive research as i have for a couple years now. I have weeks of audio with direct responses with people hearing what is said and repeating it at the time. And I have never had others listen to this stuff saying they don't hear it.

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  17. okay if Echovox is fake, why do I get answers to my native dutch, while it is an English database ???

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    1. This is actually covered in the body of the article: It isn't an English database, it's just a collection of phonemes, which are the sounds that make up words. You can literally make pretty much any word in any European language with those phonemes. The words themselves are not there, however. Your brain does that. It takes a part of a word (in any language you are listening for) and at the subconscious level completes that phoneme into a word. It then sends that result to your conscious mind. It's your own brain with its massive processing power doing this, not the app.

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  18. Hello my name is Allen. I know for a fact ghost boxes work and I have more then enough evidence to prove that. Also have hundreds of evps talking like me and you talking as plain as day. Before you say something don't work find someone like me that is a psychic/medium and see if they don't work. Please check out my YouTube at www.youtube.com/lunaticn2006 also have a SoundCloud at www.soundcloud.com/haunted4life let's see you debunk my evidence. I don't have little wanna be evps I have messages from the other side thereself. I have evidence of anything from orbs to rods to spirits and demons to aliens to heaven and hell. I can prove that there is life after death without in doubt in my mind.

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    1. I went to the trouble of listening to some of you work since I had to approve the comment anyway. It fits exactly what I've described, with scientific precision. I hope everyone listens in case they have any doubts.

      As happens, YOU hear talking "as plain as day" because your subconscious mind creates whole words from the pieces provided, and delivers that modified content to your conscious mind. Your brain did that, not the devices or apps. It's clear to you, because that is how your brain really works - every day; making sense out of nonsense.

      It's just up to you to figure out that this is a trick of your own mind and not some magic sauce hidden inside simple random phoneme generators.

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    2. By the way, your audio was a bit confusing. You have files labeled as echovox sessions that are clearly not just that. It sounds like you mixed a Spirit Box or another app in there that picks up radio stations or podcasts, and you have it on slow scan. So yeah, people are talking there -but it's radio/podcasts, not ghosts.

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  19. Dang, I was going to buy a digital recorder too. Then I typed in Google epv scam and this article popped up. So, your saying "ALL" EPV's are fake? That's a Damm shame that those are used in all ghost hunter shows.

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    1. No, I'm not saying that. I would, however, say that we haven't found a scientifically useful recording. It doesn't mean it won't happen, thought. I mean, who knows, you might be the one!

      If you look for a more recent post, I discussed possible techniques for POTENTIALLY producing useful evidence... if there is anything there to find.

      Check out https://udebunked.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-evp-as-scientific-evidence.html for some thoughts on the subject. First and foremost, you need to document everything, probably video your work etc. And follow the control procedures I suggested here.

      Good hunting!

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  20. It's alway very gratifying to read a non-skeptic's account backed by science. Very level-headed. I wish some of the commenters would actually read the entirety of your blog before accusing you of being a disbeliever and other things such as missing the fact that the aerial had been removed. You hadn't. You commented on that! Great blog. Thank you.

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  21. I would love to see you give a try on Huffs new SCD-2. There are much better responds now and they are more clear. I'm still a skeptic about it all but still find very intresting with the new SCD-2. There clearly are some BIG improvments.

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  22. I have questioned this app in question as well as other apps like it, but ive come 2 the conclusion that theres SOMETHING sttange goong on & abnormal... I don't kno about all that technical shit u just spoke about.. what I do know is my girl was using the echovox & asking a few PERSONAL questions that the probability of it spitting out the correct answer is close to ZERO!!!! What's the name of my best friend ahe asked it - RESPONSE "BILLY Correct Response BUT what makes this shit EVEN WEIRDER is the fact that NOT ONLY DIS IT SOUND EXACTLY LIKE HIM But RIGHT AFTER & NOT A SECOND MORE IT THEN SAID "Mikey" Which happens to be Billy's lil Brother!!!! N that sounded like Mikey.... how can u explain that? Can't say microphone cause Mikey lives in FL & I live in CA...

    Links 4 those evps

    https://m.facebook.com/groups/220343508167000?view=permalink&id=452711074930241

    https://m.facebook.com/groups/220343508167000?view=permalink&id=452711144930234

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  23. Often people hear something on Evps and Echovox say that the questioner themselves missed even on video's. The mistake your making is writing off the powers of the subconscious mind and the depth of forces it may be dealing with like as with synchronicity for one example. If your on the look out to debunk things even though thinking it to be totally legitimate you may only end up coming across paredolia yourself. You seem to be deriving your debunking evidence on discarnate spirit contact alone communica and not looking at what may be a bigger picture. And that's another example of paredolia.. the un-utilized version of it that is. It was interesting what you wrote but really for any extensive investigation should only really be used as a base line test.

    The Devil Rides Out ~ Mind control. x

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  24. Sorry I wasted my time reading this slop. You aren't a scientist or an audio engineer or doctor....these so called tests are nothing more than an uneducated interpretation.

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