Welcome back to Deviatus. This week, we are concluding Season 2 of the show. I have some important announcements I’d like to make at the end of the episode about the future of the show, so don’t go anywhere after the main content, and I would like your input with a couple of things.
There’s no guest for today’s show, but before I get to any of news or asking for input, I wanted to hold up my end of a promise that I made one year ago on the show. Whether you’ve been listening that long or not, I had created a Halloween Special for Episode 15 back in 2016 that focused on some EVPs I collected personally utilizing a spirit box, and I concurrently ran an anonymous survey alongside the episode to obtain some unbiased opinions about what words, if any, could be deciphered within those audio clips.
Now before anyone listening decides to email me about how to conduct proper research and eliminate bias, I am fully aware that the survey I ran has some limitations. In fact, I believe one of the most difficult challenges paranormal researchers face is conducting experiments and research in controlled conditions and coming up with creative ways to prevent bias. Obviously there’s going to be some level of bias if I’m reaching out to people who listen to a show about the paranormal in that if you’re listening, you are more likely than not to #1 believe in the paranormal, and #2 automatically assume that any voices captured are in fact the voices of a ghost, spirit, or otherwise non-living entity (however you prefer to describe it). The very definition of any of these terms can be up for debate.
So that said, I am not attempting to pass this survey off as official scientific research. I did complete the survey strictly for entertainment purposes, and to see if random people I have never met in person may have heard the same vocalizations that I interpreted from the files. So if you haven’t listened to Episode 15, that’s okay because I’m going to not only explain how the survey went and the structure of that episode, but I’m also going to re-play those audio clips for you today.
I had shared some audio recordings from the controversial paranormal investigation technique utilizing the SB7 Spirit Box. I have used this device quite a few times with some varying results, and on episode 15, I didn’t really share my own opinion about the authenticity of those results, but I’ll swing back around at the end and let you know my thoughts - of course I always challenge you, the listener to form your own opinions, regardless of whether you agree with me or not.
In order for you to make an informed decision, I feel it’s only fair to explain how the device works, as well as what criticism skeptics have for its use, which I summarized in Episode 15, but again, I want this to be a stand-alone episode here so you don’t have to go back and listen to that one.. I’ll also explain how I have attempted to avoid the circumstances that skeptics use to debunk voices heard through this device for my experiment.
The Spirit Box (model SB7) scans through radio frequencies just like your tuner in your car’s audio system. It can be set to scan frequencies at different time intervals. All recordings you will hear in this episode have been set to scan at 250 milliseconds. This means the radio station you are audibly hearing changes 4 times per second. Example (1234, 2234, 3234, 4234…) When you think about how many words could possibly come out of your mouth in one whole second when you’re speaking normally, then compare that to how many words might come out of your mouth in ¼ that time, you may be lucky to get one whole syllable out of your mouth in a quarter second.
Keeping that in mind, we know different radio frequencies already have voices coming through them that should be different people speaking with each of the scanned frequencies, and there may be some gaps in normal radio speech heard when the spirit box scans through requency bands that don’t have anything broadcasting. But for argument’s sake, and to remove the possibility of doubt, let’s pretend every frequency has audible speech while scanning so that we expect to hear a voice each ¼ of a second. Each frequency should still have a different person’s voice heard through the speaker. Eventually, you may have combinations of speech sounds from multiple voices that may sometimes sound like words when strung together, but just with different voices.
Here’s an audio clip so you can hear what the SB7 Spirit Box sounds like without any suspected voice phenomena:
If I play the clip multiple times, you may or may not pick up on parts of words, but certainly no one person is speaking through multiple scans in any distinguishable attempt to communicate. So with all of that in mind, it may be possible to regularly hear single syllable words from time to time from one voice. It’s tough to tell whether or not a single syllable can be distinguished as not coming through a normal radio program. For example, listen to this clip:
“Hello”: https://www.dropbox.com/home/SDPE?preview=EVP6.wav - this is an example of clear vocalization of a word, but for a very short time and it’s difficult to ascertain just by listening if what is heard lasts longer than the duration of the frequency scan. I did analyze the amount of time the word was spoken in Adobe Audition and was able to determine these two syllables lasted nearly two frequency cycles (or ½ of a second), it’s still probably not the strongest evidence, we tend to throw examples like these out because they don’t meet all of our criteria.
What I tend to look for is multiple syllables coming from the same voice and spanning multiple frequency scans - the longer the better!If you can hear a whole sentence, that’s considered far more compelling than just two syllables.
The most compelling argument against these kinds of clips made by skeptics is that your brain is perceiving what answers to expect. In other words, it’s a form of audio pareidolia where the brain assigns recognizable patterns to jibberish. While extreme skeptics maintain that 100% of these EVPs are caused by pareidolia, you have to also consider the context of the words coming through. In other words, do the EVPs sound like direct answers to questions asked by investigators? And do they follow within a reasonable amount of time following the question in order to be considered a potential response?
I played the devil’s advocate by providing half of the audio examples as a “blind” option, meaning for the first 4 out of the 8 clips I shared, I did not provide any context about what was said prior to the clip or any information about what questions were asked, but simply played the recording. For the last four clips, I provided a little bit of context. I personally think it added a level of credibility to what you hear, but for those extreme skeptics listening, I provided both just to eliminate some possibility of bias toward a perceived response.
Before I play through the clips, I want to make one final comment on listening to EVPs. As you’re hearing this now as part of the Deviatus Podcast, you’re listening to a compressed version of the audio files in MP3 formatting. As it is, I would highly recommend using headphones while in a quiet room. But better yet, I will post links to my uncompressed files in WAV format in the show notes at deviatus.com, which have much higher audio quality, and the difference is noticeable.
Now I’m going to play through each of the 8 clips recorded from the SB7 Spirit Box. In the original episode these were played, I didn’t share any information surrounding them, but I’ll elaborate here. I’ll start by playing each clip 3 times so you can form your own opinion about the words you hear, or if you hear anything at all. Then I’ll explain a little about the clip and play it again. I’ll also let you know the results of the survey about these clips… just for the record, the same question was asked after each clip was listened to, which was “Did you hear a discernable voice? If so, write what you thought it said. If not, leave blank. If unsure, please type “unsure”.
Clip 1: https://www.dropbox.com/home/SDPE?preview=EVP5.wav - Here’s the first one. This was an immediate response after someone asked the question “what happened to you?” I thought it said “taken advantage”. Responses on the survey include the name “Nolan”, a few people thought it said “none” or “now” and a few are unsure. One person stated they heard the word “advantage”. This is a pretty wide range of responses for sure.
Clip 2: https://www.dropbox.com/home/SDPE?preview=EVP8.wav - Let’s listen to the second clip. This clip was a direct response to the question “would anyone here like to speak with us?”. I thought it said “wanna chit chat”?. The survey indicated 3 people who heard “wanna chit chat” and a couple that weren’t sure. Two people heard the word “dark”, and another heard “you’re a dork”. And one person heard “I’m hurt”
Clip 3: https://www.dropbox.com/home/SDPE?preview=EVP24.wav - Here’s an interesting clip… a group of us thought we heard some responses coming through that weren’t very clear, so we continued to ask questions, and what I thought it said was “I said leave”... the survey responses had multiple results. People heard “just leave”, “simply”, “exactly”, “sickly”, “stigly” and “complete”. One person wasn’t sure
Clip 4: https://www.dropbox.com/home/SDPE/Alpine%2010-28-16?preview=Spirit+Box+1.WAV - Moving on, this one is the last of the blind examples, and we had been speaking with what sounded like a woman in distress in various locations both in EVPs without the spirit box, as well as with live listening and through the Spirit Box. This was one of the more clearly recorded clips, and I thought it said “help me”. Responses from the survey include 3 people confirming “help me”, one person says “guilty” and one more said they heard “paranormal investigation” while 3 were unsure. (play again).
Clip 5: https://www.dropbox.com/home/SDPE?preview=EVP10.wav Let’s listen to clip 5, which was the first one that I provided a little bit of context for. A couple of voices had been coming through and someone live listening mentioned hearing the word “fire” which was pretty clear, but being only one syllable, a follow-up question was asked, “are you a firefighter?” and this was the response. I thought it said “I’m a painter”. People who took the survey said “Trying to take her”, “I’m a tanker”, “sign of tantered”, “trying to plant dirt”, “in the 23rd”, “firefighter”, and two said they were unsure.
Clip 6: https://www.dropbox.com/home/SDPE?preview=EVP11.wav - Clip 6 immediately followed the previous capture, and just to be safe, I put an “explicit content” warning on this episode if it says what I think it says. Let’s take a listen. After the last response where someone says “are you a firefighter” and we get the response that sounded like “I’m a painter”, a member of the group who I’m guessing didn’t interpret the previous response the same way I did pulled out a cigarette lighter and asked “what do you think of this?” To me, it sounds like the response says “go fuck yourself”... One person on the survey says “go back in” and mentioned it gave them chills and made their eyes water. 3 people thought it said“don’t like it”. Other interpretations include “it needs to leave”, “no smoking”, two people heard the word “ghost” and one person was unsure.
Clip 7: https://www.dropbox.com/home/SDPE?preview=EVP19.wav - Just a couple more clips to go through. This is another interesting clip that could be in direct response to what we were saying. We were finishing up a session, thanking them for communicating with us, and said we would be back with another group of people. Here was the response. To me, it sounds like “from out of nowhere”. Survey responses included the word “nowhere” or “out, nowhere”. A couple of people said they heard “help” or “how” and 4 people weren’t sure.
Clip 8: https://www.dropbox.com/home/SDPE?preview=EVP14.wav - In this final clip, I need to explain that one of the questions we commonly ask is “what’s your name”, and sometimes when we don’t receive a response, so an alternate question we ask is “can you tell us the name of someone here?” Here’s the response we received. To me, it sounds like “Stan Thompson”, which is the name of the President of San Diego Paranormal Eye who was present that night. The survey results on this one seemed random. One person said “need help, i don’t even know what political was”. Another said “I don’t even know of political roles” and another said “I don’t even know a political word”. Other responses include “political Rose”, “no words”, “can’t help” and “word”. Two people were unsure.
After hearing all the clips, the survey had two additional questions. The first was “Do you believe the SB7 Spirit Box is beneficial to paranormal investigation?” Out of 11 responders, 3 people said yes, 4 said no, and 4 selected “other”. One person says “Yes/No, It often feels too random, or just convenient. Almost like it generates random sentences or words off radio.” Another text response says “While I won't deny that results can be gathered using a spirit box, I do not think they hold that many advantages over standard voice recorders. Additionally I am unsure of how to feel about the methodology this device uses as it may produce false positives.” The third response says “Open minded but skeptical” and our final text response for this question says “I have heard them used before and I feel sometimes they may be picking up other radio waves such as radio, wireless”
The final question on my survey was “Do you enjoy hearing EVPs and real-life evidence on the Deviatus Podcast?” 8 people said “hell yeah, give me more”, 2 people said “bleh”, and 1 person said “not a listener to your cast” and left his reddit username.
I want to just discuss some highlights and vulnerabilities about the survey and the responses collected before moving onto the next topic. As you’ve heard, there are often some very drastic differences between what I thought some of these clips were saying and what others believe they say. Some clips had more similar responses than others, but the best case scenario for these clips was that nearly half of the people who took the survey heard something very similar to what I heard. Whether you are approaching this from a scientific standpoint, or a statistical analysis or even as a believer, I have to keep it real and say it’s not going to be significant enough to derive a firm conclusion that people are hearing the same thing. I do think, however, that if 50% of people believe there is something being said that sounds similar, that’s statistically significant enough to warrant further investigation and testing.
Another issue with this kind of survey is what statisticians would call the “n” number. Or the number of people taking the survey. The more people you have taking the survey, the more significant your results are going to be. Only having 11 people take this survey is nowhere near the number of people to hold any weight. Ideally, you’d want at least 100 people, if not thousands. When this survey launched with episode 15, I was averaging about 200 downloads per week, and probably 50-60 downloads per episode. That’s compared to my 2,000 downloads per week and about 1500 downloads per episode today. While the show has seen a lot of increase in downloads, it’s still relatively small compared to some of those shows that have tens or hundreds of thousands of downloads per month. I might need to hold off a while before I commit to running another survey like this… that is unless it’s for pure entertainment.
One final problem worthy of mentioning (among a few others) is I have no way of confirming whether listening conditions are similar to those that I utilized in a quiet room with headphones. If you’re going to really reduce variables, and provide a repeatable observation, each experience should be identical - or as close as possible. The ideal situation would be to have people listen to the same audio file quality with the same headphones on the same computer at the same volume setting. I’m sure I could hang out at my local mall with a laptop and a set of headphones and survey random passers-by to accomplish this, provided I could find a quiet place to have them listen. But that’s a task I didn’t choose to take this time around.
So without what people would call “concrete proof” that there’s anything to these Spirit Boxes, it all comes down to personal opinion. Personally, I find it very difficult to hear many words caught through a Spirit Box in real time unless I’m wearing headphones with the volume really high. Others around me seem to be able to have the ability to hear and interpret conversations I simply can’t. That doesn’t necessarily mean I do or don’t believe what they’re saying, but perhaps it’s more of an acquired skill or something that just requires practice to gain some level of competency at.
Most of the clips you heard in today’s episode were listened to after the investigations took place, and my opinions were formed by re-listening to the audio - except for a couple of them. I often find when anyone is using these devices on television, I don’t catch the words in real time, but only when the shows will tell you what they think it says, and offer a replay. I have to say I agree with some of the survey responses that question the authenticity of the results. On one hand, I do believe there are examples of when these have been used in real time to communicate, but I believe they’re probably far more rare than television would have you believe. I prefer an audio recorder with simple Q&A without the assistance of additional electronics. If you can catch a voice other than your own in complete silence, to me that’s more compelling. Either way, I’m open to continue using the Spirit Boxes in future investigations… you never know just what you’re going to catch or when. And it definitely helps to keep a skeptical approach.
I’d love to hear your opinions about any of these clips or the spirit boxes in general. If you have your own clips to share, I’d be excited to hear them too.
At this point, I want to have an open honest discussion with you about the future of the show, and in order to do that, I believe we need to visit the origin of the show and why I started this podcast in the first place. I started Deviatus for two simple reasons.
Having experienced the paranormal myself, I wanted to connect with others that had too, free of judgment and ridicule that so often accompany the experience of sharing these stories.
Because paranormal topics are interesting to me. I’ve been educated with a scientific and healthcare-related background which simply cannot provide an explanation for some of my experiences, and that idea intrigues me. I believe we, as a human race, need to push our boundaries of understanding, and to avoid being so pig-headed and lazy about looking into phenomena that so many people report, yet remain ignored or don’t get taken seriously.
Over the last 15 months, I’ve brought you 40 episodes of Deviatus with guests experiencing a plethora of strange things from UFO encounters, to cryptids, ghosts, demons, near death experiences, and a few others I haven’t mentioned. The truth is I love the content. It just doesn’t get old to me. I, however, unlike the content I share with you, have been burning the candle at both ends. Basically, I’m announcing that I need to take a break, and will be putting the show on a hiatus for a little while.
I feel like I owe you a bit of an explanation about my reasoning behind this decision though. While I’ve shared some aspects of my life throughout the episodes, I can provide some additional details. I do work full-time in healthcare management during the week. I also teach radiography courses in the evenings for a secondary income, and for the Fall semester, I’ve taken on an additional course load to help out due to some faculty changes. On top of that, I’ve been serving for the last several months as an expert consultant for a legal case involving my field of expertise in radiology – that just ended, but there may be an additional opportunity there in the near future. I also have a wife and two children who have been gracious enough to split their shared time with me and my podcasting on the weekends and evenings I’m not teaching.
While I still enjoy producing the podcast, my ideal goal would be to make it a weekly show – that is, if I could have an ideal state. I can honestly tell you I am struggling right now to continue a production schedule of every two weeks. Podcasting is a ton of work that a producer can sink hours and days, along with dollars into each month. I never intended to make money off the podcast, so that’s why you’ve never heard me speak of Patreon, ask for donations, or place advertisements on the show.
I say all this not to complain, but to shed a little light for the listeners who have been so supportive of the show. I don’t want to simply disappear like so many shows do without an explanation or any notification about whether the show will return or not. I’m going to be totally transparent right now and say I’m not 100% about when the show will return. I think there’s going to need to be some changes to the show in order for me to keep producing Deviatus.
First and foremost, I’m learning that I just can’t do it all myself. I am going to be searching for a partner in crime (possibly two) to share the responsibilities of show production with during my hiatus. From coordinating guests for the show, to participating in the interviews, to post-production, scheduling and social media.
I want to continue producing a show with integrity, meaning asking questions to seek the truth, while being careful not to indulge personal opinions too much, but to also allow room for the listener to make up their own minds about the content being shared.
There’s certainly no shortage of content for a show like this, and I have plenty of passion about the topic. But the truth is the logistics are a bitch when you’re a one-man show with a busy schedule.
So that’s where I’m at today. I’m going to keep the website going and the iTunes feed live while I sort through my options and make some decisions. I don’t see life getting less busy for me in the near future, but I do see things becoming more manageable in early 2018, with strong potential to continue the show with the right kind of help. I figure, what better place to look for that help than my listeners? If you think you want to participate, and you have the time and drive to help me out, shoot me an email and we can set up a time to chat at email@example.com.
In the meantime, I’m still on all the social medias at deviatuspod, I’m on Facebook and YouTube. I truly am looking for a person (or people) who are passionate about the topic. You’re going to need to be because I can’t pay you. If you’ve listened this far, I just want to say thank you… I’ve got a really solid fan-base already, and I hate to disappoint anyone, but just thought it would be best to come out and be completely transparent.
Thanks again, and I’ll post an update when I have more information. You probably won’t hear too much from me until 2018, so until next time, take care!