Ghost in the Machine

August 27th, 2008 at 12:36 pm by Mark
Tags: , , , , , , ,

     For whatever reason, the house I’m in now has some pretty bad wiring.  It’s a relatively new house — built in the 70’s, perhaps early 80’s — and shouldn’t have the problems it does. 
     Unfortunately, that’s one of the things you’ll always get into when you own a home.  There are quirky things about most every house.  In this one, the fuse box may even be a bit overloaded…

     Last Friday night, I had an overwhelming sense of dread.  I felt like someone close to me was in trouble, and there was nothing I could do.  I was distraught, and I couldn’t shake that feeling.  My car had messed up the night before, and just everything seemed to be going the wrong way.  And what should happen but every time I came into the room and sat down on the bed, the ceiling fan would begin this eerie whining, and shake violently back and forth.
     But it only happened when I came back into the room and sat down on the bed…

     I tested that theory seven or eight times, and finally decided to pull out the voice recorder and leave it running in the otherwise silent room for a few minutes… I mean, a little EVP never hurt anyone, right?

     And so, two things became obvious:

  1. Those weren’t ghosts.  They were telephone signals.  There’s obviously a massive amount of Extremely Low Frequency radiation pointed at this upstairs room from “somewhere,” and somehow, it’s bleeding through.  Perhaps it’s the fault of bad grounding in this house’s wiring, or perhaps having a telecommunications transmitter inadvertently pointed directly at this room is the whole problem with the wiring.
  2. The ceiling fan was never mounted straight, and it was extremely loose.  I opened and closed the door each time I moved from the bed, walking into the hallway, and just that amount of air pressure was enough to make the ceiling fan go crazy.  A few twists of the screwdriver fixed the problem, however, it’s still off balance… just not so much that the door makes it appear to be a murder weapon from the afterlife.

     This really made me give a lot more thought to the whole EVP phenomenon.

     Sure, you can make recordings in silence, and end up with all sorts of noises.  Ambient and background noises, wind and air pressure changes and other miscellaneous sounds that you wouldn’t normally notice become amplified.  Since the dynamic range of most microphones is significantly wider than that of the human ear, and the fact that the final recording becomes compressed to fit into an audible bandwidth — not to mention the problems of noise from the internal mechanism on tape recorders and sounds created by digital processing on voice recorders — you end up hearing all sorts of noises that can sound rather ghastly.  It’s the perfect illustration of the old saying, “ghost in the machine.”

     You simply have to take a scientific approach to this sort of thing, otherwise, you’ll end up convincing yourself of all sorts of crazy stuff.  As another old saying goes, “Enough research will tend to support your theory.”

     Inspired by movies like Stir of Echoes, Sixth Sense and White Noise, and entertainment television shows like Ghost Hunters, I know too many people who run around recording EVP.  Most of them are convinced that Ghost Hunters is real, as they’re unable to distinguish the difference between science, pseudoscience and entertainment. 
     These types also totally buy into most of the crazy conspiracy theories going around.

     But, like they’d assuredly tell me … I’m just too cynical… *rolls eyes*

     As for that “feeling of dread” I had Friday night (and through the weekend), I was more than right — in fact, I was dead on, right down to times.  As cynical as I might be, there’s still the fact that I perceive things that I shouldn’t be able to.
     You either get used to that or you don’t.


2 Responses to “Ghost in the Machine”

  1. Monty Hazeltrig Says:

    Another thing that I think people do not realize is that deleting a tape is nearly impossible. Even if you have a heavy duty degausser, you’ll still be able to hear a song or voice that was recorded on the tape previously. Any recording whatsoever will remain, though diminished in amplitude.

  2. Mark Says:

    There was a study a couple of years ago — University of Nevada, if memory serves, but I couldn’t find the source on Google — which showed that microscopically, erased ferric oxide and chromium dioxide tapes could be fully restored quite easily due to realiged particles on BOTH sides of the tape — up to a whopping six generations — using tunneling electron microscope procedures. The head alignment on tapes changes drastically due to uneven winding, and using these techniques ensures that even an overlaid track can be restored by following the skew. Additionally, any seriously missing data can be easily added or interpolated by checking for residual electromagnetic fields on the medium itself.

    The newspaper article claimed that these University students guaranteed a 97% success rate at six generations. Of course, being University students, I’d guess that 97% would be signifantly lower when faced with a real-world challenge… because god forbid they miss another episode of The Real World, which seems to be the basis for most of their realities these days…

    They planned to Save the Free World by offering a challenge to the National Historical Archives that they could restore the missing section of the Nixon Tape before the guy there coated it with a phosphorescent polymer and scanned it using their computer software… Of course, when the NHA didn’t take their offer seriously, I’ll bet it it merely added to their college-days Conspiracy Theories…