Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Unidentified Sounds That Scientists Are Seriously Looking Into


5
Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP)
Paul McCartney listens to a playback in a recording studio in 1973. Back in the late '60s, fans thought he had died and been secretly replaced with a lookalike. They listened to Beatles recordings backwards for clues. Michael Putland/Getty Images
Paul McCartney listens to a playback in a recording studio in 1973. Back in the late '60s, fans thought he had died and been secretly replaced with a lookalike. They listened to Beatles recordings backwards for clues. Michael Putland/Getty Images

For decades, paranormal believers have been picking up stray voices on tape recordings, which some think come from dead people or extraterrestrials. As a website for paranormal enthusiasts explains, picking up electronic voice phenomena, or EVP, often requires a person to listen to the recording with headphones and work hard to pick the voices out from the background noise, and sometimes a recording will have to be played in reverse for the message to appear [source: ATC]. (A similar technique was used by teenage Beatles conspiracy theorists in the late '60s, when they played "Strawberry Fields Forever" backward in an effort to hear what sounded to some like "I buried Paul.")

But not everybody believes EVP is truly paranormal. The Skeptic's Dictionary, for example, offers effects such as interference from a local CB operator, and various sorts of naturally occurring electronic distortion as possible explanations.


More to Explore