Maintaining Audio Integrity When Presenting Edited Ghost Box Audio Clips as Evidence
by Tim Woolworth
Ghost Box Audio: to Edit or Not?
Considering that we deal with the medium of radio, ghost box audio is of utmost importance to ghost box researchers. It is only through audio we can validate our research.
Therefore one would logically think that the way that our ghost box audio is presented to the world would reflect not only our effort to understand ghost box communication; but also an endeavor to record ghost box audio with the best possible clarity.
If only this were true, the paranormal community would be more accepting of ghost box communication.
Unfortunately, there are researchers who insist upon manipulating received ghost box audio communications by slowing them down, reversing them, and even cutting out unwanted noises to clarify a message.
As a ghost box researcher, I find these types of manipulation very detrimental to ghost box research in most cases. I also realize that I am in the minority with this belief.
I have written this article for other ghost box researchers to consider. I am not saying this is how it has to be, but I am going to present an opinion that goes against the grain of current ghost box research and provide a valid argument as to why. When I address “you” in the second person, it is not aimed at a single person but at all the persons who edit their ghost box audio files and then present them as evidence on the various avenues we ghost boxers travel.
My former career as an audio engineer may have inspired me to write this article. I am an audio purist who tries to get the best recordings and to present these recordings as close to natural as I possibly can. Hence, I post unedited sessions exactly the way I recorded them. There is no equalization, or any form “cleaning up” of the sessions before it is posted. The listener gets to hear a session exactly as it occurred, warts and all.
I believe that ghost box audio clips should be presented in the same way. Currently, ghost box researchers share clips on the various group forums that are in existence strictly for ghost boxers. These clips are typically pared down by the researcher so it contains a simple phrase of communication; or a question asked by a ghost boxer and then a reply.
Amazingly, these ghost box audio clips can be so crystal clear that they are stunning to listen to.
Unfortunately, at times, they can also be a lie.
Some ghost boxers think editing is designed so that a ghost box audio clip does not need the clutter of communication between valid responses. So, all audio deemed “unnecessary” is redacted. This cleans up a clip so it only presents what should be heard in an ideal world. The listener gets to hear the clip at its best and the ghost boxer gets lauded on how clear his or her ghost box audio clips are; or at its worst, a ghost boxer gets lauded on how well they communicate with the other side because of the clarity of clips.
In reality, the editing and manipulation of ghost box audio completely obfuscates what we are doing. The cleaned up clips are presented as evidence when it is merely a misrepresentation of evidence. The unwanted clutter between communications is something that we all deal with in communicating with the other side. To filter this clutter out who is to wholly misrepresent what we do. When these edited clips are presented as evidence, I believe it destroys all credibility to our work when they are not in their original form.
The typical argument against this says that “Well, I keep the original audio in case anyone wants to challenge me on the validity of the communication.” I argue back that we should never have to be challenged on the validity because what we present should be the original!
Those who practice this type of ghost box research are polishing out the rough spots and it turn appear like better communicators. Why else would the unwanted clutter be removed? To make the clips easier on the ears? I answer with a resounding “No” because the ghost box audio clips are presented to other researchers who are used to hearing the cluttered audio.
Ghost box researchers know what a session sounds like. We know how to pick out the real communications. For someone to cherry pick words to force a communication is falsely representing what we do.
Edited clips are also detrimental for the future of ghost box research. If a paranormal enthusiast decides to buy a ghost box based upon the few clips presented that are edited, they will be sorely disappointed when they conduct their first session. It is only through listening through the clutter that one can become used to ghost box communication and some of the clips I have heard posted are simply not true to how ghost box communication sounds!
I relate this process to a news channel presenting the highlights of a football game. You get the best of the game in twenty seconds without regard for the other 59 minutes plus. This is highly undesirable, especially if you belong to a fantasy football league! Ghost boxers are like the football fan who will always watch the game, when it is accessible, because it is much better than seeing a mere clip on the news.
Now that we have a site like ITC VOICES, why would anyone just post the highlights when there is enough storage space to post a good portion of, if not all of, the session?
The editing and manipulating of ghost box audio files unfortunately calls into question the integrity of the researcher. Could the researcher be manipulating words to form a desired response? I sincerely hope that no ghost boxer has ever pieced together a reply from non-sequential words; but how would we ever know if we continue to accept edited clips as equal to raw, un-edited clips.
Once again, I know that those who edit say that they keep their original files, but honestly, how many times has anyone ever asked to listen to one of them? We could be hearing misrepresentations all the time and not be aware of it.
So, to maintain the integrity of our ghost box audio, I ask you why it is necessary to edit clips when you are presenting them to people who should be able to hear the communication without editing? When ghost box research is even considered a fringe topic in the paranormal community, should we not strive to be as true to what we do as someone who practices EVP? Nobody in their right mind cuts the noise out of an EVP session and presents it as evidence, so why should a ghost box researcher?
Therefore I feel it is of utmost importance that we present out audio as original as possible. If you want to clip the clutter out to make it sound cleaner, this is fine only upon a condition: you present the original unedited clip and then the clipped clip side by side in any post just to maintain integrity. Then people can compare clip A with clip B to judge for themselves. A few researchers do this now and I sincerely wish it would become standard practice for those who edit their clips.
If you feel that people may have a problem hearing the original communication without cleaning it up, then it may not be a valid communication to start with. If this is a problem, present a timed transcript with the file to accentuate what you hear.
At the very least, you will be presenting to the world ghost box communication the way that ghost boxers hear it. This will only add to the authenticity of our communication with the other side. In doing this, those who listen to your ghost box communications will get the necessary training by forcing themselves to always listen for the communication rather than having it dumbed down for them.
We have to preserve our audio for future researchers. Ghost box use in its infancy right now and all we have is audio. It is time that we adopt some standards for every serious ghost boxer to follow; and I believe that presenting audio in its original form is the most important of things we all have to agree upon.
Why call undue attention to manipulated audio? It just makes us all look bad. Post your clips with the “junk” and this will never be an issue. Or at the very least, post your edited clips with the original clips so not only your integrity, but the integrity of ghost box research as a whole can never be in question.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org