Frederich Jurgenson and Konstantin Raudive

This article is about the EVP researchers, Frederich Jurgenson and Konstantin Raudive.  Because IRG’s focus right now is on EVP research, we have been bombarded with people suggesting we look into their EVP research, which we had already done by that point.

Admittedly, I’m afraid we are skeptical of their methodologies, although we can understand the common belief that they laid the fundamentals for EVP research.  It is important when learning about the research of others to take a look at all the factors involved.  To look at not only the experimental research itself but also the cultural and technological history of the time.  Unfortunately, based on the evidence, their results would not hold up in a court of law.  While, statistically, they may have had some success of recording what could be perceived as anomalous electronic voices, we believe, based on available information, their conceivably impressive results were largely and unintentionally exaggerated.  We believe these somewhat exaggerated results were the product of a few primary contributing factors occurring at the time, including two major wars and the Spiritualism revolution.

The Spiritualism movement sparked the Parapsychology revolution as a result of the technological boom that occurred with radio and signal broadcasting.  There are additional factors that may have played a part but this one, I feel, is one of the most significant.

Throughout the 1800s, there were many significant cultural and technological changes occurring.  The US was still in its infancy at this point, having only been independent of Great Britain less than a century.  There were two significant events that occurred within years of each other and another that occurred in the late 1890s.  One occurred in 1848 with the infamous Fox sisters in New York.  The next was the birth of the German physicist Heinrich Hertz in 1857.  The final was Marconi’s invention, which will be discussed later.

Historically, roots to scientific investigations of parapsychology, which is crucial to much of paranormal research, has been said to be February 20, 1882 with the implementation of the Society for Psychical Research in England.  However, the establishment of SPR was a direct result of a movement that inadvertently started nearly 40 years earlier in New York.  In December of 1847, a blacksmith name John Fox moved his family – a wife and two daughters – to a little wooden cottage in Hydesville, NY.  In March of 1848, the family is reported to have begun hearing a variety of noises, including strange tappings, rappings, bangs, and scrapes “as if furniture had been shifted”.  As time progressed, the activity apparently became more insistent, allegedly peaking on March 31st.

Although the family is said to have checked the entire home for any explanation, they could not determine the sources of the noises.  The Mr. Fox decided to check to see if a window was being rattled by the wind.  He grabbed the frame and gave it shake.  Kate, John Fox’s 12 daughter, commented that everytime he shook the window, noises were heard as if in reply.  It occurred to young Kate to snap her fingers to see if she could elicit a direct response.  There were apparently raps in response to her challenge.  Maggie, the second daughter, also snapped.  Mrs. Fox interpreted the raps as direct responses and as a means of communication.  She began asking questions while telling the “ghost” to respond in a certain way.  Through these communications, it is reported that the family was conversing with the deceased human spirit of a man, later said to be Charles Rosma, who had been murdered at the age of 31 and whose body was buried in the cellar of their home, although no such body has ever been recovered to my knowledge. However, many years later, a newspaper reported the findings of a skeleton in the cellar after the collapse of an old wall, but this report cannot be substantiated at this time.

The family invited friends and family to witness the events and soon their story spread like wildfire.  The Fox sisters soon began traveling, sharing their experiences and giving demonstrations.  They also held seances.  Soon, reports of new events from others began pouring into the press – object moving on their own, unexplained feelings of being touched, and even musical instruments being played unaccountably.  Obviously, implications and accusations of fraud followed.

There is a lot more detail but we only wanted to provide a little background about a movement that sparked the implementation of the Jurgenson and Raudive experiments. Nearly every household at the time practiced some form of seance routinely.  It was as widespread then as the paranormal is now, perhaps even more so.

About the same time, Heinrich Hertz was conducting some very important experimental research with electromagnetic-wave theory.  Additionally, radio signals were being experimented with as well.  In the 1890s, Marconi invented the vertical antenna that could transmit signals of ever increasing distance.  By 1901, he could send messages from England across the Atlantic to Newfoundland – an impressive technological advancement at the time.  There was only one problem – information could only be transferred and received by dots and dashes, called wireless telegraphy.  However, in less than a decade, radio broadcasting capabilities would transition from these dots and dashes to the transmission of sound over air waves.

From 1906, interest in radio technology exploded, although it was mostly in its experimental phases and wouldn’t be commercially exploited until around 1920 to 1921.  At this time, radio was a highly technical leisure activity, although not everyone understood it.  Electromagnetic waves, for instance, were blamed for many different things, from droughts and famines to vomiting.

Pre-World War I, which didn’t begin until 1914, radios were exceedingly popular.  The technology, however, was severely primitive with only AM broadcasting capabilities highly prone to interference.  FM wouldn’t really hit the scene until the late 1950s and, even then, consisted of only about 2% of radio sales.

Spiritualism, as it came to be called, was in it’s heyday during this time and often employed the use of these radios during seances and sessions.

After the war ended and the ban on amateur radio was lifted, Thomas Edison was busy working on, among other things, something he called a “spirit communication machine”.  On September 7, 1897, Edison, who was born one year before the Fox family ‘made contact’, had allegedly patented the design, a time that coincided with the Spiritualism movement.  While there have been numerous accusations that Edison never designed such a device, General Electric claims (at least it was on the website at one point) that “it was a national sensation after World War I”.  Edison is known to have fully believed in life after death and, when considering the events of time, it is clear why (at least for the most part) considering he basically grew up around it.  Although, it would be difficult to substantiate such a device actually existed as records are lacking because Edison is said to have left very clear research on his known devices.

At the time of WWI, it is highly likely that emotions understandably ran high.  The 4 years that encompassed this great war saw unprecedented levels of carnage and destruction.  It was costly both financially and emotionally with huge losses in life.  Not only was this war traumatic during its 4 years, but was perhaps even more devastating with its aftermath.  Spiritualism during this time increased even more.  The desire to “communicate with dead loved ones” would have bolstered even more widespread use.  To make matters worse, while nations and families were trying desperately to put their lives back together, the world was plunged into the Great Depression of 1929.

As if those weren’t bad enough, WWII didn’t help matters. The casualties, which many were civilian, marked it the deadliest conflict in history. From 1914 to 1945, more than 30 years of death, darkness, and despair was experienced on a global scale on a level that is almost inconceivable.

Jurgenson and Raudive were alive during this time. When WWI began, Jurgenson was about 15 years or so old and Raudive was about 9 years old.  When the three events were over, by 1945, Jurgenson was almost 42 years old and Raudive was almost 36.  Jurgenson was born in one of the countries most devastated as a result of WWI – Russia.  He spent most of his life in this war-torn and economically devastated country until 1943 when he moved to Sweden.

At the time, he was a painter and opera singer.  It wasn’t until 1957 that he became interested in electronic voice phenomenon.  My research to-date has yielded little to no information regarding EVP incidences other than that of Thomas Edison and the Fox sisters prior to this.  By 1957, Edison had already been dead nearly 26 years.  More and more events were being broadcasted via radios.  For this reason, the number of radio sales, specifically between 1922 and 1923, increased substantially from 60,000 to more than 1.5 million.  After the Great Depression began, there was a lull in the development of radios.  But by WWII, 9 in 10 families had radios, listening an average of 3-4 hours per day.

The problem with radio sets prior to 1927 was that the dials were poorly regulated transmitters with a serious problem of interfering with each other.  Few people could routinely hear the voices or the music from stations because of the dearth of radio receivers at the time.

The earliest radios of the time were called crystal radios and were extremely easy, as well as cost-effective, to build.  So easy and inexpensive, in fact, that many magazines urged young boys, or anyone else for that matter, to build them at home.  I could go into the mechanics but this really isn’t the place for that.  I am simply trying to demonstrate how easy and wide-spread (as well as unreliable) the use of radio was at the time.  By 1927, there was essentially a radio free-for-all.  Prior to 1912, there was virtually no federal restrictions of any kind in place, although radio was unfocused, scattered, and in no real way lucrative.

Because of the free-for-all, there were too many amateur stations for the number of frequencies available to separate them on the radio dial.  At one point, you might be listening to one station but if all of a sudden someone else turned their transmitter, they would drown out the first.  Many radios would also pick up foreign broadcasts.

There is a lot of cultural and technological history at this time that absolutely cannot be ignored if researching from a serious perspective the work of Jurgenson and Raudive.

Now that we have some of that, what we consider to be, very significant history in mind, we can start with a little bio of Jurgenson first because his work inspired Raudive.

Frederich Jurgenson.  Born 1903 in Odessa, Russia.  Swede mother and Danish father.  Move to Estonia when he was 22 years old and then to Sweden in 1943 at the age of 40.  1957, purchased an audio recorder and used it to initially study bird sounds (I believe it was bird calls…will go back and check that for accuracy) but was later said to have captured what he believed were “voices of the dead”.

By the time Raudive met with Jurgenson in 1965, radios had become smaller and more secure but were still alarmingly insecure.  There were more than 20 million AM sets in use with more than 4,000 licensed stations who were also known to play foreign records and broadcasts.  This is important because Raudive and Jurgenson both claimed to have captured foreign language EVPs.

This information is not presented to completely discredit their work.  It’s merely to present the evidence that reasonable doubt exists.  Due to the cultural, spiritual, and technological happenings at the time, I would feel safe in hypothesizing that a large percentage of their actual recordings could be contributed to faulty technology, amateur radio broadcasting, and pareidolia.

We have not yet completed all of our research into these two individuals.  We plan to purchase Raudive’s highly-coveted book to read how he conducted his experiments.  We will post more information as it becomes available.

** UPDATE 11/25/2014 **

After publishing this note more than a year ago, we have since found, purchased, and scrutinized The Ghost Orchid album, which is said to be a collection of EVP recordings from various sources, including Jurgenson and Raudive.  There were a total of 77 tracks on the album, the first being an introduction and the last being the conclusion.  The second track was also a commentary regarding Raymond Cass.  Our conclusions?  While there are a few tracks that are “peculiar” indeed, certainly characteristic of what we at IRG have come to expect with true electronic voice phenomena, we currently cannot conclude the legitimacy of the claims.

The second commentary track was interesting in the description as dictated by British EVP researcher Raymond Cass:

“Voices of unknown origin appearing on radio frequencies were first noticed in Scandinavia by the military in the 30s and were put down at the time to secret Nazi transmitters. But the voices spoke in unknown and mixed tones.  And after the war, no records of secret Nazi transmissions ever came to light.  The voices didn’t stop after the war.  But their repeatability and their transient nature precluded study.  That is, until the tape recorder came into common usage in the 50s.  A group of radio hams in Chicago studied the strange transmissions.  Male and females voices speaking in polyglot mode and lyrical tones.  But it was not until 1959 that a Russian-born Swedish citizen radio and TV producer and film maker Frederich Jurgenson noticed intrusions on tape and commenced his own systematic study.  A disturbing fact soon emerged.  The voices zeroed in onto the Swede, addressing him by name, revealing a knowledge of his thoughts and actions and claiming to be the voices of deceased friends and acquaintances.  The news spread rapidly.  And soon, experimenters and scientists all over the world were attempting to duplicate Jurgenson’s work. Prominent among them was the Latvian Psychologist, Konstantin Raudive.  The effect on parapsychologists was dramatic, accustomed to investigating the blind forces of the poltergeist and endless and somewhat boring card and dice…experiments that were confronted at once with living voices, which answered back.  Speech being a mark of intelligence and a highly structured artifact.  Taken by surprise, the British Parapsychologists, without conducting experiments, rejected the objectivity of the voices, explaining them as breakthrough from taxis, police messages, or simply mechanical noises in the tape recorder.  But their European counterparts were more cautious and possibly, with greater technical resources, they soon found out that they were indeed confronted with voices of unknown origin on tape. Voices which were human-like but exhibiting odd characteristics, like constructing a sentence from the elements of one or more languages, impinging on a regular broadcast and by a strange process of metamorphosis twisting the words of the speaker to suit their purposes and messages.  The entrances were strangely lyrical and musical but compressed and truncated.  Rigorous economy with words and the free use of kind words was common with the so called neologisms. But like all paranormal phenomenon, the voices came and went unpredictably. If the investigator probed too closely as to their source, they seemed as though they broke contact and left him stranded.  This is known as the decline effect in psychical research.  It is as though there are barriers and constraints against full contact and confrontation.  It may be argued that a study of the voices on tape of nonhuman origin contributes nothing to our survival biologically and that our central apparatus needs to be closely focused on material affairs to ensure our economic and planetary survival.  The voices may be a mutant development of some remote corner of the subconscious mind or a transient by-product of the electromagnetic pollution which now rings our planet and presses outward into space.  Or then again, the voices may herald the first tentative contact with intelligences from a parallel world, who occasionally, when conditions are right and are at the interface of two separate realities, reach out to us, manipulating electronic apparatus-energies at present unknown to us.  Studying our languages, probing our minds, or presenting us, in many cases, with what we want to hear or what they imagine we expect to hear.  Between 1973 and 1977, I was situated in a so called window area, an area in a city with a high electromagnetic flux.   Nearby, a mass x-ray center, a radio hot-spot, and utilizing an ordinary receiver tuned to the aircraft band, I was able to record, when atmospheric conditions were favorable, male and female voices of unknown origin, which occasionally addressed me by name.  It has also been suggested that the radio receiver in use  suffered from RF breakthrough, allowing foreign material to by-pass the tune circuits.  All in all, a highly complex combination of factors, which unfortunately changed but then allowed brief contact with another reality.  That contact has now ceased.  But then my attention is once again directed toward more mundane activities: my profession, politics and science…and wine, women, and song….”.