Don Philips Plays The Science Game. Loses.

According to Mike Lockley of the Birmingham Mail, paranormal researcher Don Philips ‘has allowed scientists to pore over his unique talents and emerged with reputation untarnished.’ When I read this I had to do a double take – readers of my blog may be familiar with the issues I have with Don Philips and his research methods, so to discover he had worked with scientists to prove his abilities once and for all was news to me and my skeptic senses started tingling straight away.

I contacted Professor Chris French from the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths because I assumed it would be Professor French that this had happened with considering that Philips has been on investigations alongside Chris in the past, but he knew nothing about it. It turns out that this reference to allowing scientists to ‘pore over his unique talents’ may be reference to Steve Mera whom Philips has recently started to work alongside.

Further in the Birmingham Mail article Mike Lockley explains that Philips uses audio recordings to capture evidence of ghosts and explains that ‘Among believers, the activity is dubbed Electronic Voice Phenomena. Among non-believers, it is pareidolia – presented with a wall of incoherent noise, the brain will scramble the cackles and hisses into words.’

According the article Steve Mera has been able to discount that the recordings Philips provides as evidence are pareidolia. He is quoted as saying

“We’ve played Don’s tape to three people and they’ve picked out the same name. With pareidolia, they should all hear different words.”

Um. Nope.

ducking shaking its head gif

It’s great that there has been an attempt to use a control here by asking a (albeit small) sample of people to listen to the recording to gather their independent opinions of what the recording is but this doesn’t mean anything. I play samples of EVPs in the talks I deliver to the general public all the time and the hundreds of people who have sat and listened to these clips in my talk often hear similar things said in the recordings but this is not evidence that these recordings are made by ghosts.

They are not made by ghosts and there is a very good chance that the recordings are a product of external interference from broadcast sources such as radio transmissions, walkie talkies, wireless baby monitors and similar devices.

To suggest that three people hearing the same thing in an EVP recording is evidence that the recording is not a result of the pareidolia effect is quite odd really and it certainly isn’t scientific. Not to mention the pareidolia effect doesn’t make people interpret things differently than others. If the recording follows a specific speech pattern or sound pattern then it isn’t difficult to see how three people could hear the same thing.

Below is an example of one of the EVP clips I often use in my public talks. Give it a listen:

The hundreds of people who listen to this alleged EVP recording tell me that they hear some of the following things:

Just give it to me
Where is Timmy?
Just listen to me

Does this mean that this clip is a ghost saying one of these things? No, there is no way that I can rule out any of the possible rational causes for the recording and I find it very hard to believe that this has been possible for the clips that Don Philips records and presents as evidence. By all means allow scientists to examine your evidence and use a scientific approach to your research, but claiming that EVP isn’t pareidolia or caused by external interference? Please… change the record.

Published by

Hayley Stevens

Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

12 thoughts on “Don Philips Plays The Science Game. Loses.”

  1. Hello Hayley, please feel free to discuss the matter with me in regards my involvement with Mr. Philips. Also, I believe the newspaper misquoted me… Nothing new there though! lol.
    Thanks.
    Steve. 🙂

  2. Hi Hayley, still going through all the paperwork, and lots more tests to carry out… Look forward to catting with you in Scotland. Please seek me out as I’ know I’m going to be busy whilst I’m there. I can certain explain in a more broader fashion… 🙂

    Steve 🙂

  3. If it’s pareidolia, why would the three people who heard the recording necessarily hear the same voice, Steve? I don’t understand that. Don produces nothing more than standard EVP. Out of interest, does he use the same piece of equipment every time? Does it record apparently audible speech when just left to run, without asking questions? Personally, Steve, I would be worried if Don is hyping you up as a ‘scientist’. It’s quite a misrepresentation.

  4. Im sure Steve will agree that wont be a problem Hayley, when the current project has ended experiments replicated, and data collated all information wll be freely available. to you and anyone else.

  5. Hi Trystan. Thanks for your concern, however Don is not referring to me… as I have had no prior involvement with him, nor am I a scientist lol. In fact, I’m unsure as to what the reporter was referring to… I assume it was something that may have taken place some time back, for which I have no knowledge about. Sorry you cannot make the event Hayley, I was looking forward to chatting with you. I will of course provide all the data on any findings once completed. 🙂

  6. Just to point something out, Don has not at any stage referred to anyone as a scientist, in connection to this project but yes all data will be made available to any scientist or anyone else when the project is complete as already stated. Neither was it me making such comment in reference to anyone (quote) ” According to (Mike Lockley) of the Birmingham Mail, paranormal researcher Don Philips ‘has allowed scientists to pore over his unique talents and emerged with reputation untarnished.” Emphasis being on Mike & not “Don said” or “according to Don”.

  7. Out of interest, does he use the same piece of equipment every time?

    No

    Does it record apparently audible speech when just left to run, without asking questions?

    sometimes

    Personally, Steve, I would be worried if Don is hyping you up as a ‘scientist’. It’s quite a misrepresentation.

    Then you shouldn’t worry & I would agree with that also but as this is not the case then has no need to worry either. Thanks for your concerns though Tristaian, misrepresentation never a good thing.

  8. Any further questions anyone may have relating to details of the project / set up or associated experiments will now have to wait until completion of the project in order they can be answered based upon the collected data and results, as Im sure you will appreciate these things cannot be rushed and must be presented in their entirety.

  9. Sooooooo, Dooooon, even though you’re now doing the head burying, you’ve admitted your equipment picks up ‘voices’ when left to run by itself. Doesn’t that suggest something like the urgent need to conduct an experiment with controls? *face palm*

    Remember, there’s a big 1m dollars waiting for you with that dull old beardy American guy.

  10. I am really confused now, who are the scientists involved…..?? Shouldn’t the newspaper retract that comment….its very misleading. Is it a tabloid type newspaper?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *