SkepticblogSkepticblog logo banner

top navigation:

Armchair Skeptics

by Steven Novella, Mar 01 2010

I am often asked if skeptics and skeptical organizations should undertake first-hand investigations. Of course, it depends upon what your goals are. But I think the question can be re-phrased to mean – is there any value or benefit to first hand investigation, and to this the answer is a definite “yes.”

But this is not to denigrate the value of skeptical review from the comfort of your computer chair. This kind of activity has sometimes been referred to as “armchair skepticism” – meant to be derogatory. While I see the value in going out into the field, armchair skepticism has a valuable and complementary role to play.

In fact, these two activities mirror what real scientists do, and are roughly analogous to peer-review vs experimental replication.

Armchair Skepticism

The community of scientists keep each other honest, and keep the process of science grinding forward, in various ways – only one of which is going into the lab to replicate a study or do follow up research. When a colleague publishes a paper, or presents a paper at a meeting, his colleagues provide analysis and criticism. Ideas are examined for logic, internal consistency, and plausibility. Other options, perhaps neglected by the researcher, are explored. And existing research, perhaps not taken into account by the researcher, is brought up and discussed.

This feedback is provided without ever doing any actual investigation. When skeptics perform the exact same service to paranormal or fringe claims, this should not be denigrated at all, but seen as providing in our area of expertise the same kind of analysis that scientists provide in theirs.

This “peer-review” takes several forms. First, the term “peer-review” is often used to refer to the formal process of reviewing a paper that has been submitted for publication. I am not referring to this formal peer-review (which I do not think has any analogy in skeptical activity), but rather to the informal peer-review that collectively refers to all the efforts of the scientific community to hammer errors and flaws out of scientific thinking.

Informal peer-review has various manifestations, all of which have analogies in skeptical activism. For example, scientists will often dissect a specific published paper, analyzing it for weaknesses of methodology, strength of the outcome, how well the authors interpret their own findings, and putting it into the context of plausibility and other published research. This analysis may be published as a letter or commentary in the same journal as the original study, or incorporated into a talk at a meeting. Skeptics will often do the exact same thing, but these days published as a blog or article in the skeptical literature.

Scientists will also publish systematic reviews or topic reviews, reviewing all the published evidence and arriving at a bottom-line assessment of the state of the science. Skeptics do this as well. This activity does involve “research,” but not laboratory or field research – rather it involves researching the literature. It is getting easier and more viable to perform this activity sitting in front of a computer with internet access, as there are online libraries of published research, and many journals and news outlets have online versions.

Depending upon the topic and the depth of one’s investigation, it may be necessary to venture into a physical library, but this is getting less and less necessary. This is the level of research one would do when writing a book, but not for a daily blog post.

Armchair skeptics therefore provide a valuable service, similar to the activity of working scientists. We can analyze specific claims, topics, or published research for quality, plausibility, and historical and scientific context. We can then tailor our writing to communicate with our colleagues, the public, or both simultaneously. We can also provide reference material (like The Skeptic’s Dictionary), which fills the role of a science textbook or reference website.

Skeptical Investigation

While I am a strong advocate of armchair skepticism, if you have the opportunity to go into the field and do first-hand investigation, you will likely find the experience very illuminating. Theory and book-learning does only go so far, and there are aspects to paranormal investigations that you would simply not imagine until you are there to see it first hand.

I and my colleagues have performed a number of investigations – mostly haunted houses, but also EVP, channelers, exorcism, and psychics. Most of these were with other (less-than-skeptical) groups. What was always very striking was how unimpressive the paranormal investigators or claimants were. We always gave them more credit than they deserved, and were surprised at how easy it was to analyze their evidence.

For example, when we investigated a channeler in Connecticut who claimed to channel the 600 year old spirit of a man from Nepal, I was prepared to have the Nepalese analyzed to see if it was modern or appropriate to the claimed time period. However, the channeler did not speak any dialect spoken in Nepal, just English with a cheesy regional accent (it sounded Indian to me).

We also went on an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recording session with some local ghost-hunters. EVP is basically an exercise in audio pareidolia – listen to static long enough and you will make out words. We sat in the attic of an allegedly haunted restaurant. Even though it was relatively quiet in the location, I was struck by how much background noise there was. When you listen carefully, you can hear voices in the street, the rumblings of any building, and blowing of the fan, and other noises of unclear source. It was far more noisy than I had anticipated, providing a rich source of raw material for later imaginative listening.

I also actually sat through hours of recorded exorcisms. This is not an activity I am eager to repeat, but it certainly gave me a more thorough perspective on what goes on in such exorcisms – basically nothing. They are incredibly boring non-events.

I will also relay the experience of Susan Blackmore, a former ESP researcher who eventually gave up ESP research as fruitless. She noted that there is only so much you can infer about the quality of another researcher’s methodology from the published report. When you actually go into their lab and examine the methods first hand, you get a much better idea of the quality, and may identify flaws that were not apparent from the published description.

And of course, Joe Nickell, who does investigations full time, has many tales of paranormal claims and stories that could not be definitively resolved without on-the-site investigation.


Both armchair skepticism and first-hand investigation are important to skeptical activism. They are complementary, each filling different needs. Both also are analogous to activity that working scientists perform in the process of peer-review, new investigations, and replicating previous research.

In the last decade or so I feel that the skeptical community has honed its ability to perform meaningful peer-review of paranormal claims, and communicate the results of that review to the public. It is also my sense that our overall activism would benefit from increased efforts to perform more first hand investigations.

I would even go beyond replicating the typical haunted house investigation, and do some real hypothesis testing. This of course takes time and resources, but would be well worth it.

34 Responses to “Armchair Skeptics”

  1. Sc00ter says:

    I agree, even if it’s to do research and give a presentation at a Skeptics in the Pub meeting. That’s a very different experience than writing blog posts on the web. But the important thing is to do your research and be professional.

    Granite State Skeptics did a haunted house investigation on Halloween last year and while it was a success, there were a lot of things I would have done different looking back on it. That’s to be expected of course, but the resources are limited. There’s tons of woo books on how to do investigations but nothing really scientific or skeptical that’s easy to find. But we got press, good information, and exposure to the public.

  2. Akusai says:

    I, too, am in full agreement. I do armchair skepticism regularly, but the Lafayette Skeptics are looking for ways to involve ourselves in more active claim-testing. We’re likely going to visit Camp Chesterfield this spring or summer, and we’ve been mulling over this idea I’ve had forever of testing the effect of preconception on ghost sightings: basically, find some small number of historical houses willing to let you run your tests, half of which are “haunted,” and run tour groups through, some under the impression that it’s just an old house, and some who are given a story about a haunting before the tour. I’d really love to see what falls out of that, but, like Steve said, it takes time and resources.

  3. This is a great piece, and I agree that archival sleuthing and critical analysis are among the valuable ways in which skeptics may contribute.

    But I’d emphasize a further distinction here, between finding things out and half-baked punditry. The kind of journalistic activities you describe here, searching databases and checking facts and so on, are still long, hard, elbow-grease processes. I do a lot of this kind of dusty-book-and-database investigation; as you know, it’s difficult, time-consuming, and frequently expensive. (Whether locating sources through searchable databases, stores, libraries, archives, or antique booksellers, it’s usually essential to seek out first-hand and original sources.)

    I realize the last thing you’d endorse would be the privileging of guessing over due diligence, but I worry that the “armchair” language could be a little misleading. Especially now, as so many “skepticism 2.0″ types are learning the ropes (and you are personally a key entry point for many) it’s important to underline that there’s no easy path. Skeptics work hard to solve mysteries.

    Even when armchair analysis is enough, opinions are best based upon a strong background of knowledge and experience. As in science or any academic discipline, practitioners should weigh their degree of certainty against their level of experience and the depth of their research. And, as you note, Nickell and others draw our attention to cases that simply could not be solved without old school, on site investigation.

  4. stargazer9915 says:

    Armchair skepticism is all most of us have the time and resources for. I know that I, along with probably many others would like to be able to go out there and do testing or research but just do not have that ability. Along with that, some of us, myself included at the top, do not have the necessary knowledge to do these things and that is why we read blogs and listen to podcasts, to gain some knowledge.

    In the future, more and more may be able to get out there and do the hard work. Until then, we will read and listen and rack our brains to try and leave slightly intelligent posts for the rest of our community to read.

    Off topic, I love it when Steve and others post on multiple sights because it gets the message out to more people.

    • Sc00ter says:

      “Off topic, I love it when Steve and others post on multiple sights because it gets the message out to more people.”

      I agree, I just wish there was a way to have a single comment stream for multiple sites with the same story. That would make the dialog a lot better I think.

  5. Somite says:

    Great article. Armchair skepticism can be as fruitful as skeptical investigations if done correctly and thoroughly. I see B. Dunning’s skeptoid as the best (mostly) of armchair skepticism and find it very valuable.

  6. Daniel – My point was that some have denigrated as armchair skepticism rigorous analysis or labor-intensive archival research, as if only first-hand investigation is of any value. That is where I disagree. And that is why I made an analogy to scientific behavior, which certainly should be rigorous.

    But you are correct to emphasize that this in no way excuses superficial or sloppy analysis. Skeptics especially have to avoid that, given the public and critical nature of our endeavors.

  7. Tom Foss says:

    I realize the last thing you’d endorse would be the privileging of guessing over due diligence, but I worry that the “armchair” language could be a little misleading.

    I generally agree, but I’m concerned about what falls into the category of “half-baked punditry” and “guessing.” Investigations are obviously the closest we have to a skeptical gold standard without getting into actual rigorous science, and doing secondhand research is a key component of any kind of skeptical evaluation.

    But there’s also a value in taking a claim and expressing initial, reasonable, justified doubt. If research-based blogging is “armchair skepticism,” then this is “off-the-cuff skepticism.” When someone tells me about some new factoid they’ve heard and I’m not in a position to research it then and there, I think it’s still valuable to say “I doubt that, and this is why.” If nothing else, it models the proper initial response to any extraordinary claim: initial doubt until sufficient, convincing evidence has been collected.

    Naturally, the follow-up to this should be good research or investigation, but I wouldn’t throw out this initial, reflexive doubt as punditry–and I don’t know that you are.

    Where many, especially those who are just starting out, go wrong is when supplementing this initial doubt with a similarly off-the-cuff explanation. It’s this kind of thing–automatically going to “swamp gas” or “venus” for UFOs, assuming that the Norwegian spiral was Photoshopped, etc.–that leads to ridicule and mischaracterization of skeptics by the credulous.

    • Akusai says:

      Agreed. This is why I say “I don’t know” pretty frequently. It’s silly to try to mount an explanation for a doubtful claim before you’ve really looked into it, and the burden of proof is not the skeptic’s anyway.

    • tmac57 says:

      I agree Tom, and lets be honest about something here: If someone you know approaches you with a claim that they “have a wonderful ‘homeopathic’ remedy, that ‘cured’ (X) ailment”.Is your 1st response going to be “thats great,I used to think homeopathy was nonsense, but now I think that I have to mount a new investigation to explain your positive result!”? Uhhh, not so much.
      I applaud investigators like Joe Nickell, who approach their investigations with as much of an unbiased approach as possible, but that is just unpractical for the average ‘Person Of Skeptical Temperament’ (copyright filed). Kudos to the activists out there doing the hard work that the rest of us can follow and decide whether it makes sense, and fits into our previous knowledge of how the world works. But the vast majority of ‘POST’s out here need to do a bit of ‘Ockham’s razoring’ and get on with our lives.

  8. Machine Elf says:

    Steven Novella wrote:

    “This feedback is provided without ever doing any actual investigation. When skeptics perform the exact same service to paranormal or fringe claims, this should not be denigrated at all, but seen as providing in our area of expertise the same kind of analysis that scientists provide in theirs.”

    Agreed, this sort of feedback should not be denigrated. Unfortunately, most of the time skeptics don’t offer this feedback, they just offer tired, uninformed speculation of their own. Post a story on Sheldrake’s ‘dog telepathy’ experiments, and you’ll get a bunch of comments from ‘skeptics’ rolling their eyes, noting that dogs hearing is especially sensitive and that this explains Sheldrake’s findings (though a cursory examination of the original paper, freely available on the internet, would show that this was controlled for). Phil ‘Bad Astronomy’ Plait told me directly that the Kenneth Arnold UFO incident was “now understood to have most likely been a fireball breaking up“, despite the fact that the objects traveled near-horizontally for almost three minutes (I have only ever seen this ‘explanation’ once, in a Phil Klass newsletter). I am currently writing an article about Martin Gardner’s “authoritative debunking” of the 19th century medium Leonora Piper, which is so badly researched that he gets dates wrong on no less than 3 occasions, let alone the more important facts of the case.

    *That’s* why skeptical opinion is often denigrated. If you’re going to claim to be the voice of rationalism, you need a lot more due diligence in getting facts right, *and self-criticism* in order to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, there’s probably a choice to be made between growing a flock as fast as possible, including every uninformed arrogant loudmouth, or being as harsh a critic of skeptical feedback as you are on paranormal claims, which would ensure better quality but would probably limit the size of the ‘skeptical movement’.

    And on a final note, if you do want to be taken seriously, don’t ever provide reference material “like The Skeptic’s Dictionary”, especially in saying it “fills the role of a science textbook or reference website”. The Skeptic’s Dictionary is a partisan piece of hack writing, and is an embarrassment to ‘skepticism’. You should probably put it first on your list of things to self-critique.

    • tmac57 says:

      Machine Elf, do you believe that some ‘mediums’ can communicate with the dead, that some UFO’s are possibly aliens visiting Earth, or that dogs may have telepathy? Or are these just examples of things that you think have not really been explained yet?

      • Machine Elf says:

        Hi Tmac57,

        I believe none of the above, but neither do I disbelieve them. I have seen and heard some interesting testimony to suggest something could be happening with all three (and that may not necessarily involve the three things you mention – e.g. mediumistic ‘talents’ might be telepathy, not talking to the dead, UFOs may be some natural phenomenon we don’t understand yet etc – at least enough to warrant further research/testing.

        But even if I did “believe” it wouldn’t make a lick of difference to the criticisms in my first post, which stand regardless of my own viewpoint.

  9. Robo Sapien says:

    Then you have ordinary people like me whose critical analysis skills end with “sounds like some BS to me” .. Where do we fit in?

  10. An excellent post, Steve. I see you were inspired by our Monster Talk interview last week. ;)

  11. What’s the opposite of Armchair Skeptic? Dorito Stained Finger Couch Potato Tinfoiler.

    I kill me.

  12. James says:

    Good post Steve. I am a very skeptical paranormal investigator in the southwest and I specialize in obtaining EVP evidence on cases. Our group is very active and I have been an investigator since 2004.

    On your comments on EVP I can tell you that it is a real phenomena and we have several samples on our site of very clear paranormal voices that are not the awful stuff you usually hear on the internet.

    I recorded a three voice EVP response to one of my questions at the Birdcage Theatre in Tombstone, AZ in 2007 during a controlled investigation. There were two recorders abot 15 feet apart pointed at the same location in the basement. One recorder had the voices on audio while the other did not. I have a great deal of success in EVP due to the number of recording devices I use. I place at least 2 recorders in each room of a building. If both recorders in that room pick up a voice then it is dismissed. This method can help verify if the EVP is authentic as well. We employ tightly controlled EVP sessions to try and obtain evidence.

    EVP is real but it is being abused as evidence by both investigators and by paranoromal television shows. But I understand why many people dismiss it until they start capturing EVP on audio for themselves.

    But what is EVP? No one and I mean no one knows for sure where it comes from and how it is created. We just have theories…..

    My other job is to try and debunk claims of a haunting. In the six years I have been investigating, we have been able to explain or debunk about 95 percent of all cases. However, there have been a handful of cases that we deemed as haunted or having paranormal activity present. Most of the these cases we debunked had extreme amounts of EMF contamination present that might have contributed to the feeling that the person was having a paranormal experience.


    • EVP is most likely a result of compression, noise, distortion and audio recording devices with poor microphones being used outside of their designed purpose.

    • Max says:

      “I place at least 2 recorders in each room of a building. If both recorders in that room pick up a voice then it is dismissed.”

      That’s counterintuitive. Shouldn’t you dismiss voices recorded by only one recorder?

      • Well, you’ll hear a voice right after you run a few filters through the audio. Reverse it. Reverse it again. Reverse it again to be sure. Throw some noise at it. Clean it up again. Flip it over and scratch it’s belly and finally….reverse it once more for good measure.

        Seriously, if an audio recorder can pick up “voices,” then you should really be able to hear them with your own ears. Audio recorders aren’t magic. They’re….audio recorders.

        I just have major issues with the entire concept of EVPs. I find it increasingly frustrating that people will hold a cheap dictaphone and get voices form the “other side.” Meanwhile, others can walk around with broadcast equipment running modified pre-amps that will capture a bee fart with the utmost of noise and still not get a single “boo.”

        Ever wondered why you don’t watch a movie in the cinema and have it plagued with EVPs?

      • Max says:

        The purpose of using two recorders should be to make sure they both pick up the same pattern. If they only record random noise, they’re not likely to show the same pattern.

  13. James,

    No one doubt that you will get sounds that seem like voices when you record in an empty room. The question is – what are the sounds.

    The best interpretation, in my opinion, is that they are either extraneous sounds (like street noise) or that they are random noise producing audio paradolia. Our brains will try to make sense of random stimuli, and will make a closest match when possible, so random sounds are interpreted by our brains as speech.

    This is a sufficient explanation for existing evidence. It is the equivalent of seeing a face in a splotch on a photo.

    But I would be happy to review what you consider compelling evidence if you link to it.

  14. RE: Armchair Skepticism vs. Neo-Darwinism!?

    The community of scientists keep each other honest, and keep the process of science grinding forward, in various ways – only one of which is going into the lab to replicate a study or do follow up research. When a colleague publishes a paper, or presents a paper at a meeting, his colleagues provide analysis and criticism. Ideas are examined for logic, internal consistency, and plausibility. Other options, perhaps neglected by the researcher, are explored. And existing research, perhaps not taken into account by the researcher, is brought up and discussed.

    This feedback is provided without ever doing any actual investigation. When skeptics perform the exact same service to paranormal or fringe claims, this should not be denigrated at all, but seen as providing in our area of expertise the same kind of analysis that scientists provide in theirs.

    I think your definition of skeptics and scientists certainly doesn’t apply to those neo-Darwinists extraordinaire of the 20th century, whom I recently identified here: “Classical Darwinism vs. neo-Darwinism: What Fodor, et al got wrong!?” (GuardianUK; February 14); and whom Daniel Loxton has also encountered here: “The Standard Pablum” (SkepticblogUSA; March 2)!?

    Best wishes, Mong 3/4/10usct2:30p; practical science-philosophy critic and author.

  15. BKsea says:

    A great post. An equally valid corollary would be the importance of investigators engaging in armchair skepticism. Listening to the arguments of skeptics and making skeptical arguments oneself does wonders to make one a better investigator/researcher. If some of these shoddy “investigators” were better at critical thinking, they might be able to obtain and present more credible evidence. However, the experience of Susan Blackmore that you relay in your post is more likely – the critically thinking investigator will more likely see the holes in their beliefs.

  16. James says:

    Hi Steve,

    Here is a multiple response EVP I was talking about. Click on the link above. This changed my belief system about EVP’s altogether. You will hear me ask a question about “Soiled Doves” then two EVP voices commenting talking over each other and at the end of the clip a very loud EVP voice that says “None!”

    I had two ICD digital recorders situated in the basement positioned on the guard rails pointed at the high stakes poker tables. This was also the location of the bordello in the old days of Wyatt Earp and friends. We were on the main floor. There were 4 investigators at a table and I was near the entrance of the museum monitoring everything with a shotgun microphone with headphones. The reason you hear my voice so clear is there was a wire mesh window leading from the main floor that drops down into the small basement. I was about 50 feet or so away from the basement. The Birdcage Theatre is very tiny. The caretaker of the place was in the entry foyer in the front of the building in his office. Without him knowing, I placed a hidden digital recorder by his door in case he left without us knowing if he tried to fake anything. He never left the office without us being there.

    Just remember when you hear this is that it is not filtered and there are actually 4 EVP voices instead of 3 on this clip. But since very few people can hear it we did not include it when we released it to the public.

    Why is this good evidence? If this was a hoaxed EVP by a person, the other recorder would have captured these sounds. Both recorders were on the guard rail pointed at the same location. The control recorder captured no voices and it was not tampered with. I was stunned when this realization hit me. Forgive the quality of the recording, we are not allowed to filter EVP’s. ICD recorders are great for picking up EVP but the sound quality leaves alot to be desired.

    To Jose: I agree with most of what you are saying. But most of the EVP evidence we display to the public are voices that we have captured. Clear voices. Not the stuff you hear on paranormal shows. Here is another clip to listen to. We have been investigating this place for 5 years. Do you hear the ” Favorite Place” EVP voice? There was only myself and my director in this home the entire night. The owners were out of state. We were conducting audio and video experiments in a active location that night.

    To Max:

    I place at least 2 recorders in each room of a typical home to capture outside noises coming into the building. One recorder acts as a control. Usually by the window. If a voice is captured on both recorders chances are it is a human voice, not an EVP. A true EVP is never heard in real time. We control the environment in the structure. We check all doors and windows to insure they are secured before these EVP sessions. We have trained monitors listening for natural sounds in the environment as well during EVP sessions.


    • Max says:

      If you put two recorders next to each other, shouldn’t they both record the same thing? Why would the EVP prefer one recorder over the other? A pattern captured by only one recorder is likely to be random noise unique to that recorder.

      Do you turn off your cell phones?

  17. James says:

    Hi Max

    The truth is we don’t know why EVP only is captured on one recorder. Plenty of theories though. One is that EVP voices are imprinted on to the recording device by some sort of unknown force. Some believe that the phenomena itself does it by psychokinesis. Another theory is that EVP are tiny EMF fields that are captured on recording devices created inside the external microphone. So many theories…

    I can only speak up for my own evidence. I have been investigating with the same team since 2004. I first thought the EVP was imprintation of sounds by the brain on to the recording devices until I recorded that EVP at the Birdcage Theatre that I posted here. Plus, I went almost 14 months without capturing an EVP during investigations. If my brain was causing or creating EVP’s or someone in my group was, why was it so long before I captured an EVP? We perform about 3 investigations a month on average. Most of them are private homes or business locations. Clients contacting us through our website. We are always busy! LOL!

    It is a fascinating field to study and participate in. It is a real phenomena. We look at the interactive EVP answers to the questions asked during EVP sessions as the best evidence.

    To answer your question about cell phones. Yes, we turn them off before the investigations. You have to be careful with the EMF meters too. Most of them can be affected and give false positive readings from nearby cell phone towers. Cell phone calls can ping off of a nearby tower and acutally spike a single axis EMF meter. Such as the type they use on several paranormal shows.


    • What brand/model audio recorders do you use?

      • James says:

        I use all types from high end to low end recorders. The IC pocket recorders from Sony are great for capturing EVP. The only drawback is that they have only HQ as their best recording mode while Olympus has XHQ modes for better sound quality. But I prefer Olympus VN-41 series. I have had great success with these.

        But any recorder will do. I do not use cassette. Just digital.

        I think the technique you use is the most important thing to think about when you capture EVP. The more recorders you use the better chance you have in capturing them.

        I use 10 to 15 recorders on a typical investigation. At least 2 per each room. One is always a control recorder.

        I also use external microphones for better sound quality if I capture one. The dynamic, omni directional microphones are great and they do not require batteries. The thinking here is that if you cover the entire building with an audio net, if audio phenomena responds, we will capture it. We have found that this is usually the best way to tell if there is something paranormal going on in any given location.

        Example: We recently completed an investigation where workers reported seeing the constant apparition of a small child in their construction/work area. We conducted an investigation and did not pick up anything on video but we captured the very strong voice of a child on one of my recorders. We had recorders packed into that work area. It was not a voice from the natural environment.

        The EVP was captured on only one recorder. We are planning to go back there soon.


      • Max says:

        Do you capture more EVP with higher quality recordings than with lower quality?

      • James says:

        Actually, more with the midrange priced ones. The VN-4100’s when I bought them were about $45 to $50 bucks a piece. The Sony ICD pocket recorders I purchased brand new for about $60.00 to $70.00 a piece. You should try and get one that has a minimum of 44.1 KH which is CD quality type sound. The real cheap recorders can easily pick up stray radio RF.

        There is a theory that the ICD recorders have transistors that act like the old V-tubes in the reel to reel recorders in the 1970’s. EVP’s seem to have had an upsurge when the the reel to reel recorders were heavily in use. When they went away, EVP was captured less and less.

        Now I have no way of knowing if this is true or not. Just another theory to add to the pile.

        Most of the EVP’s I get I throw away. However, I have had several full voice EVP’s that were very clear, but most importantly, they were intelligent responses to the questions asked in the EVP session by the investigator.

        We don’t use those fraudulent ghost boxes either.

      • Max says:

        I wonder if the recordings are compressed, so what you’re hearing is not noise, but compression artifacts, sort of like jpeg artifacts in photos. If that’s the case, I’d expect higher compression to produce more artifacts.