Raudive, Konstantin (1909-1974)

views updated

Raudive, Konstantin (1909-1974)

Latvian psychologist and parapsychologist who spent many years investigating electronic voice phenomenon, involving electronic tape recordings of voices allegedly belonging to dead individuals, which has been popularly known as Raudive voices. His surname is pronounced "Row-dee-vay." Born in Uppsala, Sweden, on April 30, 1909, he studied psychology in Switzerland, Germany, and England. For some time he was a teacher at the University of Riga and also edited a Latvian newspaper. In Switzerland he had studied psychology under Carl Jung and was also a pupil of the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset. He left Latvia when the Soviet Army invaded the Baltic and absorbed Latvia in 1945. With his wife, Dr. Zenta Maurina, he lived for a time in Sweden, later moving to Bad Kroningen, Germany, near the border with Switzerland.

It was during his period in Sweden in 1965 that Raudive met Friedrich Jürgenson who had pioneered the study of paranormal voice recordings. In 1959, Jürgenson tape-recorded a Swedish finch, and on playback he heard what appeared to be a human voice in addition to the bird. He thought there must be some fault in the apparatus, but subsequent recordings contained a message which seemed to be recognizably from his dead mother. Jürgenson described his experiments in his book Rösterna frå;n Rymden (Voices From Space), published in Sweden in 1964. Prior to Jürgenson, Raymond Bayless had reported such phenomena. Raudive published an account of his research in 1968.

Starting in 1965, Raudive and his wife devoted themselves to investigating this phenomenon of paranormal voices manifesting on tape recordings, later assisted by Swiss physicist Alex Schneider and various engineers. Other scientists and parapsychologists who investigated the electronic voice phenomenon included Professor Hans Bender of the University of Freiburg, Germany, and Dr. Friedebert Karger of the Max Planck Institute in Munich. After 1969, differences of opinion arose between Jürgenson and Raudive, and thereafter they conducted their research independently.

Essentially the electronic voice phenomenon consists of paranormal voice communications (apparently from dead individuals) manifesting on recordings made on a standard tape recorder (sometimes enhanced by a simple diode circuit). The voices are also apparent on the "white noise" of certain radio bands.

The communications are usually fragmentary and ambiguous, rather like those produced by a ouija board, and need considerable amplification. The voices are sometimes in a mixture of different languages, rather like scrambled radio bands, but in many cases they appear to be recognizably from persons known to the experimenters during their lifetimes. They comment on the experimenters or convey cryptic messages in a kind of terse, disjointed telegram style. So far no communications appear to indicate high intelligence and seem relatively trivial.

Various explanations of the voices have been suggested. They may be sounds relayed back to earth from other planets by some unknown natural phenomenon or a potpourri of ordinary radio communications. Some skeptics think the voices may be imaginary, since listening to amplified electronics static and hum may suggest voices that do not really exist. Another theory is that the voices come from the subconscious of the experimenters, impressed on the tapes like the thought-forms of psychic photography.

Against such theories and criticisms, a number of highly qualified researchers have conducted and analyzed thousands of careful experiments which lead them to suggest that some of these recordings are of paranormal voices, and voice prints of communications purporting to be from the same source show matching patterns.

In June 1970, David Ellis, a Cambridge graduate, had been elected to the Perrott-Warrick Studentship which grants aid to conduct psychic research. He studied a selection of Raudive tapes in 1970. In his 1978 book, his findings were largely skeptical, and he believed that on occasion Raudive may have mistaken fragments of foreign language broadcasts for paranormal voice communications. However, Ellis was inclined to believe some of the voices might be paranormal, but their faintness and the background noise prevented positive identification.

Raudive died September 2, 1974, and his widow Dr. Zenta Maurina-Raudive published a tribute to his work. After his death, controversy arose on the question of archive storage and availability for study of the Raudive Collection, which the Society for Psychical Research expressed willingness to house.


Bander, Peter. Carry On Talking: How Dead are the Voices? London: Colin Smythe, 1972. Reprinted as Voices from the Tapes. New York: Drake Publishers, 1973.

Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York: Paragon House, 1991.

Ellis, David J. The Mediumship of the Tape Recorded. West Essex, UK: The Author, 1978.

Maurina-Raudive, Zenta, ed. Konstantin Raudive zum Gedaechtnis. München: Maximilian Dietrich Verlag, 1975.

Ostrander, Sheila, and Lynn Schroeder. Handbook of Psi Discoveries. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1974. Reprint, New York: Berkeley Publishing, 1975. Reprint, London: Abacus,1977.

Raudive, Konstantin. Unhörbares Wird Hörbar (The Inaudible Made Audible). N.p., 1968. English edition as Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead. Translated by Peter Bander. New York: Taplinger, 1971.