Telephone Calls (Paranormal)
The extraordinary claimed phenomenon of telephone calls
from the dead, one of a variety of new forms of contact with the
dead using modern technology, was raised by parapsychologists
D. Scott Rogo and Raymond Bayless in their 1979 book
Phone Calls From the Dead. Their research had been stimulated
by a report in the September 1976 Fate Magazine from Don B.
Owens of Toledo, Ohio, concerning his close friend Lee Epps.
They had lived in the same neighborhood for years before Lee
moved away and their contact became limited to occasional
meetings or telephone calls.
On October 26, 1968 at 1030 P.M., Don’s wife Ethel answered
a telephone call and immediately recognized the voice
as that of Lee. He said ‘‘Sis, tell Don I’m feeling real bad.
Never felt this way before. Tell him to get in touch with me the
minute he comes in. It’s important, Sis.’’ Ethel tried to ring him
back but got no answer; neither did Don when he came in. That
evening Don learned that Lee was in a coma in hospital, six
blocks from their home and died at 1030 P.M. It would have
been impossible for Lee to have made the call himself in his
condition, yet Ethel had immediately recognized his voice.
Although this case was purely anecdotal, without firm supporting
evidence, Rogo and Bayless were sufficiently intrigued
to follow up the phenomenon of ‘‘phone calls from the dead.’’
After collecting a few cases, they wrote an article in the October
1977 issue of Fate Magazine titled ‘‘Phone Calls from the
Dead’’ More cases came to hand and led to a two-year investigation
of the claimed phenomenon. It proved peculiarly difficult
to establish in a manner acceptable to the present standards
of psychical research, since the accounts dealt with
spontaneous events, usually without the opportunity of rigid
factual verification. Moreover, it was difficult to rule out coincidental
hoaxes. Rogo and Bayless concluded, however, that such
paranormal phone calls actually did occur and might even be
more common than supposed.
A satisfactory theory to explain such cases presents difficulties.
On the face of things, if one grants that mediumistic communication
is possible through a trumpet at Spiritualist séances,
or even by direct voice, the use of a telephone earpiece
is hardly more far-fetched, but the prior ringing of the telephone
announcing a call is another matter. Is there an actual
PK manipulation of the telephone apparatus, or are the ringing
tone and the voices actually in the subject’s mind Many individuals
have experienced the hallucination of ‘‘phantom
bells’’ when they think they hear a door bell or a telephone
ringing but find no one there.
In some of the cases examined by Rogo and Bayless, it
seemed that the call was placed in a normal way through an exchange
that caused the phone to ring. In other cases the phone
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Telephone Calls (Paranormal)
calls appeared to be placed through long-distance operators.
Some subjects reported hearing the familiar ‘‘click’’ at the end
of the call as the communicator apparently hung up. Rogo and
Bayless suggested PK-mediated electromagnetic effects and
discussed the possible relevance to the related phenomenon of
Raudive voices or electronic voice phenomenon.
Rogo, D. Scott, and Raymond Bayless. Phone Calls From the
Dead. Englewood Cliff, N.J. Prentice-Hall, 1979.