Home » hum research » Conducting serious science through the fog of garbage science and conspiracy

Conducting serious science through the fog of garbage science and conspiracy

Follow World Hum Map and Database Project on WordPress.com
Follow World Hum Map and Database Project on WordPress.com

Conducting serious science into the Hum phenomenon presents a number of obstacles. One concern is that, at this stage, it is self-reported and anecdotal; there is no external metric or device that measures it. Moreover, from reading the personal accounts on the World Hum Database and Mapping Project, there is reason to believe that in some cases, we may not even be discussing the same dependent variable. Sadly, beyond the light-hearted and “kooky” treatments given to the topic in most major media, some of the commentary on the topic raises questions surrounding the writer. Some of the media attention and pseudo-science on this and related bioacoustic issues has been, in my view, damaging to legitimate scientific inquiry.

For example, former Minnesota Governor Jessie Ventura, on his show “Conspiracy Theory”, explores the claims of “TIs” – “Targeted Individuals” – people who claim that rogue elements in the government are sending microwaves to specific individuals, causing them to hear voices and drive them crazy.  The TIs are convinced that they have been targeted because they have complained to or about their local and federal governments. The show included the mandatory “Colonel X” -type figure in a white van who gave cryptic riddles and clues for the “investigators”. Ultimately, GWEN towers and microwaves were fingered as the culprit. After watching the show, I summarized it as “pseudo-scientific reality theatre”. Extracting useful science or analysis from it was completely hopeless. The damage done is the same as that done by the reality show “ghost hunters” with their array of impressive-looking instruments and deadly-serious banter. The uneducated but interested viewer is left with the impression that surely there must be something to it. The well-intentioned viewer is left actually knowing less about science than before watching the show. Had anyone asked for my specific scientific concerns regarding the show, I would have anguished over how to even organize my response. (Incidentally, the irony of course is that a thin sheet of foil will block microwave frequencies. If microwaves were indeed a prerequisite for the Hum, I wonder why there have been few reports of success of the use of such material.)

Alas, science education does not comprise repeating the claims of others, it comprises learning the tools to evaluate the claims of others. Those tools are given a sharp edge by doing the homework; that is, actually learning the scientific basics. But that can be challenging and tedious and time consuming. It’s certainly more of a job than watching a television show and then passing on sketchy information. As a personal example, I’m still learning enough radio theory to understand what some authors are even talking about. Partway through that I came up with the idea of using mild steel for conducting the “Deming Box” experiment (still waiting for an electrical radio engineer to confirm my physics) . Some of it’s difficult.

As a teacher of psychology, I need no reminders of the social dangers attached to claiming that one can hear/sense things that the vast majority of the population cannot.  It is little surprise that few serious scientists have had the courage, without funding, to conduct formal research into the Hum. Even when governmental action is taken, such as in Kokomo, Hueytown, or Windsor, Ontario, the problem is approached as a noise complaint, followed by predictable types of acoustic measurements and diffuse results. And people move on until the next microburst of media attention.

And the Hum continues. Around the world.


  1. Dan says:

    Well said. I am in total agreement with much of what you said. In regards to the being possibly labeled as schizophrenic or what have you, I have not shared this hum that I experience, with many people. NO ONE professional, thats for sure. I know for a fact this is real and physical.

  2. Ref interesting item “…..fog of garbage science….”
    Many thanks for that . It rather sums up my experience of hundreds of people I have come into contact with , regarding ‘The Hum’. It has been a perennial puzzle to assess what is happening to any one individual, when they ‘present’ with a disturbing effect : sadly, many clutch at straws, in order to try to rationalise what is happening to them. They will often point to a prominent feature such as a pylon, or drain cover, and even a wooden telegraph pole, as a culprit for their noise.
    I knew someone who thought they heard a Hum , but on investigation and home visits, and later correspondence, there was also paranoid schizophrenia involved, which caused the suffererer to decide that malign forces were targetting the sufferer….Auditory and visual hallucinations were described…… There was an acoustic hum, albeit very weak, but in my humble opinion, in that case, a spurious link was made.And without sophisticated equipment, we got no further. I only mention this as a small example of how difficult it is to determine cause and effect. That is why your Deming Box experiment will be so valuable : it’s what I’ve hoped for, for many years : established scientists to do some actual measurements, to show what’s going on.
    Maybe later on, my idea could possibly be attempted : take a known LFN source, measure the dominating frequency, move downwind a certain distance, say 100 yards, repeat the measurement, mover further away, and so on, to see how far a known tone’s frequency can travel.
    Is this feasible to attempt? If so, then a graph could be drawn, which might be helpful.
    Looking forward to results of the Deming Box Experiment .
    Many thanks. R.M., LFNSH, England.10 July, 2013.

  3. @Rosemarie Mann: If the person in your example was predisposed to detecting low frequency sounds, a combination of frequencies can produce higher harmonic frequencies which are interpreted by the brain not the ear (e.g. binaural beat frequencies), then the worrying possibility is that this person could have developed paranoid schizophrenia as a result of the hum. Your findings suggest that they weren’t imagining the hum!

    @Glen Macpherson: Has anyone looked into HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) as a possible culprit? The HAARP project has multiple sites around the world which uses extremely high energy high and low frequency sound waves fired at the ionosphere as well as VLF radio waves. The HAARP program officially began in 1990 but we know by the patents that military research in this field began long before, e.g. 1945, 1965, 1966, 1987 & 1991:-

    C. W. Hansell (1945). “Communication system by pulses through the Earth”, U.S. Patent 2,389,432.
    R. L. Tanner (1965). “Extremely low-frequency antenna”, U.S. Patent 3,215,937.
    G. F. Leydorf (1966). “Antenna near field coupling system”, U.S. Patent 3,278,937.
    B. J. Eastlund (1987). “Method and apparatus for altering a region in the Earth’s atmosphere, ionosphere, and/or magnetosphere”, U.S. Patent 4,686,605.
    B. J. Eastlund (1991). “Method for producing a shell of relativistic particles at an altitude above the earths surface”, U.S. Patent 5,038,664.


    Here’s an interesting news report on You Tube: “HAVE YOU HEARD THE HUM? Does HAARP Make A Sound??”…

    • HAARP is of course the subject of all kinds of speculation, but I’m afraid the timing doesn’t work out if we are trying to connect it to the worldwide Hum. Fascinating stuff, though. For example, I find it quite remarkable that when HAARP sends it HF signal into the atmosphere, this creates a modulated disturbance that travels into space along magnetic field lines, and then splashes down as a VLF signal in the Southern Ocean, near New Zealand. If you really want to have some fun with this concept, I leave as an exercise to the reader to discover what is at the other end of the magnetic conjugate field line from the massive VLF transmitter near Exmouth, Australia.

      • George G. says:

        Hiya Glen,
        Are you implying the Exmouth VLF transmitter is not omnidirectional? Please give out another clue, or two. (Pardon the poetry)

        Also, are you suggesting that HAARP transmissions at HF are being converted into VLF via the magnetosphere? If so, please share your thoughts.


        George G.

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