I have to admit that I don’t even listen to or watch most of the media that I appear in. Frankly, the thrill is long gone and it can often be something of a chore now. I don’t really care who gets credit for solving the Worldwide Hum, but I do my bit by speaking with almost everyone who asks me to. A reader of this forum pointed me toward a segment near the end of the BBC4 Punt PI piece, which prompted me to listen to the whole thing. And I’m disappointed to say the least.
The audiologist Mark Williams spoke eloquently during his segment on the same BBC4 program where I also appeared. He is obviously an expert in audiology, but I think Punt PI intentionally conflated his work with tinnitus sufferers with efforts to investigate the Hum. He made no distinction between high frequency tinnitus and low frequency Hum. It should be noted that the percentage of people who report to the World Hum and Database who have tinnitus is roughly the same percentage of the general population who report tinnitus. Those who hear both tell us the two experiences are entirely different. We can’t tell from the BBC4 editing if Williams conflates the two in the same way the medical community has for so many years. In some ways I think the manner in which the BBC producers presented Williams’ research was a setback for the Hum community, and perhaps a setback for him. When Williams’ patient entered the “sound-proof room” and put on ear defenders, she emerged later, reporting that the relief from sound was “bliss”, and reported now hearing a “hum”. This is not even the classic behaviour of the world Hum. The listener was given the strong impression that the Hum was silenced, but this would be a huge overstatement.
Low frequency sounds and in particular infrasound can penetrate materials (and so-called sound-proof booths) much more easily than higher frequency ones. There is now evidence from high quality Soviet research that mining noises can penetrate three kilometres of rock downward, and at least 10 km horizontally along the ground (https://goo.gl/5p65ib). Moreover, it’s recognized that even though there is not a lot of variation in the perceivable frequencies of the lower-end of the audible spectrum, there is great variation in the activation thresholds of individuals, including a subset of the population who are vastly more sensitive to lower frequency sounds (references available upon request).
So we continue to correct the record, separate the variables, and look for more conclusive tests.