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As I predicted …

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

Some lazy terminology used in a Geophysical Letters Article has quickly morphed into a full-blown conflation of some French seismological research with our research into the Worldwide Hum. News websites around the world are now reporting that French scientists have finally recorded and found the source of “eerie” and unexplained sounds. The following is a breathtakingly bad example: http://newburghgazette.com/2017/12/10/scientists-capture-mysterious-sounds-permanently-produced/

Some folks might want to reach immediately for a conspiratorial explanation and conclude that somebody or some group is intentionally acting to sabotage our project, but I’m sure the answer is much more prosaic: awful science reporting. Not fake news, but rather very bad science editing and lack of fact-checking.

This is certainly a setback and will take time to recover from, but it is also an opportunity to connect with more astute readers who find their way to this blog and other informed resources.

Feel free to let me about other outlets where this kind of thing appears, and also feel free to contact the science reporters in question and set the record straight.


  1. TM says:

    This is interesting. The linked article is indeed awful. I just tracked down the article from 2015 that I mentioned yesterday :


    The key names in that article are :

    Fabrice Ardhuin – Oceanographer at the National Centre for Scientific Research, Brest.

    Lucia Gualtieri and Eléonore Stutzmann of the Paris Institute Of Earth Physics.

    The key name in the article you have posted a link to is :

    Martha Deen, a geophysicist at the Paris Institute of Earth Physics

    The question for me is why is the PIEP so keen on finding conflating and dubious links to something they clearly have no desire to understand ?

  2. Janet Menage says:

    Glen, apart from the (probably incorrect) assumption that humans cannot hear below 20Hz, what do you think is wrong with the article you reference?
    Since we don’t know what causes the hum how can we dismiss others’ findings so decisively?

    • If the French researchers had not used the word “hum”, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. They are using the word poetically and metaphorically. It’s as if volcanic researchers made reference to lava “crawling” across the ground, and then people thinking that was the answer to the “sailing stones” mystery (which has been solved, incidentally). There are indeed some cases of people whose lower audio range is much lower than is typical – Meniere’s Disease, for example. The frequencies (not to mention amplitudes) of vibrations discussed in the French research are tens of thousands of times below this.

    • TM says:

      Surely the problem with this article is that the Paris Institute of Earth Physics has not made it sufficiently clear that its study has absolutely nothing to do with the work of Dr. MacPherson, so why has Denise Bradley even mentioned his name ?

      If the journalist is guilty of conflation :

      Will the PIEP contact Ms.Bradley et al to set them straight ?
      Why is the PIEP happy to allow its study to be mis-reported ?

      If the journalist is reporting in a way that the PIEP finds accurate :

      Does the PIEP indeed believe that its scientific studies explain the hum we are discussing ?
      If so, has the PIEP canvassed any hum-hearers to support their data?

      Very strange.

      • The reporting insults the actual scientists and diminishes their work as well. You see, I’m not a scientist, even though I’ve been teaching it for decades and I am broadly read across the spectrum of scientific fields. I’ve also been writing – for years – that the Wikipedia entry for the Hum is a big impediment because a small number of people will instantly revert any changes that aim to give the discussion more serious treatment. This matters, because Wikipedia is for many people their first (if not only) stop when doing lay research on a topic. If we can engage those people in a full Wikipedia editing war, and educate the science reporters, this will move things forward. And it would cost nothing.

      • TM says:

        “The reporting insults the actual scientists and diminishes their work as well.”

        That’s why I wrote :

        If the journalist is guilty of conflation :

        Will the PIEP contact Ms.Bradley et al to set them straight ?
        Why is the PIEP happy to allow its study to be mis-reported ?

        From a distance, it looks like this :
        – You have created a resource
        – You need people to relate their experiences on your resource
        – Those experiences need to be as accurate, truthful and representative as possible
        – Wikipedia is somewhat irrelevant to your resource because your main fight is represented by the information on the resource you have created.
        – If scientists and science reporters are reliant on Wikipedia, God help us.

        I hope this does not come over as arrogant. I think what you’re doing is great. If people can find this site, they will register. People may not be as stupid as people think !

      • I don’t fully agree with what you wrote, but thank you for your contribution.

  3. thehumco says:

    I said many years ago, but nobody took any notice. The hum is caused by air pressure waves created by the transmitting of rf.. an electrical charge is used to send out the rf. it may well only be one range of users, an industry or government who want to use a more powerful ‘sending” charge, and their electrical charge is more powerful than most. Where I live it uis quite obvious, being caught in the crossfire where it criss crosses the countryside. The pressure waves penetrate and cause vibration in all structures to greater or lesser degrees depending on the location. Those of us who are aware of it are more susceptible to pressure waves and feel it in our ears, in extreme cases it eventually causes sensitisation of our entire nervous systems resulting in various other problems.

    • Janet Menage says:

      This sounds very interesting. Please could you describe this process in more detail? How exactly does the transmission of rf cause air pressure waves? Is it anything like the corona around powerlines? Any scientific references?

  4. Lisle Blyth says:

    Hi Glen,
    It is a fake news website. Google the ‘publication’s’ address supplied on their site (Newburgh Gazette) – there is no such place as 443 Cecil Street, Buffalo Grove, Ill, the US. At the end of each page is Russian or Ukrainian language notes. Just scroll down and check for yourself. Condemn it for the rubbish it is.

    • I confirmed what you wrote, and that’s certainly odd. It appears to be a news aggregator. I am well-read in world and science news, and it appears the news stories are legitimate in that they are copied directly from other more serious sources. I checked the Whois entry, which is anonymized and offers no clues about the people behind it. The Russian language at the bottom is interesting (I can read Russian), and it gives pause. But then I dug further and found the name Dwayne Harmon as the name on one of its articles. I did some searching for Dwayne Harmons in Illinois, and I would want to consult a lawyer before writing anything else, but I suggest that others do the same quick research and you can learn what I did.

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