Nov 14, 2022 I Nick Redfern

When Sound is Your Worst Enemy: A Dangerous Weapon You Can't See

Imagine the scene: you and a group of friends – concerned about the ever-increasing level of surveillance of, and spying on, the public by agencies of government, the intelligence community, and the military – decide to head off to a local, peaceful demonstration that is being held in your hometown. In total, a couple of hundred people are there to voice their concerns that way too much control is being exerted upon the population. Suddenly, however, things go distinctly awry. No, we are not talking about the police turning up with water-cannons or Tasers. We are talking about something much worse and far more disturbing. In no time at all, everyone in the crowd suddenly feels nauseous. Some lose their balance and fall over. Others vomit. More than a few are overwhelmed by dizziness and have to lay on the ground. Some develop the shakes. None of this is due to the hot weather or hysteria. Quite the opposite: you have been targeted, and hit by, a weapon that has disabled you via nothing less than sound. Although it is something we give little specific thought to, there is no doubt that sound plays a massive role in our lives and from varying perspectives. The sound of the voice of an old friend we haven’t seen in years can make us happy. The screams of someone late at night provoke concern and worry. The sirens of fire trucks might provoke anxiety. And music can be uplifting, relaxing, or energizing, depending on the type of music one prefers. There is, however, another aspect to sound: it can be used as a weapon against us; a weapon of control. But, before we get back to the issue of control, an important question needs to be asked: what, exactly, is sound? 

With that said, let us now look at the ways in which sound can be used to control us, to alter our perceptions, and to even destabilize us – physically and mentally. We’ll begin with something called Infrasound. It is an extremely low frequency sound, one which is below the 20HZ mark, and which is undetectable to the human ear. A number of animals use infrasound as a means to communicate with each other. The long list includes giraffes, whales, and elephants. It’s a form of communication in the animal kingdom that can be highly effective for significant numbers of miles. There is another important aspect of infrasound: when it is directed at humans it can provoke a wealth of unsettling physical and psychological sensations, as well as hallucinations of both the audible and visual kind. Many are interpreted as supernatural events when, in reality, it is simply the mechanisms of the brain misfiring when hit by infrasound. Consider the following: “Mysteriously snuffed out candles, weird sensations and shivers down the spine may not be due to the presence of ghosts in haunted houses but to very low frequency sound that is inaudible to humans,” reported The Associated Press in September 2003, continuing: “British scientists have shown in a controlled experiment that the extreme bass sound known as infrasound produces a range of bizarre effects in people…”

(Nick Redfern) When sound can kill

“Some scientists have suggested that this level of sound may be present at some allegedly haunted sites and so cause people to have odd sensations that they attribute to a ghost – our findings support these ideas,” noted Professor Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, in the U.K. Startling and disturbing information relative to how sound can be used as a tool of control and manipulation can be found in the pages of a formerly classified U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency document, dated March 1976: Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Radiation (Radiowaves and Microwaves) Eurasian Communist Countries. Written by Ronald L. Adams and Dr. R. A. Williams, of the U.S. Army (and specifically of the Medical Intelligence and Information Agency), it notes in part: “The Eurasian Communist countries are actively involved in evaluation of the biological significance of radio-waves and microwaves. Most of the research being conducted involves animals or in vitro evaluations, but active programs of a retrospective nature designed to elucidate the effects on humans are also being conducted.” Of deep concern to the United States military and intelligence community, was the incredible revelation that the Soviets had developed technology that allowed them to beam “messages” into the minds of targeted individuals. Rather notably, the DIA and the Army concluded that such messages might direct a person to commit nothing less than suicide.

Even if the person was not depressed, said Adams and Williams, the technology could be utilized to plunge them into sudden states of “…irritability, agitation, tension, drowsiness, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, and lack of concentration.” The authors added: “Sounds and possibly even words which appear to be originating intra-cranially can be induced by signal modulation at very low average-power densities.” They concluded: “The Soviets will continue to investigate the nature of internal sound perception. Their research will include studies on perceptual distortion and other psycho-physiological effects. The results of these investigations could have military applications if the Soviets develop methods for disrupting or disturbing human behavior.” 

When, in the mid-1980s, plans were formulated by the iron-fist regime of then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to base nuclear “Cruise” missiles at strategic military bases in the British Isles, it provoked massive demonstrations on the part of the general public – and particularly at a military establishment called Royal Air Force Greenham Common, a now-closed down installation in Berkshire, England. As a result of the planned placement of missiles at Greenham Common, a large group of women peace-protesters set up camp outside the base. It wasn’t long, however, before many of the women began to experience a series of disturbing symptoms, including deep depression, overwhelming anxiety attacks, intense migraine-like headaches, alarming losses of short-term memory, and much more of a distinctly mind-destabilizing nature. As a direct result of this alarming and highly suspicious development, theories began to quickly develop and circulate to the effect that the women were being specifically targeted with electromagnetic weaponry, as part of an intensive effort to bring their demonstrations – which had generated a large amount of support – to an abrupt and permanent end.This was no wide-eyed conspiracy theory, either: even Britain’s highly-respected Guardian newspaper reported the story in a serious fashion. In a March 10, 1986 article for the newspaper titled Peace Women Fear Electronic Zapping at Base, it was reported that the military possessed  “…an intruder detection system called BISS, Base Installation Security System, which operates on a sufficiently high frequency to bounce radar waves off a human body moving in the vicinity of a perimeter fence.”

As the research into what was afoot at Greenham Common continued, a further theory surfaced: that the women who were protesting were targeted by extremely low-frequency weapons. This begs an important question: how effective is such technology? The answer is simple and disturbing: it is extremely effective. It has been suggested by conspiracy theorists that at least some of this technology was secretly tested, in the early 1990s, in and around the area of Taos, New Mexico. Live Science notes of the hum that it “seems to have first been reported in the early 1990s. Joe Mullins, a professor emeritus of engineering at the University of New Mexico, conducted research into the Taos Hum. Based on a survey of residents, about 2 percent of the general population was believed to be ‘hearers,’ those who claimed to detect the hum. Sensitive equipment was set up in the homes of several of the ‘hearers,’ measuring sounds and vibrations but after extensive testing nothing unusual was detected.” In more recent years, such hums have been heard all around the world. In 2015, the U.K.’s Independent newspaper reported: “In Britain, the most famous example was the ‘Bristol hum’ that made the news in the late 1970s. One newspaper asked readers in the city: ‘Have you heard the Hum?’ and at least eight hundred people said they had. Alarmingly, it was revealed that when the humming was at its absolute height, people were affected by intense migraines and even nosebleeds. When the humming stopped, so did the side-effects. As for the specific sound, it was likened to a car engine which was “idling,” some distance away from the people affected.

In a 2016 article titled “A Maddening Sound,” writer Colin Dickey detailed a number of such examples, including this one:  “Sue Taylor first started hearing it at night in 2009. A retired psychiatric nurse, Taylor lives in Roslin, Scotland, a small village seven miles outside of Edinburgh. ‘A thick, low hum,’ is how she described it, something ‘permeating the entire house,’ keeping her awake.” Taylor’s initial thought was that perhaps the annoying – almost destabilizing – noise was coming from a factory close by. Maybe a generator. As a result, Taylor decided to do a bit of detective work, checking out the surrounding area, and even hanging out outside the homes of her friends and neighbors, in an effort to try and resolve the mystery. Unfortunately, and although the hum was clearly a real phenomenon, she failed to crack the mystery. Things proceeded to get worse: the hum plagued her during the night – to the extent that she even had hear ears examined by a doctor – who could find no problems at all. She began to suffer from a cross between vertigo and dizziness – to the point that she felt sick. Even the house itself felt as if it was shaking slightly.

(Nick Redfern) The sound of something sinister

In 2011, Andrew Liszewski wrote an article for Gizmodo with an eye-catching title: “Future Riot Shields Will Suffocate Protestors with Low Frequency Speakers.” Sci-fi, this was not. It was all too disturbingly real. Liszewski said: “It’s not the first crowd control tool to use sound waves, but Raytheon’s patent for a new type of riot shield that produces low frequency sound waves to disrupt the respiratory tract and hinder breathing, sounds a little scary.” Liszewski was not wrong. He revealed that the “LRAD Sound Cannon,” as it is known, is one such device – and which provokes migraines and sickness, specifically by targeting people with incredibly loud noises that rattle peoples’ heads to a point where they become pretty much destabilized. Liszewski noted that Raytheon’s new device was a far more disturbing one. The so-called “non-lethal pressure shield” creates what is known as a “pulsed pressure wave” which targets the parts of the body that regulate breathing – and specifically scrambles those same parts of the body. In other words, the targeted individual finds themselves briefly unable to breathe or even catch their breath. The result is that the person under attack will temporarily faint, or become light-headed, due to the lack of oxygen to the brain, effectively rendering them unable to do pretty much anything – that is, until they come around, which is generally a couple of minutes later.   

Raytheon doesn’t shy away from confirming that it has created such technology, and makes no bones about the fact that their destabilizing technology would be the perfect tool for enforcement officials. They state: “Since the early 1990s there has been an increasing interest - mainly in the U.S. - in so-called non-lethal weapons (NLW) which are intended to disable equipment or personnel while avoiding or minimizing permanent and severe damage to humans. NLW are thought to provide new, additional options to apply military force under post-Cold War conditions, but they may also be used in a police context.” Raytheon sees the day coming when their acoustic weapons will be utilized regularly in warfare, in “riots,” in “hostage-taking,” and in what are termed “peace-keeping operations.” The latter category may simply be normal, everyday citizens exercising their right to demonstrate against things they see as inherently wrong. Should those of us who choose to take to the streets and make our feelings known to our government one day find ourselves effectively “zapped” by such technologies, it will be a very dark and disturbing day for freedom of speech, to be sure. 

There was a startling development in the saga of acoustic weapons in August 2017; it was a story that provoked worldwide commentary. It was revealed that going back to 2016, U.S. Embassy staff stationed on the island of Cuba started to fall sick. Symptoms included deafness, confusion, memory loss, problems staying focused on things, tingling in the fingers, and vertigo. Although the events began in 2016, it was not until a year later that the story surfaced publicly – demonstrating the undeniable secrecy that surrounding the events. When staff at the embassy were interviewed by intelligence agents, it quickly became clear that there was a distinct trend in evidence. It was a trend that showed when staff were at the embassy they got sick. When they were in other government buildings, they got sick. When they were at home, they did not. Someone was directly and specifically targeting the employees of the U.S. Embassy. The CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the U.S. Army were all secretly contacted to determine if an answer could be found. An answer was found, and quickly too. The unanimous belief on the part of the agencies and offices contacted was that in all probability the source of all of the problems were acoustic weapons – highly advanced versions of the kinds of technology that have been studied and used for decades. 

There were significant doubts on the part of the U.S. intelligence community and the military that this was the work of the Cubans alone. No-one within the Department of Defense believed that the Cubans possessed such sophisticated technology; never mind have the ability to implement it on a large, ongoing scale.  The overwhelming conclusion was that, given the close links between the Cuban Government and that of Russia, the Russians had probably supplied the Cuban Government with the technology – who then chose to use against the United States. Speculation was rife that this new acoustic technology was probably still in its infancy and that, as a result, the staff at the U.S. Embassy amounted to the first wave of guinea-pigs. As the story grew, and more and more revelations surfaced, it was revealed that both the Department of State and the FBI were also caught up in the controversy – doing their utmost to figure out who was behind the acoustic attacks. Predictably, the Cuban Government – via the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied they were testing, or using, any kind of acoustic weapon – on anyone. They also denied collusion with the Russians on this particular issue. And talking of the Russians, they chose to remain silent. At the time of writing, that is where things stand. Acoustic weapons: coming to a peaceful rally near you soon.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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