Warning: This post contains satire. Satire may me harmful to your health.
Today for the first time in human history, hits from every drug ranging from ecstacy to crack cocaine can be downloaded and “I-Dosed” straight in to your brain with only a few taps of the keyboard and the click of a mouse. The only paraphenalia that is needed is a pair of headphones and a will for self destruction. Welcome to the brave new world of I-dosing.
I-dosing, Binaural Beats or Digital Drug-taking is a new scourge currently sweeping the internet by storm, it is is a grave and dangerous threat to the people of America, online dealers have sprung up everywhere to sell drugs to you and your children in the form of MP3 files.
Digital drugs can have the effects of ecstasy, heroin, crack cocaine and LSD but dealers claim they can also be used to treat insomnia, headaches, exhaustion, PMS and relieve pain. Either way, all your children have to do to obtain these drugs is type a few words in to google and hey presto they’ll be rolling around on the floor like this….
These shocking sites are even offering opportunities for your kids to work as runners, selling the drugs in a play ground near you….
So what action needs to be taken?
Due to the sudden onset and unknown effects of digital drugs we must immediately ban MP3 files containing i-doses, this action is currently being rushed through congress. This however is insufficient, due to the freedom the internet provides, idoses will remain in cirulation on file sharing networks. Further there is currently no way of telling innocent MP3 files from idoses, the only option available to the goverment is therefore to ban MP3 files. This raises the further issue that MP3 files can be converted to MP4 files or the larger WAV files, these file types must therefore also be made illegal.
Forecasters are predicting that no sooner than MP3 files, MP4 files and WAV files are, banned children will begin “zipping” idoses and sending them to each other via the internet and their mobile phones. This presents the gravest security threat to America since it was discovered that marijuana was not just a humble weed. The only solution to the problem of digital drugs is therefore to take the internet offline immediately and ban the distribution, production and appreciation of all forms of music as well as mobile phones and devices that can be used to listen to music.
…Okay okay, I’ll stop insulting your intelligence, though I hope you can see how this entire case is a fantastic metaphore for the futility of the “war on drugs”. Amazingly however, this week the media and even the authorities in parts of America are still taking this prank very seriously indeed. Schools have actually banned devices that can be used to listen to music as well as websites including youtube in response to this. Worse still, schools have used this as an excuse to enforce drugs tests on students and have written to children’s parents encouraging them to prevent children from having these devices and access to the internet.
You may wish to refrain from watching the following video from News Central, it’s pretty tedious, the droning stupidity of the correspondent and her epic failure to find anyone who has the faintest clue what they’re talking about is the stuff of legends…
Update 18/7/10 – And this story hits the big time, TIME magazine just covered the story with no analysis what so ever. Nothing can stop the crazy “soccer mums” banning their poor squealing kids from the internet now. Prepare for screaming scenes in super markets across America…. “mammmmmmmmmy I promise I won’t idose I promisseeeeeeeeeeeeee”
20/7/10 – The story reaches the Daily Mail.
Ok so what is it and how does it work?
“Binuaral beats” essentially work by playing two slightly different frequencies in each ear. The brain judges where a sound is coming from by analysing the difference betweenthe sounds in both ears. Upon hearing a binuaral beat through stereo headphones the brain is forced to conclude that the sound is emmitted from inside your own head. In theory this should be mildly confusing, in practice it sounds a bit like a vacum cleaner or a static ring depending on the variance in frequencies. FYI the first three praragraphs of the wikipedia page are generally accurate up until the word ”hypothetical” at which part the bullshit meter starts to go haywire.)
What I find even more interesting however than the effect itself is that this is probably one of the most spectacular demonstrations of the placebo effect and mass hysteria ever recorded in such extraordinary detail. Binaural beats are very well understood and have been demonstrated to cause very small changes in brain activity which result in relatively negligible changes in the way we feel. However tell some kids that “this choon gonna make you trip balls” and a few of them will have the time of their lives rolling around the floor laughing their ass off.
Mass hysteria, though there have been many examples over the course of history (article coming soon) we know very little about the type of people that are affected and the mechanisms behind it. I for one would be fascinated to find out whether any of the videos on youtube are genuine hysteria or whether they are all intelligent kids ripping the piss out of their own Beaurau of Narcotics. If so this may go down as the greatest hoax since the US army fended of German troops with inflatable tanks.
If you have ever experienced binuaral beats in any way or have tricked anyone in to believeing they are high on binaural beats (with or without effect, prank or genuine, whether or not you believe this to be hysteria, placebo or the real thing) please email me a brief report in confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “digital drugs”. (Any material recieved may be used for academic published works but your names and contact details will be removed)
For those of you who were pretty heart broken to discover this was all a hoax here’s a little gems especially for you. It is not a binaural beat, but whatever you do, don’t tell FRANK!
This is nothing new, the US press have been wringing their hands about this for years (Presumably every time they don’t want to report on the actual news or need to fill their quota of drugs news). It is pretty ironic that the only thing they have to say on the matter is that these the websites lead to drug use when until they broadcast the whole affair noone had ever even heard of them. Binaural beats were discovered over 170 years ago and psychologists have been trying to find a use for them ever since..
The first thing to take note of when reading in to this topic is that anecdotal evidence for altered consciousness in this area, should not really be trusted due to the massive effect of the placebo effect and the huge number of studies suggesting little effect on consciousness. It has been demonstrated hundreds of times that just by studying someone you will have profound effects on their experience and behavior. If the experimenter expects a participant to behave in a certain way this is more likely to happen because of cues the experimenter will give off, known as experimenter effects. So, for an experiment in to the effects of binaural beats to be valid experimentally, both the experimenter and the participant must be blind to the purpose of the experiment.
One recent study in which this condition was met was Lane et, al. (1998)
One last thing, if you have listened to this type of binaural beats and feel you have had a positive effect this is almost certainly because of the relaxing music layered on top. I would advise if this is the case you engage in meditation and continue listening to relaxing music in general, theres a world of it out there and it really can have a demonstrative positive affects on your mood (Levetin, 2009, Hanser and Thompson 1994), quality and speed of work (Lesiuk, 2005) and even relieve pain (Kemper and Danhauer. 2005) you don’t need the drone in the background, it will probably just give you a headache.
Levitin, D. Tirovolas, A. (2009) Current Advances in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Music. McGill University, Montreal, QC Canada
Lesiuk, T. (2005) The effect of music listening on work performance. Psychology of Music. Society for Education Music and Psychology Research. Vol 33 (2): 173-191
Kemper, J. MD, MPH; Danhauer, C. PHD. (2005) Music as Therapy. Southern Medical Journal: Volume 98 – Issue 3 – pp 282-288
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