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October 18, 2018

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Weaponizing Lady Gaga: How her music can be harmful


Erik Kabik/Retna

Quick! Cover your eyes and ears!

Not only is Lady Gaga’s hair and wardrobe dangerous, but apparently her music can be, too.

“Our kids are taking sound!” laughs Brad Smith, aka The Nurse during his talk at Def Con 18 on Friday at the Rivera. As an informatics nurse and Director of the Computer Institute of the Rockies, he’s well-versed in a rage of studies such as neurohacking and psychosonics and educated a room full of hackers, wanna-be hackers and generally really, really smart people on the various ways sound and music is used for good and evil. Anything from the military, businesses located near high schools and possibly Vegas casinos can use their effects.

Music as a Weapon

Smith says every culture has sounds and things that they’re afraid of. Using long range audio devices, opposing forces can fake putting “the word of God” into the heads of enemies, i.e. drive them to do things believing they’re hearing an otherworldly voice because the source of the sound is nowhere to be located. Or recording of eerie, ghostly sounds can play tricks on the minds as well. Audio of tanks and weaponry can also be used to trick those in battle their enemies are approaching.


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Particular songs can be used as torture, too. Smith cites when Neil Diamond’s “America” was blasted on repeat at Guantanamo Bay. He presented a list of the top 10 torture songs which included the Barney theme, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. Lady Gaga isn’t on the list … yet. But her music—or any other sound for that matter—can be used in a variety of ways.

Can you hear something, anything, now?

Psychosonics as a basic definition are sounds that affect the brain. For anyone that’s had trouble sleeping, binaural beats may have been one solution to lull yourself off to sleep by listening to a low frequency sound almost like a subtle hum, perhaps masked by the sound of the ocean, crickets chirping and the like (yeah, there’s an app for that). Without getting too technical, a frequency of about four hertz or Delta waves can produce deep sleep ranging up to a frequency of 40 hertz or gamma waves stimulating the listener in to reaching that “ah-ha moment” of inspiration.

Smith also discussed such devices as mosquito speakers and mosquito ringtones. The former is a frequency typically used by those who want to keep those meddling teens off their lawn, so to say. At 17khz, younger people can hear an annoying sound that Smith finds laughable in the product’s description to “disperse troublesome teens,” though most teens can hear it anyways regardless of their temperament. Older adults however, thanks to the aging process, typically can no longer hear sounds in that range, so it doesn’t bother them at all. The same thing goes for the phenomenon on “mosquito ringtones” advertised as being inaudible to parents and teachers.

i Dosing on sound, the newest drug

According to multiple news reports, including one Smith played for the packed ballroom of people, parents should be alarmed that kids are listing to sounds! Laughter encompassed the room, but the latest trend is something called iDosing. As panic spreads throughout Middle America, kids are plugging in and listening to these psyhchosonic sounds that can supposedly produce a variety of effects. Smith joked that he’s sure as soon as the report aired, teens ran to Google it and try in for themselves. You just might do the same. Good job, News 9 in Mustang, Oklahoma. However, Smith adds it could just be one of those thing like back in the ‘70s where he and his buddies thought they were getting high by smoking banana peels: If you think you’re having an effect, then you could be.

Which brings us back to Lady Gaga

Smith himself uses psychosonics as an aid to relax, or energize himself before dealing with in-laws. And it’s not that difficult to embed underlying frequencies in any mp3. He did so with Gaga’s “Poker Face,” but admitted the mediocre sound system during the conference was less effective than wearing ear buds. However, he did says he’s been walking around Vegas, recording various sounds in the casinos such as the digital slot machine to dissect later and see if there’s anything subliminal going on to keep people gambling. Either way, it’s definitely something to think about. Now who wants to turn “Paparazzi” into a study aid?

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