Time For Another Technology Moral Panic? Digital Drugs! Be Afraid!

from the thank-you-USA-Today dept

USA Today got us talking about the concept of technology moral panics with their fear mongering article about predators using game consoles — and now it’s back with a big warning about “digital drugs” in a column by Kim Komando. It’s actually just an article about binaural beats, which are hardly new. And, yes, there are those who believe that there are certain binaural beats that can have an effect like drugs, though there are many who believe the impact is mostly self-created.

However, while the article briefly points out that some are skeptical, it immediately moves on to suggest that even so, binaural beats are somehow dangerous as a sort of gateway drug, claiming that they “encourage drug use.” Of course, the article doesn’t present any evidence of that — and you could just as easily argue the opposite: that they offer a non-chemical way for people to experience other states of consciousness (if it works, that is). If Komando believes that this somehow encourages drug use, then does she also believe that meditation is encouraging drug use? After all, doesn’t that also push people to experience other states of consciousness?

But, of course, when it comes to creating a technology moral panic, all you need is a bunch of scary sounding claims in a major newspaper… and then you just wait for politicians to take over. How long until someone somewhere proposes banning these dangerous sounds?

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Comments on “Time For Another Technology Moral Panic? Digital Drugs! Be Afraid!”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Kim = ID10T

Kim Komando doesn’t know much about computers, so it is safe to assume she wouldn’t know much about anything else.

I’ve listened to her show, and was unimpressed with her troubleshooting skills. She told someone to reinstall windows when they had accidentally deleted some fonts, when all they had to do was extract them from the CAB files.

Reason says:

Have you ever heard the famous saying “you fear what you don’t understand?”.. Yeah well she obviously doesn’t understand where these come from. Even attributing the term drug to this is a little crazy as there are no chemicals added to the brain. I’ve personaly tried this with a little program called i-doser. It’s somewhat a novalty but the effects you feel from the white noise type sound can be quite real. However it takes long time to acheive these effects and it wears off much faster than the actual chemical drugs.. Lumping this in the “drug” category is really foolish, much like adding marijuana is quite foolish. Instead of putting effort into something this stupid couldn’t we feed a lot of starving people??? Search i-doser on youtube you’ll find some videos i can assure you are fake but a couple that are probably real..

Anonymous Coward says:

We don’t know what we don’t know until we know it.

You say that others say that it causes no damage, but does it? You claim that cell transmission isn’t proven to cause damage, but does it?

Asbestos used to be considered a wonder product, then we found out that it isn’t. Everyone said men should have their prostrate checked, until the recent study came out that says it does more harm than good.

Where does that leave us?

javajolt says:

"binaural beats"


Ambient Electro-Acoustic Music & beautiful trippy visuals with binaural frequencies ( Alpha ) by illume in essence.
This track is from Unison Vol 2.


Binaural Beats used with Stereo Headphones stimulate; brain entrainment, instant relaxation, emotional balance, healing and wellbeing and heightened states of consciousness.

Experience the full effects of Binaural Beats with a free stereo demonstration at http://www.unisontherapy.com

Binaural beats; a sonic alternative medicine. A dependable relaxation tool for resolving depression and anxiety and provides support to make meditation easy.

Binaural Beats are a scientifically proven brain entrainment process that slowly started to gain recognition after an article called, “Auditory Beats in the Brain”, by Dr Gerald Oster, was published in the October 1973 edition of Scientific America.

Binaural beats work by sending two different Hz frequencies, to each ear via stereo headphones causing the left and right Brain hemispheres to work in unison to hear a phantom frequency or third tone, the centred Hz difference between the two tones. The Hz separations cerate a constant gentle beat and its timing and pulse match the Hz separation per second.

Unison Therapy incorporate several types of brain entrainment and audio psychology processes into their; sound therapy / audio therapy and blended with beautiful music you will go, beyond meditation.

illume in essence
(Jandy Rainbow & Tahlee Rouillon)

Anonymous of Course says:


This is hardly news. I Remember a program
to generate binaural beats with a computer
written just after the sound blaster cards
became available. Later the program Cool Edit
came with a tool to do this as well, the
“brain wave synchronizer.” There was also an
article on using a sound card to generate the
waveforms for direct application of electrical
currents but this is dangerous. The PC lacks
necessary isolation from the electric utility.

Binaural audio beats depend on the non-linear
response of the listener to mix the two signals
generating a low frequency product that may have
some effect. People toyed with it in the 1940’s
probably earlier… The computer is simply a
substitute for two audio oscillators. You can
obtain the same effect with two low power RF
oscillators pointed at the subject’s head.
Magnetic fields as work well. There was even
an LP produced with two tones recorded on it
(yeah, vinyl) for use with stereo headphones
in the 1970’s. Flashing lights also work to
some extent too.

The main thing is to get that low frequency signal
into the brain, either directly generated or as
the result of mixing to signals with the desired
difference in frequency. The path to the brain
can be through the senses like sound or light.
It may be an applied electrical current. Or via
radio waves, magnetic induction, even electrostatic
fields have been used.

One company I worked for modified some standard
product high power microwave sources for research
in this area during the late 1970’s.

Why fiddle with some second order effect when you
can go straight to the root of the matter?
Google trans cranial electro stimulation instead.
Also check the USPTO. The methods run the gamut
from gentle brain wave entrainment to magnetically
induced electro convulsive “therapy.”

Some names of historical interest; Jose Delgado
(the original doctor evil inserted electrodes
directly into the brain) probably used equipment
made by Grass Instruments. Michael Persinger who
uses magnetic induction. Frey, Sharp and Grove
researched microwave induced hearing.
Patrick Flanagan who seems to have gone off the
deep end after inventing an electronic hearing
device using surface electrodes and Somatics, LLC
the magnetic seizure and ECT guys. Even waaay back
guys like Volta and Ampere experimented with currents
though the eyes and ears…

Of course I’m not advocating that anyone experiment
with their brain. Leave that for the professionals.

onyxashanti says:

I use binaural beats every once in awhile as a “detox” from music. as a full time musician/artist, sometimes i just get tired of hear any music at all and binaural beats help drown out the rest of the world and make that little place between your eyes tingle. but i will say that, coincidentally or not, the first time i went to sleep playing them, i woke up with a blazing headache and a big ass pimple. the second time, a few months later, i woke up with a cold sore. i havent allowed myself to believe that they are related, but i also have refrained from listening to them in my sleep.

David Lloyd-Jones says:

Drugs, Morality, Retribution, Assertion-of-Power...

I gave my elder daughters just one bit of advice about drugs: don’t do ’em in the United States, where the random flailing of what they call a justice system can cause you a lot of damage.

Fortunately, although they are American citizens, and adults now, they were able to spend most of their youths outside the USA.

gg says:

compare USA Today article to 6/28/08 Komando posting

Here is a URL for Kim Komando’s 6/28/08 web posting re Digital Drugs:


Am I the only one who thinks the tone of the 6/28/08 posting is substantially different from that of the USA Today article?

BAD, BAD media. STOP picking on the sheeples…they panic much too easily for this type of obfuscation and FUD.

disturbd says:

50 cents worth

Holy Crap! We covered all the bases on this one. From LSD to smack and to heaven and hell! Please tell me I can get all of these on TPB. It is costing me a grip right now getting all of these things from more questionable sources and places.

“Digital drugs supposedly synchronize your brain waves with the sound.”? What exactly does this mean? Is my brain like shooting a sine wave out of my forehead that I can tune to different frequencies and stuff? Sweet! Give me some smack, one blunt, and one beer!

Most of the people who experience these effects are the same ones who talk in tongues, talk to and see ghosts and spirits, have been healed by that preacher guy on T.V. (or sat in the congregation and believed that crap) or live in a group home because they suffered a severe head trauma.

“Companies that sell digital drugs take both sides of the argument. They say that the doses are extremely powerful. Some are recommended only for experienced users.” OOOOoooooOOOO!!!! The poor children!! I fear for the lives of my kids!! Anyone who takes this crap seriously and is not laughing is retarded.

If there was anything here, I hope we all would have heard about it before Kim Komando told us. Did they really need to do a scientific study to determine this is crap? I think if there were any real power in these “beats”? 50 Cent and every other rap artist would have it figured out and be working it and we would all be addicted to gangsta rap, beeeach!

You should be more worried about energy drinks mexico and street gangs or something… or maybe your IQ if you take this for anything besides comedy. For the LULZ!

peterparker says:

Digital Drugs, I thought some one had introduced some erratic behavior code attached to small round digital goods objects in to one of those virtual games. I never think this is possible, Binaural Beats are a scientifically proven brain entrainment process that slowly started to gain recognition after an article called, Auditory Beats in the Brain.
to learn games

greg says:

digital drugs

From the descriptions it sounds like classical music, opera, etc. are the same principal. It makes you feel happy, sad, or whatever. Music alters your mood and makes you feel better… maybe we should report the radio stations and the whole genre of music makers to the D.E.A. Felling good is bad, God wants everyone to suffer. Give me a break.

Objector says:


First of the person below me is right. The only way people start doing this is when the media outlets tell everyone about it so they can start doing it. Second THESE AREN’T ACTUAL DRUGS! they’re not dangerous rather they;re just different forms of meditation. in order for it to work you have to clear your mind (meditate) then it will alter the meditation

Dar McWheeler says:

Beat Frequency Drugings

“My new CD is great, once you get past the drugings.”

I’m a composer and producer here in Canada. Since the 80’s I’ve been producing those entirely bogus “hypno” recordings and following the research on this subject.

From my personal experience I can say, yes, you can definately get a kind of brain-isn’t-working-correctly buzz from listening to this stuff. My research eventually led me to conclude that the whole “hemi-sync” hypothesis is bad for you.

Your brain is *supposed* to have two, independantly working hemispheres running at slightly different “clock speeds”. Syncing them only serves to interfere with the proper working of your brain. Not so great, really.

But as for the whole youtube videos nonsense, purely a reaction to being on camera/placebo/ego thing. It actually takes 20+ minutes for anything signifigant to happen. And by signifigant I mean, feels like you’ve been listening to sine waves with your eyes closed for 20 minutes. That’ll make anyone feel goofy.

Just a thought.

dawnofjustice (user link) says:

You say that others say that it causes no damage, but does it? You declare that mobile transmitting isn’t which can cause damage, but does it?

Asbestos used to be looked at a wonder item, then we discovered out that it isn’t. Everyone said men should have their flat examined, until the latest research came out that says it does more damage than excellent.

the jungle book (user link) says:

I use binaural surpasses every once in some time as a “detox” from songs. as a fulltime musician/artist, sometimes i just get fed up with listen to any songs at all and binaural surpasses help die out the world and make that little place between your vision poke. but i will say that, coincidentally or not, initially i went to relax enjoying them, i awoke with a high frustration and a big ass acne. the second time, a couple of several weeks later, i awoke with flu painful. i have not permitted myself to believe that they are relevant, but i also have refrained from hearing to them in my relax.

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