ParentingSkepticism

Dude, Don’t Bogart the Internet

Is there anything the Internet can’t do? Seriously, is there anything?

The Internet places a wealth of information right at our fingertips. It provides a means by which we can procure goods and services from all over the world. It allows us to keep track of all the people we hated in high school. It blesses us with fabulous pictures and videos of explicit sexual acts when we are unable to participate in those acts ourselves. It allows us to be a part of electronic lives of some kick ass Skepchicks. And it can get us high!

That’s right, the Internet can apparently get us baked, stoned, fried, gooned, wigged, tweaked, goofed, and zoned. Basically, it can get us good and fucked up.

Using the Internet, we can achieve the same mental states we can with drugs, only without all the pesky smoking, shooting, ingesting, or absorbing of any substances.

At least, that is the concern of some parents.

Take a look at this news item. It details the controversy surrounding a website called I-Doser.com that claims to be “the industry leader in binaural brainwave technology”. Basically I-Doser offers sounds — auditory tones — and claims that the tones, which they sell for five bucks a pop for download over the Internet, can affect mental states.

And parents are worried that the tones can essentially duplicate any state that can be achieved through conventional drugs. They’re worried their kids can get high.

There are even several YouTube videos portraying the various types of high one can attain using I-Doser.

A few things come to my mind that might explain this whole thing:

  1. Suggestibility
  2. Wishful thinking
  3. Outright scam

I mean if it were indeed possible to get blotto by downloading and listening to a sound, I wouldn’t have to worry about finishing this sentence. I’d be too high to care.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying being high is the state of mind we should strive for above all others. I’m just saying it can be a fun one. And the convenience of this type of delivery system would be great.

Unfortunately, I don’t see anything that would make me think this type of greatness is available yet.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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21 Comments

  1. I love the the i-doser FAQ includes the fact that you very well may be “Immune to Binaural Beats”. Or, even if you’re not immune, the problem may be that you didn’t buy their headphones… or just that you’re not trying hard enough.

  2. Binaural beats. I certainly don’t think it’s likely that you can get high by listening to something, but is it possible? Maybe.

    Anyone seen an fMRI comparison of someone listening to BABs versus regular music?

  3. A former co-worker told me that her friend was treating her son’s ADHD by having him listen to tapes of some sort of high-frequency sounds. When I responded with a blank look, she said something about how it was supposed to rewire his neurons. She wasn’t aware of any evidence that the treatment was effective, but she offered that she tried to listen to it for a few minutes and it gave her a headache. My only response was, “Gee, if that’s possible, aren’t we all running the risk of going insane just by listening to music?”

    Coincidentally, she left the company a week later under questionable circumstances. Apparently, she’s now pursuing a career in a very silly-sounding alternative therapy.

  4. Human beings seem to respond to anything that alters their mood and calms their anxieties. The effect may be induced through self-hypnosis or placebo effect, or it may have a demonstrable chemical or neurological basis. I would say that to the extent that the effect of altered mood and decreased anxiety happens, the effect is real either way, and people desire it. We gravitate to it, we want it. And … that is our birthright.

    If parents want to complain about their children seeking what is their evolutionary birthright, let them educate their children in such a way that they can make considered decisions: why sit in a dark room and put headphones on when you can go drum for an hour — and socialise with people afterwards? Why spend money for what you can find for free? If you want to pursue yoga, do you really need to buy the cargocult trappings — the special pants, the incense, the Tibetan print wall hangings?

    But … this is teaching children to think about values, not simply do as they’re told. And it’s easier to just have them do as they’re told. And so we make our children meat for every huckster that comes along.

    I don’t know enough about “binaural beats” to substantially discuss it, but I’m amused that people leap to a drug metaphor. Doesn’t the same thing happen when we attend a really good concert, or meditate, or sit down to a shamanic drumming circle, or join in a Quaker meeting? (A Clann an Drumma show knocks drugs into a cocked hat, let me tell you.)

  5. I would spell it out in Cyrillic if I could manage to get the Cyrillic keypad on my Iphone: BULLSHIT. Binaural beats are total crap. They’re the homeopathy of sound.

    Good to know, though, that what motivates “anti-drug” people isn’t a fear of the harmful effects of drugs – it’s the terrible fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time.

  6. As someone who’s done a bit of both binaural beats and drugs, let me tell you this: any effect these things have is purely self-inflicted.

    Not to say that’s entirely bad. You can listen to them while listening to music turned up, and if you take the blue pill and really believe really hard, you’ll have a bit of a head-swimming mind-altering experience (or maybe that could be the music itself).

    Now as to why parents and moral “authorities” are upset about this, I have no friggin clue (those people BAFFLE me). It’s going to lead to drug use in the same way that video game violence leads to real violence. Not at all. In fact, it might serve as a useful warning: try drugs and weird noises will sound off in your head and you will feel strange.

    Accurate, but hardly compelling.

  7. @KristinMH: “Good to know, though, that what motivates “anti-drug” people isn’t a fear of the harmful effects of drugs – it’s the terrible fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time.”

    Well, yeah.. they obviously are miserable in life and so why the hell shouldn’t everyone else be too?

  8. Well yes, this site looks more than dubious.
    Nonetheless, I’d still say that similar things can have an effect, like the “Brain Machine.”
    See here: http://makezine.com/10/brainwave/

    Yes, I know, corny title but the spacey sounds and blinking LEDs which create weird patterns on your eyes are actually quite interesting and I dare say it’s relaxing.

    Most people I saw trying it thought it was fun and every fourth person or so was more like “meh.”

    So what’s my point? Yeah this is a scam but weird sounds can still be interesting.

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