45 Years, 45 Days: Subliminal Mind Warp


For the next 45 days, we'll be celebrating Reason's 45th anniversary by releasing a story a day from the archives—one for each year of the magazine's history. See the full list here.

There are many reasons to distrust the government. In Reason's January 1977 issue, Lee Victor added one more to the list:

As everyone knows, some sounds are pleasing, and others are not. Chalk drawn across a blackboard can send chills down the spine automatically; canned "muzak" evokes a mood that makes many shoppers more amenable to purchasing goods.

Automatic though our responses to these sounds may be, we at least have the satisfaction of hearing them. Some sounds, however, are too low or too high to be detected by the human ear. These sounds are known as "infra-sound" and "ultrasonics," respectively.

The following article describes an experience with the unsettling uses to which the government now appears to be putting ultrasonics. For the author, a respected businessman who in the past held a highly sensitive military post, the experience began innocently enough. But it soon turned into a nightmare in which abject terror and euphoria could be induced in him at the push of a button.