The brown note is a hypothetical infrasonic frequency that would cause humans to lose control of their bowels

Originally published at: The brown note is a hypothetical infrasonic frequency that would cause humans to lose control of their bowels. | Boing Boing


a) the brown note is not in fact a frequency and is in fact any one of a range of notes / frequencies
b) it does not, in fact, cause loss of bowel control


Also it is not hypothetical - these frequencies are real. They exist. The thing that is hypothetical is that they might cause loss of bowel control.

Badly written headline is followed by badly written story.

(It is ironic that on Annie’s website there is a link that says ‘BoingBoing writer profile’ which simply goes to a list of the stories she posted here - not a ‘profile’ at all. Did I imagine it or did we used to get introduced to new BB writers? In this case, Annie has a website. Popkin? Still no idea who that is.)


You sound Disappointed.


Isn’t that the same as saying the brown note is hypothetical? The definition of brown note is that effect.


I would agree with you if the headline had used a describing relative clause – “a hypothetical infrasonic frequency, which would cause humans to lose control of their bowels” – but it didn’t. It used a defining one. So while it is certain that any particular infrasonic frequency exists, at least Platonically, it is not certain that an infrasonic frequency with the described effects exists.


Disappointed? Moi? (Whistles nonchalantly) :wink:

@KathyPartdeux On a strict pedantic note I will grant that this may be a legitimately debatable point and not pursue the matter further, other than to say that if the hypotheticalness of the brown note was the intended meaning then ''the hypothetical brown note is an infrasonic frequency" might have been a tad better. :wink:


Thank you for issuing a correction in your publication.


If a bear shits in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound that would cause a listener to shit as well?


That people refer to Eddie Van Halen’s tone as “The Brown Sound” caused similar confusion in me as the time I mistook “defenestration” for “debagging”.

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One of the many* uncertainties around the “Havana Syndrome” cases is why it seems to strike only a fairly small subset of potential victims. Researchers are trying to figure out if it’s an extremely narrowly targeted phenomenon, or if it’s more of a blast phenomenon that only affects a few percent of exposed people.

It’s possible that there is some validity to the idea of a brown note that is just too hard to sort out without testing on large populations, which would be expensive and have all kinds of ethical challenges.

It’s also possible it triggers a conditioned response instead of being an organic response. A somewhat parallel hard to chase down phenomenon is described here –

*there are many, many uncertainties around the Havana Syndrome, including whether it’s even a single phenomenon or if there is even an intentional human trigger behind it.


I’m pretty sure there is a yellow note, though. It’s around the frequency of the sound of running water, and is most effective in formal situations. Not everyone responds to it, but as we age it becomes more powerful.


As someone who used to work at a bookstore, this just sounds silly.

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As someone who visited bookstores a lot in their youth and frequently had to cut visits short because of a sudden need to poo, I can attest to the phenomenon’s existence, at least for me. (Until recently, I thought it was just me.)


For me it was always at Blockbuster Video as a kid, so I’d rule out that paper smell theory. Something about browsing shelves maybe.


I wondered if it was down to a nagging sense of guilt that I was wasting my time when I could be doing something more productive.

(Now I’m older, I know that browsing bookshops is a perfectly sound way of spending one’s time and that productivity is over-rated. Of course, now I don’t have the time to browse bookshops, even when there isn’t a global pandemic.)


As you know full well not everyone gets to have a website. So this is clearly proof of a thorough vetting process rigidly adhered to; thus a sign of quality.

Next time I’m plugged up, I will give it a try.

Infrasonic frequencies emitted from custom made (or modified) speakers are used in earthquake research. Like submitting models of buildings to earthquake-like vibrations in order to improve their structural design.
So there’s a group of people to obtain data on infrasound-induced bowel movements from right there.

At the risk of jumping to conclusions I would however postulate that losing control of one’s bowels during an actual earthquake has nothing to do with infrasonic frequencies as such.


years ago, I used to tell myself I was cool, and I actually did race motorcycles.

Had a BIG displacement, single cylinder racebike. Coming down the front straight at Sears Point, or whatever-the-fuck corporate sponsorship/ego-stroke has changed the name of the track to this year,… WFO, tucked in under the paint, running about a buck-oh-three, monster vibrations and super loud… every lap, at the exact same place, i’d think. “did I just poo my leathers?”

of course all my pals called it the “brown note bike”

didnt poo myself, so that was fun…