Can We Get Over MTV’s “Digital” Drugs?

binaural beats mtv digital drugs

Because there’s absolutely nothing newsworthy reporting in Lebanon. Because everything is peachy, happy go lucky, the birds are chirping, the economy is booming, the tourists are coming in droves. Because our news services, notably MTV, have so much air time and so little things to report about, they decide to come up with absolute horseshit to get the Lebanese public into yet another state of panic.

The latest fad: Jdid, jdid… MTV…. Digital drugs.

I saw the headlines a couple of days ago. It sounded exactly like those Upworthy Facebook links you never bother to check. I didn’t click. Then the news kept on growing, and people kept on talking, and parents kept on panicking and I’m sure the news service that “uncovered” such an abomination is proud of itself for leading the viral mania.
A quick google search shows you that such a topic has existed since 2012, but never gained traction. I wonder why that could be.

I figured 7 years of medical school, including heavy duty courses in addiction that cover substances ranging from caffeine to hardcore drugs, including psychiatry clerkships where my colleagues and I never encountered such addicts, were not enough. I’ve seen alcoholics. I’ve seen heroin addicts. I’ve seen people who smoke marijuana by the kilos. But I had never, ever, seen someone addicted to something digital, in the cloud, to an MP3 file.

So I decided to learn, because that’s what science and medicine are: an ever-evolving field where stagnation even if with immense knowledge means you fall behind quite easily, so I hit up my favorite scientific databases. How nerdy.

I tried all different combinations of “binaural beats” and “hallucination.” No results.

I tried “binaural beats,” and “addiction.” Zilch.

But here’s what binaural beats do:

  • They were discovered in 1893, which makes them ancient, and are commonly used in meditation practices.
  • They consist of two tones at slightly different frequencies (get on your high school physics stat), presented separately to the left and right ears, and are perceived by the listener as a single tone. The end result is a perceptual phenomenon known as the binaural auditory beat (get on your high school philosophy perception notes pronto).
  • Scientific research on them has shown that they can affect psychomotor performance and mood, but nothing exists yet on their hallucinogenic effect.
  • There are plenty of things out there that could cause sensations of relief, elation, happiness, affect a person’s psychomotor performance and whatnot. Your favorite songs can make you feel happy. Making love to your partner can affect your mood. Eating chocolate can relieve stress. Practicing yoga has been shown to have tangible effects on the brain.

    There are also plenty of things that haven’t been banned that can cause hallucinations. Many medications that we give at hospitals have such a thing as their side effect. If you lock someone in a room alone for a period of time, they will end up having hallucinations. All of us also get hallucinations around sleeping time. Those are called hypnagogic or hypnopompic. Perhaps they’d want to ban those too?

    What’s also been proven is the existence of a placebo effect. If you give someone a substance and tell them it should do X and Y to them, many will report having felt X and Y occurring. That substance might as well be sugar, and they wouldn’t know. Placebo studies are crucial to the introduction of any new medications to the market. They are required to assess whether that new entity you want to sell is better than what’s already out there, or better than the non-medicated form. It also means that there could be a component to those “subjective” binaural beats reports of “having their mind blown away” that doesn’t scientifically exist.

    Kudos to MTV for bypassing years and years of possible scientific research to come to conclusions that are years ahead of any possible credible scientific paper on the matter. Kudos to those experts as well, flaunting all their expertise at us, good on them for being such professionals at what they do.

    Science Journal? Meh. Nature? That’s even worse. No, MTV is the new leading reference for scientists and doctors everywhere. Now please, educate me more.

    Ladies and gentlemen, this is nothing more than what happens, every other year, when a Lebanese TV station decides to re-address satanism and its association with heavy metal. You get “experts” saying that they’ve “proven” that listen to heavy metal music causes a person to deviate from holy religious norms and worship the devils. Those people will then engage in coital activities at cemeteries and commit blasphemy against churches and mosques or whatever. Of course, it’s more often than not pure and utter shit. But people panic anyway, because that’s what media feeds upon.

    I’m not saying binaural beats should be ignored, but who the hell is MTV to decide they should be banned when scientists haven’t studied them yet or have come up to conclusions on their merits, on their hallucinogenic effects, on their effects on brain matter?

    You know MTV, instead of covering such unfounded things like this, and using your power to lend credibility to scientifically unfounded crap, why don’t you give more airtime to other facets of addiction in Lebanon that are more abundant and much, much more accessible and much more scientifically proven to mess people up? Or why don’t you give more airtime to Lebanese areas that exist beyond your “live love Lebanon, let’s bring the tourists over” mantra? Trust me, that’s where the real problems in this country lie.

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    7 thoughts on “Can We Get Over MTV’s “Digital” Drugs?

    1. That made me laugh when I first heard it. Also made me sad. Even sadder when scientists (or science students) believe it. Impact of media, very scary.

      Reply
    2. A quick search on google is not really enough if you are looking for two sides of the story… or maybe you just want to write a blog?

      :دراسة طبية حول الموضوع

      دور المصحات العلاجية في علاج مدمني المخدرات بدولة الامارات
      دراسة مقارنة
      إعداد
      المقدم
      الدكتور. سرحان حسن المعيني
      2012
      ( google the title you will may download the file of the study)

      يمكن الاضطلاع على دراسة علمية أجراها:
      الدكتور أبو سريع أحمد عبدالرحمن
      عن دراسة المقدم الدكتور أبو سريع أحمد عبدالرحمن :
      http://digital.ahram.org.eg/articles.aspx?Serial=440322
      ويري د. راجي العمدة استشاري أعصاب باللجنة الطبية للأمم المتحدة دور هذه الجرعات من الموسيقى الصاخبة في إحداث تأثير سيئ على مستوى كهرباء المخ
      أما دكتور محمد حلواني أستاذ مشارك واستشاري جراحات المخ والأعصاب بمدينة الملك فهد الطبية فيري أنها تؤثر في الخلايا العصبية للإنسان
      وفقا لرأي دكتور محمد أحمد عويضة (أستاذ الطب النفسي بكلية الطب جامعة الأزهر) الذي يشير إلى أن استخدام الموسيقى الصاخبة والمرتفعة جدا في أغراض علاجية ثابتة بالعلم، فهي تغني عن عقاقير الهلوسة التي تستخدم في العلاج وتسبب الإدمان

      Another study by a german scientist has been also published on the matter…

      But Guess that would not correspond with the blog’s intention.

      Reply
      • If you actually read the blog post and paid attention, I said that I didn’t “google” the issue, but also researched scientific databases that I, as a medical student, have been using for years. Of course, studies published in Al Ahram do not feature there because they are the same stuff Al Shabaka likes to feature sometimes.

        Also if you actually read the blog post with depth, you’d know that the intention isn’t to promote drugs but to stop people from panicking over something as unfounded, ridiculous and non-scientifically relevant as this.

        Reply
    3. There hasn’t been a single credible/scientific source that has claimed it to be harmful in any way, in fact neurologists that researched about it say it might be beneficial in the long run, and the possibility of increasing a persons i.q level, and helping a person concentrate better when studying… The lebanese media has the tendency to blow things out of proportion…

      http://www.monroeinstitute.org/research/cat/eeg/binaural-beats-and-the-regulation-of-arousal-levels

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17309374

      http://phdtalk.blogspot.com/2014/01/silver-linings-binaural-beats-for-study.html

      Reply

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