Talk:Music in psychological operations

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new name?[edit]

During the recent {{afd}} we discussed renaming this article.

I am hard of hearing. And I find even very loud music, or other loud sounds, very disturbing, even if they are only momentary. I know I would find being chained right next to a speaker that was as loud a young GI could stand for a minute, for hours at end, to be torture. No one seems to be addressing that this probably caused serious damage to the captives -- literally deafened them. Geo Swan (talk) 11:55, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Neither one works for me.
For one thing, the use of the word "captive" is only used in the Third Geneva Convention. The Fourth uses "detain", as does common article 3. It's a minor point, but if we're going to rename it we might as well pay attention to these little things.
This isn't necessarily for people in captivity anyway. The extremists in the siege at Waco were surrounded, but not in custody. Same thing with Manuel Noriega.
Not all the music used this way is deafening. This source for Mark Hadsell doesn't even say it's loud. You might infer that from the use of heavy metal, but not for the children's music. The key was its cultural offensiveness, not its volume. It's also possible that there's a point of diminishing returns where the volume may hurt but the offensive aspects are degraded.
This hasn't been established to be torture. The use of the word has been stretched beyond reason in Orwellian fashion as only one side in this war is being criticized while the other side is encouraged. There are 12 pages of authentic torture here. Sesame Street isn't depicted on any of them.
We should have a section listing prominent organizations and individuals that call it torture. I'm always in favor of remembering where people stand.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 15:44, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
How about Use of music in psychological warfare? It's not perfect, but it works for most of the examples we might cite here. I don't know if it would be thought to exclude law enforcement use.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 18:18, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Comment - As with any Wikipedia article, the title should be the most commonly used term for what is being described. Overly long, convoluted titles are to be avoided if at all possible. I've as yet seen no search results presented here that show the long titles to be more widely used than the current, concise title. Badagnani (talk) 20:35, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, but who calls it that? I don't think it's a commonly used term. Is there some DoD manual with that title?
Here's one truly horrific example where it's called that but I don't know if it's worth adding another section to the article.
If it's merely an unserious title then the article should let people know that. It currently says that it is torture without a reference. I have to admit I don't really care all that much. At present, it provides an excellent illustration of how far the torture meme can go.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 23:17, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

I think we should consider broadening the title and contents somewhat, so as to place this within a wider context. The notion of "psychological warfare" seems to point in the right direction. I think it might help to approach this in terms of what Categories have articles on similar and related subjects -- and I found three that meet that description: Category:Psychological warfare techniques, Category:Psychological torture techniques, and Category:Psychological abuse.

What they all have in common is the use of techniques that cause mental/emotional/psychological duress to achieve a desired result. Which suggests that this article should discuss the use of music to inflict mental duress, running the gamut in terms of intensity, with torture -- the most extreme case -- at the far end of the spectrum. I don't have a nice, short title, but it should reflect the breadth of the subject, with a section/heading devoted to torture. Cgingold (talk) 12:18, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

  • COMMENT - This article should be renamed to disambiguate between psychological operations (psyops), which has to do with the creation and dissemination of military propaganda but has no connection to interrogation, and the use of psychological pressure as an interrogation technique. Suggested name: "Use of music in interrogation" alltheuseridsiwantedweretaken (talk) 10 Jan 2017

Reference problem[edit]

I think this recent addition is problematic:

"Though the term "torture" is used, the playing of music to prisoners has never been judged to meet the legal definition of torture as stated within the United States Code.
  1. This passage is Americocentric. Contributor is forgetting that this is a world-wide project. After the Bybee, Yoo and Gonzales memos I suggest there are no objective legal experts who would regard a US interpretation of what is and isn't torture as the final word.
  2. The reference contributor cites does not specifically mention music, or music torture, one way or another. Contributor represents this reference as if it does address "music torture". The cited passage does address inflicting "severe physical or mental pain or suffering".

“torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;

This technique has been described as torture, in print. It has been described, in print, as a method for inflicting mental suffering. Our contributor's personal interpretation that this technique has never been established as torture seems irrelevant to me. And I believe policy requires this passage to be struck.

Cheers! Geo Swan (talk) 03:33, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

I agree that there's a problem but you must agree that having been described as torture doesn't make it so. An objective legal standard should be required when making accusations of criminality.
The article has music torture defined as "deafeningly loud" and then the rest of the article cites examples where it's not. The few cases where someone might believe it is too loud, there's no proof that it is.
Even in GTMO the policy was "that it should not be so loud that it would blow the detainee's ears out." [1] (The main page for those testimonies is here, btw, and you should be aware of it if you hadn't seen it.)
You can say what you like about Bybee, Yoo, and Gonzales but the other side doesn't have a record of objectivity either. After all, WP now has compiled a long record of prominent figures claiming to oppose torture, and war in general.
Step back and look at the whole and you'll see those criticisms are almost univerally directed against U.S. policy.
Notice that many of these critics have established relationships with America's opponents. And yet, remarkably, they've never seriously asked their newfound friends to stop using torture themselves, nor have they seriously asked them to stop fighting. It's all the more astonishing when they claim to believe (I don't believe it, but they do) that there have been over one million deaths in Iraq. If one million deaths doesn't prompt them to demand earnest help from their friends, who's to say they'd be influenced by another million dead, or five million, or ten?
Some of them actually march in "peace" demonstrations with Sadrites. Aside that group's death squads, the Sadrites use real, unambigious torture. If they haven't asked their friends to refrain, then it simply cannot be believed that they oppose it. People like Worthington swim in that same soup. Everything they write is thus tainted. Bybee, et al, may be objectionable to you, but at least he was part of a process that was challenged in debate inside an authentic political system.
I understand that American-centrism is a problem but we're the only ones actually debating this realistically. Even for legitimate governments elsewhere, it's merely theoretical. There's adequate reason to believe Europe will not meet the same standards set by the U.S., to say nothing of the lofty premises of their rhetoric.
I think it would be better to change the title, and then address the claims of torture specifically where it can be referenced.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 20:29, 21 December 2008 (UTC)
Randy: I am in total agreement with your assessment. The problem I have with this article is that it describes it as "torture", yet has no link that shows the playing of music as "torture". Indeed, if we were to expand the definition of torture to the playing of "loud music", many of the youths in automobiles next to me at any given traffic light would be in strict violation of the Geneva Convention. The link provided also defies the claim of "torture" by showing that the use of music does not have a "long term effect". The reason the US Code is provided is because the claims of "torture" are made exclusively against the United States Military, which operates under the auspices of the US code, and , thus, makes this article "America-centric" by its own claims. It's like saying someone is guilty of robbery without showing that a crime was committed. You cannot, thus, make a claim of "torture" against the United States and its forces while ignoring the fact that their actions are not classified as "torture" under United States law. I also note that you have picked up on the policy that the music not be so "deafeningly loud" that it blows out someone's ears, which is the reason I removed the term "deafening" from the introduction to this article. Just as not one of the sources show the use of music has been adjudged to be "torture" by a national or international body/government, none of the sources show the volume of the use of music to be "deafening", merely "discomforting" in its nature. Yachtsman1 (talk) 00:40, 22 December 2008 (UTC)
Getting the word torture out of the title should solve this. This subject goes beyond deafening music and torture anyway.
I've been thinking about a new name. I suggest Music in psychological operations or Use of music in psychological operations. That covers military, police, espionage, and whathaveyou. The claims of torture can then be addressed within the article whenever charges are made, while the whole article can also include irritating music that's not too loud.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 20:27, 31 December 2008 (UTC)
I agree, that would be a better title, Randy.Yachtsman1 (talk) 07:06, 6 January 2009 (UTC)


The third and fourth sentences of this article are clearly POV and need to be either altered or removed. Discuss. BobCubTAC (talk) 16:24, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

The third and fourth sentences are based on sources. Something is not POV because it does comport with one's point of view. Indeed, no one has ever deemed the playing of music as it is characterized as "torture" in terms of reliable, respective international and/or judicial bodies. One could easily argue, as Randy and I have pointed out above, that the entire characterization of this issue as one of "torture" is itself POV. Thank you.Yachtsman1 (talk) 23:03, 10 January 2009 (UTC)
Just changed the title. We can always change it again.
I think we might be able to remove what used to be the third sentence ("Though the term "torture" is used...") when we get into when someone actually calls it torture. I don't understand the problem with the former fourth sentence ("While the practice is viewed as causing discomfort...").
-- Randy2063 (talk) 00:26, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

questionable edit...[edit]

Recently added to this article was the sentence:

"While the practice is viewed as causing discomfort, it has also been characterized as causing no long term effects."

This sentence was referenced to the BBC.

When one checks the BBC article the closest it comes to substantiating the assertion is:

"Rick Hoffman, vice president of the Psy Ops Veterans Association, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that such a tactic would have no long-lasting effect on prisoners."

Well, who the heck is Rick Hoffman? Is he a doctor? A mental health professional? What are his credentials that our article, by extension, should treat him as a credible source that long-term exposure to deafening music "caus[es] no long term effects"? Geo Swan (talk) 22:30, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

He's a credible source in the sense that the BBC thought he's an expert from the POV of the interrogators. He'd probably disagree that there is any long term exposure to deafening music. While the quotes I see in the article do say it was loud, as I said above, interrogators had said under oath that the music at GTMO was loud but not deafening.
I might like to keep the quote but it would be better if it was elsewhere in the article, and it clearly should identify Hoffman.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 01:01, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
Well, one of my concerns with this passage is that it implies the BBC's own medical and psychological expert's judgment is that the music was not damaging.
Some interrogators have testified that they did think the music was deafening? That is interesting -- it is interesting to hear what they thought. But from a medical and psychological perspective their testimony is completely worthless.
Back when the Abu Ghraib pictures emerged many apologists compared what those pictures showed with what frat boys go through during their ritual hazing initiations. (Really?)
The frat boy knows at least some of what he is choosing to subject himself, and he knows what reward it would earn him. He knows it will be for a limited time, and if it gets to be too much, he can bail out. None of that was true for the captives. Those held in the dark prison were subjected to this noise for 24 hours a day -- with no idea how long they would be held there.
It is that unpredictable length that differentiates an experience from no worse than a frat boy hazing ritual to serious abuse. From my reading it is far worse to be imprisoned if one doesn't know why, and one doesn't know for how long, or how bad it will get. Geo Swan (talk) 05:16, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it shouldn't confuse the reader like that.
The interrogators testified that it wasn't deafening:
If you missed it, one of them said, "that it should not be so loud that it would blow the detainee's ears out." (more testimonies here)
This makes sense to me. A lot of people work around aircraft or construction sites (or perhaps in their case machine guns) and they get used to noise that's loud even with hearing protection. Music can annoy in a different way, and it doesn't have to be painfully loud to make you irritable.
Not being medical doctors and psychologists is one thing, but it's easy to assume that, if interrogators were instructed on keeping the volume below a safe threshold, they should have been taught where that threshold is.
Yes, prison is worse than hazing, but the elements that make it worse would be there anyway. And it's not like interrogation isn't needed in wartime. Bombs aren't necessarily a better substitute.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 04:02, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

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