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The Military Science

Pentagon Working on "Human Fear" Weapons 310

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the smells-like-... dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Animals use pheromones to attract each other for sex, and warn each other of danger. Now, Wired reports, military researchers are working to harness the 'human fear' pheromone to create a scent of terror. The pheromone could lead to smell-based terrorist sensors, and new weapons that rely on 'contagious' stress."
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Pentagon Working on "Human Fear" Weapons

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:12PM (#22099264)
    I fear it might not work.
    • Re:What could happen (Score:5, Informative)

      by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... minus physicist> on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:17PM (#22099348) Journal
      I think you may be right. The vomeronasal [wikipedia.org] organ is vestigial or nonexistant in humans, and there don't appear to be any connections between even vestigial vomeronasal organs and the brain.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Muhammar (659468)
        Our military has a long tradition of funding crackpots and loonies that do secret work on blood-curdling woodoo, see "The men who stare at goats" from Jon Ronson and "Imaginary Weapons" from Sharon Weinberger. Even the Scientology Church could learn new "spiritual tech" from our military experts.

        The idea of activating fear circuits by chemicals sounds like a pure moonshine - but there is no need for it because the military has already the equipment to project a loud shrill interference-laden high-pitch soun
    • I am not a biologist, so I'll just ask; "Is it reasonable to assume that there even is a fear scent in humans?". Is there any evidence of it's exsitence in closely related species?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by fictionpuss (1136565)
      I fear it might not work.

      I fear it's too late..

    • Re:What could happen (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Friday January 18, 2008 @04:29PM (#22100806) Homepage
      actually fear weapons are quite effective...

      They did some testing and a army team facing a fight when told the enemy all has body armor piercing ammunition the dynamics of the team changed drastically and started to show signs of fear which would reduce their effectiveness as they would be much more cautious in their attack.

      Fear weapons have been used forever, they are called spreading rumors or false information that keeps your enemy at bay. The Russians did it to the United states for nearly 50 years in the cold war. They made it look and sound like they had a crapload more weapons and bigger meaner ones than they really did. It scared the shit out of the USA to the point where we even had the populace shaking in their boots and afraid of the USSR.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Knowbuddy (21314)
      I know the original poster was kidding, but ...

      Many people think of pheromones as "pop science" or put them in the same category as aether and quintessence and whatnot. But, I can prove to you that pheromones are very real and can do very interesting things. It's simple:

      1. Drive to your nearest large zoo, accompanied by a few women.
      2. Visit the gorilla area. Try to stand downwind.
      3. Ask the women how they are feeling.
      4. Profit!

      If you don't have access to women who will get into your car, go to the zoo by
  • by Sciros (986030) on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:13PM (#22099266) Journal
    Looks like *someone* has seen Naked Gun 2 1/2 way too many times.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kuukai (865890)
      Or Batman Begins.
      • by Sciros (986030)
        Hehe, yeah... Scarecrow has always been all about his "fear toxin" I guess. The Naked Gun reference is a bit more random because the movie's full title is "Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear"
      • So we're moveing from Sci-Tech to Comi-tech?
  • women (Score:5, Funny)

    by EZReady (677430) on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:13PM (#22099286)
    female pheromones would work for most slashdotters
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sm62704 (957197)
      Slashdotter: "I smell a woman. RUN!!!!!"
  • The Pentagon (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:13PM (#22099288) Journal
    Turning your "War on Terror" into the "War of Terror," since 2008.
  • Irony (Score:5, Funny)

    by traindirector (1001483) * on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:14PM (#22099298)

    You'd almost think that after declaring a war on terror an organization wouldn't use terror against enemies in the most literal way possible...

    • by dmeranda (120061)

      ...in the most literal way possible...

      Didn't you read the out-of-context article summary? Its not literal, its olfactic [wikipedia.org].

    • The cute part about the plot of the video game Deus Ex was how

      SPOILERS

      it involves the government trying to develop a human-like AI capable of analyzing trillions of intercepted communications and identifying subversive activity as well as a human analyst, but a problem arose: once successful, it started identifying the government as a terrorist organization.
    • Re:Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drooling-dog (189103) on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:54PM (#22100046)
      Who said this is to be used on "our" enemies?

      It'll be used on ourselves, to make us more eager to accept the enemies that are provided for us, and more desperate for protection from them.
    • You'd almost think that after declaring a war on terror an organization wouldn't use terror against enemies in the most literal way possible...
      Exactly what I thought about the Mother of all Bombs, which they admitted was useless except for terrorizing the enemy.
    • by hotsauce (514237)
      Replace "terror" with "shock and awe" when we do it.

      There, all better now.
  • by gardyloo (512791) on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:15PM (#22099306)
    Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and pheromones...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four*...no... *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise....
  • by barakn (641218) on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:15PM (#22099312)
    ...but now a gas mask?
  • Bio warfare? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fluffy_Kitten (911430) on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:15PM (#22099318) Homepage
    Does that not count as biological warfare?
  • terra! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:16PM (#22099324) Homepage

    The pheromone could lead to smell-based terrorist sensors, and new weapons that rely on 'contagious' stress."
    Awesome. Now people who are afraid of flying will have the added benefit of getting cavity-searched as a result of their fear.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sexybomber (740588)
      Yep, and once again, the real terrorists (who are presumably fanatical enough that they're not afraid to do what they're planning to do) will slip through.
      • by a whoabot (706122)
        I think the key word there is "presumably": as in totally unfounded. I bet that Mohammed Jihad is still pissing his pants before he goes to kill himself even if he is pretty sure he's getting 72 virgins.
    • Awesome. Now people who are afraid of flying will have the added benefit of getting cavity-searched as a result of their fear.
      Well of course, how else do you expect to calm their fears?
  • Too unreliable (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:16PM (#22099330) Homepage
    You must consider that there has to be many reasons for people to send out stress pheromones, late for work, fear of flying, claustrophobia etc.

    And there is no reason that a suicide bomber actually is afraid - that phase may have passed over months ago and the person may have actually come to terms with his/her destiny.

    So someone is barking up the wrong tree again...

    • by creysoft (856713)
      Given how useful a tool fear has become in getting the American public to go along with virtually anything, do you really think this is being designed to use on terrorists?
  • ...new weapons that rely on 'contagious' stress.

    Hopefully they can separately trigger the "fight" and "flight" responses.

  • Fear Eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mixmatch (957776) on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:16PM (#22099344) Homepage
    You mean a squad of guys busting into your house with sub-machine guns doesn't cause this effect?
    • Only if you have something to hide.
    • by rob1980 (941751)
      Not if you're Jack Bauer it doesn't!
    • Re:Fear Eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sm62704 (957197) on Friday January 18, 2008 @04:34PM (#22100890) Journal
      They rated you funny, and it was, but you should have been rated insightful. I just recounted an episode last summer [slashdot.org] in the next to latest journal about how I, a hazel eyed gray haired geezer had my civil rights violated by the local police, FBI and DEA.

      As I was talking to the FBI gay, er "guy" before he searched me (putting his hands on my balls, why can't they have female cops search men? UGH!), he asked why I seemed so nervous. I went from nervous to incredible, thinking "WTF is this dumbass smoking?"

      "WHAT?? Because half a dozen big armed men just accosted me!" I replied. I didn't add "You stupid fucking authoritarian dumbass cocksucker!" as I would have liked to.

      Actually I wasn't scared at all, but I was mad as hell. What I was afraid of was that they'd piss me off enough that I'd do something stupid. Like slap one of them upside the head with a hooker.

      Dumb fucking cops. Nothing in my life has made me less respectful of police officers. They're called the D.I.R.T. team and the name fits the dirty bastards, all of whom IMO belong in a prison or somewhere worse.

      Now I understand why all the rap songs are so disrespectful of the police. I mean, I'm a white old guy, imagine being a black young guy.
    • by suggsjc (726146)
      Nah, I'm used to it.

      Hillary Clinton as president, now THAT will strike fear into even the coldest of hearts!
  • by LiquidMind (150126) on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:19PM (#22099384)
    A weapon that exploits fear 'scents' could backfire just as easily. Traditionally, fear will cause someone to flee or at the very least become nervous and therefore have his/her decision-making skills crippled. But for some, fear is a great motivator. If i'm gonna get into a fight and feel extra fearful because of this exploit, i might come back twice as hard to overcome whatever is in my way.

    just a thought....
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by _KiTA_ (241027)

      A weapon that exploits fear 'scents' could backfire just as easily. Traditionally, fear will cause someone to flee or at the very least become nervous and therefore have his/her decision-making skills crippled. But for some, fear is a great motivator. If i'm gonna get into a fight and feel extra fearful because of this exploit, i might come back twice as hard to overcome whatever is in my way.

      just a thought....


      It'll also work great with protesters. Roll out a few of these "fear grenades" into a crowd, and
    • Lintilla: See this device?
      Arthur Dent: Looks like a watch...
      Lintilla: It's a crisis inducer. I set it to Mk. 9 and ... Hurry, they're after us!
      Arthur Dent: Who?
      Lintilla: No-one! Come on, through the tunnel, they're coming!
      Arthur Dent: But...
      Lintilla: They're coming!
      Arthur Dent: Well, if you say so.

      Seems like Douglas Adams was way ahead of you and the Pentagon on this one. :)
  • by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:22PM (#22099446) Homepage Journal
    Marge: What happened? You didn't do anything!

    Dr. Hibbert: Oh, didn't I? [laughs] Nothing dissolves glue better than human sweat. I knew Bart would panic and start perspiring at the sight of this button applicator!

    Bart: Couldn't you have just turned the heat up a little?

    Dr. Hibbert: [sinister] Oh, heavens no! It had to be terror sweat!
  • Why Fear? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) <thelazyscifiauthor@gmail.com> on Friday January 18, 2008 @03:22PM (#22099448) Homepage Journal
    Why don't they make a "love" weapon instead.

    After all, I thought the US was supposed to have a reputation for turning enemies into friends.
  • smell-based terrorist sensors

    Which could be a problem considering how much profit the duty-free shops make from selling overpriced perfume and the like

  • What possible anti-terrorist use is there for a sensor that can smell fear? Presumably this would detect people who are frightened, or those using DARPA's new perfume, "Terror #5."
  • The Smell of Fear (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BadHaggis (1179673)
    Forcing a detainee to inhale pheromones which induce a state of terror and has not been classified as torture, Therefor, it can be freely used during interrogations to obtain information. Why bother with water boarding someone when you can induce the same levels of terror through a little sniff of fear.

    On the civilian side I guess my fear of flying will be detected every time I travel and I will constantly have to visit the little security office for questioning.

    • by sm62704 (957197)
      Torture doesn't work, and indeed can even be counterproductive. In December 2006 I suffered a torn retina. The doctor welded my retina back togethsr with a laser, but the laser wouldn't reach the whole tear, as I have a device in my eye that replaces its lens consisting of a plastic lens on struts that move with the movement of the focusing muscles (yes I'm a cyborg now, you will be assimilated. Resistance is futile).

      The struts got in the way of the laser. So he used an older therapy, which involved holding
  • It thought they had alrady established a weapon of fear? Between our media and homeland security, I am surprised anyone still feels safe. Propaganda is the best weapon of fear and you don't even need fancy technology for that ;)
  • Because the Pentagon has too much money, that's why. With the U.S. military budget, the burden of proof rests on people who are against spending on any particular project.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      This is actually a good idea. If you make people fear your troops, fewer of each side will die.

      Of course, when both sides use it, nobody will get anything done.

      The only defense would be a love scent.
  • Because maybe they'll get the clue and make a weapon much like the vampire scent in his Ringworld series and people will simply start screwing everywhere they can. ...I'd so have one of those weapons in my basement. :P
  • I understand that the phrase "smell-based terrorist sensors" is probably intended to convey the idea of a sensor that exposes people to fear pheromones to "magnify" whatever fear they may already be feeling. People who get super-jittery are assumed to be feeling the fear of suicide-bomb induced death, or perhaps the induction of fear into everyone who passes is supposed to make the terrorists get jittery and slip up.

    However, given how ludicrous those ideas are when one considers how many potential source
  • So now, in addition to "facecrimes", we will have scentcrimes! 1984 Pt II.

  • Military researchers are working to harness the 'human fear' pheromone to create a scent of terror.

    Is this part of the $340 billion that the US as the largest, single, R&D-performing nation in the world is annually pumping into future-related technologies?
  • by cutecub (136606) on Friday January 18, 2008 @04:05PM (#22100290)
    ... oh wait.

    They already thought of that. [wikipedia.org]

    What a shiny brave new world we live in!

    -S

  • - should spend the effort on how to create more happyness!
  • That's great.

    I propose they call it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob's_Ladder_(film)/ [wikipedia.org] Jacobs Ladder. One of the best movies ever, but it describes this scenario to a T. Way to go Pentagon.
  • Surreal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Deadplant (212273) on Friday January 18, 2008 @04:16PM (#22100526)
    So congress is now officially, literally, irrefutably funding terrorism?
  • The scent detectors being used to measure the effectiveness of propaganda.

    These systems could unobtrusively monitor individuals within military operational environments or crowded civilian settings by relying on passive detection. It's like the Neilsens for Fox News.

  • Considering that of the 6 billion plus population and the fact that its some fraction of 1% that are responsible for commanding warfare, be it legitimate or not (terrorism), the only possible use of such a weapon is to create the fear that motivates warfare legitimate or not (terrorism) which in turn creates the excuse for continuing the spending. Rather than spending it on more productive and terrorism excuse removing efforts [unesco.org] which would promote peace and be far more effective against terrorism and so legi
  • by kabdib (81955)
    Just unfurl a huge Goatse banner.

    Instant Cthulhu-class crowd mindwipe. "The horror..."

  • Why is it that every single time an article is posted about the pentagon, the discussion thread turns into a giant troll-fest? Don't you people have anything better to do? So far, 99% of the comments have been a variation of one of the following: 1) Oh noez! They'll arrest people for being afraid! 2) Itz CHEMACLE WEAPONZ! 3) Dey really R terrorists! 4) OMG 1984!!!! None of which are even close to being remotely interesting, let alone valid, points. Seriously, if you don't have anything intelligent
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:12PM (#22101474) Journal
    This is, of course, pure BS. It's just psyops. The goal is to make press releases about all kinds of non-existent technological advances in an attempt to discourage certain people from even trying to board aircraft.
  • Miranda/Serenity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phrostie (121428) on Friday January 18, 2008 @06:03PM (#22102270)
    am i the only one who see's a parallel with Josh Weldon's Miranda from the Movie Serenity?

    this is just messed up
  • by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Friday January 18, 2008 @07:33PM (#22103276)
    Doesn't this sound vaguely like the Cylon "detector" from Battlestar Galactica? Same crap from the sounds of it. Right up there with those E-meter things the scientologists use to evaluate your thetan levels.

    I wonder if that measurement of the flow rate of ketchup we paid for ever yielded any results...
  • PTSD (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nezer (92629) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @06:57AM (#22107480) Homepage
    As someone who is now in the process of recovering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder this, literally, scares the shit out of me.

    It is simply stunning that someone can think this is a good idea. Fear is one of the strongest and most primal of all human emotions. Use of such a weapon (if it can even be developed) would be considered flat-out torture in my book. Anyone that has lived through the hell that is PTSD where your in a constant and uncontrollable state of fear would probably agree.

    I think it's safe to say that such a weapon would inflict some sort of trauma on the victims. Research suggests that 25% of the population will suffer from PTSD when exposed to a traumatic event (sorry I can't recall where I read this so it could be BS). A weapon that has the potential to leave 25% of victims exposed to this sort of delayed hell is incredibly irresponsible. PTSD can lie latent for many, many years (in my case it's been nearly my whole life).

    Just to reiterate, this is a really fucking terrible idea. Don't fuck with fear...

    Furthermore, scared people do some crazy shit. This is a very good and very powerful survival mechanism.

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