Can you hear radio broadcasts through your teeth?

Do you mean me specifically? If so, then the answer is ‘no’ I’m afraid. I must also say that given the state of pop music these days, I’m actually very glad of it!

So…Awkward question time: are you hearing radio broadcasts through your teeth mate?

Lol. Just kidding.

Whilst it sounds like utter nonsense, there have actually been quite a few reported cases of people ‘picking up’ radio broadcasts through their fillings/dental caps over the years.

Our oft-quoted friend Cecil Adams, of The Straight Dope.com, actually answered this question back in 1992. In his answer, Adams highlighted two particularly interesting case studies. I’ll reprint them here, along with a link to the site in question.

Case #1. George, of suburban Chicago, lost a front tooth at the age of 12. A year or so later, in about 1961, he was fitted with a cap that was attached to the tooth stump with what George recalls as a brass wire. Thereafter he began hearing music in his head, generally popular tunes of the day, usually while he was outdoors. The music was soft but distinct. He never heard an announcer’s voice or commercials and was unable to identify what radio station, if any, he was hearing. After a year or two of this a new dentist put in a cap without a wire and the tunes stopped.

Case #2. Lois, also of suburban Chicago, says it happened just once, in 1947, while she was riding a train from her home in Cleveland to college in Rhode Island at about age 18. The experience lasted maybe 10 minutes. She couldn’t tell what station she was listening to but recalls hearing commercials and an announcer’s voice. She has silver tooth fillings but doesn’t recall if she’d had one put in just before the event.

Actress Lucille Ball even claimed to have helped the allies by intercepting radio signals in this, frankly rather bizarre, way. This story is widely re-told and was even used as part of the plot of the musical ‘Something For The Boys’.

Adams goes on to mention a piece on Snopes.com about the incident, which appears to feature the testimony of the actress herself, who says,

“One night I came into the valley over Coldwater Canyon, and I heard music. I reached down to turn the radio off, and it wasn’t on. The music kept getting louder and louder and then I realized it was coming from my mouth. My mouth was humming and thumping with the drumbeat and I thought I was losing my mind”

According to the Snopes account, after she related this strange story to Buster Keaton, he told her that it had happened to a friend of his.

If you’re interested, here’s Lucille’s account of ‘catching’ the Japanese spies, which allegedly transpired about a week later.

“All of a sudden, my mouth started jumping. It wasn’t music this time, it was Morse code. It started softly and then DE-DE-DE-DE DE-DE-DE-DE! As soon as it started fading, I stopped the car and then started backing up until it was coming in at full strength. DE-DE-DE-DE DE-DE-DE-DE! I tell you, I got the hell out of there real quick. The next day, I told the MGM security office about it, and they called the FBI or something and sure enough, they found an underground Japanese radio station. It was somebody’s gardener, but sure enough, they were spies”

As entertaining as Lucille’s story is, Snopes could find no record of the event, which surely would have been heavily featured in the local, if not the national, news. A cover-up to prevent mass panic? Personally, I don’t think so, as Snopes goes on to mention a Japanese submarine being spotted off the coast of Santa Barbara on February 23rd 1942, which was obviously an extensively covered event.

A discussion on Skeptics Stack Exchange.com uncovers another major flaw in this story (and all others like it). The users suggest (rightly) that any radio signal must first be demodulated in order to make any sense at all. As far as I know, dental fillings have no demodulation circuits.

So, is it possible or not?

Probably not. A demodulation circuit is not and has never been a part of a dental filling’s mix-up.

There is some compelling ‘evidence’ out there, as well as a couple of cases that have been looked into somewhat scientifically and featured in various respected journals, but then again, according to certain statistics, 3.7 million Americans have been abducted by aliens. That alarming statistic, in and of itself, ought to be enough to make you skeptical of anything.

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