The Mysterious Sound That Drives 2% Of The Population Crazy

Photo: Login / Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock
woman covering her ears

At some point in your life, you’ve likely heard a humming in your head or a ringing in your ears. You looked around to see if anyone else was hearing it, only to find you were the only one.

Maybe you thought you were losing your mind, but for 2% of the world's population, they can rest assured that they are completely sane. 

That is due to a phenomenon known as "The Hum," a low frequency sound that a small percentage of people can hear while the rest of the population cannot.

What is the hum?

The hum is low frequency humming or a rumbling sound, like a truck idling, that only 2-5% of the population can hear.

Hum hearers complain that because no one else can hear the mysterious hum, they are left with a feeling that they are going crazy. It has also been known to disrupt their daily lives.

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The earliest reports of the Hum started in the mid-1970s in the UK. Bristol Citizens began complaining about the noise to the local newspaper, the Bristol Post.

At that time, those who could hear the hum said that it created a major distraction. It was even linked to two suicides.

Around 2011, residents of Windsor, Ontario, started hearing the hum intermittently.

The Windsor Hum, as it is now know, created such an uproar that Canada’s government paid for a study to get to the root of the problem.

That study found that the humming sound that some were hearing was real environmental noise, likely emitting from a U.S. Steel facility on Zug Island near Detroit, Michigan.

Though the findings were not definitive, the hum in Windsor seemed to go away when the plant shut down in 2020.

But in other locations, like Kokomo, Indiana, the baffling hum persists.

For that reason, a high school math teacher, Glen MacPherson of British Columbia, created the World Hum Map and Database to gather information and track hum locations.

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The Hum Theories

There are several theories out there about where this mystical hum comes from. Some of them make total sense, while others are questionable and a bit conspiratory in nature.

Industrial Fans

The Bristol Hum, in particular, is thought to be a result of large industrial fans that run a nearby Avonmouth warehouse. That theory was debunked when the warehouse shut down long ago.

Mating Calls

In the UK city of Hythe, the Scottish Association for Marine Science thought the noise was caused by male midshipman fish sending out their mating calls in order to attract mates.

Jet Streams

In 1973, the Institute of Biology proposed that a jet stream that went against the flow of slower-moving air created a low frequency sound that was then amplified by electricity pylons.

Ocean Waves

A new theory emerged in 2015 when French scientists offered that the Hum was created when ocean waves extended to the ocean floor. They thought the vibrations came from those waves crashing into continental shelves and rattling the Earth.

Volcanic Eruptions

Another scientific hypothesis is that the humming sound is made by volcanic eruptions. This was demonstrated during the 1883 Krakatoa eruption that left the Earth shaking for days on end.  

Lightning Strikes

A reasonable explanation for the Hum could be the 8 million lightning strikes that hit Earth on a daily basis. The electromagnetic charge causes air between the surface of the Earth and the ionosphere to reverberate.

Other Causes

As TikToker Olivia Snake explains, some of the more far-out theories are government mind control devices, military radio waves, aliens, and even mass hysteria.



Perhaps there will never be a definitive answer as to why the hum occurs in various locations across the globe.

But for those suffering from the side effects — like insomnia, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and memory loss — the search for clues will likely last a lifetime.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle, entertainment and news, and self-focused content, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues