Aluminium tinfoil hats used by the paranoid to shield their thoughts from shadowy government agents in black helicopters may be making the problem worse rather than better, according to research carried out at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
A team of four students used a $250,000 network analyser and have published a short paper showing that, rather than protecting the user, tinfoil hats actually amplify the signals presumed by some to be used for mind control.
"It requires no stretch of the imagination to conclude that the current helmet craze is likely to have been propagated by the government, possibly with the involvement of the Federal Communications Commission," wrote the authors of the paper entitled On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study.
"We hope this report will encourage the paranoid community to develop improved helmet designs to avoid falling prey to these shortcomings."
The team tested three basic designs: the 'classic' all over skull cap; the 'fez' conical design; and the 'centurion' which has a foil peak. All three hats were double layered with tinfoil.
Measurements were taken from four parts of the brain and revealed that the signals received were increased, and in some cases doubled, by wearing the hats. Similarly, the hats amplified the signals sent from the head, from an implanted microchip or hidden bug.
However, the study has drawn criticism from the 'tinfoil hat community'. " Should paranoids trust people working for an organisation deeply involved in the military-industrial complex?" asked Lyle Zapato, who runs a website dedicated to such phenomenon as mind control.
"While Rahimi, the lead investigator on whose site the paper is hosted, is from MIT's Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department, the others are from MIT's notorious Media Lab.
"Media Lab receives funding from Darpa, which is one of those government agencies they pretend to be concerned about. When it comes to mind control, they are hardly an unbiased party."
Zapato goes on to point out a number of other inconsistencies in the report, such as the fact that the study claims to have been conducted with Reynold's aluminium foil despite a roll of Chef's Pride foil being clearly visible in one of the pictures.
He also suggests that the very expensive test equipment used by the team is a "subtle way of discouraging people from replicating the experiment at home".
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