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eclectica
2003-08-06, 04:10
I was wondering what effect the wailing of sirens has on people. Some dogs start howling when they hear wailing sirens. I don't know why the wailing sound in sirens is chosen, but I believe it is a sound that is hard to ignore. Why do dogs howl anyway?

Here are some excerpts of pieces of information I found on sirens and wailing:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/A1070119

Those Stuka dive bombers were equipped with banshee wailing-type sirens which became operative as the aircraft dived down. They were supposed to create a demoralising effect on strafed troops - I donít think that ship's crews liked them either.
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_801080.html?menu=news.weirdworld.strangecrime

Japanese police have swapped their wailing sirens for the sounds of church bells in the hope of calming down agitated crooks.

The new computer generated sounds will replace the sirens on police cars and initial tests in the province of Toyama have proved successful.

The chiming bell sounds were recommended by music therapists who believe the specific tones and slow rhythm will put local residents at ease and help mollify criminals, reports Japanese news agency Kyodo.

Police chiefs also hope the new alert signal will help increase the population's vigilance without making them nervous.
At this site (http://www.discovery.panasonic.co.jp/en/library/lib05sou/l05011.html) they say that a dog howls when it hears a siren because it confuses it with another dog, but I disagree with that. I don't think dogs are that unaware of their surroundings. I've seen dogs start crying and howling out of sympathy of hearing humans crying. I think the dog howls when it hears the wailing siren for the same reason; it is a sympathetic wailing.

Dogs are similar emotionally to humans, and that is why dogs are "Man's best friend". Here is a good article on dogs, wolves, and howling:
http://www.suratcityonline.com/Lifestyle/Dogs/Dogs_Howl.asp

There is a desire in people to howl too. There are several urges and feelings all working together to make a good howl. One is the love of the night and the fun of being in the pack. But with the fun comes memories of sadness, and memories of loneliness too. All those contradicting forces work together to make one howl. It was Nietzsche who said: "Gaze long into the abyss, and the abyss gazes into you." When we howl, we are gazing into the abyss.

napho
2003-08-11, 00:27
I think repetitive sounds lead one (humans anyway) to anticipate the next and the next blast. That accentuates and amplifies the effect; be it annoyance or sympathy. If it was one long monotone I think it'd be easier to ignore.