"...that houses an array of pepper sprays and stun guns and malodorants - tiny capsules of powdered 'faecal matter, dead mammals, sulphur, and garlic' which are great at 'crowd dispersement' and 'will gag a maggot.' " (Ronson 2004)
I thought it would be worth writing about, if ever our Psychology 135 class got around to discussing the importance of smell.
|Clearly I hadn't been paying enough attention.|
That was around a month ago; tonight, I finally got the chance I'd been waiting for. I eagerly dug up my copy of Ronson's opus, powered up my computer, and started sniffing around. Unfortunately, the results were rather discouraging; I hadn't considered that the book I had been reading was primarily about the US military's more unconventional secret projects. A dearth of reviewable articles was to be my Waterloo and that plain stank.
|Like water in the loo.|
My first stop on the road to disappointment was Google Scholar. An initial search on non-lethal weaponry produced Nick Lewer and Neil Davison's overview of non-lethal technologies; while this initially excited me, proper reading revealed that only a third of the eight page had been dedicated to malodorants; moreover, the paper itself had been assembled for a forum on disarmament by professionals with no direct connections to military research. The overview's objective was to enumerate, not to describe; as such, I could glean no information about how the US military operationalized research on malodorants.
A subsequent search, this time on non-lethal malodorants, led me to a patent for malodorant compositions. While the References section contained URLs, trying to follow up on these was a dead end for me; working from the bottom of the list, I came up with two Error 404: Page Not Found results and a notice that the US Naval War College's website was taking too long to respond. Rather than attempt to search further and place myself at risk for inclusion on a foreign government's watch list, I decided to retreat and look only at the patent for answers.
|I do not want this man to know what I do with my Internet connection.|
In that regard, the patent was very forthcoming with both casual and technical descriptions of malodorant compositions; to my distress, however, no mention was made of either the methods or the participant pool with which the claims made in the patent were verified.
Dejected, I turned to Wikipedia. The article on malodorants had been flagged for lacking either references or sources, but it did link to something called Skunk. Ostensibly an Israeli riot-control weapon, Skunk was first used on protesters gathering at a security barrier in the village of either Naalin or Bilin, to reportedly great effect.
Participant pool? A crowd of protestors. Methodology? Sprayed from a water cannon. Informed consent? I doubt it.
All the same, I've got to hand it to the Israelis. As far as efficiency's concerned, their scientific practices merit only one response: