Copyrights 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994, Eldon Taylor
First printing 1995
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
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R K Book
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Manipulation, Politics, and Law
1. Brainwashing on Trial in America
3. The Subliminal Controversy: To Know and Not to Know
4. The Legal History of Subliminal Communication
5. Politics, Controversy and Disinformation
Section Two: Technology
and the "Taylor Method"
6. The "Taylor Method"
7. Undetectable Information
Section Three: The
Subliminal Interface: Belief, Mind and Body
8. The Active Subconscious
9. The Clinical and Scientific Findings of the "Taylor Method"
Section Four: Mindless
Mind Power of the Mind and a Little Cowboy Philosophy
9. Subliminal Misconceptions
10. How We Learn
11. The Rejection Loop
About the Author
For many years I was a licensed lie detection examiner. Such examinations often use the question, "Have you ever lied to someone that trusted you?" Many people answer this question with a flat "no." These people tend to fail the examination. Still, I remember one subject who answered the question by saying, "No. No one has ever trusted me."
Unlike this individual, I have been very fortunate. Many have trusted and assisted me.
I work in a field which I regard as crucial to our world. Many pundits would have the public believe that any activity in that field suggests serious flaws of intelligence and character. That field is the subject of this book.
Through the thick of things, two people have always stood with me and believed in me and my work. I wish I could offer an expression of gratitude sufficient to their support!
Roy "K" Bey, my dearest friend, THANK YOU! Thank you for your influence. I would have submitted this manuscript to you. I could not. You passed over before this book was completed.
To the second of the pair of faithful friends, my wife Ravinder, THANK YOU! Thank you for standing by me and for your countless hours reading, typing, correcting, questioning, critiquing and adding to the book itself.
Again, I have the blessing of many friends. They too have often risked their reputations and credibility by working with and supporting my efforts in this field. Each of them has contributed in meaningful ways to this work. THANK YOU Lois Bey, Pat Brown, Jim Seidel, Tony Markham, Kathy Seidel, Charles McCusker and William Guillory.
As an author, I confess my debt to all those who have gone before me, contributing to all of us. I especially acknowledge those who have provided permission to quote them. I also have a debt to all who have read my earlier works, particularly those who have written and given me suggestions, asked me questions, or sent me materials. They too have left their mark on my work and in this book. THANK YOU!
I am also indebted to my editor, Janus Daniels. He was instrumental in making this book what it is.
Finally, most of all, I thank the Giver of all. It is my firm belief that life is a miracle, that each of us is a unique gift, and that all that any of us can ever do or be stems from that gift. Being human is still the deepest mystery and the most vivid example of the power to manifest good and evil. I believe that each of us has a responsibility to contribute, to serve, to faithfully give of our best to all of life's miraculous forms in whatever manner we are able. It is our duty to care for all life and the intrinsic right of life to express its full potential. This work grew from that proposition!
Everyone I have ever met, everyone I have ever read or listened to, in fact every single human being in my experience has, more than once, desired to change something about themselves and found accomplishing that change exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. Yet sometimes we transform our behavior and beliefs. The question seems obvious: Why do we sometimes succeed?
Perhaps you asked another question: Why do we fail? I find the question that I have suggested more useful. We can create success.
Perhaps you know people who have created failure for themselves and others. How can we solve that problem?
The field of personal development includes a variety of "experts." They seem to offer more solutions than we have problems. Yet we find no shortage of problems.
Please keep a few questions somewhere in your mind. Join me in examining a few examples of the worst and the best that can happen in this country. We will look at what makes the difference happen. Then we will have some useful answers to what makes people succeed.
Also start to answer another question. When I say succeed, I mean something more than changing my behavior, or buying a house. I mean some things personal to me. What do you mean by success?
Thank you for reading my work. I have sought to make it worthy of your time and energy.
Intent to manipulate and motives behind manipulation have importance. The issue of manipulation itself has more importance. When does it happen? What can it do? How does it work? Who has responsibility?
Chapter One is titled, "Brainwashing on Trial in America." The reader may decide if the material discussed is indeed brainwashing. It would be better to decide what the word means and to find better ways to describe and govern the ways we influence each other. How much can we justify as good old motivational this and that to sell products, motivate employees, garner votes or attract followers?
Chapter One departs from the citation system otherwise found in this work. It describes, more than any other part of the book, a personal and emotional experience. I do not seek to lay blame. I state facts. I make my bias clear. I make no apologies. The facts will bring the response they deserve. I do seek better ways to understand our lives and better ways for us to live.
It's 1994, a decade after Orwell's year. We still have America, land of the free and home of the brave. There is no "Big Brother."
Americans relax comfortably. They enjoy their technology. Television, video players, radios, and other entertainment systems babble together. Favorite music plays in the background. Magazines rest on sofas and tables. Informative articles and advertisements tell all of us of the latest and best in everything one can imagine.
Less than a hundred years ago all of this normal stuff would have appeared miraculous! Where else but America could you expect to find all of this so freely available? Multiple televisions and radios, portable computers, games that simulate reality and interact with children, slick glossy magazines delivered to the door, free television stations with incredible variety, satellite and cable transmissions with ridiculous variety... only in America. America, land of plenty---land of the free and home of the brave.
Liberty and justice for all. We know and cherish that ideal. We know we must guard it. We know dreams can become nightmares. So let us recall a day from 1993.
Two teenage boys had difficulty adjusting to life. Ray had just split up with his girlfriend. James had just lost his job. Neither of them were blameless. Both of them were confused. With most young people, the approach to adulthood provides struggles. It should.
Two days before Christmas, Ray gave James a gift of music. The music had particular significance. James had once collected the music of this particular artist. He found the music violated his Christian beliefs. He threw them all away.
That was a few years ago. James no longer pursued any religious affiliation. He had turned away from religion. Many people do at some point in their lives
On December 23rd, James received the album. The boys decided to play the album while they drank beer. The words and music of one particular song held their interest. They played it repeatedly. The lyrics in several songs encouraged suicide with such rhymes as: "Leave this life with all its sin, it's not fit for living in."
Picture these two young men, attractive, on the slight side--skinny, according to more than one description--unskilled, and not doing well in school, anticipating a life of difficulty and with delusions of grandeur driven by frustration, pretending to be mercenaries, or imagining themselves as heroes.
Mid-afternoon, the lyrics going around in their heads included, "Why do you have to die to be a hero?" The two looked at each other as though acting in some movie. The hero says, "Let's do it!" just before mayhem begins. One of the boys said, "Do it"! The two began chanting "Do it." One of them grabbed a shotgun. They went out the bedroom window to the church playground. Ray placed a shotgun under his jaw. James chanted "Do it!" Ray fired the gun. The blast stunned James. Ray was dead.
James lifted the gun, wet with blood. He said later that he trembled. He felt afraid. He could be blamed for Ray's death. He wondered why they had chanted "do it." He placed the gun under his own jaw. He pulled the trigger.
James had failed to brace the shotgun. As he pulled the trigger the gun lurched forward. The blast shot off the front of his face. It did not kill him. It left him severely wounded and disfigured. He lived for nearly three years.
You have graphic pictures in your mind. Two young men have shot themselves, inflicted death and injury from their own hands---or was it from their own hands? Can we explain such senseless tragic irrevocable acts? Could we prevent them? Try to imagine yourself and a friend suddenly deciding to jump up and commit suicide together! People who commit suicide take a long time to reach their decision to commit the final act. They go over and over the idea in their minds. Even if they do not intend speaking of suicide, it becomes part of their conversation. They plan it. They wonder what will happen after their death. Police always expect to find a note. Mutual suicides rarely occur. On these rare occasions, police expect to find a manifesto. Can you find another case of an impulse double suicide? Surely a tragedy so incomprehensible and odd demands useful explanation and effective response.
Obviously, we can do nothing for the dead. Therefor we will discuss this as a general case. Naming individuals and groups involved, at this point, would imply that they had behaved differently and more culpably than others. Even when true, that could distract from the purpose which I hope you will share with me. Again, I do not seek to blame. I seek understandings that we can all use in our lives.
Perhaps you know some of the history of physics. Maybe you have done some physics experiments in school. Then you know the difficulties of discovering, let alone isolating, proving and measuring cause and effect, in physics. All the more so in psychology.
The recording the boys enjoyed so much had been "cooked." Unknown to them, it included statements which a listener could not normally consciously hear. Could this have had some effect? Bizarre and unlikely behavior tends to have bizarre and unlikely causes.
You have probably seen people come near to physically attacking each other without ever noticing that their tones of voice, and not any words, triggered their emotions. Ample research demonstrates that we can respond to what psychologists term "subliminal perception." We can respond to events without consciously noticing and remembering them. We need to. Imagine having to consciously perceive and respond to all the information of balance and pressure and muscular contractions and relaxations and visceral sensations necessary to stand up, let alone walk! Boxers know that they have to react before they know why - or its too late. You may know of some of the clinical studies in which people in various conditions have reacted to stimuli without consciously knowing that the pictures, print, sounds, or words existed.
The soundtrack the boys listened to included viscerally offensive nonsense like, "Sing my evil spirit, fuck the lord..." and the very simple command, "Do it!" The command was spoken forwards. The "satanic" messages were backwards. The boys had no conscious awareness of the subliminal content. They just chanted, "Do it!" Then they did.
Three years pass. James has died. In a courtroom, in the boys home town, an attorney stands before a judge. He pleads for his client. He insists that his client, the multinational media corporation that released the music album, and that owns the largest broadcasting systems in the world for both radio and television, has the constitutional right to put whatever they wish in the form of subliminal information, on any broadcast or other means of communication, because that is a right granted by the first amendment: Freedom of Speech.
The judge proposes a hypothetical case. Suppose Media Giant uses subliminal messages to sell us a politician. He asks the attorney whether they believe the First Amendment protects this type of conduct. The attorney affirms that it is indeed their right---but they would never do it. Why not? They could.
Weeks turn into months. The trial goes on. The media report the proceedings as a ludicrous waste of taxpayers' money. The experts for the families of the deceased young men suffer ridicule. The media present them in the worst light.
Media Giant fails to produce the original 24-track music master for analysis. They say they can't find it. A former Scotland Yard detective is hired to search high and low for the master. He tells the court under oath that he was not allowed to look in the vaults. Employees and others call it very strange that the Media Giant could not find this master, which made them millions of dollars, and which they need to produce the album.
Media Giant, through able and expensive attorneys, argues that no subliminal messages exist. The judge listens to the messages, as rendered audible. Media Giant explains this as a "coincidence of sound." Members of the band that recorded the music have admitted to putting subliminal messages on recordings. They now deny putting any on this one.
Media Giant's attorneys put on their witnesses. They assert "everything can be quantified" and "there is no evidence that a subliminal message could cause anyone to do anything." These witnesses receive good press.
Just before the trial, one spokesperson against subliminals, a psychologist, became more prominent. You become an expert if 1 you come from out of town. He certainly qualified as an expert. He came from Canada. He had written an article a few years earlier telling America to ignore subliminal "stuff" in songs, advertising, and the like, because it didn't work. He wrote that subliminals wouldn't motivate anyone to do anything. He then became a witness for Media Giant.
Earlier in the trial the "subliminal messages" had to be proven to exist. Witnesses for Media Giant have conducted scientific studies proving the failure of subliminal messages to influence their subjects. This requires a new definition of "subliminal" According to the new definition, if any means of analysis whatsoever can detect the presence of information, then that is "supraliminal" information --- not "subliminal" --- and therefore protected as free speech. Information qualifies as subliminal only if no means whatsoever can detect it. You can't get more subliminal than that! So you have to agree.
These subliminal experts - for certainly their expertise was subliminal - reported many studies. The researchers who conducted these studies tested audio tapes for subliminal voice information. They found no subliminal voice information. Applying the cited definition, the researchers concluded that the tapes were indeed subliminal. One may admire their logic, and still question their sanity.
At the conclusion of the trial, the judge learned that the Media Giant had, at great expense, manipulated the media before and during the trial. It released continuous press packages through a publicity and public relations firm. Such firms and such packages have a simple purpose: to control public opinions. The judge warned the Media Giant on the morning of his verdict that, "The court will be investigating this action, since some of the material given in press releases is totally improper and could constitute slander." He then fined the Media Giant $40,000 for impeding the discovery process and not bringing forward the original music track master.
Nonetheless, the judge stated that, in the wrongful death action that had been brought, the attorneys for the deceased young men failed to prove that the subliminal command was intentionally recorded on the album. Further, the judge concluded, these two young men were at risk and would probably have committed suicide without the subliminal messages.
The trial ended. The media repeated reporting the absolute waste of taxpayers' money spent on such a foolish issue. Newspapers and magazines around the world received media packages scoffing at the entire concept of subliminal perception. Large-dollar advertisers sent slanted packages to the press, and placed advertising if the copy was accepted for print. Experts for the Media Giant began speaking out. They argued that subliminal information-processing did not exist except as a subject for laughter, and that it depended on the foolish idea of a smart subconscious mind able to receive and process this subliminal information.
Finally a report appeared, allegedly a U.S. Army study, debunking subliminal information-processing along with a host of other popular notions such as hypnosis, meditation and the like. In short, according to this report, anything that has to do with the so-called power of the subconscious mind made categorical non-sense.
When contacted, the Army said they had no prior knowledge of the study. The press did not report that the reporting agency (National Research Council) was under investigation for improper use of tax dollars and had returned monies to the government that had been used inappropriately by staff. Further, the press also ignored that these same people turned out a previous report that many scientists criticized as a flagrant and false representation of the data. The press did not link any of this to the reporting agency in context.
The so-called scientific report allegedly generated for the Army came from an organization with its own agenda. In fact, we discover that those who adamantly oppose the idea that subliminal messages could have been a contributing causal factor in the death of our two young men were all connected through public presentations and/or papers to the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and one of its founders. This "founder" also founded an atheistic organization known as Promethens Press. One of the members of CSICOP once stated through one of its chapters: "I want people who are willing to get dirty...What we will do is employ a very thorough, proven technique for getting the point across to people who have no demonstrated facility to reason." Who do they mean?
Some people do reason poorly. A founding member of CSICOP once said, "Religion is the paranoia of optimists."
Most people reason poorly about something. Sometimes some people deliberately reason poorly. Sometimes its hard to tell the difference. You need only refer to some of the reasoning cited earlier.
Many people need to learn to think. We can teach logic. Some have used lack-logic as a means to manipulate. After scrutiny, we found several interconnected organizations that have the same founders or executive committee members. These organizations all attack beliefs that suggest anything more to who and what we are than what we have objective conscious awareness of knowing. They attack meditation, para-psychology, holistic health, spiritual values, ideas of a subconscious or superconscious mind and so forth. They have used ridicule as their principal tactic, "One sneer is worth ten thousand syllogisms."
What do you think of this? Would you like subjection to propaganda in this manner? Would you like your children to live in this environment? Before you decide, let's continue with the story.
The attorneys for the parents of the deceased appealed the judge's ruling. Many grounds existed for this appeal.
Another psychologist, called as a witness for the Media Giant, reported that three double-blind studies, each a replication of the other, clearly showed that subliminal effects are due only to expectation or placebo impetus. Of the three studies he cited, two were part of a doctoral dissertation by a marketing student. This study examined the effects of audiotape labels on expectations. The design of the study did not aim to measure the effect of the audiotapes themselves. The design of the three studies did not replicate each other.
Some of the tapes studied were examined for subliminal content. No messages were revealed. The study went ahead. After all, the student did not intend to study subliminal messages. The study aimed to measure the effect of labels on expectation. This study used some commercial subliminal tapes made by companies who may not have known what they were doing. These studies did not examine anything scientific with regard to a controlled message or a controlled subliminal technology.
Academic journals heated with the controversy. The case awaited appeal. New reports came out that subliminal messages were nonsense. These reports continued to hit the news stands in popular magazines. Many scientific articles demonstrated the opposite.
Our informed Canadian expert, who wrote that America had nothing to worry about as subliminal communication did not work, filed a complaint with the ethics committee of the American Psychological Association (APA). In the complaint he alleged that one of their members, a licensed psychologist, claimed that subliminals worked to aid and assist people with behavioral changes and that he had used this technology. The APA ethics committee unanimously rejected the complaint. Our informed expert went on a campaign with a major liquor company, which has been accused of using subliminal information in its advertising. Together they told America, "Don't worry. It doesn't work, and we'd never do that."
This all actually happened.
Perhaps you have begun to imagine a deliberate conspiracy to keep America in the dark about the power of subliminal communication. We need no conspiracy to explain any of this. Chapter 2 will elucidate that statement. For now, put yourself in their positions.
Suppose you made yourself rich as a rock musician, or that you worked your way to an executive post in a huge corporation; would you like to think that one of your products had contributed to a double suicide? Wouldn't you rather believe anything else? Suppose you had built yourself a university career and a reputation as an authority in your field; wouldn't you want the fame and adulation and money available outside academia? Wouldn't you want to say and write what would bring you all that? Wouldn't you feel better and like yourself better if you could make yourself believe it?
Orwell made a mistake. "1984" described elaborate technologies and tortures that rulers used to make people deceive, not merely others, but themselves. We require nothing elaborate. We do it daily. We do it to ourselves.
Please remind yourself that we must refer to a real and specific incident to illustrate general principles. The particular corporations and professionals mentioned here have proven no more callous and irresponsible than similar corporations and professionals. You must protect yourself from imagining otherwise.
Does any hard evidence suggest any power in subliminal messages? Obviously, this became a major issue at the Reno, Nevada trial where the families of Raymond Belknap and James Vance filed a wrongful death action against CBS and the rock group Judas Priest. As one of the witnesses, I was asked if any direct corollary research had ever demonstrated that subliminal stimuli could elicit action as serious as that taken by young Vance and Belknap.
Questions can require complex answers. This critical question contains the implicit idea that some researcher has taken troubled young people, given them some beer, exposed them to suicidal arguments that embraced childish notions of courage and romance, added emotionally compelling and confusing nonsense, and then added subliminal commands urging action. No such research has ever been done. Thank God! Not since WWII has such a heinous research design been recorded in science. No human subjects committee would allow such a study. (The author wrote this before Att. General Janet Reno forced the release of cold war experiments on humans. He must apologize for his naivete.)
At the time of the trial I explained that this type of study would have been irresponsible. I also referred to research with subliminal stimuli in conjunction with alcohol and in conjunction with depression. Many positive outcomes demonstrated subliminal information could alleviate human suffering. Perhaps people have only done that research because it could lead to profits. Very little research has been done to prove the opposite.
I could discuss all this more eloquently and argue it more persuasively than I did in court. I will let you see what I actually said.
The first question I was asked was how I had come to my conclusions regarding whether or not the subliminal messages contributed to the double shooting. I answered: "Well, I looked at all of the information and essentially said, based on my knowledge, these two boys could have been provoked to a violent action against themselves or against society at large at a given point in time. In order to determine whether or not the subliminal content was a cause in the suicide, I had to satisfy in my mind that something occurred out of the ordinary that could have precipitated this.
"There were a lot of dynamics going on with these young men, so I looked to see if there was a point in the given day when there would be indications that neither of these young men would have been thinking about suicide, actively thinking about suicide. I believe for Raymond Belknap that was when he got his haircut, and for James Vance it was his description under hypnosis of a shower he had taken. Therefore, at about 1.00pm for Raymond and 2.00pm or so for James, I don't believe that there was anything at that point in time that indicated these two young men had planned to commit suicide on the 23rd of December.
"Something had to occur that was different. My understanding is that, although they smoked marijuana and they used some alcohol, it was low-grade marijuana and it was not enough alcohol to be out of the ordinary for their pattern of events.
"Precipitating factors that I took into consideration were the alleged argument that occurred with Vance's parents, the loss of the paycheck, and the fact that it was the 23rd of December. Christmas is a major Christian event and regardless of your beliefs you're still nevertheless aware that it is a Christian event and it is a moral event. It was the proximity to Christmas and the fact that the Stained Class album was given as a Christmas present. Remember, this album had previously been thrown away because of a conflict that existed, at least in James's mind, between his axiological perspective, religiously speaking, and his attitude toward his interpretation of the Judas Priest group.
"I systematically reviewed the scientific literature regarding subliminal studies in light of the character of these young men as I had determined it from the materials sent me. I evaluated or initially looked for studies that had been done where the presentation of subliminal stimuli and depression were associated.
"In a study done by Henley in 1975, it was determined that presentation of subliminal stimuli had an effect on decision making, and that we analyzed and integrated information when it was presented in a metacontrast method or in a subliminal method.
"In a study that was done by Kostandov in 1980, it was determined that there was a role on the choice of reaction as a result of subliminal influences, that subliminal stimuli had a determining role on the choice of our reactions or in decision making.
"I evaluated the fact that Vance had suffered the loss of his father, not through death, as I understand, but through abandonment. I drew inferences that I believe are valid inferences and looked for specific studies having to do with the loss of a primary caretaker and the presentation of subliminal stimuli.
"I found a study done by Jill Miller at New York University that essentially said that subliminal aggressive stimuli, when presented to survivors who had lost a parent, causes hypomania defenses to break down and increases depression.
"I looked to see the influence of prior suicidal threats or attempts and studies that would have been relevant directly or indirectly, and I found a study by Rutstein, performed in 1973. The study essentially demonstrated that there was increased depression in suicidal subjects following aggressive subliminal stimuli.
"I then looked to combine these aggression tendencies and depression in any particular studies. I found a study by DeMartino of New York University. In this study, DeMartino presented the messages "Kill" and "Tell" and determined that the effects of subliminal stimuli were carried by individuals who identified themselves in the self-rating index to be aggressors.
"I found another study done by Silverman where aggressive stimuli was shown to alter pathology--manifest pathology, actually--and essentially Silverman argued that congruent drives gave rise to the degree of manifested pathology.
"I looked for direct behavioral connection studies, studies that would report a direct effect on behavior. I found a study of Dr. Lee's, which was written up in 1983. The study was done on agoraphobics. I drew upon some of my own work at this point, including a study that was conducted at Weber State University, one of my undergraduate schools. The study used the state trait anxiety index to see how subliminal messages effected behaviors related to stress.
"I then looked at religious conflict as it seemed relevant to hypomania defenses. We ordinarily look at that in the traditional psychoanalytic sense as a conflict between ego and superego, superego being the area where we have taboos, our moral values, and ego being the mediator where our drives are coming from, the id. I looked at the back-masking study that was done by Leclerc--that is, of course, presenting language backwards. Leclerc's study was done at the University of Montreal, Quebec.
"Leclerc's study showed us that indeed information that was presented back-masked--sometimes that is called metacontrast where audio subliminal is concerned, but that is not a strict, appropriate use of the word "metacontrast"--was acted upon, was perceived.
"I looked and found a study by Henley in 1975, the study I mentioned earlier where once again music was presented to one ear with subliminal words, to the other ear backwards, back-masked, and had significant subliminal effect.
"I added to that my experience in a number of anecdotal reports ranging from individuals who have worked with programs we created for specific health care interventions to programs that have been employed in settings I would never have thought of. For example, an educational psychologist friend of mine took to his niece, who was in the hospital in Salt Lake City in a coma, a subliminal tape on healing and played it in an auto reverse player. When she came out of the coma, the nurses and the physicians themselves basically said that the first words out of her mouth were what we call affirmations that existed on the tape.
"I was advised by Mr. McKenna in one of his last phone calls to me that an educational psychologist had been deposed that knew James Vance and that she had indicated that James had told her that they chanted "do it."
"We have in this literature the association of music and words, the aggressive drive, aggressive behavior, and then the chanting, and in context I thereby came to the conclusion that the subliminal messages on the Stained Class album were a factor in the double shooting".
The attorney for CBS and Judas Priest (Q) asked,
(Q):"Are you able to say how much of a factor?"
(A):"I don't believe anybody on this earth is qualified to do that."
(Q):"Which is to say the answer to the question is no, not you and not anybody else; right?"
(A):"The nature of the situation -- I appreciate what you're trying to get me to say, Ms. Fulstone."
(Q):"I'm just trying to get an answer to the question.'
(A):"The nature of the situation, I don't think lends itself to a yes or no. I don't believe that we can fractionate all the elements that came together on that day to say one was more important than another. The man that is contemplating suicide standing on the edge of a building, ledge of a building, and somebody says, "you're no good, do it," is that a factor? We're inclined to believe so. How much of a factor, how do you fractionate those factors? I can't give you an answer, is what I'm saying, short of an explanation. I wish I could."
(Q):"Again the question I asked you was, Could you say how much of a factor and that is the question I want answered here. You're shaking your head no. Is that the answer?"
(A):"Are you asking me for percentages?"
(Q):"I'm asking you if you can say how much of a factor, in your opinion, the subliminal messages were in this double shooting?"
(A):"In my own mind, by my best belief, as I understand all the information that I have in front of me, without those messages, without that chanting, without the association to the lyrics "this world is not worth living in," et cetera, I don't believe these young men would have killed themselves on that given day."
(Q):"I'm going back to my question again and limit yourself specifically--you have said in your opinion the subliminal messages on the Stained Class album were a factor in the double shooting."
(Q):"My question is, Can you say how much of a factor?"
(A):"I think I have answered that. I'm not certain now what it is you're asking honestly."
(Q):"You combined it with the actual lyrics, the chanting and, you know, whatever facts you may think you have. I'm trying to get you to tell me, either you can isolate the subliminal messages as a factor and tell me how much of a factor they were, or you can tell me that you can't do that which is what I understood you to say initially"
(A):"I don't believe I can tell you how much of a factor it was."
(Q):"Is it your opinion that the suicide and attempted suicide of Ray Belknap and James Vance would not have occurred but for the subliminal messages?
(A):"On that given day, yes."
(Q):"When you say that, are you separating out the subliminal messages from the other factors that you have described?" (A):"I don't believe that is possible, Ms. Fulstone."
(Q):"Okay. How is it that you can say the suicide and attempted suicide would not have occurred but for the subliminal message?"
(A):"I believe that everything coming together on that day combined with the presentation of an album that in itself was significant to Mr. Vance and to Mr. Belknap. It was Belknap's friendship offer to Mr. Vance. It was something Mr. Vance had discarded because of a conflict in his Christian view of the world. That album contained lyrics that they chanted "do it" to, the lyrics of which I believe suggest to some that life is not worth living and that combined in a gestalt to produce the act of total alienation from life and basic despair."
(Q):"This is all essentially speculation, is it not?"
(A):"I would ask you to define speculation, I guess, Ms. Fulstone. If you mean speculation like I'm speculating on an unknown situation without extrapolating from known, I would say no. If you mean speculation from I'm making inferences, I'm extrapolating, I'm doing my level best to bring all the information together that I have learned in a lifetime through various means to make a judgment, then I would say yes."
(Q):"Are you saying, then, that just as in your opinion the suicide would not have occurred but for the subliminal content, that it likewise would not have occurred but for the alcohol and the drug use on that day?"
(A):"No, I'm not saying that. The answer is no."
(Q):"Are you saying that the suicide and attempted suicide would not have occurred but for the confrontation with Vance's parents?"
(A):"I would consider that the confrontation with Vance's parents could be a contributor. I wouldn't say that you could isolate that. To me the significant factors of this given day once again were the confrontation, the loss of the paycheck, the proximity to Christmas, the despair of the young men that seems to have been provoked, at least in part by all of these things coming together while simultaneously being presented with the Stained Class album in its lyrical content as well as its subliminal content, and all the other meanings it had for the Vance boy.
"I believe that the fact that they chose the back of a churchyard to commit the crime with that same proximity with these other conflicts is more than coincidental.
"The fact that the Vance boy apparently is quoted as saying he saw fire fly from the back of Belknap's head, when indeed that didn't happen, would indicate that his perception is somewhat skewed, and I believe that it's more than coincidental that the album cover would be essentially presenting what it is that Vance says he saw.
"There comes a point, I believe, that we can take all these elements, add them together, and coincidence doesn't explain them."
At the time of this testimony I did not have the results of Professor Peter Kruse's study which included the delivery of reverse speech information. This study, conducted at Bremen University in Germany, demonstrated that reverse speech could influence decision-making. It further showed that reverse speech could substantially alter normal perception, or at least alter our normal judgments about perception.
I also did not have the results of a very suggestive study conducted by Hillarie Taylor. She enlisted the aid of classmates and a science teacher to evaluate the influence of subliminal auditory messages on the fight/flight arousal response. She circulated informed consent releases for participating students that their parents signed.
She had nine volunteers. Her assistant randomly assigned each of them to one of two group. Five subjects were in group A and four in group B.
Group A, listened to the sounds of ocean with three subliminal information deliveries, approximately one minute apart. The messages were "DANGER, DANGER, WATCH OUT! ---- AH-H-H-G-H! DANGER!" The messages were recorded and delivered simultaneously in both forward and reversed speech. The basic pattern, not the messages, came from the Judas Priest album, Stained Class, as described in the first pages of this chapter. Group B listened to the same ocean track without the messages.
Both groups listened to the tapes for four minutes, with earphones, while their body responses were monitored for changes in breathing, blood pressure, the electrical resistance of their skin, and the moisture at the end of their fingers. A four needle polygraph, the same instrument used as a "lie detector," recorded these responses.
After the four minute trial each subject filled out a questionnaire that included a request to report any particular reverie, feelings, or thoughts that occurred during the trials. Only then did her assistant discover and reveal which group each of the subjects was in.
All five of those in group A responded with gross reactions or changes in the measurements of body function coinciding with the delivery of the subliminal "danger" message. Those in the B group had no such response. This suggests the stimulus recognition. Their bodies responded as though an actual danger existed. So did their minds. Three of the five in group A reported reveries of killing or being killed. The fourth reported feeling extremely upset. The fifth said she was too occupied by what the experimenters were doing to notice her thoughts. The experimenters were doing very little. It seems peculiar that, after a four minute period which ended with a request that she recall her thoughts, she would recall none of them. This may qualify as repression. Again, four of five reported disturbing feelings or thoughts and five of five showed physiological responses with the subliminal danger message.
You may remember a time when you fantasized what you would never do, but wanted to. Perhaps you have ex-employers whose sudden deaths would require celebration. Psychological theory has categories of fantasy formation. Our response to danger, the fight or flight response can generate compelling fantasies.
When a person feels threatened, fight/flight gives rise to thoughts of this nature. Killing is fight oriented and death may be flight oriented. Many deal with fear, in fantasy, by neutralizing the source of the fear---even if it means killing. Dying, on the other hand, means escape to many. Of five normal, healthy teenagers, four had thoughts of killing or dying. The fifth apparently "blanked out." This came from one listening, in a pleasant and sober state, to a few repetitions of a single simple subliminal message for a few minutes. How do you think they could respond in the scenes that opened this chapter?
The students and their parents have all been debriefed. Now they have conscious reasons to feel fear. The possibility of subliminal information presented without their knowledge or choice scares them. One of the volunteers suggested, "Just imagine 100 million Americans exposed to this "danger" message all going down to the local grocery store (with thoughts of killing or being killed)." They also take note of the increase in teenage suicide, violence, gangs, drug abuse, and generally destructive behavior. Maybe just coincidental to the subliminal effects of so much of modern communication. The subjects also made an important point to their peers, repeatedly voiced by nearly all: "This stuff should be illegal!"
How can we learn how to deal with this? Where can we get trustworthy information? Who has the motivation to lie? Who stands to gain or lose the most over the issue of subliminal information? Why, when the results are so suggestive from simple and direct outcome studies, do these apparent differences in subliminal effects exist? Was Norman Cousins correct to call subliminal technology potentially the worst invention and discovery of mankind's history?
I believe I have given you the facts. In the Reno trial, the Media Giant's people accused me of being a minister and a philosopher. I take pride in both. They take pride in other things.
Have some practical philosophy. No amount of professional journal writing will affect the threat that exists in the wrong use of subliminal communication. I have to bring this subject before you. Only you can make a difference. I still write articles for professionals. You have the greater voice. Perhaps you think laws prohibit the use of, or protect you from, subliminal messages. Wrong.
Please take out a piece of paper and a pen and write. Write your newspaper, your politicians, your clergyman. Tell them all: subliminal exploitation must cease! Many of my professional friends do not want to get involved. They agree with me, but who wants to work against the big money?
Back in 1986 I appeared before a Utah state legislative committee regarding subliminal communication, particularly in advertising and music recordings. Proposed legislation would prohibit subliminal communication without informed consent. Despite the protests that came from Madison Avenue - advertising agencies, retailers and so forth, this august body passed the bill and sent it on to the floor of the Utah house of representatives. There the bill wasted away. It never became law.
This hearing surprised me, to say the least, by the number of persons who came great distances, such as New York, to oppose the proposed legislation. What did they have to do with Utah?
Since then I have sorted out the answer to that question. Some of my colleagues call it "the smoking gun."
Not long after the release of my book, "Subliminal Communication: Emperor's Clothes Or Panacea", a reader sent me a note with a copy of a training course for advertising. It instantly reminded me of one of the CBS expert witnesses, Dr. Timothy Moore. The beginning of this chapter described him as a Canadian educator and suddenly prominent spokesperson. He had testified that absolutely no evidence supported the existence of subliminal influence. Dr. Moore's claim to expertise grew from an article that he wrote stating that advertisers and musicians did not use subliminal information and, if they did, it wouldn't matter, since subliminals would have no behavioral effects.
Not long after the CBS trial, Seagram's New York advertising agency, Ogilvy and Mather, cited Moore in a glitzy media package. The package ridiculed subliminal advertising and subliminal communication in general. What connected Moore and Seagram's? Seagram's, of course, sells liquor. I and many of my colleagues felt angry and embarrassed to see what we interpreted as a psychologist indirectly pushing a liquor lifestyle in favor of self-help subliminal audiotapes, which he called a fraud.
This caused even more frustration for those who work in the field or follow the literature closely. A study by Ray Monahan had demonstrated subliminal audiotapes assisted alcoholics to overcome their addiction and restore some sense of self-respect and quality in life.
Now, this is not an attempt to vilify Dr. Moore. He may passionately believe that his science demonstrates his statement. However, perhaps Moore has failed to resolve some of his own ambiguities. He begins a recent article with the following question and answer: "Can the meaning of a stimulus affect the behavior of observers in some way in the absence of their awareness of the stimulus? In a word, yes." You can find this article entitled "Subliminal Perception: Facts and Fallacies," in the Skeptical Enquirer. It defends advertisers and applies the term pseudo-science to assertions that advertisements intentionally contain "embedded" or subliminal pictures or words. In the same article he states, "While there is no scientific evidence for the existence of embedded figures or words, let alone effects from them, the images and themes contained in advertisements may well influence viewers' attitudes and values without their awareness." Still, certainly, Dr. Moore has not seen the evidence that I will present after the next paragraph.
I was sent a training manual. I received this on condition of anonymity. The agency that put this material together offers an extremely expensive sixty-day training course. They claim that 95% of their graduates find full-time employment within 30 days. They claim that they are the only agency that guarantees job placement. They also claim to have won Agency of the Year award from Advertising Age. To comment on this material would only dilute it. Please, truly evaluate this "training." We only have space, in this book, for excerpts. Incredible as it must seem, these excerpts are representative of the whole:
"The course itself is an adventure into mental frontiers that challenge even the most stalwart individual. You'll learn the hows and whys of taboo imagery, group motivation theories based on collective animus-anima symbolism, how to slow thought waves and enter alpha, theta, delta levels of the mind, the emotional meaning of colors, shapes, and patterns plus your basic illustration and airbrushing techniques. Techniques that will put your newly acquired secret knowledge to work for you."
"Initiation into the psychological concepts and manipulative stratagems of the art course often comes as a shock to those naive individuals the computer "mis-picked." 36% of all previous candidates dropped out in disgust within the first three days. Since there is no refund, we try to stress that certain squeamish types of people aren't suited for the psychological demands of this fast- paced, secretive business. Our main goal is to produce artists and idea personnel dedicated and obedient to the advertising necessities involved in regulating America's production-consumption cycles.
"The enclosed photos (see colored templates in the center of this book) provide an excellent example of some of these advertising necessities taught at ___ and they visually sum up what our school is all about.
Note: These Photos Can Also Be Found In Eldon Taylors Book "Choices and Illusions"
"One photo (Fig. 1, colored templates) shows a sexy blonde woman holding a cocktail glass. Just another pretty face in the crowd is the visual impact most observers have. However, in the highly competitive world of advertising just another pretty face is no longer enough motivation to guarantee the emotional involvement of the viewer or potential customer. Let's take a look at the artistic strategy we've used to enhance the emotional triggering power of the advertisement. (See Fig. 2, colored templates).
"First off, the woman has sex appeal. She's very pretty and possesses several characteristics found desirable by 8 out of 10 males (information available through our research department). Her blonde hair activates the modern-day blondes have more fun syndrome prevalent among the Clairol generation. The syndrome's connotations are that blondes are more sexual, more easily seduced and enjoy sex more than the other hair colors. Since blatant sexuality is the subliminal theme of this ad, the blonde hair helps to act as an emotional catalyst in ensuring a sexual interpretation by the viewer's subconscious. This will become more apparent as the ad is explained.
"The satyr on the woman's collar or choker further enhances the subconscious sexual theme of the ad. A satyr is an age- old symbol for man's baser instincts, his primitive, lustful, dark side. This satyr identifies its wearer as being associated with instinctive eroticism.
"The choker around her neck is a visual indication of her submissiveness to the eroticism of the satyr. Since a choker closely resembles a collar its submissive symbolism (in this context) is much the same: she will be obedient and docile as a dog in obeying the erotic desires of her master (the viewer). She is a sex slave.
"If we look closely, we see that this blonde woman is holding the cocktail glass in an odd or dissonant way. Her right hand is folded except for her index finger. Her index finger is extended, pointing to the ice-cubes in the cocktail glass. Pointing is a way of directing someone's attention to a specific area or direction. In this case it's the ice-cubes.
"Airbrushed into the ice-cubes are several erotic symbols. These symbols are designed to activate socially taboo thoughts and emotions in the viewer. By activating these deep, instinctual, thought processes, we guarantee our client the emotional involvement of the viewer or potential consumer. We create desires that can only be satisfied by product consumption.
"The symbols in the ice-cubes may seem invisible but hypnotic research has shown 95% subconscious pick-up. The subconscious can take in an astounding amount of visual information. This information filters its way up to consciousness by way of what is socially acceptable. The rest is to remain in the subconscious where it later emerges in the form of desires and wants that are satisfied only through acts of consumption.
"The ice-cubes to which her index finger points form an erect penis. These two cubes have been flesh colored and can easily be seen from a distance of several feet, once pointed out. Note how the penis angle is correct for proper virile erection. Since a penis in a glass is considered taboo, this image would be immediately repressed. People see only what they expect to see.
"The woman's lips are in close proximity to this erect, flesh-toned penis. This idea of fellatio is reinforced by the satyr blowing on a flute or phallic shaped object. Oral sex is a commonly desired quest and fantasy of males of all ages. By retouching and airbrushing in this symbolic sexual message, we've elevated a mere glass of whisky into a potent aphrodisiac.
"Next to this erect penis is a red cherry. Red is a hot, loud, active color. In this context it helps evoke feelings of passion and lust. Red is the color of flames and burning desires.
"On the right of this red cherry is a side view of a happily fornicating rabbit. This rabbit is an apt symbol for love of sex. It's common knowledge that the logo for Playboy magazine is the promiscuous rabbit. Male boastings of sexual prowess often include emphasis on the partners ability to fuck like a rabbit. Note that the ice-cube area surrounding the rabbit's engorged penis is a creamy white. The ice-cube area above the cherry is also creamy white rather than a see-through clearness. In the ad's blatant sexual context this creamy white color correlates with the creamy whiteness of sperm. Obviously ejaculation by fellatio will be successful, enhancing the virility of this product.
"Below the fornicating rabbit is a smiling human face licking its lips. We've airbrushed this face to symbolize a drink that tastes good and will make one happy. It also correlates with love for oral sex . . . licking her lips in anticipation.
"Below this smiling face are several other penises in varying stages of sexual excitement. To the left of these aroused penises are several female shapes with large breasts. These large breasts help activate instinctual maternal sucking impulses associated with the Pleasure Principle. These female shapes visually stimulate any repressed sexual desires in the viewer.
"The model's middle finger on her left hand is visually touching the genital area of the large-breasted female shape. The middle finger is associated with sex and sexual gestures such as Fuck you; fuck being a sexual connotation implying intercourse. This touching of the genitals by her middle finger is subconsciously interpreted as being bisexual or impish (game for anything) in character. Since male fantasies often include acts of lesbianism, we took the liberty to airbrush this visual enticement into the sexual repertoire our impish host is tempting the viewer with.
"Earlier it was stated that the satyr and choker indicated the model's willingness to be sexually submissive to the viewer's own fantasies. To help aid this submissive interpretation we instructed the model to look upward. This looking upward, visually places her in a lower position than the viewer. In this context her position would subconsciously be interpreted as being on her knees or at a level convenient for oral sex. The large white areas of her eyes were retouched to match the exact hue of the white, creamy ice-cubes. Exhaustive research indicates the subconscious reads this as she has eyes for spurting sperm, she loves climactic pleasures, she's voyeuristic. (See Fig. 3, colored templates).
"Even the copy of the ad must correlate with the erotic theme of the ad. About midway through the copy the wording goes, the smoothest thing since skin. This, of course, correlates with the smooth skin of the penis that she's pointing to.
"The rest of the copy is quite sexual when placed within the subliminal sexual framework of the ad. It brings out the imp in all of us refers to the releasing of primitive sexual desires and impulses found in every human.
"In this highly competitive field, where back-stabbers, ball-breakers, and brown-nosers abound, liquor advertisements provide a necessary source of working revenue. When a full-color, one-page, nationally distributed advertisement costs upward of $10,000, we can't afford to spend a king's ransom on mere glittery glasses of ice. We "have to" airbrush in emotional themes that will activate subconscious drives into manipulative consumption control patterns beneficial to our client's corporate growth policy.
"Because of the elusive and secretive nature of our business, we're paid quite handsomely just to keep a low profile. Our fringe benefits are among the best.
"...The majority of the new students exceeded their traumatic overload threshold (gagging reflexes responding involuntarily to visual taboo indoctrination) during theta level ambiguity bypass. It is during this nauseating necessity of indoctrination that the squeamish are weeded out. The recent exceedingly high dropout rate tells us that many are unprepared for the violent aspect of 20th century salesmanship. Sex and violence are two sides of the same coin and are used, without hesitation, in a meticulously coordinated way to nurture the Even Keel psychic growth of consumer qualities. Qualities deemed necessary for future corporate growth. Violence, as a manipulative force, is an integral part of this Even Keel approach.
". . . To visually promise the viewer salvation from death, and loss of one's very soul to the devil, is an emotional hook that we've cast over and over again."
The manual warns students to prepare to deal with the hell-sell philosophy. They state that 99.7% of their recent students dropped out in the first three days. We may take some comfort from that.
Are you as shocked as I was when I opened this package? Do you share my concern for the undermining effect these attitudes must have - even with a weak technology? Do you see the same increase in violence, in drug abuse, in value disintegration, in sexual crimes, that I do? The increase in teenage suicide and gang violence? We know that an elite few continuously mount a deliberate effort to control us. We call it advertising or political campaigning, or employee motivation. How successful can it get? Will we believe their mockery of those who would oppose them, or will we call a stop? Does it matter?
While I was reviewing and writing this material, a radio station, WNCI, from Columbus, Ohio, phoned me to examine some of Madonna's music that allegedly contained subliminal messages. In the song, Justify My Love, were the subliminal words: "I love Satan, do you? I love Satan, who are you?" In the song Rescue Me were the subliminal words:
"In the midnight smoke of yellow
Hear my melodies.
Hail to the family
It must be unknown
Hail hallelujah my position . . ."
The subliminal content was so easy to access that it could be played over telephone lines to all and there is no doubt about the understandability of these backward speech lyrics. The messages were there---but why?
Maybe its a joke. Recording artists have been told, by academic and industry authorities, that subliminals have no effect. The gun is not loaded. Mom and Dad have told you. You wouldn't want to think that anything you did could ever hurt anyone. That would be awful. Subliminals, when discovered, have occasionally garnered performers a wealth of publicity. How many harmless pranks could have such a nice payoff? How many unloaded guns have killed how many of us?
Some may still ask, "Do subliminals really work? The answer is demonstrably yes. Later chapters will review the literature. We have all seen what we have not seen, and we have all heard what we have not heard, and we have all acted on it. Again, we have to. We can't not respond, and we can't afford to make conscious decisions about everything.
The magazine ad intentionally uses seeing without seeing. You may have related experiences while driving. You drive a familiar route, respond to traffic and signs and lights, without consciously seeing them or even remembering the drive afterwards. You may have had the experience of avoiding a sudden near accident. You realize what happened afterwards.
The album, not so intentionally, uses hearing without hearing. You've caught yourself humming a tune while driving on the freeway. You turn the radio on---only it is already on with the volume turned low---and guess what you hear when you turn up the radio? The tune on the radio registered. What first appeared as unaccompanied humming did in fact accompany music turned down so low that the conscious mind was unaware of it. This type of experience commonly occurs with outside noise or when driving at high speeds. Coming off a freeway, rapidly reducing the speed of the car, may cause one to suddenly notice the radio "blasting" at an uncomfortable volume. The sound went consciously undiscriminated: subliminal perception.
This works in every sensory perception. Who would deny the power of perfume, whether we consciously notice the scent or not? Taste conditioned Pavlov's dogs. A moment of disequilibrium may later leave you remembering a ride on a Ferris Wheel, or a drug experience, without knowing why.
I began by stating that this is America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. I remember the flawed movie Network. A television news anchorman shocks the world by telling the truth as he sees it. Most of you have seen a central scene from this film. He tells everyone watching him to lean out their windows and yell, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" When it looks as though he might expose his network managers, they have him assassinated during his broadcast. The violence can build their ratings. At its best the movie makes us think about the dangers and values of mass communication.
I do not believe that America wants to sleep. The courage of a few uncovered scandals before Watergate and after the Thrift and Loans. No position or riches will protect culprits from public knowledge. Today, the public has greater access to information than ever before. The world will not tolerate robbing the innocent of their rights. I admit we have some couch potatoes who believe anything on television. I still believe that each and every one of you will start letting everyone know that you're fed up, mad as hell, and won't take it anymore.
In Subliminal Learning, I reported the results of a survey which showed that most people believe that subliminal communication does not exist, and that it is dangerous. At that time, this obvious contradiction seemed ridiculous to me.
The information presented in this chapter forces at least these few conclusions: Subliminals enjoy extensive use. Some people use subliminals without informing the public. These people deny using subliminals. These people work to convince the public that subliminals have no effect.
At least some popular performers incorporate subliminal messages in their work. At least some advertisers use subliminal content to sell. Some use a "hell-sell" psychology including systematic means designed to use subliminal information for manipulation.
Advertisers believe in subliminal efficacy strongly enough to send people to Utah from New York to protest a bill controlling it, or from Canada to Nevada to oppose a trial condemning it.
Is there a conspiracy? I do not believe we need to imagine conspiracy to explain anything described in this chapter. We only need to imagine different people doing what makes them comfortable. The next chapter explains why.
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