1993-10-24 - Re: Subliminal Channels

Header Data

From: “Robert J. Woodhead” <trebor@foretune.co.jp>
To: Alexander Reynolds <chrome@jhunix.hcf.jhu.edu>
Message Hash: e2ef3741c2fb5f089815477200d2a25a60a99a0d3caade1d5e12f29b6bb3fcce
Message ID: <9310240134.AA14181@dink.foretune.co.jp>
Reply To: <Pine.3.05.9310231521.A9649-b100000@jhunix.hcf.jhu.edu>
UTC Datetime: 1993-10-24 01:38:29 UTC
Raw Date: Sat, 23 Oct 93 18:38:29 PDT

Raw message

From: "Robert J. Woodhead" <trebor@foretune.co.jp>
Date: Sat, 23 Oct 93 18:38:29 PDT
To: Alexander Reynolds <chrome@jhunix.hcf.jhu.edu>
Subject: Re: Subliminal Channels
In-Reply-To: <Pine.3.05.9310231521.A9649-b100000@jhunix.hcf.jhu.edu>
Message-ID: <9310240134.AA14181@dink.foretune.co.jp>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Alexander writes:

>Read R. Key's _The Clam-Plate Orgy_ for information on how advertising
>companies (cigarette ana alcohol companies especially) add little
>airbrushed renditions of subliminally pleasing sex scenes, with intent to
>stimulate purchase of the product.  Its been done for almost 50 years now,
>and started with the tachistoscope used in movie theatres to get people to
>consume popcorn and Coca-Cola(tm) in great quantities.  Sales went up by 60%.

Alas, almost every study that has been done on "Subliminal Seduction"
has generated negative results.  The famous Movie theatre experiment, for
example, was totally uncontrolled -- and did Key mention that it was
done during a heatwave, with broken air-conditioning in the theatre?

Moreover, tests of the "embedded sex objects" hypothesis don't pan out.
It turns out that (a) people don't notice them unless they have been
predisposed to (ie:"find the penis in the photo") and (b) whether or
not there is an embed in the photo has no meaningful effect on the

Basically, human beings are pattern recognition machines.  We _love_
patterns so much that we tend to see them even when they aren't there
For example, "The line I  am in is always the slowest."  This is because
you don't remember the times you were in a fast line, because it isn't
a big stimulus to you.  So guys like Key, who are looking for patterns,
will find them everywhere.

Deliberate embeds in advertising are almost without exception artists
jokes.  And most perceived embeds are simply random things about the
image that our minds are organizing for us.