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Backmasking is the process of recording hidden messages in musicwhich can only be revealed when a song is played backward. Thistechnique was first used by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the 1920s, in an attempt to change people's negative attitude toward radio broadcasting (more information on this is availableon our history page). Since then, various artists have been accused of lacing their music with efforts to convert listeners from worshipping Satan to killing themselves to smoking marijuana

Retailers have also taken advantage of the ability to encode messages into music by playing subliminal tapes to secretly persuade shoppers. Some web sites offer tapes of upbeat jazz or Latino music, "under" which are recorded messages geared to push consumers to spend or deter them from stealing.

"Don't worry about the money!" or "Imagine owning it!" accompany other audio messages such as "Buy now and don't take it, you'll get caught!" According to one vendor of such materials, sales are reported to have been increased by 15% and thefts decreased by 58% by stores who used the tapes.

According to several "experts", recording subliminal messages under music can not only persuade people to buy instead of steal, but it can also change our lives. "Self-Help" subliminal audio tapes can be found in bookstores, on the web, in shopping malls and in mail-order catalogues. Anytime you can listen to a cassette or CD -while sleeping, driving to work, jogging outside or cooking dinner, for example- you can learn a new language, quit smoking, lose weight or improve your attitude without having to consciously participate in the change. Though you may not be aware of what you're hearing, parts of your brain are still acquiring information.

*Click on the brain to read more about this process.
Some people claim these messages are also influential when they are embedded in a computer screen, and there are
programs available that users can download onto their machines in order to receive stimuli while working or playing on the computer.

"Whether or not subliminal messages actually work, the public's belief in their effectiveness has spawned a $50 million industry which may be completely based on false advertising." (Smiltnieks)

"Behavior modification software" can run on any laptor or PC along with other programs, and the latest available packages cost anywhere from $50.00 to $500.00. Websites offer software to help users learn how to make their own subliminal messages or to run pre-fabricated ones across the screen.

Success can be yours! Lose weight! Smile! Stop smoking! Improve your relationships! Relax!

In the 1950's, James Vicary claimed he had inserted hidden images into the movie "Picnic." In between scenes, images of popcorn and fountain drinks flashing on the screen reportedly increased sales of both items during the movie when it was shown at a New Jersey theater.

Not all subliminal messages have been used to improve moral, though. In the 2000 election, the Republican party was accused of inserting a subliminal message into an ad for the Bush campaign. According to the Democrats, there was a split-second scene in which the word "RATS" could be "clearly" seen.
More recently than that, subliminal messages were admittedly placed on the set of the hit TV series "Friends," when the camera was directed at a recycling symbol on the refrigerator for a brief moment.

"The most effective way to unleash the hidden power of the human mind is to provide it with....subliminal messages."


Are subliminal messages real? Do they work? When did they begin? Follow the menu to our history, psychology, legal issues and gallery pages to decide for yourself.