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“nac ew seY” gniyas amabO kcaraB fo oediV

If you haven’t already seen it, I recommend that you watch the excellent TED video of Michael Shermer talking about strange beliefs and the human tendency to identify patterns when there are none, before you continue with what follows. The part about auditory illusions starts around 8:50. (Shermer’s book, The Believing Brain, is one of the featured books here at OCT).

Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make a YouTube video of Barack Obama speaking backwards. Now if you play the video without watching it, you probably will not understand what is going on. It takes the captioning to tell you what you are supposed to hear, and then your brain obliges. The Video is of Barack Obama saying “Yes we can.”

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10 Responses to “nac ew seY” gniyas amabO kcaraB fo oediV

  1. avatar
    Paul February 10, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    Backward messages occur frequently, and sometimes you really get a suprise.
    Years ago, I worked in radio. One of my duties was commercial production, which included taking commercials on reels of audio tape and recording them onto tape cartridges for use on the air. To do this, I would play the tape until the commercial started, and then hand rewind it back to just before the beginning so I could then make the transfer recording.

    One day I had a commercial whose opening line was, “The name says it all.” So when that had played, I stopped the tape machine and hand wound it back to the beginning of the audio. And I clearly heard (as it was played backwards), “what does this mean?”

    I tried it a few times again — Played forward it said, “the name says it all.” Backwards it was, “what does this mean?” I called in a few co-workers and they confirmed I wasn’t reading too much into it. They clearly heard “what does it mean?” when played backwards.

  2. avatar
    ASK Esq February 10, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    I was goong to ask if he revealed that Paul was dead, but then I saw that Paul posted the first comment, so it seems that he isn’t.

  3. avatar
    Majority Will February 10, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Paul:
    Backward messages occur frequently, and sometimes you really get a suprise.
    Years ago, I worked in radio. One of my duties was commercial production, which included taking commercials on reels of audio tape and recording them onto tape cartridges for use on the air. To do this, I would play the tape until the commercial started, and then hand rewind it back to just before the beginning so I could then make the transfer recording.

    One day I had a commercial whose opening line was, “The name says it all.” So when that had played, I stopped the tape machine and hand wound it back to the beginning of the audio. And I clearly heard (as it was played backwards), “what does this mean?”

    I tried it a few times again — Played forward it said, “the name says it all.” Backwards it was, “what does this mean?” I called in a few co-workers and they confirmed I wasn’t reading too much into it. They clearly heard “what does it mean?” when played backwards.

    There is no credible evidence that the human brain is capable of hearing any audio and then playing it in reverse on its own and comprehending the result making the effort to backmask a message a waste of time. And hearing messages by playing a track in reverse is auditory pareidolia.

    More on the subject:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backmasking#Skepticism

  4. avatar
    Bill DuBerger February 10, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    Art Bell was the Weekly World News of radio and often had the reverse speech guy on.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_speech

    As silly as “Clam Plate Orgy”.

    Believers believe.

  5. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy February 10, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    Comments are disabled on that video. I’d like to know what YouTube people think of it.

  6. avatar
    justlw February 10, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: I’d like to know what YouTube people think of it.

    http://xkcd.com/202/

  7. avatar
    justlw February 10, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    Bill DuBerger: As silly as “Clam Plate Orgy”.

    Key spoke at my college once. He was a very entertaining public speaker.

    Total load of dingo’s kidneys, of course.

  8. avatar
    Wile February 10, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Thanks for the Michael Shermer video, Doc. His book is on my to-buy list.

    Here’s Bill Hicks’ take on the whole satanic messages in music business…

    *F-word alert*
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_69yvFZH9U

  9. avatar
    Thrifty February 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    .mih ssiM .mih ssiM .nam daed a si luaP

  10. avatar
    Thrifty February 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    Weird Al Yankovic encoded some funny backwards messages into two of his songs. If you play “Nature Trail to Hell”, backwards, you can hear him saying “Satan eats Cheez Whiz”. This was some time in the early 80s I think, on his 2nd album, “In 3D”. A decade or so later, on his album “Bad Hair Day”, the track “I Remember Larry”, if played backwards, reveals the hidden message “Wow, you must have an awful lot of free time on your hands.”

    Just some fun trivia.