This video isn’t backmasking, per se, but backward songs nevertheless… watch as Kelly Clarkson competes with Jimmy Fallon to be the first to identify each of the backward pop songs:
I don’t personally call it backmasking when it’s just reversed audio that sounds like gibberish forward but with a backward message when reversed, nevertheless Slashfilm has an article about the title cards at the end of each episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia which have a new secret message for each season.
The production company logos that air at the end of TV shows offer creators a chance to put their own creative spin on things one last time before their time slot is up, and comedy shows tend to make it fun. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” not only had fun with their production company logo, but they’ve also changed the audio that plays each season. There’s just one major twist on things: they backmask all of the audio!
They’ve got the text of the reversed audio for all 16 seasons.
GPT-3 (short for “Generative Pre-training Transformer 3”) is a state-of-the-art language generation model developed by OpenAI. It is designed to generate human-like text by predicting the next word in a sequence based on the words that come before it. I’ve been excited about the capabilities of ChatGPT and the ease at which one is able to generate human sounding responses to questions on obscure topics. I was also intrigued when I found out what it could do to explain how a specific section of code works.
Here is its quick response when I asked it to tell me about backmasking:
Backmasking is a recording technique in which a message is recorded backwards onto a track that is meant to be played forwards. This technique has been used by artists in various genres of music, from rock to hip hop, to add hidden meanings or subliminal messages to their music.
Some people believe that backmasking can have a powerful and even dangerous influence on listeners, particularly when it comes to subliminal messages that are meant to manipulate the listener’s thoughts or behavior.
However, the effectiveness of backmasking as a means of influencing the listener is a topic of much debate. Many scientists and experts have conducted research on the topic and have found that, while it is possible for subliminal messages to be processed by the brain, they do not have the power to significantly change someone’s thoughts or actions.
In addition, the use of backmasking as a means of subliminal messaging has been largely debunked by the scientific community. While it may be possible to hear a backwards message when a track is played in reverse, the brain is not able to comprehend and process the message in the same way it would a message that is played forwards.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence supporting the power of backmasking, the technique remains a controversial and interesting topic in the world of music and popular culture. Some people continue to believe in the power of backmasking, while others see it as a harmless and even humorous gimmick.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue, it is important to approach the topic of backmasking with an open mind and to be aware of the limitations and limitations of this recording technique.
While it’s still early days as far as GPT-3 taking my job as a teacher, I also checked out what it could write up for lesson plans for grade five health class and it was impressive. It does play fast and loose with the facts however — I was asking about world record information and it remixed some real world divers and their records.
I would warn users that just like the complacency that can overcome drivers in a “full self-driving car”, the facts gleaned from GPT-3’s responses should be considered with the same dose of skepticism one would apply to secret backward messages. Not everything you hear, read, or see, is as legitimate as it appears.
I just received a copy of the book, “Political Tribalism in America” in the mail today. Subtitled, “How Hyper-Partisanship Dumbs Down Democracy and How to Fix it” this book (Amazon.ca) by Timothy J. Redmond includes a paragraph on the expectation bias and uses my backmasking page as an example of how being primed can change your perception.
From p.79-81 of the book:
The expectation bias occurs when our expectations about an outcome influence our perceptions of that outcome. To illustrate this point, go to http://jeffmilner.com/backmasking/stairway-to-heaven-backwards.html, click on the “play forward” button, listen to the clip of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”, and follow along with the accompanying lyrics (Figure 4-2). Trust me. It’s well worth the effort.
After walking through my backmasking page, he goes on to compare the priming one needs to hear the backward message to the priming we bring with us when we watch the news.
And as supposed backwards messages in rock music go, so go allegations of media bias. When Democrats and Republicans expect to find partisan biases in the news, they tend to find them. A study by Matthew A. Baum and Phil Gussin presented subjects with a transcript of a news report on the 2004 presidential election between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat John Kerry, and asked them to evaluate whether the material was favorable, neutral, or unfavorable toward either of the nominees. Each participant received an identical transcript that was painstakingly crafted to be balanced “in terms of positive, negative, and neutral references to the candidates.” The first section of the transcript, reproduced below, is a case in point (bracketed remarks are mine).
Good evening. We start tonight with the presidential candidates on the attack [neutral]. Today with just 13 days left in the campaign, John Kerry was explaining why he believes the president does not understand the problems of ordinary people [anti-Bush] while, for President Bush, the message was mostly about why Senator Kerry’s plans will leave Americans worse off [anti-Kerry]
But there was, of course, a twist. While the content of each transcript was the same, some subiects were told that the news report originated from CNN while others were informed that it came from Fox News. The result? Participants who believed that CNN was liberal concluded that the CNN version of the transcript favored John Kerry. Yet those who presumed that CNN was conseryative thought that the CNN news report was partial to George Bush.
Likewise, those who considered Fox News to be conservative, maintained that the Fox News version of the transcript favored Bush, while those who believed that Fox News was liberal concluded that their report privileged Kerry.
He went on to explain that some of the priming comes from party leaders themselves.
In a 2010 study. political scientist Jonathan Ladd similarly found that Democrats and Republicans were more likely to evaluate the media as biased when they were told that their party leaders believed that the media was “being too friendly with President Bush” or “being overtly critical of President Bush,” respectively. We see what we expect to see.
The scientific evidence belies the charge that the mainstream media is infused with a partisan bias. Unfortunately, when we’re repeatedly told otherwise, we expect the media to be slanted and will discern it as such. Thus, if we want to perceive the news media more clearly, we must first relieve ourselves of the expectation bias. For if we heed the scientific evidence — as opposed to the screeds of politicians or pundits — we might just start to see things a little differently.
I look forward to reading the rest of it.
Eric Clapton says he was duped into getting the CoViD-19 vaccine by subliminal messaging on YouTube. The infamous guitarist got at least some of his vaccination shots but has declared he regrets that decision after suffering “disastrous” side effects. Billboard.com has the story:
After months of railing against COVID-19 lockdowns and vaccines, and refusing to play shows that require vaccination proof, Eric Clapton has seemingly embraced a controversial theory claiming that secret messages are allegedly being hidden inside YouTube videos with the goal of driving mass compliance with COVID precautions. The 76-year-old rock icon pointed to the theory as an explanation for his divisive views on the global pandemic that has killed more than 5.6 million people worldwide.
“[I thought], ‘What’s going on here?’ I didn’t get the memo. Whatever the memo was, it hadn’t reached me,” Clapton told YouTube channel the Real Music Observer about why he decided to team up with his old friend — and fellow lockdown opponent Van Morrison — for the anti-lockdown screed “Stand and Deliver,” as well as releasing his own similar take, “This Has Gotta Stop.”
Remember kids, even if there were something conspiratorial going on — which there isn’t — subliminal messages don’t work.
During a 1974 interview published in Rolling Stone Magazine, Paul McCartney discussed the many hidden meanings in The Beatles’ work that consumed obsessive fans. He mentioned that some people believed the cover of Abbey Road to contain clues revealing that he died. He pointed out that it’s easy to see hidden meanings in things if you were looking for hidden meanings.
He also discussed backmasking. Backmasking is the phenomenon in which artists will put backward messages in their songs. (See my backmasking page). While there are some examples of intentional backmasking, other times fans hear messages in songs played backward the artist did not intentionally put there. For example, Paul admitted that one of the songs from Sgt. Pepper sounds like it included the f-word when played backward even though he wasn’t aware of this until after the album’s completion.
From the 1974 interview with Paul McCartney (also Linda) in Rolling Stone Magazine:
[Paul:] Once you get analyzing something and looking into it, things do begin to appear and things do begin to tie in. Because everything ties in, and what you get depends on your approach to it. You look at everything with a black attitude and it’s all black.
This other idea of Paul Is Dead. That was on for a while. I had just turned up at a photo session and it was at the time when Linda and I were just beginning to knock around with each other steadily. It was a hot day in London, a really nice hot day, and I think I wore sandals. I only had to walk around the corner to the crossing because I lived pretty nearby. I had me sandals on and for the photo session I thought I’ll take my sandals off.
Linda: No, you were barefoot.
Paul: Oh, I was barefoot. Yeah, that’s it. You know, so what? Barefoot, nice warm day, I didn’t feel like wearing shoes. So I went around to the photo session and showed me bare feet. Of course when that comes out and people start looking at it they say, “Why has he got no shoes on? He’s never done that before.” OK, you’ve never seen me do it before, but, in actual fact, it’s just me with my shoes off. Turns out to be some old Mafia sign of death or something.
Then the this-little-bit-if-you-play-it-backwards stuff. As I say, nine times out of ten it’s really nothing. Take the end of Sgt. Pepper, that backward thing, “We’ll f— you like Supermen.” Some fans came around to my door giggling. I said, “Hello, what do you want?” They said, “Is it true, that bit at the end? Is it true? It says ‘We’ll f— you like Supermen’.” I said, “No, you’re kidding. I haven’t heard it, but I’ll play it.” It was just some piece of conversation that was recorded and turned backwards. But I went inside after I’d seen them and played it studiously, turned it backwards with my thumb against the motor, turned the motor off and did it backwards. And there it was, sure as anything, plain as anything. “We’ll f— you like Supermen.” I thought, Jesus, what can you do?
And then there was “I buried Paul.”
That wasn’t “I buried Paul” at all, that was John saying “cranberry sauce.” It was the end of “Strawberry Fields.” That’s John’s humor. John would say something totally out of synch, like “cranberry sauce.” If you don’t realize that John’s apt to say “cranberry sauce” when he feels like it, then you start to hear a funny little word there, and you think “Aha!”
When you were alive and presumed dead, what did you think?
Someone from the office rang me up and said, “Look, Paul, you’re dead.” And I said, “Oh, I don’t agree with that.” And they said, “Look, what are you going to do about it? It’s a big thing breaking in America. You’re dead.” And so I said leave it, just let them say it. It’ll probably be the best publicity we’ve ever had and I won’t have to do a thing except stay alive. So I managed to stay alive through it.
With today being the 50th Anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s historic walk on the moon, I bring you this little classic reverse speech from the first words spoken on the surface of the moon which, when reversed, sound like “man will spacewalk”.
Neil Armstrong’s Moon Landing Speech Backwards
Forward:’a small step for a man’
Play in Reverse
Reverse: ‘Man will spacewalk.’
Also of interest, on this anniversary of scientific achievement, NASA has released a collection of 45 panoramic photos from the surface of the moon based on images stitched together from the various Apollo missions.
(Previously, on Jeffmilner.com.)
Just in time for Halloween, a fantastic article by Bryan Gardiner on the history and belief in backmasking, The Fight to Save America From Satan’s Subliminal Rock Messages.
After circulating pamphlets with the “backward masked” declarations spelled out, that’s precisely what Assemblyman Phillip Wyman and panel witness William H. Yarroll II did. The relevant portion of the eight-minute classic was first played forward for committee members and then reversed. Here’s what Wyman claimed could be heard: “I sing because I live with Satan. The Lord turns me off. There’s no escaping it. Here’s to my sweet Satan.” Yarroll, who identified himself as a “neuroscientist,” noted that a teenager need only listen to “Stairway to Heaven” three times before these backward messages were “stored as truth.”
Summary: A few questions about backmasking to think about and, of course, reader opinions via comments.
Posted: 2006.02.13 – 12:24 pm
Your Backmasking Experiences
Summary: Please leave a comment here if you’re into the whole backmasking thing. Have you tried it? What have you found? Do you think there is something to it, or do you just think it’s all a coincidence? This is the place to leave your comments on what you’ve discovered from your own experimenting.
Posted: 2005.11.02 – 7:24 pm
Other Songs with Backmasking
Summary: I’ve been getting a lot of emails with requests for other songs that have backwards messages as well people sending me lists of songs that apparently have just that. Here are some excerpts (for those of you that care).
Posted: 2004.09.01 – 7:50 pm
Stairway to Heaven Backwards Full Lyrics
Summary: An email sharing his opinion on the lyrics to the whole Stairway to Heaven song played backwards.
Posted: 2004.11.06 – 10:36 am
Stairway to Heaven Backwards Interpretation
Summary: Some emails I have received and my personal interpretation of Stairway to Heaven. (Though now I’ve had some reason to change my interpretation—here it is nonetheless.)
Posted: 2004.02.17 – 12:22 pm
Stairway to Heaven Subliminal Messages
Summary: Some time ago I received an email from a professor at York University. He asked if he could use part of my Stairway to Heaven backwards site/idea for a class. Here you will find the conclusion of his experiment.
Posted: 2005.02.08 – 2:43 pm
Watch on A Dramatic Demonstration of the Power of Mental Frames on YouTube.