Tom Stafford, a member of the Adaptive Behaviour Research Group in the Department of Psychology at University of Sheffield, recently presented the keynote speech at the annual conference of the Association for the Teaching of Psychology at Lincoln in the UK. He talked a little bit about the priming that can occur when you load up my backmasking site. He was kind to present the topic using this slide.
Here’s an interesting little text file from 1983 that Jason Scott has in this vast archive of BBS files, backmask.txt, that delves into the history, technology, and social aspects of backmasking.
From the text file by William Poundstone:
TV programs such as PRAISE THE LORD and THE 700 CLUB have propagated rumors of a satanic plot in the recording industry, no less, in which various albums conceal “backward-masked” demonic murmurings. If THAT sounds too spacey to be taken seriously, consider that it was the fundamentalist groups who were behind House Resolution 6363, a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Robert K. Dornan (R., Calif.) in 1982 to label all suspect records: “WARNING: THIS RECORD CONTAINS BACKWARD MASKING THAT MAKES A VERBAL STATEMENT WHICH IS AUDIBLE WHEN THIS RECORD IS PLAYED BACKWARD AND WHICH MAY BE PERCEPTIBLE AT A SUBLIMINAL LEVEL WHEN THIS RECORD IS PLAYED FORWARD.”
Many of the original rumours I heard about backmasking when I was a kid are in this file. It’s interesting to note that the claims of what exactly each songs says when played backwards has continued to evolve over the years.
An article in the Boston Globe published today highlighted my backmasking page.
Remember that guy in high school who was always trying to tell you about the satanic messages hidden in “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin (below) if you played it backward? Turns out he was right. Or so says Jeff Milner, a graphic designer from Alberta, Canada, who has not only posted snippets of the song, and several others, in reverse, but also transcribed the alleged backward lyrics. His findings: “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow don’t be alarmed now, it’s just a spring clean for the May queen” translates to “Oh here’s to my sweet Satan. The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan.” The message is surprisingly clear on “Stairway,” but less so on songs like “Baby One More Time.”
Lately I’ve been enjoying the Wiretap with Jonathan Goldstein podcast (official podcast). Today I listened to the November 25, 2007 episode: The New Josh, in which host Jonathan Goldstein interviews David John Oates, the world leader in Reverse Speech studies.
I’ve never been a believer in Freudian slips or subconscious communication, but it’s interesting to listen to Mr. Oates speculate that these kinds of behaviour happen all the time. It’s true that reverse speech sounds like a foreign language and can often even sound like English, but it would take an awful lot of research to convince me his results are anything more than a combination of coincidence and wishful thinking—nevertheless, listen to the interview and form your own opinion.
During a segment of The Hour (one in which I was very lucky to be a part of) they showed a backwards clip of a man singing Stairway to Heaven in reverse. Here is OneManSho doing the same thing, but with a more patriotic song. All the activities he preforms are to add a little spice to the reverse section of the piece.
It took me a few days to get around to reversing the backwards message embedded in the I Am America (And So Can You) audiobook, but now that I have, let me just say, Stephen Colbert doesn’t disappoint.
While complaining that seniors are from the library card generation, Stephen complains that “They don’t believe in buying multiple collector copies no matter what kind of rare, bizarre, or coded message appears in the first edition” at which point (about 1:18 of track 3) the following audio is heard:
So there you go, proof positive that Stephen Colbert is a liberal and hates America.