Science Questions

Do subliminal CDs work?

Sun, 14th Mar 2010

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Julielani Chang, Davis, California asked:

My name is Julielani Chang and I live in Davis, California and I have a question. My question is, is there any scientific basis to the companies that sell or claim that subliminal CDs could actually alter your behaviour simply by tapping into your unconscious mind?


We put this to Ian McLaren, Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Exeter.

Ian -  The answer to this question is no, but with a hint of yes to it.  I’ll start with the bad news: These CDs are unlikely to be an easy way to acquire new knowledge such as a new language for example, before considering evidence to subliminal learning itself, subliminal learning means learning that takes place below the normal threshold for awareness.  A couple of guys sleeping near the Kiosko Alfonso in A Coruña (Galicia, España.)An example would be learning a list of words by listening to them while you were asleep.  If you were able to recall the words afterwards when you are awake, then that would be evidence for subliminal learning.  The problem with demonstrations of this kind, and there have been some, is that there is often insufficient control to ensure that the listener is really asleep.  When these studies are done well using EEG monitoring to ensure that the subject is genuinely asleep, the results tend to be unimpressive.  There is little evidence of above chance recall of the words.  So in this sense, these CDs are unlikely to work.

There is however some evidence for a different kind of learning under subliminal conditions.  Even though the listener cannot recall the words, we can show that they've had a detectable impact on them.  We use a different test in which I’ll ask you to say the first word that comes into your mind and I’ll give you a cue word.  Imagine a list you'd been exposed to contains the word “Traffic.”  If I now cue you with the word jam, you'll be quite likely to offer traffic as a response.  But if the list had instead contained the word “strawberry,” then that would be the more likely response to my cue.  This in fact does seem to occur on the subliminal presentation of words.  Psychologists see it as an example of priming where experience with a word makes it more accessible, more readily available in some way.  But this is not new learning.  It’s better thought of as modulation of memories that you already have.  So I'm afraid this “yes” part of my answer is not likely to be terribly useful to you when it comes to acquiring new information.


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I think it's bunk. There used to be a lot of subliminal advertising, but it appears to be largely gone due to the lack of success. There have also been claims that backwards messages on records exist. Funny thing is that no one has ever been able to show someone understanding the messages. As far as I can see its an urban legend that will be here with us for a long time like old luggage. stereologist, Wed, 10th Mar 2010

Wasn't it some R&R band? Presumably satanists :)
Led Zeppelin?
Naah:) But some, similar, ah?

Hah, my memory still works, at times?

"The song "Stairway to Heaven" by the group Led Zeppelin is the most popular song in rock history. One line of the song, says, "you know sometimes words have TWO MEANINGS." They should know — the song is drenched in satanic backmasking! One part when played forward, says: "Yes, their are two paths you can go by, but in the long run there's still time to change the road you're on." But when played backwards, you clearly hear: "IT'S MY SWEET SATAN . . . Oh I will sing because I live with Satan." This is the number one song in rock history! Just a coincidence — not hardly! Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin is a devout follower of satanist, Aliester Crowley. One of Crowley's satanic teachings, learn to cast unsuspecting spells on people by saying them backwards! Zeppelin's song "Houses of the Holy", they sing, "Let the music be YOUR MASTER/ Will you heed the master's call/ Oh, Satan . .

From And something dark and evil is slithering under the ROCK!

Makes one shiver, doesn't it. What more unsuspected lure may lay buried under such hits like Bananramas "I Want You Back", Tom Jones too?

yor_on, Wed, 10th Mar 2010

Awh, did you have to do that DD?
And I who just was starting to go here :)

But yes, you are most probably correct.

There was some research I read about where they tested in on unsuspecting cinema audiences (old ones 60:s) putting in subliminal pictures of a special brand of *whatever* ? Something cooling, like a Coke ??

If I remember right it worked to some degree as people seemed more thirsty, but it was a very diffuse phenomena, as some bought ice-cream, other choose water etc. And there was no correlation to the *Brand* shown..

So it works in a way, but it's very hard to 'steer'.

In a way it's much the same as all those lovely scenes you can see in a modern commercial, where everything is arranged, from the color of the clothes, to the people, to the environment, to push for that sublime experience of their new *Sanitizer product*, your telly filled with white-gleaming teeth and happy smiles.

It's all about reinforcing a message every way they can, and if it was allowed I'm sure there would be subliminal messages in them too. Don't underestimate modern advertising, if it didn't work it wouldn't be billion industry. They are very much working on presenting you, the happy consumer, with what Jung used to call a 'gestalt'. A whole concept, sort of. yor_on, Wed, 10th Mar 2010

It's a load of complete and utter baloney.

BTW, is anyone intersted in buying a lifetime membership for a health club in Sweden? I bought it on an impulse, but I'm not sure I'll be able to use it. Geezer, Wed, 10th Mar 2010

Some Californian Senators would disagree, (I wouldn't) ...
RD, Wed, 10th Mar 2010

Very interesting link RD. yor_on, Thu, 11th Mar 2010

I suspect the good senators were still suffering from flashbacks.,_dissociatives_and_deliriants Geezer, Thu, 11th Mar 2010

Check this:

For example, Starway to Heaven repeats "Satan" backwards 3 times and the numbers 666. All that in a well-crafted phrase, so it being a coincidence would be harder than winning the lottery. rlopes, Thu, 22nd Apr 2010

That's strange. To me it sounds more like "skcollob".  That might suggest The Flowerpot Men had something to do with it. Geezer, Fri, 23rd Apr 2010

Two different phenomena ...

1. deliberate backmasking, which you can't understand unless you play the record backwards.

2. Pareidolia

TNS has a visual Pareidolia thread ... RD, Fri, 23rd Apr 2010

i definitely would not eat it... CPT ArkAngel, Sun, 19th Sep 2010

Subliminal learning in the essence of recall is like driving a rail spike with a tack hammer.
Although, it seems to have a function related to the power of suggestion through some kind of psychological process, that needs a trigger or some association to bring it to the surface and be personally unaware to the reason why it came about.

Do you need to be asleep for the power of suggestion to be affective?
Is day dreaming a sort of sleep state?
Does a strong minded person, have a built in tool to shield themselves from this power of suggestion?
Sometime hypnotic suggestions need repetition to become affective.

Even with your eyes open you are focused on something deep in side your thoughts. tommya300, Sun, 19th Sep 2010

What a load of hogwash! If subliminal messaging in any form does not work effectively or significantly, then Why did the Civil Liberties Union and even the Congress of the United States condemn the practice? Also before you try to answer make sure you have a educated one, one that can be backed up with PROOF! BreakFluid, Wed, 7th Nov 2012

I love how the answer given doesn't match the question asked, nobody noticed this, and then a bunch of weekend scholars decided that it's all hogwash. Way to go. Impressive. The answer to the question is, yes, subliminal messaging can change behavior, and even do so in significant and dramatic ways. It must be true that the script used is created using specific methods, and that the program audio built from the script is processed properly; it must also be true that the resulting audio is used in the right way. But given a good script, proper creation and proper usage, subliminal messaging can do some rather amazing things. The issue at hand is that only a small handful of people in the entire world seem to have any idea what they're doing when it comes to this. As to subliminal learning, the subconscious mind learns instantly with only one exposure. The conscious recall is not necessarily going to be there because of how the conscious and subconscious minds usually interact. Unless you tell it to make the knowledge known to the conscious mind, it will simply be subconscious. The learning has taken place, but there is not an efficient communication of it to the conscious mind because the subconscious did not know you wanted it to do that. The subconscious mind, by the way, is extremely literal. I suggest not jumping to conclusions about subliminals. There's a lot of things about the subject that science still seems to be in the dark about. John, Mon, 7th Jan 2013

I am not sure about subliminal CDs, but I do believe that subliminal messages work, there is scientific proof that subliminal stimuli activate specific regions in brain. Also there were many experiments with subliminal messages which proved that subliminal stimuli can be effective. I'm using subliminal softwares for last 6 months and I see some positive changes in my life. Usually subliminal softwares are expensive, and actually I didn't want to spend lot of money to buying one. I was using Subliminal Blaster for some time, but recently I find another free software on under products. This one is much better, you can also add subliminal pictures. However, I think it is worth trying to use subliminal software for your own personal benefits especially those which are free. You don't risk anything and you can win better life. Of course, this is my opinion. Ella, Thu, 20th Feb 2014

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