Get it? The idea is that I think some coffee is really horrible but I still want to be polite, my brain will subconsciously choose words to make my polite compliment that, if played backwards, would say: This coffee stinks. Proponents of this hypothesis call it Reverse Speech, because they were really creatively inspired on the day they named it. This is a small group of people — I believe there were six of them at last count — who take this completely seriously and believe that a whole world of secret information and opportunities is waiting to be unlocked by analyzing peoples' speech in reverse.
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They turn first to world leaders, play their speeches backward, and listen to learn what they believe is the truth underlying the speech. A leading advocate for reverse speech, also called backward masking, is David John Oates, an Australian. He's written several books on the subject and even used to have a syndicated radio show promoting his theory. Just about any time a reverse speech expert is interviewed on television, it's David John Oates. His website is ReverseSpeech.
He believes strongly that the human brain secretly encodes its actual meaning in reverse into a person's normal speech.
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You can use this to your advantage in business, by decoding what the people across the table are actually telling you; and you can even use it in personal development by listening to your own speech backwards and learning more about what you really want. One of the examples from ReverseSpeech.
And when you play it backwards, turns out he was trying to comfort you with the message "You're frightened, lean on me":. Pretty interesting, but not necessarily convincing to a skeptic. A skeptic is more likely to dismiss these guys as conspiracy nuts and laugh at what paranoid delusionals they are, but it's actually way cooler and more interesting and more constructive to ask if there is any science behind what they're claiming. I'm not talking about science supporting the claim that people say what they actually mean in reverse; I'm talking about science behind the perception of order from chaos.
And, it turns out, there is good science behind it. The journal Science published an article in by Remez, Rubin, Pisoni, and Carrell called Speech perception without traditional speech cues. By playing what they called a "three-tone sinusoidal replica", or a complicated sine wave sound, they found that people were able to perceive speech, when in fact there were no traditional speech sounds present in the signal.
So rather than laughing at a reverse speech advocate, instead appreciate the fact that there is good science driving their perception of what they're hearing. They're not making anything up, they're just unaware of the natural explanation for their phenomenon. To better understand what these authors did in their experiment, listen to this brief cue consisting of nothing but sine waves:.
It almost does sound like speech, doesn't it? But it's not quite clear what it's saying.
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Well, suppose someone told you that it says:. This time, it's almost impossible not to hear the words that you've been preconditioned to hear. Let's play another one, this one is harder:. Pretty cool, huh? There is a web page by Matt Davis that lists some more of these.
This phenomenon is called pareidolia, which we talked about not too long ago when we discussed the face on Mars. Pareidolia is the perceptual phenomenon by which we perceive familiar patterns in disorder. It is the brain's incredible computing power that lets us recognize people, understand language, and read handwriting. For the brain to have this capability, it necessarily results in the ability to perceive patterns where none in fact exists. Most of us can say "Hey, that tree bark looks like Ernest Borgnine," without actually concluding that Ernest Borgnine has somehow become a tree.
Our intelligence allows us to not make that mistake. But sometimes a horse might see a garden hose on the ground; its pareidolia tells it that it's a snake, but it lacks sufficient intelligence to overcome the instinctive recognition. I'm not saying that reverse speech believers lack intelligence, only that they lack critical thinking skills; because there is a genuine gray area where it's hard to tell if a pattern is accidental or deliberate.
But speech is a deliberate speaking action, so the reverse speech advocates do have a point they can make. It's not an accident of nature like the tree bark, speech is the deliberate result of a speaker's brain communicating. What the reverse speech advocates are missing is that the well-known, well-understood, and well-evidenced phenomenon of pareidolia is a much more reasonable, simple, and probable explanation for why we can often perceive patterns in meaningless noise, in this case reverse speech.
This also fully explains a couple of other pop culture phenomena: Satanic messages encoded in rock music played backwards, and EVP, the electronic voice phenomena claimed by ghost hunters. But, to get it to sound like "Satan", you have to be a little disingenuous with the razor blade.
Here's what it says if you don't try to deliberately isolate the word Satan:. More like "Sata-Schnigel". So if reverse speech is real, Jim Morrison's true intention in life was to inform us that he's Sata-Schnigel. And, as you can probably surmise, even that very impressive "You're frightened, lean on me" is much less convincing without the incisive editing:.
Recordings of alleged ghost voices, usually called Electronic Voice Phenomena, fall into three categories: First, hoaxes; second, undetermined; and third and most commonly, audio pareidoliac cases of mistaken identification. You hear some random anomalous sound on the tape, and your brain does its best to make sense of it, often turning it into speech. If the words that the ghost hunters claim are spoken are at all indistinct or ambiguous, there is a very probable explanation for them that's not "a ghost".
You're hearing some sound, and unless you were present throughout the tape's entire history which you probably weren't , it's some sound of unknown origin that, to your brain, sounds vaguely like speech, and isn't it interesting that it's always in the ghost hunter's own language and dialect? Here's a really good illustration of that. Listen to this song, it sounds like it's from India but really I have no idea. I won't even remotely guess what language it's in, I don't speak it and it's meaningless to my brain; but to me, it sounds quite clearly like someone saying:.
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Podcast smart and easy with the app that refuses to compromise. Play later. Manage episode series By Zoomer Podcast Network. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Guest-host Don Jeffries welcomes the discoverer of reverse speech to discuss how the unconscious mind speaks in reverse revealing the speaker's true thoughts.
He was the first person to ever document speech reversals in human speech in and has worked extensively since then on research and development, as well as maintaining a therapeutic and consulting practice. He has had an active career spanning 24 years, furthering the field of Reverse Speech as his full time occupation. He has developed new theories, and designed therapeutic and training techniques. He is the co-host of Reverse Speech Radio. He created, co-hosted, co-produced, and wrote 'Real People' the first reality show, which was number one on NBC for three years during the early 's. He originated the 'AM' show in Los Angeles, was the first newscast movie reviewer for KNBC, where he won 3 Emmys, was film critic for LA Magazine for a decade, won a Golden Mike for journalistic commentary, and was a successful stand-up comic in night clubs and on television.
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Reverse Speech - Voices From The Unconscious
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