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Subliminal message

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A subliminal message is believed to be a form of subtle mind control, implemented through the use of a "hidden" message and or suggestion inserted into an everyday image. The actual commands themselves are supposedly designed to appeal directly to the subconscious mind of the person targeted by the subliminal commands, so that the person does not even realize he or she is being influenced by an outside source.

A form of subliminal messaging commonly believed to exist involves the insertion of "hidden" messages into movies and TV programs. The concept of "moving pictures" relies on persistence of vision to create the illusion of movement in a series of images projected at 23 to 30 frames per second; the popular theory of subliminal messages usually suggests that subliminal commands can be inserted into this sequence at the rate of perhaps 1 frame in 25 (or roughly 1 frame per second). The hidden command in a single frame will flash across the screen so quickly that it is not consciously perceived, but the command will supposedly appeal to the subconscious mind of the viewer, and thus have some measurable effect in terms of behavior.

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Origin of the Term

The term subliminal message was popularized in a 1957 book entitled The Hidden Persuaders[?] by Vance Packard. This book detailed a study of movie theaters that supposedly used subliminal commands to increase the sales of popcorn and Coca-Cola at their concession stands. However, this study was proven to be completely false, and the author of the study, James Vicary, was unable to reproduce these results in any further tests.

In 1973 the book Subliminal Seduction[?] claimed that subliminal techiques were in wide use in advertising. This led to a widespread popularization of the concept of subliminal commands. The public hysteria over its supposed use was enough to lead the Federal Communications Commission to declare subliminal advertising "contrary to the public interest," whether the technique actually worked or not.


In spite of the popular belief that subliminal messages are widely used to influence audiences, there is little evidence that the technique has ever been used on a mass audience (other than its occasional use by artists who use it to make an artistic statement). There is no evidence that subliminal messages have any effect at all on a viewer or listener, and the current consensus among marketing professionals is that subliminal advertising is ineffective and can be counter-productive. The theory underlying subliminal messages is often considered to be no better than pseudoscience. However, the concept of subliminal messages is very popular among conspiracy theorists, and most people in media-saturated areas (such as the United States) areas are familiar with the term.

A number of fringe elements in society have made occasional claims that subliminal messages can be found in various forms of popular entertainment. Popular claims of subliminal commands include the supposed use of "backward messages" in rock and roll songs. Conservative activist Donald Wildmon[?] has claimed that the Disney corporation inserted the subliminal command "SEX" into the animated film The Lion King. Mainstream authorities have generally ignored these claims due to the dubious reputations of their authors.

see also: advertising, marketing, promotion

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