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Subliminal Messages Might Actually Work 172

GrumpySimon writes "New research indicates that subliminal messages may actually work. In a paper titled Attentional Load Modulates Responses of Human Primary Visual Cortex to Invisible Stimuli, Bahrani et al. demonstrate that even though stimuli may not be available to consciousness, they are processed by the visual cortex. While I'm sure that marketing agencies all over the world are rubbing their hands in glee at this news, the authors report that there's no evidence that this can make people buy things against their will. So with any luck the use of subliminal messages in advertising will remain an urban legend."
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Subliminal Messages Might Actually Work

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  • Television (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Living Fractal ( 162153 ) <> on Saturday March 10, 2007 @10:22PM (#18304436) Homepage
    I can garauntee that they don't work well in television. At least, not on me. Because, even if they're only 1 frame, I can see them at 24fps. And it greatly annoys me when things flicker on the screen. I might not be able to tell what's flickering there (depending on the complexity of the image), but I promise you I will find out (record, pause, learn). And when I do, and it's some total BS thought up by some ad company, I can further promise you I will be purposefully not buying their product.

    Nope, stick with good old quality writing and you'll get my interest. Then I'll at least look into your product and consider buying it. Otherwise, good luck.

  • by catbutt ( 469582 ) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @10:27PM (#18304468)
    What does that even mean?

    Just plain old advertising could be said to make people "buy things against their will", if it tips the balance from "slightly inclined to not purchase" to "slightly inclined to purchase".

    Speaking in such black and white terms is misleading.
  • Re:Television (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pc_Madness ( 984705 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @12:10AM (#18305160)
    I thought flashing hidden messages was illegal in most countries? I thought it was in Australia atleast.
  • hypothesis (Score:2, Insightful)

    by anwyn ( 266338 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @04:09AM (#18306224)
    The advertising industry used this technique for over 30 years, spending millions of dollars on it. But, they never did a double bind test to find out if it works!

    Just how plausible is this hypothesis?

    The other hypothesis is that the technique is known to work!

  • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @12:37PM (#18308154) Homepage

    Road rage, divorce, hook-ups, and many other social disorders are a direct consequence of this unethical form of advertising.
    Bollocks. You're one of those "TV is the devil" fuckwits, aren't you. Road rage has more to do with urban stress than anything else. Increase in divorce rates has fuck-all to do with TV and everything to do with a liberalization of society and abandonment of the stigma attached to single parenting, i.e. marriages aren't being wrecked by TV, they're just not being kept together when they're bad anymore. "Hook-ups"? If you knew anything about sexual promiscuity throughout the ages, you'd know what an idiot you sound like claiming it's a "social disorder". People like fucking, and they always have. They do it all the time. Porn doesn't make 'em do it-- we're hard wired for it. Get over your bizarre prudery.
  • Re:Television (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @03:04PM (#18309040) Homepage
    The "should"s of it aside, it's a little disappointing that no one is asking the difficult question: is subliminal communication protected speech? Could it get to a point that it doesn't qualify as a legitimate form of protected speech?

    There is a kind of fiction which is very central to our notions of freedom and rationality: that there is a world of deliberative thoughts and ideas, where we rationally evaluate things and discuss them, where ideas are free, and there's the world of bodies and emotions and material stuff, where I don't have the right to hit you or take your stuff or threaten you. Subliminal marketing blurs this distinction by working at the intersection of the two.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming