Subliminal messages ARE registered by our brains?despite the fact that we don’t consciously see them. Alfred Hitchcock wove frames of the subliminal image of a skull-and-crossbones into his films in order to increase the tension for viewers. These went by too quickly to be consciously noticed by the audience, but were discovered later, upon close examination of the film reel. There is a clear potential here for misuse here?by big business or perhaps for even more subtle purposes.

In the Independent, Steve Connor quotes researcher Bahador Bahrami as saying, “We’ve looked at whether what we pay attention to and what we are aware of, is one and the same thing because conventional psychology says they are. We found they were not. We show that there is a brain response in the primary visual cortex to subliminal images that attract our attention without us having the impression of having seen anything. The findings point to the sort of impact that subliminal advertising may have.”

We are aware of subliminal advertising that is not even MEANT to be subliminal. Connor writes, “The findings may explain many everyday phenomena, such as being aware of passing advertising billboards on a busy road without actually ?seeing? them, or being conscious of the messages contained in flashing [advertisements] on a webpage.”

With the presidential election coming up, an obvious place to insert subliminal messages would be in political advertisements. That way, a campaign could APPEAR to be avoiding the much-criticized negative advertising while actually indulging in it. Connor writes, “During the US presidential race in 2000, an advertising campaign for George Bush flashed the word ‘bureaucrats’ over pictures illustrating an election proposal by Al Gore. Another frame showed the word ‘rats,’ which led to an investigation, but no penalties were imposed.” Is the stage set for even more nefarious “Swift Boat”-style allegations in the future, which?this time?may be delivered straight into our unconscious minds?

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