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Typical subliminal message

Subliminal perception is a deliberate process created by communication technicians, whereby you receive and respond to information and instructions without being aware of it. Messages in the form of printed words, pictures or voices presented either very rapidly or very obscurely bypass your conscious awareness. Anything consciously perceived can be evaluated, criticized, discussed, argued, and possibly rejected. Anything programmed subliminally to your subconsciousness meets no resistance. This subliminal information is stored in your brain and capable of influencing your judgment, behavior and attitudes.
The use of subliminal techniques in print communication media has been going on in the United States at least since the World War I period. For example, Norman Rockwell's first cover on The Saturday Evening Post during 1917 incorporated embedded words SEX. Whenever an embedded word or picture accidentally became consciously visible, the readers would pass it off as a joke, an accident, or a product of their imaginations.

Serious commercial experiments with subliminal messaging were conducted in the mid 50-s. On June 22, 1956, the British Broadcasting Corporation experimented with projecting subliminal images on television. Pictures were flashed on the screen too quickly to be seen consciously, but they did make an impression on the subconscious. The BBC experiment was followed by experiments by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Mexico's Televisa commercial TV and radio network, US TV station WTWO in Bangor and many more.

Experiments were not limited to television. In 1958, radio station WAAF in Chicago broadcast "subaudible" commercials. Seattle's KOL broadcast hardly audible taped messages "below" the music played by its disc jockeys. "How about a cup of coffee?" was one, and "Someone's at the door" was another. On December 8, 1972, The New York Times reported that In-Flight Motion Pictures, Inc. would begin selling subliminal commercials embedded in the movies they would distribute to all the major airlines. Supermarkets across the country reported reducing shoplifting by an average of 30-50% by broadcasting subliminal messages such as "I will not steal" and "We are watching you". Stimutech, Inc. of East Lansing, Michigan markets a computer video system that flashes subliminal messages on your television while you watch the regular programming. Subliminal messages are prepared by teams of psychologists who use Freudian ideas to change the thinking patterns and behavior of the viewer.

subliminal picnic The most known experiment with subliminal messaging was conducted by a marketing researcher and psychologist James Vicary in 1957 during the presentation of the movie Picnic. Every 5 seconds the words "Hungry? Eat popcorn. Drink Coca Cola" were projected for 0.003 seconds. That is extremely fast. What you see in the picture on the left, for example, flashes for 0.04 seconds. Sales of popcorn and Coke in that New Jersey theater increased 57.8 percent and 18.1 percent respectively. Numerous scientific researches following these experiments confirmed beyond any doubt that subliminal messaging works. When advertising industry and government agencies understood the potential of subliminal messaging they started investing millions in developing and perfecting of subliminal techniques, that can be used not only in marketing, but also in propaganda and mind control. In 1962 Vicary suddenly confessed that he fabricated the results of his experiment... Why would someone discredit himself in such a way and lose his dignity and credibility? Apparently he was paid to make this announcement. As the saying goes: The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist... That's exactly the trick they are trying to pull convincing the world that subliminal messaging does not work. And they did a pretty good job. People refuse to believe that a secret technology has been used on them for decades if not more. Technology that invisibly modifies their choices, channels new values, manages motives and drives them into pathological behavioral patterns in the interest of certain power structures. They will call you wacko if you tell them anything like that. Yet subliminal messages are being bombarded at you continuously throughout the day, through books, movies, magazines, television, radio and music. Every major newspaper, every poster, every magazine in America have subliminal messages. 

How can something that we don't notice affect our behavior? Well, unnoted does not mean unseen. Let us first understand how our perception works. As you know, our mind consists of two interacting parts: conscious and subconscious. The subconscious part of mind operates below the level of conscious awareness, it controls reflexes, automatic functions and handles the processing and storing of incoming information. Subconsciousness is able to process 20,000 bits of information simultaneously, while consciousness can deal only with 7 ± 2 bits of information at the same time.

 All information picked by our senses is sent to the brain and absorbed by the subconsciousness. However, only very concrete and relevant data is passed to the conscious mind and the rest never leaves the subconsciousness. A good example of this is the Cocktail Party Effect : you can talk with a friend in a crowded party and still listen and understand what he says even if the place is very noisy. You can simultaneously ignore what another nearby person is saying, but if someone over the other side of the room suddenly mentions your name, you notice that sound and respond to it immediately. Not only that your name immediately triggers your attention, you are also aware of the entire sentence it came with. From this experience we can learn that our brain records everything that takes place around us. Interesting that certain words like SEX, BLOOD, DEATH, FUCK and such have the same effect in triggering your attention as your name.
So, only the information considered as "relevant" goes to the consciousness. Non essential information, short or vague stimuli are stored in the subconscious mind without reaching our awareness. Important to stress that they are NOT discarded, but stored. E V E R Y T H I N G you have ever experienced in your life, from every stranger's face you have ever glanced at in a crowd to every spider web you gazed at as a child, can be retrieved from your memory by hypnosis or by electrical stimulation of the brain cells in temporal lobes. Hence whatever was subliminally put into your brain will stay there forever and in the right circumstances will trigger the right reaction in you.

The most common subliminal message is S E X.
subliminal sex

Clone High E09 (click for animated gif)
Clone High sex

Barbie Mermaid Tale 2

New X-men #118

Screenshot from Beethoven (1992) 00:51:10

Screenshot from House (S06E05)

Harry Potter and the Half-blood prince

Click the images for highlights if you can't see subliminal embeds.

Since almost all people have a strong affinity to sex, a sexual subliminal message would be the most effective one. Embedded on a product it's supposed to trigger viewer's attention, emotions and stir up affinity in him toward the product. Unfortunately, as you are going to see for yourself,  this principle has been heavily misused, abused and misapplied. Blatant sexuality on the verge of pornography can be easily found in public advertising, family movies, cartoons and children products.

The famous Farrah Fawcett’s “SEX” in the hair:
fawcett sex  
This poster had been one of the major urban legends of the late 70s. It was always puzzling why this image in particular became incredibly popular (over 12 millions copies sold). After all, there were plenty of other posters of scantily clad attractive young women.

The word SEX in print media is usually embedded into hair, creases in clothing, facial lines, or rough background surfaces. Often some noise added to disguise it, like in the House snapshot, or it can be spelled as "ssex" or "sexx", etc. 

Letter-looking patterns can naturally occur in such mediums. An artist usually looks for these patterns and starts from there. For example in the following Jantzen ad the letter "X" is already formed by the stitches of the man's shirt. Then the shadow of his hand was modified a bit to look like an "E" and the letter "S"purportedly a water ripplewas lightly painted in the gap under his arm.

A one word guarantee:

 Another technique is to write numerous SEXes in interweaving mosaic-like manner on a transparent overlay which can be superimposed onto any photograph at any intensity level desired.
Another interesting technique is embedding of anamorphic images—kind of what you see when you look into a funny mirror at an amusement park or into a shiny coffee pot at home. These distorted, often grotesque images serve as a decoy for the real message which can be hidden within the ground (foliage, flowers, landscapes, reflections in bottles, ice cubes, symbols, and so forth). Although it is not consciously obvious, it may very well be obvious to our subconsciousness and recorded there.
A surprisingly large amount of subliminal death symbolism is also used, mainly in booze ads —skulls hidden in ice cubes, clouds, etc., the word DEATH or DETH often hidden in backgrounds.


The ability to see subliminal embeds can be developed and perfected. As in anything else, the more you do it, the better you get. I suggest you to take this fun test to see how perceptive you are and train your vision to see subliminal messages.

Continue to Perception Test