Subliminal Tricks and Politics
They’re up to it again. “Who’s up to what?” you might ask. The political scene is beginning to take shape as the 2012 election cycle approaches and the subliminal crosshairs are lining up as the competition begins its inevitable elimination process.
It would appear that the first target of this mind manipulation method is Ron Paul. AMC’s cable drama, “Breaking Bad,” a meth villain is depicted as a Ron Paul supporter. Flashing by too quickly for the conscious mind to detect is what appears to be a Ron Paul campaign bumper sticker and this occurs just as the villain is discussed. The message is very clear and at a minimum will be taken to mean that Ron Paul supports drug use.
There is nothing new about the use of subliminal technology when it comes to politics for it has gone on for years. Probably the most memorable of abuses occurred when George Bush was campaigning against Al Gore in 2000. The ad, now infamously known as the “RATS” ad, took advantage of the slogan “Bureaucrats decide” by boldly raising the letters “rats” out of bureaucrats in a 30 second TV advertisement dealing with prescription drugs for the elderly and imposing them above Gore’s head. This ad ran in several critical states and where the Bush people originally denied the ad and eventually pulled it, they later admitted the ad was intentional.
Now at this point, most people I speak with believe the legal process got involved for after all, aren’t we protected against this sort of thing? The answer is no. The FCC does have the authority to pull a stations license if it knowingly broadcasts a subliminal or deceptive advertisement. That said, the Democratic National Committee pursued the matter only to learn that there was absolutely nothing they could do about it. Stations simply deny knowledge and ad agencies have no such restrictions, so there you have it.
Researchers Drew Weston and Joel Weinberger at Adelphi University decided to investigate just how effective the RATS ad might have been. They found that using the RATS format did influence subjects who viewed this subliminal message connected with an anonymous candidate. In other words, the ad was most probably effective.
Since the RATS ad, more and more politicians seem to understand that subliminal influence does work. The research is fairly definitive with respect to this despite the fact that there are those in certain camps that still argue, “Subliminal doesn’t work and don’t worry public, we don’t use it because it doesn’t work.”
Utilizing fMRI researchers have watched areas of the brain respond to subliminal messages. In the UK, scans revealed a strong response in the nucleus accumbens (a reward center in the brain known to be involved with craving and addiction) when a smoker viewed a pack of cigarettes. Even more importantly, when the smoker viewed subliminal presentations of cigarette logos the response was even more pronounced. (Lindstrom 2008)
Recent studies have revealed many interesting facts about subliminal stimuli. For example, negative messages have more impact (Lavie 2009) and perhaps this explains why negative advertising in politics continues to increase despite public disapproval.
The last Presidential campaign cycle was witness to many subliminal tactics. State Senator Bob Beers of Las Vegas filed a cease and desist order designed to stop a TV advertisement that used a subliminal image of a gun pointed at the candidate’s head. Beers is a strong Second Amendment supporter.
While Beers was fending off the ads paid for by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, Obama was targeting battleground states with video game subliminals. TechNewsWorld reported that ads for Obama were appearing on billboards in “Burnout: Paradise City,” a car racing game for the Xbox. Electronic Arts, the publisher of “Burn Out” confirmed this fact. The blog, Deadline USA, led with a headline insisting that Obama had embedded subliminal ads in 18 games for an undisclosed amount of money, making him to be the first Presidential candidate to use this space for his candidacy.
And the subliminal messages and charges continued to fly. Jason Linkins, writing for the HuffPost, insisted that the New York Times was sending a subliminal pro-Obama message in its crossword puzzles. CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed Barack Obama about Hurricane Gustove and in less than one second the footage went from a full frame of Obama to a rat on the levy and back to Obama—another rats ad? Meanwhile, McCain ran an ad that aired on Fox News channel with the words “HANG” emphasized behind Obama’s head and taken from Obama’s theme, “change.”
The ads and the allegations continue. Karl Rove has the word “TAXES” over Obama’s face in a web ad and our latest entry has Ron Paul supporting drugs, so what is a voter to do?
Thanks for the read,
(For more on this and other abuses of subliminal technology together with other mind coercive techniques, see my book “Mind Programming.”)
Lavie, N. (2009). "Negative Subliminal Messages." Emotion(Sept. 27).
Lindstrom, M. (2008). buy-ology. New York, Doubleday Business.