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Reverse Messages

Date: 06-10-03
Host: George Noory
Guests: Jon Kelly

"I believe there's a storytelling process that is unfolding," said Jon Kelly about his recordings of human speech played in reverse. A professional speech analyst, Kelly suggested his recordings of some of today's leading newsmakers reveal uncensored, unconscious messages. For instance, he played a new clip of Hillary Clinton talking about the Paula Jones case, and he interpreted her voice played in reverse as referring to a "secret diary stashed."

Some of Kelly's backwards audio clips, were startlingly clear such as a Bonnie Lee Bakley (wife of Robert Blake) phone excerpt, where she eerily intones "I know he'll murder me," that was recorded weeks before her death. Kelly believes that backwards messages can offer information about the future, as well as valid data about one's current situation. In fact, he works with clients in therapeutic consultations using their own backwards speech to glean insights and revelations. "The benefit of hearing our own messages is phenomenal," Kelly said.

He pointed out that backwards communications are produced involuntarily, which differentiates them from subliminal messages which are created intentionally. Among some of the other reverse messages he played on the show and interpreted were, George Bush at his inauguration in 2000 saying "mission of Baghdad," a surviving Waco child saying "you left family?" and a Columbia Shuttle astronaut saying "Sad we're dying? This is it."

Selling the Subconscious

Jon Kelly has explored the terrain of unconscious messages through his work with human speech. Many believe our conscious awareness is the tip of the iceberg to a deeper well. Freud posited an individual's subconscious as a zone for suppressed memories and desires, while Jung added the additional layer of the Collective Unconscious, a kind of universal mind of shared archetypes. It was Freud's nephew Edward Bernays, who took his Uncle's ideas and applied them to America's rapidly expanding marketplace in the early 20th Century. A propagandist for America in WWI, later Bernays coined a new term for his work— public relations. He was one of the first to take advantage of the subconscious as a selling tool. "You no longer had to offer people what they needed; by linking your brand with their deeper hopes and fears, you could persuade them to buy what they dreamt of," Tim Adams wrote in an article about Bernays.

Another way the subconscious was mined for commerce, was through Muzak, the ubiquitous "elevator music" heard in places such as department stores. Named by George Squier by combining the word "music" and the brand Kodak, Muzak began to be piped into stores to deliberately manipulate shopper's patterns. "This attempt to affect the subconscious by rhythm and tempo was the real beginning of Muzak as we know it today," Paul A. Toth wrote in an After Dark story. For instance, it is now known that music affects customers' perception of time while shopping, and they will be more likely to make impulse purchases if they loose track of time.

Bumper Music

Bumper music from Tuesday June 10, 2003

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