1 Backmasking Discovery
2 Backmasking - A figment of imagination
3 Regarding Backmasking
I did a
Google search of
my name and it appears I am mentioned on your web site regarding the
1987 media attention to backmasking.
comments about my
involvement in this issue back then:
for detecting the backmasking on the song [Celebration of a Nation]
that was being played multiple times a day on every media channel
to visit my local MP with a tape recorder and play the song forward and
in reverse for him with the intention of asking why a satanic message
could be heard when played backwards and what effect it was having on
TV and radio audiences across Australia. The MP had never heard of the
backmasking technique and was surprised when he could hear the lyrics I
was claiming were embedded into the song.
reaction was to
ask the Communications Minister, Garath Evans, for an explanation for
why the reverse lyrics could be heard and whether this was an attempt
to impose some sort of subliminal message upon the Australian people.
Evans laughed the
issue off and publicly labelled me a "Crackpot" in parliament and wrote
a scathing letter to my local MP saying that complaints like this
should be filtered out at a local level. So, my original question
of why the backmasking was embedded into the song was never answered.
Garath Evans made
his public remarks in parliament he opened up a media frenzy. All sorts
of allegations and labels were thrown at me (just like your website
labels me as a fundamentalist Christian) and an associate (Tom Toogood)
— who was a candidate for a minor political party — received a hiding
from the media and the University where he worked. Throughout all the
rhetoric my question always remained the same — why was this song
embedded with reverse lyrics and was this an attempt to subliminally
affect the Australian public.
conclusion to the
matter was that there is no conclusion. The Media Authority of the day
concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that backmasking can
subliminally effect people. However, the original question was never
answered — why was the backmasking there in the first place.
memory, here is a
transcript of the message I claimed to be on the song when played
backwards. This is from the shorter version of the song that was played
So as you can
this stuff is really embedded into the song, I am justified in
expressing my concerns and asking what is the intention and motivation
of the message. Some observations are:
he hit me - can't
make it stick
master of us -
stand up - say
he's the lord
I will worship
make it great
him possess the
The method of
in the Bicentennial Song was much different to the deliberate methods
of backmasking used by some music groups. In the old 8 track
recording days, it was possible to lay (record) 7 tracks of music and
vocals forward and underlay an 8th track of vocals or speaking in
reverse. Some fans of these music groups reported to have found the
secret messages by playing the recording backwards. However, in the
Bicentennial song, there wasn't an apparent attempt to record a secret
track because the backmasking lyrics come from the forward lyrics — so
the words spoken forwards appear to have a different message when
played backwards. At the time, this form of backmasking was unheard of
in the public arena.
grammatically correct except I am not sure what Shebulas is (maybe
Shepherd didn't fit somehow)
on the same topic of satanic worship and fit within the character of
Satan himself desiring worship for himself and eventually controlling a
one world leader
not just random words as you might expect when listening to the usual
gibberish of reverse lyrics
rhythmically and are not a bunch of disjointed words put together by
taking out the gaps in between.
day the reason
for the existence and purpose for the reverse lyrics has never been
answered. I am of the opinion that the method of producing the reverse
lyrics in this song is just too complex and too clever to be of a human
origin — posing the question whether there was some sort of
intervention from the spirit world to make these lyrics sound the way
they do in reverse. What confuses this supposition is the fact that I
found several reversed commercial messages in TV advertising using this
same technique. Words such as:
purchase this item
Or an ad with a
standing in a phone box wishing his wife "Happy anniversary darling".
When played in reverse, he is actually saying "you don't deserve
any". Again, not just random words but grammatically correct
food is it
you want this
the fast food
won't make you
wheazy in the stomach.
confusing fact to
add to this issue is that well over 200 ads recorded at the time did
not have any detectable backmasking — as one would expect. However,
there was multiple occurrences of different ads for the same company
having consistent inclusion of backmasked messages. The fast food
company with the message included above, had 3 different ads — all of
which had some sort of commercial message in reverse.
hopefully now you can
understand, my intention of the day was not to promote "right to life"
or "fundamental Christianity" or any of the other media labels I
received — but to ask the question "why is this stuff in existence and
what effect is it having on listeners.
BACKMASKING – A figment
(Investigator 144, 2012
I'm having a
problem reconciling Ray Keuning's article on backmasking
with rational thinking. Here are a few points.
What prompted Ray to play the song backwards in the first place?
Ray claims that all the sentences are grammatically correct. How can
you tell that a verbal sentence is so when the spelling is not
Why immediately label it "Satanic" when the word only appears once?
Other interpretations can be conjectured.
As for dragging poor old Satan into the picture, I'm sure he could find
a more fertile ground than the flip side of a recording.
Why would the originator (if there is one) go to the trouble of
disguising the message if he wants people to hear it?
Who in their right mind plays a recording backwards?
A TV programme some years ago on subliminal advertisements came to the
conclusion that they don't work.
As in the case of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) any results
considered to be words or messages are the product of the percipient's
imagination. (See Investigator
article on EVP #106/6)
To argue that the lyrics are too complex and clever to be of human
origin thus invoking the paranormal, is a common cop-out of the
The example quoted by Ray makes no sense to anyone other than those who
want it to.
"Shebulas" means "the arse of a hermaphrodite bovine", the worship of
which is practised by a little known tribe in the remote mountains of
Papua New Guinea.
suggest another pastime with which Ray could pass his idle hours:
newspaper upside down in front of a mirror and read the
encrypted Cyrillic letters therein. They could be a message from
Stalin. After all, they meet all the criteria. He was a modern Satan;
the message is from the spirit world; and an uncritical theist mind
will do the rest.
(Investigator 145, 2012
In response to
Ray Keuning's article on backmasking (Investigator 143,
pp 19-21), Harry Edwards (Investigator 144, p 31) objects to Ray's
statement that the sentences in the extract in question are
'grammatically correct' (not how a linguist would put it, but that is
another issue), on the ground that one cannot make such a judgment,
since no written form of the extract displaying the spelling is
Much as I
admire Harry as a general skeptic, I have to observe, as a
professional linguist, that this argument simply does not hold up. In
some of the relatively rare cases involving homophony (identically
pronounced sequences with different spelling, grammar and/or meaning),
Harry's stricture might be valid, but in general terms it is not. A
sentence can be assessed for grammaticality just as readily if it is
available only in spoken form.
not to say that backmasking (unless deliberately inserted into
lyrics by someone with some linguistic training/awareness) is typically
genuine. Listeners (including skeptics) often find that they cannot
hear such reversals until they are prompted with the alleged wording,
but that after this has happened they cannot avoid hearing them. This
suggests that — as in the related case of (originally South Australian)
David Oates' claims regarding 'Reverse Speech' — the main factors
involved are psychological.
skeptical psychologist Chris French and I are currently planning
work on one such case involving the Led Zeppelin song ‘Stairway To
Heaven’, which allegedly contains a reversal (very much audible after
prompting) interpreted as conveying Satanic messages. See also Chapter
6 of my forthcoming book Bad Linguistics (when available).