Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Obama – Yes We Can = Thank You Satan?

After laughing about it, there’s a serious side to this sort of “reverse speech” or “subliminal messages”. No, not a serious satanic side, but the rather interesting way this effect exploits some glitches in our perception.

When you are presented with an incomprehensible speech, your brain tries very hard to find some meaning, giving way to a sort of auditory paredolia. So, when someone gives you that meaning, you are actually able to hear it.

This effect is funny when “subtitling” foreign languages:

You native English speakers must know this exact very same video has also been “funny subtitled” in many other languages, and that even English speaking videos are “funny subtitled” in other languages. “Eyes without a face” sounds like “ajudar o peixe” in Portuguese, or “helping the fish”. It actually sounds exactly like that when the Portuguese “subtitle” is given.

Science has been studying the special dedicated way we perceive speech in more detail, and one particularly fascinating bit of research is related to sine-wave speech. It’s an artificially constructed sound, “lacking the harmonic structure of speech and not having the pulsing structure associated with voicing”, but with the frequencies and amplitudes of the sinusoids set equal to those of the original speech.

“These artificial signals could be perceived in two ways. Listeners who were told nothing about the stimuli heard science-fiction-like sound, electronic music, computer beeps, and so on. Listeners who instead were instructed to transcribe a ‘strangely synthesized English sentence” were able to do so. They heard the sound as speech, even though the speech sounded unnatural”.

The most amazing thing is:

“Once that [speech listening] mode is engaged, it is difficult to reverse the process. Listeners who have heard the stimuli as speech tend to continue to do so”.

You can experience this effect for yourself trying these examples. First listen to the sine-wave speech. Then listen to the original. Then listen to the sine-wave speech again. It will be almost crystal clear in its meaning. If we gave you a “subtitle” along with the sine-wave speech you would also understand it perfectly.

The lesson is not that some real message was hidden that can be understood by those wise enough. The lesson is that we can extract some arbitrary meaning from almost anything that sounds like speech.

This is how “Yes we can” can be turned into “Thank you Satan”. Reversed, it becomes:

“nac ew seY”
”Thak yu Satn”
”Thank you Satan”

As a side note, “Yes we can” reversed sounds even more clearly as “É eu sei” in Portuguese, which means “Yes I know”. But this is pure coincidence with no real meaning other than the ones some people force fit in.

Of course, there are some instances where reverse speech is intentionally inserted into music, but the persuading effect this has is highly doubtful, curiously this is usually done exactly to cater to those who believe reverse speech works.

If you still take reverse speech seriously, you may also find relevant that some adult movies have very spiritual “subliminal” messages.

– – –

Sources and links:
An introduction to the psychology of hearing by Brian C. J. Moore
Fun with sine-wave speech
– via Renegade Futurist

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Posted in Fortean,Science | 8 comments

8 Comments so far

  1. d May 23rd, 2009 12:25 am

    The yes we can speech, although I don’t take it seriously, is not an affect of subtitling. This is tested here: http://www.brutallyhonest.org/brutally_honest/2009/03/yes-we-can-thank-you-satan.html where it is recorded as Thank you satan and plays back clearly yes we can. I tested your theory also by playing Thank you satan backwards to my daughter and asked her what the recording said without her hearing “Thank you satan” or any prior knowledge of the recording, or me telling her if it said “Yes we can”. She came up with it saying “Yes we can” by herself by just hearing the backwards recording. Just something to think about I guess!

  2. Scot UFO – UFO sightings, news & events from around Scotland…

    look take it or leave it… face the facts and truth. we are not alone period. i have docs and pics right in my filing cab all about UFO reports and history. IF YOU DO RESEARCH (TAKES TIME) you will find out lots of stuff about top secret stuff hidden …

  3. Brian October 15th, 2010 2:18 pm

    I thought I would share my favorite example of a “subtitled” foreign film where the subtitles come from what the words sound like in English….this one is really hilarious!!!!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKQ5XNjXWzM

  4. Val September 12th, 2011 7:12 am

    This is bullshit, you all hear what you want to hear,
    (imagine if religion never existed, and you heard that, would you have known what it means).

    There is a language (albanian), where sounds are written as they are spoken.
    e.g. “say” => “sej” => which if it was reversed, would sound “jes”, and when read out its “yes”

    so “yes we can” would reverse to “nak iu sej”

    -nak as in Snack with no S
    -iu (eew)
    -sej as in the English word yes

    to disprove your theory,
    There is one “N” in “yes we can” and it’s at the end,
    reverse it, it will become the first letter,
    There for, the word “thank” has an “N” in the middle which comes out of the blue, More over, there are two “N”s in “thank you satan” which is impossible to create a sound if it wasn’t there.

    If you think you are making people believe (open their eyes to the truth) you should tell them you are liars and you are sorry.
    You are imposing fear to the mass with this crap, I hope god does really exist and then you will see if your intentions are that of good, or bad.

    Everyone knows oppressing fear upon one person, makes them doubt everything they believe and you should all stop trying to make the world a better place, because your ignorance (luck of knowledge [not putting down]) is causing people to divide as suppose to unite.

  5. wippy wippy woo woo September 1st, 2012 5:54 am

    I listened to SWS 1, then speech 1, than SWS1. Afterwards, SWS2, Speech 2, SWS2 etc etc. As I progressed through, they gor clearer, i became more able to understand the sine wave speeches than earlier. The most astounding was #5, where I was able to guess the last two words correctly before listenong to yhe sentence.

    It was good practice at learning to understand sine wave speech.

    PS Barry Husayn O’Bama is a muslin cloth. Sorry about the stupid joke, I’m a worthless idiot.

  6. Lolly January 18th, 2013 4:45 am

    Well, I guess no one better ever say , “yes, we can ” again. So shop owners cannot say to someone who inquires, Can you do this work for me ? “Ye, we can”, is out cause we are saying to the customer, “Thank you , Satan” Are you all nuts ? !!! Opps that probably means, “Satun all you are.

  7. Lolly January 18th, 2013 4:48 am

    Muslims and Christians are against Satan. So if Obama is a Muslim or Christian, he would not be saying that. And he is not. Most companies or corporations, say “Yes, we can”. That does not mean they are necessarily associated with Satan.

  8. Lolly January 18th, 2013 4:53 am

    Plus President Obama has a little cross on the middle of his forehead. Plus the antichrist is supposed to have 666 on his forehead not on his crown or back of his neck. Since Obama has a little cross there instead, that blows that out of the water. See the little cross on the picture of President Obama on the front of TIME magazine , the Dec. 31, 2012 issue entitled, “Person of the Year”. You will see the little cross, plain as day. President Obama is a Christian . A Christian cannot be “antichrist” cause they believe in Christ.

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