A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

From Abracadabra to Zombies

reader comments: subliminal

16 Dec 2000 
Your essay on subliminal messages has a reference to the "RATS" that was "inserted" into a republican political commercial. In my opinion this is a perfect example of how the media cannot only distort a truth but take something that was never true in the first place and "make" it "true".

I subscribe to TIME, NEWSWEEK, PEOPLE, US WEEKLY, and I read the daily newspaper. I also visit some Web news site like IWON, ABCNews, and the like. When this story "broke" not one of the daily news sources I read mentioned the fact that the RATS was part of the word BUREAUCRATS that scrolled on the screen from right to left and that the image of the word RATS that was published all over the world was done by freeze framing it at just the right split second so that only those letters were seen on the screen. Every picture I saw was then taken of the entire TV screen with the word RATS on it. This made a very innocent non story seem sinister.

It wasn't until a couple of days later when I got my weekly magazines that I read about the word bureaucrats. I don't watch TV News so I don't know how they handled it, but since news sources all seem to get their information from just a couple of news services and each other I doubt they did any better. Since you did not mention any of this in your essay I thought I would let you know just in case you had not read about it. (I don't mean to imply that you are not well read or informed. I say that because although, I don't remember exactly, I think it was PEOPLE or US Magazine that actually had the whole true story. I went on the Web to see if I could confirm this and found a video clip of the entire commercial at Salon.com).

My father always used to say "Don't believe anything you read and only half of what you see". Almost 20 years after his death I wish he could see some of things going on in the media today and see how right he was.

I know! I'll go see John Edward.

Thanks for the great site. I am almost done reading the Skeptic's Dictionary. Like getting near the end of a great book, I am reluctant to turn the last page and I look forward to the updates.


reply: Thank you for the update!


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