Subliminal perception is a deliberate process created by communication technicians, whereby you receive and respond to information and instructions without being aware of it. Messages in the form of printed words, pictures or voices presented either very rapidly or very obscurely bypass your conscious awareness. Anything consciously perceived can be evaluated, criticized, discussed, argued, and possibly rejected. Anything programmed subliminally to your subconsciousness meets no resistance. This subliminal information is stored in your brain and capable of influencing your judgment, behavior and attitudes.
The use of subliminal techniques in print communication media has been going on in the United States at least since the World War I period. For example, Norman Rockwell's first cover on The Saturday Evening Post during 1917 incorporated embedded SEXes. Whenever an embedded word or picture accidentally became consciously visible, the readers would pass it off as a joke, an accident, or a product of their imaginations.
Serious commercial experiments with subliminal messaging were conducted in the mid 50-s. On June 22, 1956, the British Broadcasting Corporation experimented with projecting subliminal images on television. Pictures were flashed on the screen too quickly to be seen consciously, but they did make an impression on the subconscious. The BBC experiment was followed by experiments by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Mexico's Televisa commercial TV and radio network, US TV station WTWO in Bangor and many more.
Experiments were not limited to television. In 1958, radio station WAAF in Chicago broadcast "subaudible" commercials. Seattle's KOL broadcast hardly audible taped messages "below" the music played by its disc jockeys. "How about a cup of coffee?" was one, and "Someone's at the door" was another. On December 8, 1972, The New York Times reported that In-Flight Motion Pictures, Inc. would begin selling subliminal commercials embedded in the movies they would distribute to all the major airlines. Supermarkets across the country are reducing theft an average 30 to 50 percent by broadcasting subliminal messages such as "I will not steal" and "We are watching you". Stimutech, Inc. of East Lansing, Michigan markets a computer video system that flashes subliminal messages on your television while you watch the regular programming. The subliminal messages are prepared by a team of psychologists to change the thinking patterns and behavior of the viewer.
The most known experiment with subliminal messaging was conducted by a marketing researcher and psychologist James Vicary in 1957 during the presentation of the movie Picnic. Every 5 seconds the words "Hungry? Eat popcorn. Drink Coca Cola" were projected for 0.003 seconds. That is extremely fast.
Sales of popcorn and Coke in that New Jersey theater increased 57.8 percent and 18.1 percent respectively. Numerous scientific researches following these experiments confirmed beyond any doubt that subliminal messaging works. When advertising industry and government agencies understood the potential of subliminal messaging they started investing millions in developing and perfecting of subliminal techniques, which can be used not only for marketing, but also for propaganda and mind control. In 1962 Vicary suddenly confesses that he fabricated the results of his experiment... Why would someone discredit himself in such a way and lose his dignity and credibility? It's obvious that he was paid to do so by those who use subliminal messages to manipulate you. Remember the quote from "Usual Suspect" : The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist... That's exactly the trick they are trying to pull, I.E. convincing the world that subliminal technique does not work. And they did a pretty good job. There are so many people that refuse to believe that a secret technology which modifies behavior invisibly, channels basic value systems, manages human motives and drives them into pathological behaviors in the interest of certain power structures has been in existence and widespread use for decades if not more. They will call you crazy if you'll dare to say anything like that and yet subliminal messages are being bombarded at you continuously throughout the day, through books, movies, magazines, television, radio and music. Every major newspaper, every poster, every magazine in America have subliminal messages embedded in them.
So how can something that we don't notice affect our behavior? Well, unheeded doesn't mean unseen. Let us first understand how our perception works. As you know, our mind consists of two interacting parts: conscious and subconscious. The subconscious part of mind operates below the level of conscious awareness, it controls reflexes, automatic functions and handles the processing and storing of incoming information. Subconsciousness is able to process 20,000 bits of information simultaneously, while consciousness can deal only with 7 ± 2 bits of information at the same time.
Instead of the simplistic five senses —sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell— there are at least thirty-seven known, differentiated sensory inputs into the brain. All of the information picked by these senses is sent to the brain and absorbed by the subconsciousness, however, only very concrete and relevant data is passed to the conscious mind after it has been processed and reduced. All the rest remains ignored. A good example of this is the Cocktail Party Effect : You can talk with a friend in a crowded party and still listen and understand what he says even if the place is very noisy. You can simultaneously ignore what another nearby person is saying, but if someone over the other side of the room suddenly mentiones your name, you notice that sound and respond to it immediately. Not only that your name immediately triggers your attention, you usualy are aware of the entire sentence it has came in. From this experience we can learn that our brain records everything that takes place around us. Interesting that certain words like KILL, SEX, BLOOD, DEATH and such have the same effect in triggering your attention as your name.
So, only the information considered as "relevant" goes to the consciousness. Non essential information, short or vague stimuli are stored in the subconscious without reaching our awareness. Important to stress that they are NOT discarded, but stored. E V E R Y T H I N G you have ever experienced in your life, from every stranger's face you have ever glanced at in a crowd to every spider web you gazed at as a child, can be retrieved from your memory by hypnosis or by electrical stimulation of the brain cells in temporal lobes. Hence whatever was subliminally put into your brain will stay there forever and in the right circumstances will trigger the right reaction in you. That is not being said that subliminal messages determine your reaction in an inexorable manner. The accepted opinion is that subliminal messages rather strengthen, accelerate and reinforce reactions in persons who are ALREADY PREDISPOSED to the subject of the message. But I guess one can't be sure.