10 December 2007

Subliminal? I'll show you subliminal!

This headline graces an article in New Scientist (is it like New Labor or neo-con, I wonder? and what is wrong with the old fashioned science?).

Well, I know what is wrong with an article that says:
A study in Israel shows that voters can be manipulated into changing their attitudes by being shown subliminal images of their national flag.

A team led by psychologist Ran Hassin at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem divided volunteers into two groups: those who strongly identified with Israeli nationalism and those who identified with it only weakly. They then quizzed them about their attitude to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after showing them a brief image of an Israeli flag or a control image. The image appeared for long enough to be registered by the brain but not long enough for conscious awareness

Those who had viewed the flag shifted their position towards the middle ground: both right-wingers and left-wingers became less extreme.
Without any subliminal influence I can tell you that this theory is full of shit. There are only two measures (combined) that can possibly influence the rabid ultra-left and extra-right:

Intermittently and the more the merrier. And if this treatment fails, and only as a last resort - forced watching of these images:

Yeah... and keep that Valium handy...

Hat tip to Will.