Do Subliminal Self-Help Programs Work? (1): Science

Subliminal Technology:
The Truth Behind Subliminal Programs
by Eldon Taylor

The Science Behind InnerTalk®
(Also Called the “Taylor Method”)

The power of the mind

InnerTalk is both the name of our Whole Brain® audio (subliminal) technology and a descriptor of how the technology works. InnerTalk is used in place of the word subliminal because of the technical differences in our technology and the confusion about so-called subliminal audio properties. This was written to introduce you to our technology and set the record straight regarding science and self help audio subliminal programs.

There are many claims . . . in both the direction of audio subliminal hoax and efficacy.

There are many claims, sometimes elevated in the genre of fact, in both the direction of audio subliminal hoax and efficacy. Some state that they have proven their audio programs by client reported (clinical) results. The scientist views this as nothing more than anecdotal. Indeed, not too long ago I had a conversation with the owner of one company who stated, “Why do you insist on recording the affirmations in the first person?” (“I like myself” instead of “You like yourself.”) I explained the research. He went on with something like, “. . . but I have many testimonies . . . I get letters all the time” (anecdotal reports). I asked him if one in five of his customers reported success? I then explained that he could expect at least 20% of his customers to experience the placebo factor. That is, one in five will report positive results to a blank audio program. These reports may or may not have valid observations regarding efficacy. In fact, most would not. Nevertheless, the expectation factor would dispose the customer to report gains even if they were not factual.

A study designed by E. R. Spangenberg and initially presented with the coauthors, A. G. Greenwald, A. R. Pratkanis and J. Eskenazi, tested the effect of labels on the expectation factor. The experimenters obtained audio subliminal programs from three commercial companies. They switched labels from self-esteem programs to memory programs and vice versa. The mislabeled audio programs were then given to subjects in their experimental group. The study was conducted as a double blind test. The subjects were asked to report on the effect of the audio programs at the conclusion of the study. Their reports generally indicated a positive appraisal of the program in the direction of the label. In other words, if the program was labeled Memory Improvement, the subjects tended to report improvement in memory. However, independent evaluations of actual memory improvement indicated no change.

Research has consistently demonstrated effects known as placebo. Further, good research designs anticipate expectation/placebo and experimental bias effects, and control for them. The double-blind design of experimentation is of particular value for controlling the influence of these factors. For those who may not be familiar with this research design, a double-blind test or study operates with two or more researchers and at least three subject groups. There is an experimental group and people in this group receive the experimental property. There is a control group. People in this group receive nothing. There is a placebo group. People in this group receive a property, say CD, but the property is what popularly is known as a sugar pill. Where an audio program is concerned, this is often a CD containing no subliminal content. However, it is the opinion of this researcher that the placebo CD should contain some innocuous message. I have used, for example, the message, “People are walking.” The reason for this is to prevent persons in one group discovering that persons in another group can hear what sounds like voices from time to time, when they cannot. Since the technology of Progressive Awareness Research is designed in such a manner that voices will probably be heard by most, although the word content will not typically be understood, it is important not to bias the outcome of the study by comparing no message audio programs with message audio programs. The reason for all this safe-guarding will become more clear as we proceed in our discussion.

Another common valid form of research often used with human subjects is that of a true clinical design. There are several different types of clinical designs, but the most reliable clinical research is derived from instrument testing. Here, a treatment modality is tested by administering a pre- and post-test, using some standard recognized scale, that is both reliable and valid in the domain of measurement. Please note that this type of clinical work is not an anecdotal procedure. In other words, the researcher is independently evaluating results via some measurement scale (instrument) and not relying on self-reports. Take for example the work of Spangenberg, mentioned earlier. Subjects reported gains in memory or esteem, however, evaluation of these claimed gains via instrument indicated no such gain.

The point can be said in a very straight forward way. Reports that are not controlled research designs are only reports. They prove nothing. Indeed, controlled double-blind research studies are usually looked upon by science as only suggestive. Studies must be replicated to accept the findings as what most would call proof.

When someone states that they have the truth about a subject, and then refers to science, it is fair to expect that they follow the rules of science. Testimonial anecdotes, single patient clinical self-reports, and so forth, just do not represent evidence of efficacy. I am very aware with my own technology that, where many double-blind and clinical pre and post evaluation studies have been conducted, there are many areas yet to be researched.

"Something happens with our technology that produces measurable positive results!"

The one statement that I can say with reasonable certainty is this: Something happens with our technology that produces measurable positive results! I have my theories and what follows may be helpful in understanding both the hows and whats of Whole Brain InnerTalk technology.

Thank you for taking the time.

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