|The Phenomenon of Reverse Speech|
Reverse speech is one of the areas of strange phenomena that even many extremely open-minded researchers of the unusual find hard to swallow. Essentially, the idea of reverse speech is this: hidden within the ordinary things we say is a deeper meaning - words and phrases spoken unconsciously that are revealed only when our recorded speech is played in reverse. The question is, are proponents of reverse speech just hearing what they want to hear or are they really on to something?
David John Oates, an Australian researcher, is most often credited with discovering the phenomenon; he's certainly responsible for coining the phrase "reverse speech" and for promoting it in books, in lectures and on his website, Reverse Speech.
Oates doesn't claim a paranormal origin for reverse speech, but rather believes it is a natural function of human communication that is present with us since birth. In fact, he believes that children speak backward before they learn to speak forward - only we hear it as infantile goo-goos. According to Oates, "human speech has two distinctive yet complementary functions and modes. The "overt" mode is spoken forwards and is primarily under conscious control. The "covert" mode is spoken backward and is not under conscious control. In the dynamics of interpersonal communication, both modes of speech combined communicate the total psyche of the person, conscious as well as unconscious."
|"Human speech has two distinctive yet complementary functions and modes. The "overt" mode is spoken forwards and is primarily under conscious control. The "covert" mode is spoken backward and is not under conscious control."|
Reverse speech, apparently, doesn't flow as readily as normal forward speech. When normal speech is played backward, only bits and pieces of reverse speech can be recognized about every 10 to 15 seconds, says Oates, in the form of a few words or short phrases.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of reverse speech isn't that one can discern words and phrases within reversed speech, but in the claim that the backward speech unconsciously reveals the true feelings and intent of the speaker. "Reverse speech is the voice of truth," says Oates. In an article entitled "Reverse Speech Analysis," author Eve Frances Lorgen calls the phenomenon "the truth detector of the millennium" and says that it might place the polygraph as a lie detector. Lorgen uses reverse speech as an investigative and therapeutic tool for UFO abductees.
Naturally, Oates has plenty of reverse speech examples on his website, which you can listen to if you have a sound card and some kind of sound player like RealAudio or MediaPlayer. Most of the examples are, not surprisingly, from celebrities. There are examples from the Clintons, presidential candidates, Mike Tyson, John Lennon, O.J. Simpson and even the parents of JonBenet Ramsey.
Many of the examples presented are easy to understand, while others require a bit more imagination. In fact, if Oates didn't have the reversed speech written out on the website, one might be hard-pressed to hear what he's hearing in some examples.
For instance, when in a press statement Patsy Ramsey says,
"We feel that there are at least two people on the face of the earth that know who did this and that is the killer and someone else that person may have confided in."
... what Oates says she's saying in reverse is pretty clear to hear:
"I'm that person. Seen that rape."
On the other hand, with the Mike Tyson reversal when he is talking about his future in the boxing profession, Oates claims to hear:
"Money. Get our funds. I shall be rewarded."
... I think most listeners would find it very difficult to distinguish those phrases, even when the sound byte is played at very slow speed, without first reading Oates' interpretation.
Some interpreted reversals just don't seem to make sense, or don't live up to the "voice of truth" claim. In a reversal of Neil Armstrong's famous "That's one small step for man" declaration as he stepped on the surface of the moon, Oates hears:
"Man will space walk."
How does this translate as an unconscious truth? For one thing, astronauts and cosmonauts had already space walked many years earlier. What is it that Armstrong could have been trying to unconsciously convey with such a statement? Several of the other reversals are equally enigmatic.
Oates isn't the only one doing speech reversals, of course. Since he popularized it, many others have tried their hand at it.
At Encounters with the Unknown, Patricia Mason, a "reverse speech analyst," has been recording the experiences of people who claim to have been abducted by aliens. She listens to their reverse speech for subconsciously remembered details about their abduction experiences. The results are often pretty goofy. For example, when an abductee named Jody says, "And there's something in you that..." Mason hears in reverse: "Everything is not your net." Huh? It kind of sounds like that... but what on earth does that mean?
Have You Had a Paranormal Experience?