If Satan Talked To You Backwards, Could You Actually Understand Him?

Illustration for article titled If Satan Talked To You Backwards, Could You Actually Understand Him?

So the Dark Lord is talking to you backwards through the medium of your favorite record. What message could you get from this speech? Find out, and listen to some “backmasked” messages.


During the Satanic Panic, there was concern that rock bands were the tools of the devil. They were engaging in “backmasking,” playing messages backwards in their songs to subconsciously, or even consciously, turn kids evil. Some researchers decided to test that theory. They recorded a few messages and tested what parts of the message college students would be able to understand.

The vast majority of the time they could determine the sex of the speaker. So if the devil talks to you, 98.9% of the time you’ll be right about whether Satan is a he or a she. You won’t be nearly as accurate about the language the devil speaks. When deciding between French, German, and English, the kids were only right 46.7% of the time. That’s better than chance but not great.

Illustration for article titled If Satan Talked To You Backwards, Could You Actually Understand Him?

As for the words — perhaps the forces of evil would do better talking to you in the proper direction. The students listened to the sentences backwards. Some of the messages were made up by the researchers, some were picked from Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky, and some were from the twenty-third psalm. (“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”) Afterwards, the researchers said a word forwards, and the students had to guess if it was in the backwards sentence. Out of a fifty-fifty chance, they were right only 55.8% of the time. They also couldn’t distinguish whether the message was a statement or a question, guessing right only 52.1% of the time.

Next, the subjects had to listen to pairs of backwards sentences. Half the time the sentences had the same meaning, although it was put into different words. The other half they had different meanings. The students guessed right 44.8% of the time, less than chance level. When guessing whether they listened to nonsense sentences or regular sentences, they were right 45.2% of the time.

Finally, when played the backwards sentence, “Jesus loves me, this I know,” and asked to classify it as either, Satanic, Christian, pornographic, nursery rhyme, or advertising, the kids got it right 19.4% of the time. That’s slightly, but not significantly, below chance level.


What’s interesting is that, when asked about the content of the sentences, the subjects performed slightly below chance levels. So if Beelzebub wants you to do something, he might be better off broadcasting Christian messages.

If you want to imperil your soul and listen to song lyrics backwards, you can do so at Jeff Milner’s Backmasking Collection. I couldn’t make out a coherent message in any of them.


[Source: Subliminal Messages.]


Rufus Honker IV