Sunday Salon 21 September 2008: The Science of Brainwashing
A classic example is found with the lyrics of the Led Zeppelin track stairway to heaven. If you scroll down to the bottom of this Wikipedia entry (where it says backmasking controversy) you will be able to hear and see 'top-down' processing in action in your own head.
1. Play the lyrics forward.
2. Without reading anything else on the page play the lyrics backwards - they sound like gobbledgook.
3. Now read the supposed backwards lyrics in the box below and play the lyrics backwards again - and now you'll hear the message 'as clear as a bell' says Chris French of Goldsmith's College in the book.
Fascinating stuff - and I'm immediately thinking of other examples of 'top-down' processing in politics, art, literature...the list is endless. Acts such as Derren Brown's rely on 'top-down' processing and, as it says in the book, 'we seem to be endlessly impressed by our own gullability.'
I think that another word for 'top-down' processing is brainwashing.
I am going to spend the rest of the day in my shed. After I finish this one I am going to dip into this delectable little pile (which are just some of the more recent additions to the ever-expanding Hodmandod collection).