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The Subliminal Self

A fresh take on the uncanny, unnerving power of the unconscious mind.

photo illustration (Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)

photo illustration (Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)

We think we’re thinking our way through life. Well, yes and no. We’re thinking, but our unconscious minds are enormously powerful drivers. We think, but they can decide – often before we’ve even asked the question. For decades, we’ve understood we’re open to “subliminal seduction.” Our unconscious mind can be wooed.

Freud called it a beast. New science is showing just how powerful the mind beneath can be, and – often – how helpful. It’s us. And it’s way ahead of us.

This hour, On Point: Leonard Mlodinow on the power of the unconscious mind.

-Tom Ashbrook


Leonard Mlodinow, a theoretical physicist, scriptwriter, and author, he teaches at the California Institute of Technology. His new book is Subliminal:  How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior.

From Tom’s Reading List

Scientific American “One advantage of belonging to a cohesive society in which people help each other is that the group is often better equipped than a set of individuals to deal with threats from the outside.”

New York Post “This year marks the 50th anniversary of an article in Advertising Age magazine in which a marketing consultant named James Vicary admitted to perpetrating one of the great hoaxes in psychological science: the idea of subliminal advertising. Vicary had made his claims a few years earlier — just after the end of the Korean War, an era in which ideas like mind control and brainwashing had found a place in the public consciousness.”

BBC “These images capture a patient’s brain activity the moment they slip into unconsciousness”

Video: Spiderman Product Placement

Mlodinow writes: “In the film “Spider-Man,” for example, a can of Dr Pepper was featured for about 4 seconds when Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) shot a spider web from his wrist toward it. Though it is likely that few of the tens of millions exposed to that image consciously registered or remembered it, the makers of Dr Pepper bet that it would have a subliminal effect.”

Excerpt: Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior

Use the navigation bar at the bottom of this frame to reformat the excerpt to best suit your reading experience.


Unconscious Power by Iron Butterfly
Subliminal by They Might Be Giants

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  • AC

    I find I am extremely adept at brainwashing myself into a contented state of complete self-delusion. Lol-does this count as ‘unconscience’ or is that forced????

  • Terry Tree Tree

    ACCEPTING the MANY manifestations of the subliminal mind, RECORDED throughout History, only makes sense to me! 
       From ‘religious visions’, to ‘intuition’, to ‘sleep-inspired creativity, to the MANY forms of Extra-Sensory-Perception, and other forms that I may not have heard of, there has been too much EVIDENCE, that SOME, if not all people have MORE than the five physical senses!

  • Patrik

    Interesting topic, can’t wait to listen.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    I’ve long been suspicious that commercials are so loud and stupid precisely to drive us out of the room.  We go to the toilet or the refrigerator and stop paying attention to what’s being advertised, but part of us still hears.

    • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

      Commercials are stupid to appeal to the kind of people who watch TV.

      • nj_v2

        Too facile.

        There’s good teevee and bad teevee; good movies, bad movies; good theater, bad theater, good books, bad books…

        • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

          Not if you understand that the medium IS the message (see Marshall McLuhan and Jerry Mander). 

      • Sarah W

        I agree with nj_v2. Saying all people who watch TV are stupid is like saying all people who eat are fat. 

        • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

          If you’re a product of TV addiction, then you’ve merely proven my point, which was that there are stupid people watching TV (not that ALL viewers are stupid), and that watching TV dumbs us down as well.

          As Jerry Mander pointed out (in Four Arguments for the Elimination of TV, 1978), the very act of watching a fixed, flickering screen is hypnotic and all messages, not just commercials, are delivered subliminally.

          It also directly contributes to youth ADHD, because it suppresses their normal energy, requiring an explosive release later.

          He also revealed that the TV programming is not the product being sold to us (particularly when broadcast TV is free), but we the viewers are the product being sold (via Nielsen ratings) to the advertisers who pay the bills.

          So, anyone who voluntarily spends hours in front of a commercial hypnotist trying to sell them what they don’t need and get them to believe what ain’t true, is a few beers short of a six-pack.

  • Iarnocon

    What role, if any, does the unconscious mind play in the fact that millions of people can see unambiguous video footage — including the explosion of squibs and the perfeclty symmetrical, rate-of-gravity implosion – of the World Trade Center buildings coming down due to controlled demolition, and simply discount that they see any of these things?

    Is this mass denial a survival instinct, per people going into denial rather than accepting the troubling fact that we still have no idea as to the whole story per the events of 9/11?

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       This again?  Haven’t you learned yet that your topic isn’t relevant to every program?

  • Anonymous

    Leonardk, linguists have studied political framing. Have you looked into this on the subliminal level? Does this work better with fear and anger than with positive thoughts?

  • Lena

    Subconscious mind is very important to study.

    Awakening to the depth of one’s subconscious opens up
    endless grows possibilities.  It’s a path
    to the soul that connects us all.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    I’d like to hear discussion on studies/technology that are designed to interact with the subconscious while bypassing the conscious – I expect we’re much further along than inserting “you’re thirsty” frames into a movie.

    • Sarah W

      I don’t think it’s just “you’re thirsty.” I think it’s more like subliminal priming, the thirst condition, and brand choice.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Every time I teach logical fallacies and how to avoid them to my composition classes, I always tell my students that if I were teaching marketing or politics, I’d be teaching them how to use fallacies to get what they want.

  • Tracie

    I would like to know how this theory applies to those who cannot control their behavior i.e., those who suffer from OCD.

  • http://twitter.com/Dave_Eger Dave Eger

    Anyone interested in this should check out the work of the illusionist Derren Brown.

  • http://twitter.com/loveilleux L Veilleux

    How far do the consequences of these findings go?  Are we just talking MANY biases and tendencies playing a part in what we think and do?  Or do we have to go further?  For example, might we have to rethink basic models of explaining actions as the products of beliefs, desires, and intentions?

  • miro

    Fascinating topic!

    Our subliminal habits do determine our behaviors — they are what form our character.But be wary about the assertions that conscious awareness is restricted to humans (or primates) and that consciousness evolved for a particular selection-driven survival-reproduction purpose. How could one test such assertions? What would count as evidence? A biologist or neuroscientist might well have the view that consciousness arose with the appearance of nervous systems capable of supporting something like a working memory.Many philosophers dealing with the mind-body problem have taken an epiphenomenalist view, that the material world is closed under physical causation and that what we experience is a byproduct of those material processes, but does not in turn influence their trajectories. If this is the case, then consciousness per se does not have any survival value or material effect, but is another aspect of the universe that supervenes on particular patterns of material structure and action.

    • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

      Judging by the state of global humanity, it could well be argued that consciousness, or at least self-consciousness, is anti-adaptive. 

  • Ed

    “A madman isn’t some who has lost his reason. It’s someone who has lost everything but his reason.” GK Chesterton

    We’re more wonderfully complicated than a simple rational machine.

  • Iarnocon

    What role, if any, does the unconscious mind play in the fact that millions of people can see unambiguous video footage — including the explosion of squibs and the perfeclty symmetrical, rate-of-gravity implosion — of the World Trade Center buildings coming down due to controlled demolition, and simply discount that they see any of these things?

    Is this mass denial a survival instinct, per people going into denial rather than accepting the troubling fact that we still have no idea as to the whole story per the events of 9/11?

    • Lena


      Subconsciously they do want to believe their government. It’s
      too painful to realize the truth sometimes.

      • Iarnocon

        I’m not sure if/how our government might have been involved.

        The only thing that’s unarguable right now is that there has never been any credible evidential support for ANY claim made in the official account of the events of 9/11.

        I’ve looked for many years for some, and it just does not exist.

        But that official version — which began even before the WTC buildings come down — has been privileged by so many people, and particularly those who have never taken a moment to even check out the evidence that flatly contradicts that version, that it has become “truth.”

        • Lena

          an “official account” is all that people need. official stuff, authority and government is the same thing, especially on the subconscious level.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       Off topic and wrong at the same time.  Quite the achievement, this.

      • Iarnocon

        Why is this off-topic?

        It deals with a mass perception of a common event.

        That seems very on-topic, but I’m open to your reasons why it isn’t.

      • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

        Greg Camp’s subliminal message (from above): “I always tell my students…how to use fallacies to get what they want.”

    • Sam

      I didn’t and still don’t know what “perfectly symmetrical, rate-of-gravity” explosion looks like.

      Are you the expert?
      How many building explosions did you perform?

      Government conspiracy or paranoia?

      • Iarnocon

        All I’m offering is a purely impartial statement that you are free to investigate or not.

        If you want me to link to both videos and a site where literally hunderds of archtiects and engineers conclude that the WTC buildings were brought down in a controlled demolition, I’d be happy to.

        If not, that’s fine, too.

        But I do think that, before coming to any conclusion regarding a proffered sourced claim a person should at least read/view that source.


        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

           No, you’re clogging up a discussion with irrelevant material.

          • Iarnocon

            Why is this off-topic?

            It deals with a mass perception of a common event.

            That seems very on-topic, but I’m open to your reasons why it isn’t.

            Why are you being so aggressive/defensive in this exchange?

            Have I offended you?

            If so, I certainly didn’t mean to, and I apologize.

        • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

          And building implosion experts have come to the same conclusion.

    • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

      We all have a concept of reality – a conceptual “box” – into which we fit the world of our perceptions and judgements. Those “facts” that don’t fit the slots in our box are rejected.

      • Iarnocon

        Thanks for your response.

        Even though those facts are so unambiguous?

        that would seem to be counterproductive per having to respond instantly to flee from obvious dangers.

        Or, perhaps the mass denial IS a fight-or-flight response to an immediate danger — the danger that we can not trust our major information sources?

        • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

          Nothing about 9/11 appears “unambiguous” when there have been years of published “facts” and conclusions on both sides, but most loudly supporting the official narrative.

          And drawing conclusions after the fact has nothing to do with the fight or flight response, which is so instantaneous that it’s pre-conscious.

          Fight or flight is running from the collapsing towers. Choosing whom to believe after the fact is a conceptual box problem.

          • Iarnocon

            Per unamgiguous: I’d argue that the videos really are unambiguous.

            We also have the owner of the WTC towers, in an interview with the BBC, telling a demolition crew to initiate the controlled demolition.

            I guess my point in this regard is that there is an actual videographic record, buttressed by sound scientific  support coming from exemplary sources, of these buildings being brought down in a controlled demolition.

            How we respond to that, of course, is going to depend on A. Whether we’ve actually viewed the record, and B. Our disposition to this kind of insight. (Per relevancy to the topic at hand.) 

            Per fight or flight:  I see what you’re saying about the conclusion/reaction mismatch.

            But I’m not sure how long a state of “flight” can abide in the face of an ongoing perceived threat, and/or in a situation where the perceived threat has been suppressed.

            Maybe conditioning is a better phrase?

            i.e. Those people who believe an obviously unsupprted official account of the events of 9/11 have believed this unsupprted accoutn so long that they become conditioned to believe it and unduly invested in protecting it as a matter of personal identity integrity.

          • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

            If those videos were, in fact, unambiguous, then everyone watching them would arrive at the same conclusion. You probably arrived at your conclusion only long after the fact and after reviewing sources that were consistent with your perceptual box or that allowed you to shift your box.

            Nothing comes through our eyes and minds without being sifted through our perceptual filters. There is the story, perhaps apocryphal, that when the first Spanish conquistadors arrived at the American shore, the native peoples were unable to see their tall ships because all they were familiar with was dugout canoes.

            In other words, we see only what passes through our culturally-determined paradigmatic filters, and we accept only those judgements  that fall within the accepted narrative of society.

            As more Americans come to distrust our cultural institutions (and they’re all at an all-time low), more will be able to accept an alternative narrative (which is what we have seen in the 9/11 truth movement over the last decade).

            But some stories die hard, such as the myth of the American Dream and the endless possibility of material affluence. Even some in the OWS movement are agitating for re-opening the road to middle class life (even though it’s been closed as much by the limits of our planet as by the extremes of our economy).

          • Iarnocon

            “If those videos were, in fact, unambiguous, then everyone watching them would arrive at the same conclusion.”

            I’m not sure that life works like this, but I do get your point.

            Having said that, in my experience, when people do take the time to view these videos, they respond in a similar way: they are confused, and they acknowledge that their assumptions regarding the authenticity of the official version of the events of 9/11 have been substantively disrupted.

            “Nothing comes through our eyes and minds without being sifted through our perceptual filters.”

            That’s for sure!

            “But some stories die hard, such as the myth of the American Dream and the endless possibility of material affluence.”

            Without wishing to sound contrary, I would offer this as a good example of an unambiguous untruth — the American Dream — being accepted as truth by millions, even though it is an unambiguous lie.

            The main problem with people’s lack of awareness regardiing the entirely unsupported nature of the official account of the events of 9/11, imo, is that they simply have not taken the time to think about 9/11 beyond engaging robotically in group think, which requires that we NOT ask any questions that might complicate the popular narrative/official account.

            There are even still people in the US — those who adhere religiously to the official account — who have no idea that three buildings collapsed on 9/11.

            Heck, the judge in one of the law suits regarding 9/11 famoulsly asked “Building what?” when one of the litigants mentioned WTC Building 7.

            The bottom line for me is that, most people who view the many vidoes of WTC 1,2 and, particularly, 7 come down are immediate converts to the controlled demolition proposition.

            And those who have not viewed these videos are the most rabidly protective of the official account.

            This, to me, represents a significant involvement of the popular subconsious and mass cognitive dissonance.

          • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

            “I’m not sure that life works like this
            , but I do get your point.”

            That IS my point. Our common perceptions DON’T see things “as they are” because there is no “as they are”. All perceptions are filtered – yours included. You just chose to adopt a different set of filters.

            And you make that evident when you proclaim that “the American Dream…is an unambiguous lie”.

            Through your filters, it appears so. To the common filters, it has been America’s truth for at least 150 (if not 400) years. 

          • nj_v2
  • L armond

    A day or two after surgery grandmother continued to fight one daughter with wire bobbypins, and had visions of conflict and flight, and it was an old neighbor who was able to dispatch the pursuers, a former navy weight lifter.  Years later, a restaurant customer broke down after visiting her mother after surgery.  I told her grandmother’s story.  I said these things store in the physical memory as true and actually happening and seem not to be able to be dislodged.  She went back to attend her mother the next day, and was happy to learn the psychological profile of how her mother reacted physically to her, and hoped she could change.

  • Andrea

    Just wondering how this research applies to the phenomenon of “intrusive thoughts” associated with severe anxiety disorders?  

    • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

      CIA mind control. They’ve been working on it since the 60s.

  • Beaumont

    great program….but what was the rockin’ guitar played during the break? 

    • http://onpoint.wbur.org/about-on-point/sam-gale-rosen Sam Gale Rosen

      Unconscious Power by Iron Butterfly!

  • Privatearkansas

    This sure seems like something we used to call women’s intuition.  I have “discovered” the perfect research book among thousands in a library — just caught an edge of it and my mind said take that one, and it was just what I needed for my paper. I guess it wasn’t just luck!

  • Sam

    Why are women attracted to men who have a “bad-boy” image?

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       According to a study I saw a while ago, bad boys are attractive for breeding, but good guys are desirable for raising the resulting children.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      They have the illusion that he will change, because of the strength of her love!   She can CHANGE him!

    • Sarah W

      A lot of people (men and women) have this idea in their head that they can “fix” people. They only date people with problems because they have a weird need to “fix” them even if they don’t need fixing.

  • Cliff_sobkowicz

    According to a book called subliminal seduction liquor ads included pictures of nudes and sculls in the ice cubes. How did this affect sales.

    • Sarah W

      They also do things like spelling out “sex” with the ice cubes in the drink. I believe it’s because sex sells and the companies believe people will think along the lines of “if I drink this I’ll get more sex.”

      • Sarah W

        Subconsciously of course.

  • Edwin

    I’d like to ask about the role of our subconscious making judgments, using rules and patterns to make decisions on how it limits our mind from exploring issues in new ways that are outside the patterns we have experienced up to that point in life.  Is there a way that as we age we can make our subconscious more flexible?

  • Leora

    Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point.
    (The heart has reasons that reason does not recognize).

  • Hladd

    can hypnosis change the unconscious mind to effect behavior (quit smoking, stop over-eating, etc.)?  How can one change the unconscious patterns?

  • robymaje

    Do sociopaths use our subconscious against us?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      From personal experience I’d have to say that they use their own subconsciouses against us as well as our own, especially when they are clever enough to do the latter.

  • Barry

    Prof. Miodonow seems to keep confirming Freud’s insights.  What is the generation of that song thrown up into our dreams that the caller describes?  Freud offered a very credible explanation for such things: base, animal functions in inevitable conflict with “higher principles” necessary to maintain complex human social order.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dreamingmatthew Matthew Stephenson

    Are there any people who are less subjected to their unconscious and more capable of overcoming unconscious biases?

    • Rcnoack

      Absolutely! asperger children with high IQs are incredible at blocking their unconscious. I work with them daily. We are told they have a disability, but in fact, maybe they are incredibly more skillful.

  • Tncanoeguy

    Favoring the outcome/data/policy that we want in spite of reality?  Can you say Bush administration?  

  • http://profiles.google.com/rickevans033050 Rick Evans

    I had a personal experience similar to the fake blue paper test. I periodically test my blood pressure with one of those automated pharmacy testers. About 2 years ago my pressure spiked 20 points on the top number. I ended it repeating the test several times on the first machine. Then tested it at different pharmacies for about a week until ending my denial. After the spike  my BP has been slowly drifting down with an improved diet and more reliable exercise.

    • paulm41

      Working as a pharmacist, EVERY time someone got a high reading, the patient would blame the machine,which was checked for accuracy monthly.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Knowing that it’s happening makes it much easier to spot.  Product placement stands out like an oozing sore to me.

    • Anonymous

      Did you see Pom Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold?

      • Linder187

        It was good. Advertising is so out of control here to the point we hardly notice it. the images just go straight to our subconscious. i read in a study that we make 90% of our purchasing decisions based on our subconscious. Scary thought.

        • Sarah W

          That is a scary thought. A lot of people buy things they don’t need, they just want it. They don’t know why they want it, but they do so they buy it and then never use it!

  • Barry

    But what’s BEHIND the attraction to Dr. Pepper that product placement gives form to?  Psychoanalytic theory gets below the surface of the all too obvious fact that we’re subject to unconscious whims.

  • Anonymous

    The one in the Bush ad wasn’t subliminal it was subliminable. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Bernardo/100000071252989 Chris Bernardo

    Presently at home recovering from second breast cancer surgery.  Has any research been done on the unconscious mind changing a person at a cellular level?  For example, is there any connection between conscious visualization, the unconsciousmind, and cellular change?

    • Lena

       yes, for one you can read up Bruce Lipton’s work – http://www.brucelipton.com/

    • Pryn625

      Read “The Secret,” we can heal our selves.

  • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

    What this kind of research cannot comprehend, because it falls outside of the consensual scientific paradigm, is that there are elements of the subconscious field that are collective (Jung) or trans-human (Buhner). Nor can it accept recent research which shows that the heart is a primary communicator with both the body’s endocrine system (homeostasis, health) and the world outside of our self-conceived boundary (the integument, skin).

    If matter = energy (Einstein), and all the universe is but manifestations of vibrations (coded information), then everything communicates – and ideas, thoughts, perceptions don’t necessarily originate inside our brains by neuro-chemical processes. The universe is far more complex than our scientific paradigm can comprehend (lit. seize in its grasp).

    • Lena

       He didn’t do any research, he mentioned that he thinks that OCD is a “brain damage”, that’s beyond ridiculous, because the subconscious mind is exactly where things like OCD originate.

  • pvo

    A better term for the Unconscious is the Subconscious.  After all, the “Unconscious” is very, very conscious and guides more of our behavior and attitudes than our conscious mind.  Subliminal Mind is also an accurate description.

    Take, for example, the government’s and power elite’s conversion of the average person’s natural patriotism  into Nationalism, that all American wars are justified and done for idealistic purposes.  The symbols and indoctrination begin in the cradle and are manipulated throughout life so that we believe in a theory, or metaphor, or are in a bubble of belief which is totally contrary to the facts.  Most people will know what I am talking about.  We are manipulated the most by our desires and our ideals, and it all takes place below the level of consciousness. 


  • Rob Pryce

    I really liked that hour on a conscious level, subconsciously though, I found it unsettling…

  • Brett

    Yes, an awareness of the internal self and the external world, as well as the relationship between the two, on another level than through our conscious state/waking state/deliberate cognitive processes. 

    Also, another aspect of this idea is in most of the ways we communicate, which are nonverbal, through gestures/expressions and body positioning, the gestalt of those cues I should say. 

    As far as subliminal advertising or product placement, I don’t believe they are as effective as some would have us believe. Some people perhaps can be more easily suggestible than others. Some are also more easily hypnotized than others, so this may be the case. 

    As far as the subconscious affecting behavior goes, it seems this pertains to playing out old scripts and suppressing feelings that were once more on the surface. It seems the more awareness one develops the less subconscious feelings affect behavior.

    …just some quick thoughts; I’ll have to listen to the show as I missed the broadcast

  • Brett

    Is everything a learned behavior? Even on a cellular level? Maybe certain ways in which some people either combat or succumb to certain viruses has to do with interruptions in how, say, antibodies either respond or “forget” how to respond to those cellular invaders? Like with AIDS; in an infected person the antibodies surround the virus, and instead of attacking the virus it’s as if they become confused and start attacking themselves.  

    • Brett

      Actually, this was meant for Robert Riversong, as there was something in his comment that prompted my thoughts…

  • riknlaur

    “A madman isn’t some who has lost his reason. It’s someone who has lost everything but his reason.” GK Chesterton
    Because if you really look at it, what’s coming into our senses, we have no idea what is happening and reason does little good.  We seem to be able to influence it only to some small extent.  So to keep from going mad, many of us retreat to some faith that everything will be OK if we just don’t look too close and try to figure it out.–RikS

  • Nickross72

     The question I have for you is, have you any explanation how mind control is done. How some one can shut off another persons reasoning ability, pull them away from there spouse, parents and long term friends in a short period of time. This was done to my wife a 26 yr. old woman with a Masters Degree. This was done last year by a man who is 67yr old and his 50yr old girl friend,(who I think is also under his mind control). She has been with them since. How do people like Charles Manson do this to people, have you done any research in this aria?   Nick

    • Wm. James from Missouri

      Would you please tell us more about your experience ? It sounds like you could use some ‘ Mind Akido’ to win her back.

  • Gene Goodman

    How much clearer could he have been when Jung declared that ‘the personality’s center of gravity lies not in the ego but in the unconscious…and that we are ‘process’ that we little, if at all, control.’

  • cbpitt

    When they were talking about political candidates who act self-assured being more popular, I think they also said something about better-looking candidates being more popular too. But did I hear Tom Ashbrook talk about the “symmetricality” of politicians’ faces? Shame on you, Tom! The correct word is SYMMETRY; there’s no such word as “symmetricality”, although one hears it more & more frequently. Just wanted to poke a little fun – I thoroughly enjoy your shows!

  • Sadegh

    The Guest should let the interviewer to ask his questions.

    • Jhalshawavery

      often i think the opposite, i think tom interrupts way too much and have noticed lately that he is off and revealing his biases when it would be better if he would not.

    • Jhalshawavery

      and the interviewer should do the same

  • Osprey808

    I don’t like the book because it gives away too many secrets. Some of use this knowlege in our waking lives to affect situational outcomes. It’s a self evident phenomenon, we spend the day dealing with subconscious chatter. And it’s clear that negotiating with the subconscious is the key to behavioral change. My personal take is wo is the person that does not know themselves, but you use that knowlege to your benefit.

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    Some researchers claim that by asking a question of ,or ,to yourself ,and answering by writing the answer with your non dominate hand you can and will get an answer that is generated by the subconscious parts of your brain. They claim that you will often be surprised by the answer and that an answer generated this way will set up a personal dialog that can often liberate you and take you in the direction that you are really wanting to go ! I would love to hear your feedback on this and any “tricks” you may have found in your personal experience.

  • your listener

    It is deeply troubled to presume human has more consciousness than animals, people in special fields when in comparing ourselves to other life on earth, need to understand we invest probably 90% (hypothetically speaking) of science research on ourselves and resulting return of knowing ourselves about 30% out of 90%, if applying this analogy, we know how little we know ourselves, not to mention animals.  Think about how many human languages there are, how we struggle to understand each other, then think about how we struggle to understand each other even when speaking a same language, so how in the world we have the audacity to claim animal’s social structures are less conscious….!

    All the things discussed in this show have been proven to be true, like how we are affected by the motions and moods we are interacting with or around us.  i’m sure a lot of people notice those subconsciousness when they are by themselves alone or a flash of moments crossed their minds, but most of those flashing thoughts were not openly discussed or articulated among, and yet we know they exist and have been stored in our brain/mind.  

    But I feel we need to bring this to an higher level discussion, while we all know we are effected by others’ tone of speech, facial expression, body languages, but if you are one of those people who suffered and is being judged by those facts, believe me, very quickly you’ll dig deep your subconsciousness and soon you’ll become very ‘self-conscious’ of those things you’re being judged by.  So very possibly, a person’s consciousness is sharpened and awaken by their experience.

    What’s more interesting is how do we NOT be mostly effected by others or judge other’s external physical interaction, and still be able to bring happiness and confidence within ourselves, this is the real challenge in waking our subconsciousness.

    ….and the guest subconsciously covered Tom’s voice every time when Tom was raising a question..hee hee….:))

  • your listener

    Results of our thought process when interacting with people.., like deciding what to say, what not to say is part of our behaviors, this is the kind of behavior that need to be felt with our minds..

  • Slipstream

    I think it would be really interesting to read a book by a respected psychologist who is also a good communicator to the general public on the subject of the subconscious mind – where the research stands, how it has developed over the years, etc.  I am sure Mlodinow is a very talented man, but a psychologist or an expert on the subconscious he is not.  It seemed like most of the stuff he discussed on the show was fairly obvious and well known, things like touching someone to influence them and the subliminal messages controversy.

    • Jhalshawavery

      you are overly judgmental, altho i agree he is having trouble communicating but could be he was just nervous

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Aug 21, 2014
In this November 2012, file photo, posted on the website freejamesfoley.org, shows American journalist James Foley while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria. In a horrifying act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded Foley — and are threatening to kill another hostage, U.S. officials say. (AP)

An American is beheaded. We’ll look at the ferocity of ISIS, and what to do about it.

Aug 21, 2014
Jen Joyce, a community manager for the Uber rideshare service, works on a laptop before a meeting of the Seattle City Council, Monday, March 17, 2014, at City Hall in Seattle. (AP)

We’ll look at workers trying to live and make a living in the age of TaskRabbit and computer-driven work schedules.

Aug 20, 2014
In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, a monarch butterfly lands on a confetti lantana plant in San Antonio. A half-century ago Monarch butterflies, tired, hungry and bursting to lay eggs, found plenty of nourishment flying across Texas. Native white-flowering balls of antelope milkweed covered grasslands, growing alongside nectar-filled wildflowers. But now, these orange-and-black winged butterflies find mostly buildings, manicured lawns and toxic, pesticide-filled plants. (AP)

This year’s monarch butterfly migration is the smallest ever recorded. We’ll ask why. It’s a big story. Plus: how climate change is creating new hybridized species.

Aug 20, 2014
A man holds his hands up in the street after a standoff with police Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

A deep read on Ferguson, Missouri and what we’re seeing about race, class, hope and fear in America.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Your (Weird? Wonderful? Wacky?) Roommate Stories
Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014

We asked, and you delivered: some of the best roommate stories from across our many listener input channels.

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Our Week In The Web (August 15, 2014)
Friday, Aug 15, 2014

On Pinterest, Thomas the Tank Engine and surprising population trends from around the country. Also, words on why we respond to your words, tweets and Facebook posts.

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Nickel Creek Plays Three Songs LIVE For On Point
Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014

Nickel Creek shares three live (well, mostly) tracks from their interview with On Point Radio.

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