Subliminal Hacking
The Art and Science of Social Engineering


June 1, 2011

Common Practice to Witchcraft … Why do we challenge before exposure?

This months post is really a rant, but hopefully still has some informative value 🙂
A few weeks ago now Chris Nickerson and I were discussing some research on influence and manipulation, some of which was in relation to Ross Jefferies (I am not saying he is someone to select as a mentor, but there is some value in reading some of his material, just change the context) speed seduction techniques for a talk. I pointed out that we and other people who have studied different material on influence, manipulation and what I call other subliminal hacking techniques will have an appreciation and understanding for the content. However, those who have not had exposure (I was in this category at one point) accept what they now appreciate as common practice through what they have seen in the media. Programs such as The Mentalist, Lie To Me, NCIS, CSI etc give viewers some form of appreciation for the media representation of these trades and skills, and consider it common knowledge or common practice. Now if you step over that line and talk about techniques or research that is not as well communicated in the media and suddenly your in witchcraft terriority and your clearly off your rocker. So why do we often point blank call BS on a topic without further investigation.


Now dont get me wrong, I am by no means an expert on all things regarding influence and manipulation, but it is an area of interest I have been studying for the last few years. The main reason I started studying this was because I thought based on my understandings and exposures to some of these techniques it couldnt be possible, so I did the study, and did the real world testing and came up with my own validation for what does and doesnt work, took what I considered of value, and discarded the rest.

Its great we have some amazing and entertaining shows to watch, I am a big fan of The Mentalist and Lie to me, but just like we know hackers and their l33t skills are not portrayed accurately in the media, other industries are not either, but somehow that is overlooked? I speak to people about body language, micro expressions and the like because they have seen Lie to Me and its great this has sparked their interest, but now they think if they watch a few episodes and buy a book they are a Wizard (Human Lie Detector) because they saw it on TV. No research, no testing, just 100% belief. Its great they have such confidence, but where has the logic gone to question and validate the beliefs and the claims. The reality is in this example is that the so called Wizards are only 50% accurate, which is sure as hell better than 0% but its not full proof, and that 50% requires an accurate baseline and all the other stuff that happens in the background that they dont have time to show on TV.

So then you talk about some of the body language cues you have observed in people in given scenarios, the linguistics around influence from studies of NLP and Hypnosis and its not possible, and your talking out your arse. Now before anyone flames me 🙂 I am not saying I am right and you are wrong, I am just saying check the evidence and expose yourself and then come back and tell me I am speaking with a muffled voice 🙂 Everyone’s opinion is valid, but is an opinion valid without exposure or self verification. Sure I think lots of things are BS, and I can say in my opinion is BS, but I cant say with 100% certainty.

I should also end with the fact that I am not saying exposing yourself makes you a master social engineer, or even a social engineer at all, but I do think it provides you with some insight as to how and why people react how they do, and at least put some of the balls in your court.

Once again I do encourage people to study some of the techniques we talk about on the site if you are working in or interested in SE, or the psyhchology of the human mind and try them out in the wild. Then share your experiances good and bad.

Perhaps if the recently ended Breaking In series in the US used some subliminal hacking techniques the SE tech would be more acceptable, or should that be believeable. 😀

I enjoy discussing this with people, so please feel free to leave comments, and to drop me an email. We are right to challenge what we are sceptical about, but in my opinion not to speak with up most certainy on it not existing. So appologies if this is a totally worthless rant, it will either encourage you to contact me, laugh at me, or dismiss the material discussed on the site even more, either way its a reaction 🙂

Whilst I have you here, I am also conduction my own research on eye accessing cues as discussed on NLP, Body Language, Micro Expression and Sales and Marketing courses. If you would like to take part via Skype, once again get in touch.

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    About the Author

    Dale Pearson
    has worked in IT since 1998, Infosec since 2004, and studied and performed hypnosis, mentalism etc since 2009. Dale is a full time Red Teamer with a love of social engineering and qualified hypnotherapist. He spends a great deal of time researching the various skills and techniques that make up the art and science of Social Engineering.


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