Subliminal Hacking
The Art and Science of Social Engineering


August 20, 2012

Tweaking your Critical Factor … Understanding RAS

In previous posts (probably over a year ago now) I have spoken about this thing called the critical factor. In the hypnosis world this is the gatekeeper or firewall between your conscious and subconscious mind, helping to keep out all the junk and irrelevant information and focus on what is most important. I have also spoken about how the subconscious mind is gathering and processing all this information external to us and then feeding the conscious mind with just a small subset of this information to help us form our reality. When we are looking to manipulate or influence people we use language in various forms to either bypass the critical factor by making it lazy (Yes Sets, etc) or by finding agreement in beliefs and opinions to build rapid rapport to increase chances of success, or possibly give the impression of authority (in a positional or knowledgable sense) to utilise social compliance to get to our desired outcome.


So if you read my blog already this is old news, but something I have been looking into is how does the human mind pre-determine what is critical information, and if we understand this does it help us bypass easier, but more importantly does learning about these techniques (as I have said before) help us be less susceptible to manipulation that may result in a negative experience.

What I found as part of some neuropsychology reading I was doing is that part of how the mind works and organises / filters this critical information is with the use of a RAS. RAS stands for Reticular Activating System, the system is considered by some as the Command and Control center for all brain and body activities.

I wont try and talk science about how the RAS works with the rest of the brain as I am sure to make a dogs dinner of it, but essentially what the RAS is doing is taking onboard all subconscious stimulai and checking this against a priority list, if the information matches with something on the priority list you will be consciously alerted, if not its stored in subconscious for a later date.What the priority list does is make us aware of things around us that are either important to our health (fire alarm for example), and things we are interested in (type of car perhaps) and things that are personal to us (our name for example). This is why when going about our daily duties and among a crowded room we can distinguish our name being called, this is why when we have decided on our next car purchase every damn car we see is the car we thought was unique and you dont see many on the roads. In my Googling, I also found alot of reference to programming your RAS to reach your goals by life coaches, now this really isnt my bag, but at the same time I can see how it would work.

So how do you get additional items on your RAS priority list and tweak your critical factor? Well I dont have any scientific proof but when I think about the items that are common place in most peoples RAS it seems that they are either there because large forced repetition or freely chosen repetition because you are interested in something. Now I know this to be true, because when I am interested in something, or thinking of making a purchase I research the hell out of it, and then when out and about I either see or hear many things in relation to that something I am thinking of buying.

In short by engrossing yourself on a regular basis allows you to tweak your filters to be more aware of specific happening in your world. If you have studied body language and find it interesting, and look for things daily, all of a sudden you realise you are seeing and reading gestures effortlessly. When learning the types of languages used to influence, you hear more readily when a sales person is spouting the BS. So this stuff really is simple and obvious, but I think its interesting to understand and appreciate what part of your mind is working, and for some people this is key to realising you can make tweaks and improvements.

Appreciating this, in my opinion will make you a better social engineer. As you continue to discover and understands both the art and science of SE it makes you more effective. It provides you with a better ability to be consciously aware of the various situations you find yourself in, meaning you can make quicker, better and more informed decisions. This results not only a better threat simulation in the activities you be carrying out, but it also makes you more informed to educate people into what can be done to identify when they are being socially engineered real time, to reduce the risk of wrongful manipulation.

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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.

    One Comment

    1. Richard M. Dauben

      Thanks Dale, appreciate your article.



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