Subliminal Hacking
The Art and Science of Social Engineering


October 21, 2010

The glass half empty mentality… Failure is important

I thought I would take the opportunity to speak to all of you, both the people who I have exchanged DM’s and emails with, and those of you that are probably having these thoughts but not spoken to anyone about it. I am talking about those of you who are currently experiencing the glass half empty mentality. Those that says these SE concepts, methods etc are to difficult, that you have no opportunity to practice, and things just always go wrong.

Time to get optimistic, and have the glass half full attitude… here we go.


I am not going to try and kid anyone and say its easy to do everything involved in social engineering, I know its difficult, but difficult isn’t impossible and the very fact your looking to learn, and understand how and why humans are susceptible is to be commended.

We are all born social engineers, but society and culture changes what is acceptable, we are taught to lie and mask our feelings as we grow and mature, we go through many changes on our journey to adult hood, and the easy thing to do is to just stop, stick our head in the sand and believe we know everything. Lets face it alot of people do that, in fact many so called social engineers are prime examples of this, thinking they have nothing more to learn, and are experts.

I prefer the term enthusiast, looking to learn new things everyday, and because most of us interact and observe people everyday life is a great way of developing your SE skill set. The key is questioning and researching why things happen. If your reading this and thinking, yeah its easy for him to say, but its difficult and embarrassing trying this stuff out, and some of the study is hard going.

I have said it to people before and in my presentations, I FAIL, and FAIL alot. Yes of course at first it hard to swallow and get over, you can ask the people I studied with, how do I move forward, how do I get over this hurdle of failure, HELP. Now I am happy to pretty much walk upto anyone and try something out at some level of SE. For example when I mess with the mentalism stuff, I just walk up to someone and introduce myself and then continue to demonstrate my mind reading abilities or similar, and practice what ever is on my agenda, and hopefully entertain them in return. I am sure many at first actually hear me say, “Hello my name is Dale, and I am a right Wanker, can I show you some childish magic” 🙂 sure it might seem a little cringe worthy, but I think if you can do that, you can do almost anything.

Hopefully your laughing now (maybe even agreeing) and that’s fine, and that’s the approach I want you to take. Really what does it matter what they think. If you have been professional 3 things are going to happen. 1 – you get to try out some techniques, some language manipulation, extract some information, stick them to the chair, or something else, you learn some more, they are amazed and think your awesome. 2 – they say they are not really interested, you thank them for their time, and you walk away with dignity. You learn here that perhaps your approach doesn’t work, but your no worse off than you were before you asked, so where is the failure. 3 – this is in some ways my favourite. You get knocked back, they are not interested, however someone else is, you do go through the motions with them, you can see the people that said no are locked on and fascinated, they now want in. Your actually now in a better position than you would have been if they said yes straight off.

Essentially what I am trying to get at, the only time you are really failing, is when your not doing anything, when you are not trying. Then your just failing yourself, and missing out on some great knowledge and skills. The best thing is the more you practice using language, mentalism, creating illusions, reading various body language, and share your enthusiasm and passion, what’s actually happen is this stuff is becoming second nature to you, your picking up on the small details others miss without effort, your using better language and tonality in everyday communications.

So I know its easy for me to say this, but everyone has been there before. When you were learning to ride a bike and you kept falling off and hurting yourself, you thought you would never be able to ride without stabilisers, and if you had stoped your wouldn’t be able to do so now. So continue to read, continue to practice, talk to others, share experiences, in fact go out and have your objective to fail, its amazing how well things go when your trying to fail (sounds strange but try it).

Also if I am at a conference you are attending, or in the area you are based I would be happy to share my thoughts and experiences, and do what I can to help you move forward, we can all learn from each other, and if you want to hit the town and try out some techniques in an ethical manner, no doubt I will be up for that to.

As my friend and hypno teacher James Tripp says “There is no such things as confidence, its all about not having fear”, I add a pair of brass balls helps to give you courage, and perhaps a beer or two 🙂

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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.


    1. I can only agree with you. Thanks to your “Resources” page, I’ve read “Reality is Plastic”, and I must say when I tried on friends I was amazed how easily it worked. All this kind of science, Hypnosis, Mentalism, Social Engineering and so on, are based on how confident you are, and how confident people think you are.

      To answer to the last part of your post, if you’re at a conference in France, feel free to contact me, it will be a pleasure to have a beer (or two) with you.

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