Redux: Scary Halloween

Spooky Neuromarketing

Fear comes alive on Halloween. Halloween costumes are practical technology designed to simplify our joking about frightening subjects. The ghosts and the goblins are the outside joke. The inside joke is death. Halloween is the night when death walks around our neighborhoods dressed like a common Joe as if to remind us of its inevitability.


The Frankenstein Monster was brought to us by our still-advancing capacity to manipulate human body parts. Neuromarketing is brought to us by a growing capacity to manipulate the human mind. The common goals of neuromarketing include to “modify behavior without requiring conscious recognition of a message” and “to seduce, rather than persuade, consumers to buy their products,” and to market politicized perspectives. Please consider adding the subliminal manipulation of the human brain to your fear gallery.


Legitimate professions including advertising, public relations, lobbying and propaganda develop and apply expertise and technology to get you (us) to think and act in certain ways. Strategies and messages are shaped like lures on fishermen’s lines to trigger consumption.

Financing brain research to promote products and causes is expensive. Mostly it’s the big players who can afford to hire cutting-edge teams. Big corporations, alpha factions and wealthy sponsors are leading the way in neuromarketing.

Unconscious Consumption

The recent ascendance of neuromarketing is based on evidence that “95% of consumers purchasing behaviors are guided by the unconscious part of the brain and emotions …” This new science studies areas of the brain including the orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate regions, the amygdala and the hippocampus, because these areas are measurably “involved in decision-making and/or emotional processing.”

In a recent issue of The Economist, reporters describe image-processing software, faces studied for positive and negative feelings, categorizing emotions behind facial expressions, tracking eye movements and “a vital-signs camera which can measure heart and respiration rates extremely accurately.”

Spooky Science

Product managers, politicians and religious leaders have a missionary’s right to go to market. But the subliminal manipulation of the human mind gets spooky when everybody, including the bad guys, can master the science. Some terrorists have wealthy backers too.

Trick or Treat

Trick-or-treating is fine as long as we’re protecting our children. Openness makes trick-or-treating safer. Thanks to the FDA and other world agencies, manufacturers are required to state ingredients on sealed candy packaging.

Openness is a safety feature that should be applied to the subliminal manipulation of the human mind. For our children’s sake, face up to danger, insist on openness, keep up with sponsors and ingredients and stay on guard.

If you don’t believe folks are cooking up ways to outfox you, you ought to have your head examined. Examining your head is precisely what neuromarketing is all about.

Have a scary Halloween.

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