Lady Mondegreens And Fun With Audio Pareidolia #SSAWeek

Welcome to Hour Twelve of the Token Skeptic Sunday Sessions!

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Doesn’t matter what they say,
In the jealous games people play:
Alex the seal. - NOT the lyrics to ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’, by the Go-Gos.

The FBI investigated the song Louie Louie due to claims that its lyrics were obscene. After two years, they were still not able to determine the actual lyrics.*

If you were at the Global Atheist convention in 2010, you might remember my playing this on the Sunday morning (well, you know, it’s a Sunday, big gathering, captive audience, kind of church-like… not):

Big thanks to Adam Buxton for that great use of subtitles! What’s really going on?

Usually when we discuss pareidolia, the phenomenon of seeing patterns where there is randomness, it’s done in relation to visual illusions. Seeing shapes and words - like ‘Allah’ in the seeds of a mango or Jesus on all sorts of things. It’s how the Virgin Mary ended up being proclaimed in a cheese sandwich, one of the more famous examples.

Our natural affinity to seeing patterns is natural, and with patternicity (a term by Dr Michael Shermer), we can make either a Type I error, or false positive regarding the pattern-that-isn’t there, or false negative (a Type II error – where we deny a definite pattern as being a pattern at all – skeptics can be accused of this, for example).

In the case of Lady Mondegreens (the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near homophony), I tend to class these kinds of aural malapropisms as a cousin of pareidolia (audio pareidolia?) – and as evidenced by the Adam Buxton ‘Songs of Praise’ video, a lot of fun.

More recently, I’ve enjoyed some ‘fun-with-dubbing’… enjoy.

* Marsh, Dave. Louie Louie: The History and Mythology of the World’s Most Famous Rock’n’Roll song; Including the Full Details of Its Torture and Persecution at the Hands of the Kingsmen, J. Edgar Hoover’s F.B.I., and a Cast of Millions; and Introducing, for the First Time Anywhere, the Actual Dirty Lyrics, (Hyperion), 1992.

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.


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