Why the Bloody Mary Illusion Works

Why the Bloody Mary Illusion Works


(revisions in progress)
>>This episode of the Modern Rogue
brought to you by Rhone.>>Go to rhone.com/rogue and get 20% off your first purchase.>>Yeah, save money,
keep us in business, look like a boss. Okay, so if both of us face the mirror at the same time, and you chant Bloody Mary and I chant Candyman…>>Then they fight! [laughs]
>>Yes!>>This is brilliant.>>”Blood powers activate,” and he’s like, “bee power activate!”>>JASON: Bees!
>>–Oh, here’s what it is! Okay, okay. So you got the one, and then you got the other and then you realize we’re creating a Mirror Cinematic Universe and they all have to come
together to defeat…>>I got nothing. [burst out in laughter] I was literally going,
“Don’t say Pat Sajak, “don’t say Pat Sajak.” [old film crackle sound]>>Do you remember when you first heard the legend of Bloody Mary?>>Oh man, I was probably
like, 10 or 11 years old? Something like that?>>I think I was a little bit
younger, maybe eight years old. What’s funny is I heard
two legends simultaneously. One was the Bloody Mary classic legend, but the other one was Green Axe. Like you just stare into the mirror and say, “Green Axe, Green Axe,” and in my mind, they were like
members of the Super Friends. They might as well have been…>>Green Axe and Bloody Mary?>>Yeah, right?>>The worst Super Friends ever. [laughing]>>I mean, the one leads
to the other, I guess. You chop something with your green axe.>>Well, part of the
whole Bloody Mary myth is the myth behind it, that’s what makes it so effective.>>This is what’s so shocking to me, is how little people,
historians, folklorists, really know about the origins of where Bloody Mary come from. Back in the 1970s is
when people first started investigating this.>>It had been around since before then, but everyone says, “Oh no,
it’s Elizabeth Bathory” or,>>Mary, Queen of Scots.>>Or it’s Mary Worth,
someone who was executed for being a witch in
the Salem Witch Trials.>>Yeah, but they all
have the same foundation. Number one, they all take
place in the bathroom, with the lights, I’ve heard
either off or very dim, involving you looking in the mirror. Of course, we joked about
the fact that Candyman appears to be some kind of
gritty reboot of this legend. But you say the words over and over again, and what happens?>>You see Bloody Mary. She appears before you and
she follows you around, she steals your soul, she haunts you until you can dispel her.>>Touches your face.>>Yeah, like a gross
doctor, she comes at you.>>So like a beady eyed doctor.>>A beady eyed doctor.>>Sometimes it’s after a certain number of times of saying her name, sometimes it’s after water moves, so you turn on the sink or flush a toilet. Sometimes you have to
say, “I believe in you”, or “I killed your baby” or something.>>Now these are all of the
trappings that prime you, they prepare you to see something, right? They’re just setting the mood. None of these things actually matter.>>Almost always, this begins by somebody explaining the legend, people deciding to try it and that it ends with somebody screaming and getting everybody to freak out.>>Yeah, and everyone gets
giddy and giggly and everything. And it’s really just an optical illusion.>>Oh, that’s a good point. I didn’t know there was an
optical illusion part of this. I thought it was all just the legend getting everybody spooked
and then somebody shouts, but man, reading the legend on this, there’s some weird Freudian
stuff to the background of this.>>Yes, yes. Some people theorize that,
oh because young girls do it, who are on the cusp of puberty, this is really just…>>In the bathroom and it
involves Bloody Mary, forgive me. I hate to say it, but that
does kind of resonate, I wouldn’t be surprised if that factors in to the strength of the legend over time.>>Yeah. One of the earliest things that they found that might be a predecessor to this was in the Victorian era, women would walk up a staircase backwards, holding a candle and once
they got up to their parlor, or whatever, wherever the standing mirror, much like this was,
they would turn around, look into the mirror and
they were supposed to see the face of whoever they were to marry.>>What? That’s creepy, Well, and I guess also the idea of the anticipation and waiting
probably factors in as well.>>Yeah, and you have to
think about the mysticism that’s been applied to
mirrors throughout history. When people were ill or dying, loved ones would go through
and cover all of the mirrors so that the sick person
couldn’t glance into the mirror and see their fetch coming to get them or the Grim Reaper himself.>>Ooh, that’s terrifying.>>Yeah, so all of that,
much like any folklore or anything is, it’s all syncretism. It’s, we’re going to take
a little bit of this, we’re going to take a little bit of this and it’s all going to come together into how we understand it now
as the legend of Bloody Mary.>>So we got the legend,
we understand that. I understand getting
everybody spooked and primed. What is the optical illusion
and why does it work?>>Not too long ago, somebody
from University of Urbino Dr. Caputo ran an
experiment on Bloody Mary.>>They found her!>>They found her.>>They said, I can give you 50 bucks and you’ll get an easy A in psychology, come on over.>>And then there’s some
videos I can show you, it’s like the alien autopsy, but they…>>So I assume they
gathered a lot of people they primed them with the legend and then they did what? What were the test conditions
we want to replicate?>>They had a 25 watt
bulb so dimly lit room. Got a 25 watt bulb there.>>We had a brief terror
moment where we weren’t sure if this was LED or incandescent. We’re going to assume it
was an incandescent bulb and that’s what we got.>>And then they had people
sitting 40cm away from a mirror and summoning Bloody Mary.>>Do we know if they had
to say the words or not or just stare?>>I don’t. I didn’t find in the study if
they actually said the words. Sometimes you spin around. If they flush the toilet or ran the water.>>So what is it that’s ‘sposed to happen in the test conditions?>>Well what you’re looking at
is your own face, of course, but it’s dimly lit and you
start to see a face in there that may not be your own.>>And there’s some amount of projection or distortion on there. To be honest, when I read
the study it reminded me of the celebrity face distortion thing and I can’t believe
that you hadn’t seen it when it made the rounds.>>That was phenomenal. I can’t believe how fast
and effective it worked.>>As a matter of fact, right now we’re going to run it
while we’re talking about it. Look at the cross everybody at home and realize none of these images
are photoshopped in anyway. If you keep your eyes locked
on that plus right there everything looks more and more weird. And it’s because the brain, number one, we crave seeing faces. To be a baby, babies who recognize faces and smile and coo are much more likely to receive breast milk, to be nurtured, and grow up to reproduce. Whereas babies that don’t recognize faces don’t tend to make it that far. So as a result we see faces everywhere. We see faces in wood. We see faces in clouds. We see faces in the freaking moon.>>It’s pareidolia.>>Yeah, that’s right!>>But the celebrity face distortion thing you’re talking about is an
effect of Troxler Fading. To where if you stare at a
stationary point long enough, your brain starts to realize, “Oh, we don’t need all this
extraneous information.” And so it starts to decay and fade away. But then since your
brain wants to see faces it starts filling in the gaps. And so you end up with
some horrific things. Now in Dr. Caputo’s study we had people staring at those faces and they were all overcome with a feeling of dissociative identity, that they weren’t seeing
themselves in that mirror.>>All right, so 40cms away. I assume we stay still and not move because if you’re seeing yourself move then I think that culturally
you’re going to recognize the way you move.>>And plus the way Troxler’s Fading works is that you need to be
focused on a stationary point.>>Okay, and so, I guess if
we’re going to go all the way, we need to say something transgressive. We need to get ourselves, because part of this is
freaking yourself out, and only you can give yourself
over to your own terror. To create those creepy demon like images.>>So what are we going to say?>>We might as well dive
headfirst into the myth, right?>>You know that phrase that
we’ve talked about before. I don’t believe in ghosts
but I’m scared of ’em. Y’know, 2 o’ clock in the morning. Try to get into that head space. All right, do you want
to go first or second?>>I’ll go first. [chiming]>>All right, I’m not going to lie. It seems entirely too bright
and I am highly skeptical in this moment but I do know that there are
some stage hypnosis tricks that you can do. Because all hypnosis is self hypnosis.>>Okay.>>So, in your mind, whatever
Bloody Mary means to you now, invent something scarier and truly try to conceive of it. And as you say the words Bloody Mary over and over and over again, try to lose yourself in a rhythm. I guess at that point, you’re just looking at
yourself the whole time?>>Yeah, yeah. I’m going to psych myself up basically. I’m going to immerse
myself in the feeling. I’m going to say the chant,
“I believe in Bloody Mary.” I’m going to take your advice, imagine something much more
horrible than this cartoonish blood covered Carrie in the mirror.>>I guess, maybe take a moment
and have your eyes closed. And then you can just
tell me when it’s go time. Because I don’t have any
idea how long this takes or how severe the effect is or what.>>Don’t mess with me, right?>>I won’t, jeez. [both laugh] I’m so glad that you said. I would never have thought
of you messing with me but now I know–>>Oh I ruined it then!>>I will not mess with you.>>Okay.>>If I start bleeding, keep rolling. [ominous music]>>Bloody Mary is a
shambling mound of roadkill.>>Like a Thanksgiving turkey
mostly stripped to the bone but with fat and gristle hanging off. Along with her stringy hair
and boney long fingers. I believe in Bloody Mary. I believe in Bloody Mary. I believe in Bloody Mary.>>Wow, okay.>>What, what, what what?!>>Yeah, that’s freaky.>>Should I even hear?>>I don’t know, I mean–>>Should I just do it?>>I don’t want to poison you. It’s weird.>>But a thing happened though?>>Absolutely a thing happened. Yeah, okay.>>All right, I’ll try it
and then we’ll talk about it.>>Think Ganzfeld effect.>>Yeah.>>Behave in that way.>>Okay, all right. So I’m remember Ganzfeld,
it was important, stillness mattered and as
something started to happen I didn’t resist it.>>Exactly!>>I didn’t dart my eyes
around it or whatever.>>Okay. [Brian clears his throat]>>Stay focused don’t move.>>Okay so. My Bloody Mary, I’m going to picture something closer to the xenomorph. Something alien and
insectile, that’s what it is. I’m going to think of something
insectoid and a red demon. Okay. [Brian clears throat] [Brian exhales] I believe in Bloody Mary. I believe in Bloody Mary. I believe in Bloody Mary. I believe in Bloody Mary. I believe in Bloody Mary. [beep] it almost happened! It was like I could see my
eyebrows getting darker. And then the moment I
felt it, I ruined it.>>Try again! Try again!>>Can I try it without talking?>>Yeah. Yeah, just focus.>>Oh Christ! Okay, no. There was something
definitely a strong sense.>>That it wasn’t you!>>That it was going to leap
through the [beep] glass!>>Yeah! Right?>>I’m going to do it again. [Jason laughs] Maybe I’ll try wearing a
more pleasant expression? Because I’m doing an evil face.>>I’m sure a big smile would work great.>>[beep] Oh God, I can’t! All right. Okay, okay! That was even weirder because
I felt a full on disconnect. I think what happened was, I tried to smile wider within
my heart and in my mind, that face didn’t smile any wider and then all of a sudden, oh good golly, that’s amazing.>>My features went away, my head shrank, my eyes had sunken in to where they were empty small tiny sockets. It was almost like there was
a moment where I had realized I had been replaced.>>It is a very stark,
very fast phenomenon. All right, I’m going
to do it one more time.>>Okay.>>I want you to scare me at some point. Get back here where I can’t see you. I’m not going to talk, I’m just going to have terrible
thoughts and stare at myself. [Jason’s fingers tapping quietly] [Jason screams loudly] Not bad! Not bad. But I did notice something
else that last time. I noticed that, it wasn’t just
if my eyes flickered at all, it was also if my face moved
and I didn’t see it over there, it broke the illusion just a little. All right, so it worked. How does it rank compared to
stuff like the Ouija board, the Ganzfeld effect or the time we explored the haunted house?>>For me, as far as creepiness
goes, this one’s a the top because it was much more effective and we really set the
mood pretty well, I think. That’s key to it working but
you don’t need it to do that.>>Oh yeah, no. Just staring at yourself. I mean, I don’t know what
it is about my subconscious that makes me want to turn
that guy into an evil person but it’s highly recommended experience just to understand your own psychology.>>Yeah, you can do it
without making it all spooky but I recommend you make it all spooky.>>Make it very spooky.>>And now imagine that
you really believe that something like that is really possible.>>I mean, if it worked already like this. You know what, it turns out I do believe. I believe in Bloody Mary. Here, toast me!>>We’re on Scam Nation. Is it just me, man, but
I’m constantly afraid that I’m dressing myself like an idiot. Said the guy who wears flip-flops
with jeans all the time.>>Yeah, I am an old man, I still don’t know how to dress myself. I actually still walk into stores stares at a mannequin and go, “I guess I should do that!”>>What I want is the
confidence of knowing that I am buying apparel that’s going to outwardly express the idea that I’m a badass who
knows what I’m doing. Question mark.>>Rhone has figured it out!>>Oh my gosh, for the longest time, the only pair of tennis shoes that I had were the ones that I use to mow the lawn. Thank you Rhone. Check it out.>>They do match nicely with
your jack-o’-lantern socks.>>It’s festive, it’s the holiday season. Best part of the year.
>>Fine. Look, here’s the important part, if you want to look like
a boss who’s on the move. If you want to wear the clothes that exude the quiet confidence of a CEO then you got to to our
friends over at Rhone.>>Does this say CEO?>>Rhone.com/rogue>>I got to get a CEO pose.>>Get a big old fat
discount, keep us in business, look incredible. I still wear my pullover all the time. Every time I order from
Rhone it’s a total treat.>>Do you look like a CEO
when you have the pullover on?>>The worst part is I am a CEO.>>You kind of look like a CEO. Not a powerful one though. You should wear your Rhone. It’ll give you power.>>It’s too on the nose. [both laugh] Too real. Too real for this ad read. [both laughing hysterically]>>You do look like a CEO!>>Today’s episode is brought
to you by imposter syndrome! [Brian laughing hysterically]>>Setting up the MCU. The mirror cinematic universe. [Jason laughs] [crackling noises]>>Michael Jackson.>>The man in the mirror,
that’s who they fight! Goddamnit, Goddamnit!>>Too late. [Brian laughing]

44 Replies to “Why the Bloody Mary Illusion Works”

  1. Did you see Brian on The King of Random this week? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NHMuWtvCE4
    Because he was teaching them fire-eating, he's giving out The Professional's Guide to Fire-Eating to anyone who signs up for free at http://gimme.scamstuff.com. Keep an eye on your inbox for your free copy!
    We'll announce winners of last week's First Hand & Rizer giveaway next week with our next new giveaway.

  2. I know one that people keep saying is true
    Go to your mirror
    Turn on the light
    Look around in a circle but keep your head still

    Look in the mirror and you will see yourself yeah just yourself, it's a mirror

  3. I just did it. My heart started beating rrly fast and my face started quickly washing out into my skin color, i felt like slenderman for a couple seconds

  4. I always heard you have to turn lights off turn the water on. Chant bloody mary 3 times. The water turns to blood and she drops her baby from the ceiling. If you dont catch the baby she traps you forever

  5. Ok… your dumb say Bloody Mary 10x in the mirror in the dark at 3am and you’ll get her, moe sargi proves this many times in his videos

  6. I knew about this but, I never thought about these mirror legends at the same time so I never realized this obvious explanation as to how the myth or legend started. It’s surprising be able to understand how this comes to be.

  7. I saw my features fade away, from my mouth, until it was just my eyes, and then my face became fully visible again, but it was outlined in gray.

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