Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Ventriloquist Effect

The ventriloquism effect is what makes us think the ventriloquist's dummy is talking. There's something unnerving about the interactions between man and puppet. Part of it  comes from ventriloquism's "dark and nefarious past." The earliest ventriloquists were probably ancient Greeks who "threw" their voices to simulate the pronouncements of oracles or give new life to dead bodies. By the Middle Ages, ventriloquism—which comes from the Latin word ventriloquus, meaning "belly speaker"—was regarded as a dark art, a devil in the midsection. "It is a wickedness lurking in the human belly and deserving to dwell in the cesspool," wrote Photius, a ninth-century patriarch of Constantinople, "an impure breath which some people, on account of their overwhelming pity, call ventriloquism. Ventriloquist dummies have been the go-to villains - the incarnation of deep-seated childhood fears. The unblinking eyes of the dummy give people an uncontrollable case of the willies, and movies have exploited this for almost a century. 

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