On August 8th, 1963, Portland Oregon’s rock group The Kingsmen, release their take on a Jamaican ballad, Louie, Louie. In the studio, it was all over in two minutes and twenty seconds, done in one take in a Saturday morning session costing all of $36. But whether it was the small space at a cheap price, the angle of the single microphone, or the result of the lead singer’s recent dental work, the vocals were audible, but not comprehensible. As the song made its way to number two on the Billboard charts, rumors began to circulate that the lyrics were obscene. In spite (or because) of the controversy, the record sold over twelve million copies and turned up in at least as many fraternity parties over the ensuing five decades.
A 1965 letter letter to J Edgar Hoover accused the record of an auditory illusion whereby listeners could hear one of two sets of lyrics, a clean version and an obscene one. “Is there perhaps a subliminal type of perversion involved?” the writer bemoaned. Enter the FBI, who subjected the recording to every test known to them at that time. An FBI memorandum from that year notes that “the phonetic qualities of this recording are such that a listener possessing the “phony” lyrics could imagine them to be genuine.” In other words, people are going to hear what they want to hear. From time to time, we are all guilty of Biased Information Processing. That is, ignoring information that doesn’t conform to our beliefs or desires. Investors must get out of their echo chamber if it means turning off social or traditional media. Mentally, we can't afford to rock and roll our way backward using mental shortcuts from our stone-aged brain.
Don't wait for history to happen...