Why the Bloody Mary Illusion Works

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>>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]

100 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 remember doing this when I was young. One of my friends screamed in my ear and I pissed myself. Everyone but me laughed.

  3. Anybody else experience that thing where if it's dark, some things will look distorted and kind of like monsters? It happened a lot when I was a kid but not now anymore.

  4. Anyone who took acid/shrooms in their life and decided to stare into a mirror while tripping KNOW how freaky it can get. Fucking aliens man

  5. This is an actual experiment called the monster in the mirror, scientists did this and the people trying it felt uncomfortable and said their faces become distorted

  6. Where i'm from there is a spooky game you play which is similar. It is like a tale about how if you look into the mirror in a dark room you will see the devil looking back at you. you are not allowed to look away or you will die and you have to sit there for exactly 6 minutes. If you look away too soon or too late he will apparently drag you to hell but if you make a wish and then look away at exactly six minutes it will come true. I guess it is based on the same optical illusion but with a different backstory.

  7. One time when I was a kid, I got a flashlight and had the light go up from the bottom of my face in the dark, and reflected my face from my tv. That shit was scary.

  8. I used to stare at myself in a mirror and sensed the same type of thing… but this is the first time I've heard of this myth! I'm 46

  9. I think I would have sat behind Brians chair and dug my fingers in his neck at some point like I want to rip his spinal cord out.
    In Seriousness though, face distortion is so fucking scary to me I absolutely can't take it and the effects in the mirror were hell to me…

  10. I was always told you have to turn off the light one person flushed the toilets and another chants bloody Mary five times and throw water on the mirror and if you did it right the water would turn to blood

  11. Hell naw, to the naw naw naw. it's 1 am and I can't do this shit there is a big ass mirror right by my bed and if I start seeing demons I'm just gonna move out

  12. it feels like theyre stalling to make the video longer and they probanly are but they do it so good. everything they say makes sense and is connected to the topic. i love it

  13. not completely done the video
    but this urban legend may slightly be based in the ‘face-in-the-mirror illusion’
    which is a phenomenon in which you are in a dimly lit room and stare at yourself in the mirror
    many people who have experimented with this have seen things like hallucinations and have felt a sense of disassociation with the figure in the mirror, which may provide a basis as to what is happening in this myth

  14. Every single myth I've heard from all around Australia states that:
    Lights are off.
    You say "Bloody Mary", then spin around.
    You do this three times.
    After the third spin, you see her behind you and die violently and instantly.

  15. I tried this once while in a intense acid trip, I believe I saw myself as a red demon type thing or maybe a reptilian, I’m not sure how to describe but the sense of it not being myself was so strong, I even thought it kept looking away when I was looking. Maybe the acid intensified the mental picture and was more easily able to see it in reality… just a thought to ponder

  16. I tried this and it was amazing! if you don't want to try it here how it feels, imagine that you are in a dark room with a clone of yourself and then you are staring at each other and imagine that the clone of yourself will jump at anytime and do something to you that's how it feels but way scarier!

  17. Staring at a person's face in the dark has the same effect, used to watch my brother's face morf at night when we were little

  18. OK I haven't even watched a minute in but I'm pretty sure I JUST realized how this works based on the thumbnail and title alone.

    You're staring at yourself with the lights on, and the image of your face is being "burned" into your retina, and when you shut off the lights, it's YOUR FACE YOU SEE AS AN AFTERIMAGE–IT'S NOT EVEN IN THE REFLECTION!

    THAT IS AMAZING!! How had I never thought of this before??

    EDIT: OK so I guess this isn't what they were going for…

  19. At the beginning of the internet not a day went by where you did not get an email with an optical illusion or two from a fellow user.
    This effect here might be compared to one I will never forget.
    The picture was of an ink blot with no particular design.
    You were to stare at it for a couple of minutes, then close your eyes.
    What you saw in your minds eye was sharp relief of Jesus.
    (I actually saw Ted Nugent)….
    Further scrutiny of the inkblot image revealed that the smaller white spaces with the black body was this outline of Uncle Ted.
    You did not see it unless you really searched for it.
    Then when you closed your eyes, the reverse 'xray' image appeared.
    Had the ink blot had the black and white colors switched, I don't think it would have worked and you would have seen the image
    of The Mad Man right off….uh, Jesus…ok…same diff…..

  20. I feel like this happens because your brain is trained to be like "alright, it's night time so be on high alert. Oh fuck a face, better make it artificially as scary as possible so you reeeaaaally get your ass in gear" ya know?

  21. I tried this with just the light of my iPad in a dark room but didn't set the mood and it looked like my head disappeared, it was trippy.

  22. if i'm not mistaken it also has to do with most people not being used to look at themselves that much, you can see hundreds of faces a day, but usually don't see your own face that much. so that could also have effect on why it works so quickly and easily (and for those girls spending hours in front of the mirror ,they're used to their face changing while looking at it in the mirror that's the whole point for them xP)

    also: ex psychology student and massive horror fan, insta subscribed 😛

  23. I only say bloody Mary 3 times.
    I don't it in my school toilets alone and the door sucks so it couldn't open.
    Thank god someone tackled it from the outside (oh and the lights were of)

  24. my entire face just dissapears from the left to my nose, and then from my nose to the right, and then it spreads from my face to my neck, pretty weird

  25. as I was watching this I decided to try it for myself and so I turned my light off and looked into the camera of my phone…yeah that was so creepy holy shit

  26. When I was younger I used to stare into a mirror and this happened all the time. It always freaked me out even though I knew it was myself, but it was fun. I didnt even know about the folk lore behind it, and It was more about a disassociation kind of thing.

  27. yo i tried this myself and holy shit that was an adventure. i used a rather large mirror and a lamp i usually keep in my room. I'm rather fidgety/trembly so getting results was hard as i literally could not stop my eyes from focusing, they just kept snapping me back to reality the longer i would stare at myself (i was staring at like the mid point between your eyes and above your nose . it took a solid few mins im not sure it was prob a long time, but after many position changes and a while of just staring at myself i started to see things, blue like auras kept forming around me, then as i kept trying certain facial features would fade, first my eyes then my mouth, these features would turn to a fleshy tone then to black. Then i started to stare into my own eye, i would stare into my right eye, this is when results would happen more frequently and drastically. It would feel like parts of my face were now a part of the mirror, coming forward as i had been messing with a 3DS, and it would be in its own plane some how, a complete feeling that, that was not my face. It would look more dead, aged, tired, soulless. It was pretty freaky but overall a pretty rad experience.

  28. If you just stare in a mirror for a good twenty minutes, without looking away often, you will see something.
    You don’t even have to say anything.
    Try it! 🙂

  29. I heard flush the toilet 3 time turn the water on and off 3 times turn the lights on and off 3 times and chant the name 3 times and turn the lights on🤷🏻‍♂️

  30. I know right! If you try to stare at a persons face in the dark while they stay still I start to imagine all facial features disappearing until the face is nothing but a void.

  31. Fun fact, there is a magic ritual to summon a god or godess that work in the same way… you are suposed to use a black mirror(if possible made out of that black glass/rock from.volcanosnthatbindont remember right now) you need 2 candels… Put them on the sides in front of the mirror at 45 degrees from both the mirror and you… You need a bowl with water and a metal bowl to burn an offering… And also some inciense… So… A good one is trying to call inana the goddess of sex and war… The offering can be some dates, as its a fruit you are not going to be hated by PETA… In her case, you can chant a "triple call" wich would be something like, "queen of heaven and earth, mother of the bright prince, my queen, inana its wonderful to worship you" or in sumerian "nin.an.ki ak, ama shara ak, nin.ngu ak… Inana zami" i think… Technically the situation should be pleasent then… Since you would be seeing a "goddess" instead of a "demon"

  32. i never did a bloody mary thing, but I just stared into the mirror as a kid one time and had the exact same thing happening!

  33. Is it just me or did you imagine her with grayish skin long black hair and a wide open (dislocated-looking) jaw?
    Lol i need to stop thinking the creature from This house has people in it

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