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Tags faith healers , hypnotism

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Old 10th December 2007, 06:58 AM   #1
A Christian Sceptic
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Faith Healers - could it be hypnotism?

Hi,

I'm sure you've seen those faith healers on TBN who do what they call "slaying in the spirit". It is where they touch someone on the forehead and they fall over.

Well - a few years ago I was at the state fair and saw a hypnotist. He used the exact same motions and techniques (minus any prayers). He touched them on the forehead in the exact same manner and they fell over (that is - those that got hypnotized)

Has anyone else seen any similarities? Has there ever been studies done on this? I am not completely sure how hypnotism works - can they be doing hypnotism techniques without knowing it?

Special Request: Please don't start posting your opinions on why Christianity is wrong because of fake faithhealers, how these people are mean, dishonest, etc. This will only distract from this discussion. My concern in this post isn't those aspects of faith healing but rather what technique they may be using.

Peace!
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Old 10th December 2007, 07:01 AM   #2
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I would agree with you. Faith healing and stage hypnosis are very similar. They both use the power of suggestion.
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Old 10th December 2007, 07:04 AM   #3
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I agree with That guy who juggles.

It's the power of suggestion and self-delusion.


P.S. Why get defensive about christianity before there's any reason to do so, please cut us some slack.
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Old 10th December 2007, 08:36 AM   #4
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Note that this same phenomenon occurs with a variety of "marital arts" types who promote the idea of "one-touch knockouts".
The instructor, surrounded by true believers, tends to have an excellent success rate. However, when he tries the technique on say, a reporter with no martial-arts experience, it tends not to work....

There is also a strong tendency on the individuals involved in these things to "fulfill expectations". That is, they know what they are supposed to do, and failing to do it would be a display of unbelief or disapproval of the whole show.

Fairly recently a woman who was "slain by the spirit" sued the preacher after whacking her head on a nearby camera; evidently no one caught her....
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Old 10th December 2007, 09:39 AM   #5
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I think they all fall into the same category. Gullible people who want to believe. The urge to fit in with a group doesn't end after high school.
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Old 10th December 2007, 09:40 AM   #6
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Stage hypnotism is a slightly elaborate form of 'playing along', in which closet extroverts get to behave outlandishly, be the centre of attention, etc, all the while under the handy umbrella of "ooh I was hypnotised and therefore it wasn't really me in my undercrackers".

It's a behaviour enabler.

I'd say faith healing uses very similar psychology, but with one major difference, and that is the God factor. A stage hypnotist isn't calling on any higher power so doesn't have any heartfelt faith to exploit. A healer has a massive amount of emotional baggage and blind faith to manipulate in his victims.

What Christian doesn't want the personal attention of God?

As a happy clappy Christian kid, I was 'exorcised' by the minister and church elder, to drive out the 'demons' which were 'causing' my bad behaviour - basically they did lots of shouty praying and such, then at the peak moment, right on cue, I fell backwards as the demon was cast out. I faked it. Everyone fakes it, or at least enables it.

Ugh, thick, thick people, those sellers of fairy tales and false hope.

Last edited by tkingdoll; 10th December 2007 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 10th December 2007, 10:18 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by SomeGuy View Post
I agree with That guy who juggles.
P.S. Why get defensive about christianity before there's any reason to do so, please cut us some slack.
Hey - don't get so defensive about me getting defensive.

Just kidding - I simply want to pre-empt unnecessary noise / clutter. See all the comments from Randi's Swift Dec. 7 to understand my concern.
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Old 10th December 2007, 10:19 AM   #8
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[quote=Bikewer;3229734]Note that this same phenomenon occurs with a variety of "marital arts" types who promote the idea of "one-touch knockouts".
QUOTE]

Thanks Bikewer - I wasn't familiar with the martial arts use. It does sound the same.
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Old 10th December 2007, 10:26 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by tkingdoll View Post
Stage hypnotism is a slightly elaborate form of 'playing along', in which closet extroverts get to behave outlandishly, be the centre of attention, etc, all the while under the handy umbrella of "ooh I was hypnotised and therefore it wasn't really me in my undercrackers".
I know in one instance this wasn't the case. My wife went up and got hypnotized by the same guy. She went under harder than anyone and it took a bit to snap her back out. When I asked her what happened - she said she felt drugged. In fact, the rest of the day she was lethargic. She was completely aware of her body doing things. What was interesting was when the hypnotist had her do the Pee Wee herman dance. She didn't remember doing that and I think it was because she didn't know what it was. I'm assuming she either picked up cues from the others around herr or she had seen it done at some time and subconsciously knew how to do it. She did admit she did want to be hypnotized. I think the want is needed in order to be hypnotized. But I'm digressing from the information I wanted to find. Sorry.
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Old 10th December 2007, 10:45 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by A Christian Sceptic View Post
I know in one instance this wasn't the case. My wife went up and got hypnotized by the same guy. She went under harder than anyone and it took a bit to snap her back out. When I asked her what happened - she said she felt drugged. In fact, the rest of the day she was lethargic. She was completely aware of her body doing things. What was interesting was when the hypnotist had her do the Pee Wee herman dance. She didn't remember doing that and I think it was because she didn't know what it was. I'm assuming she either picked up cues from the others around herr or she had seen it done at some time and subconsciously knew how to do it. She did admit she did want to be hypnotized. I think the want is needed in order to be hypnotized. But I'm digressing from the information I wanted to find. Sorry.
Yes, that's a common response. Many people claim 'not to remember' doing the embarassing wacky dance. If the hypnotist says "you won't remember on waking" then that gives you the excuse you need to behave in a daft way with no repurcussions. You can get the same effect by giving someone a drink and telling them it's alcohol. They will get 'drunk' and start to do/say things they wouldn't do sober. There is no actual physical intoxication, they are not drunk.

Psychosomia accounts for the 'drugged' effect, plus, again, it's very likely that the hypnotist told your wife that afterwards she might feel a bit groggy. Right on cue, she feels groggy. If she didn't, then the whole charade collapses.

The problem with the anecdotes after the fact is that they could easily be part of the elaborate 'going along with it' but there's no way to test it. You could have:

1) complete and concious fabrication
2) unconcious fabrication
3) a combination of both
4) genuine physical reaction.

4 is the least likely, some would even say it's impossible. It is certainly extremely unlikely that your wife did a Pee Wee Herman dance on stage with other people but retains no memory of it. By what physical mechanism is the hypnotist overriding her memory-making processes? Why is he a stage hypnotist, if he has this power, rather than a billionaire? (stop for a second and think about what being able to control people then erase their memories actually means). He really doesn't have this power.

Remember: the wacky dance is entertaining because it's embarrassing to the participants, who then benefit massively from a) being in the control of the hypnotist and b) not remembering afterwards. Take away the 'magic power' excuses and it gets very difficult to persuade anyone to do that wacky dance.

Last edited by tkingdoll; 10th December 2007 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 10th December 2007, 10:57 AM   #11
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Sorry for the misunderstanding. She knows she did something - but doesn't remember doing the dance. I mean, she didnt know she was doing a dance. She didn't know what I was talking about when I said "Wow - I didn't know you knew how to do that Pee Wee Herman dance" she was confused as to what I was talking about. I didn't take it as the hypnotist erasing her memory, but rather since she didn't know what her body was doing it only registered as doing something. Wow - I hope I didn't confuse the issue here. haha.
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Old 10th December 2007, 11:32 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by A Christian Sceptic View Post
Sorry for the misunderstanding. She knows she did something - but doesn't remember doing the dance. I mean, she didnt know she was doing a dance. She didn't know what I was talking about when I said "Wow - I didn't know you knew how to do that Pee Wee Herman dance" she was confused as to what I was talking about. I didn't take it as the hypnotist erasing her memory, but rather since she didn't know what her body was doing it only registered as doing something. Wow - I hope I didn't confuse the issue here. haha.
Well, ok, what is the medical explanation for the phenomenon you are describing? You are claiming that a stranger fairly quickly overrode your wife's brain function to the point where she didn't form a clear memory of a specific embarrassing dance. What is the mechanism for that? (feel free to link to the peer-reviewed papers/cites you think back up the effect).

Last edited by tkingdoll; 10th December 2007 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 10th December 2007, 11:38 AM   #13
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A Christian Sceptic, let's look at the most likely possibilities.

1) Your wife is highly suggestible, and is willingly or subconciously playing along.

2) The entertainer you saw genuinely has the power to control the minds of others and then erase specific details about what their leased zombie did.

Which is more probable? Number 2 requires proof in order to be believed. Despite being popular entertainment for some two centuries, hypnotists have yet failed to take over the world or be scientifically validated. Option 1 seems most likely.
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Old 10th December 2007, 01:32 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by tkingdoll View Post
Well, ok, what is the medical explanation for the phenomenon you are describing? You are claiming that a stranger fairly quickly overrode your wife's brain function to the point where she didn't form a clear memory of a specific embarrassing dance. What is the mechanism for that? (feel free to link to the peer-reviewed papers/cites you think back up the effect).
you got me on what happened. I can guess - but that's not even the point of the thread. The example of my wife was a counter-point to what tkingdoll said:
Quote:
Stage hypnotism is a slightly elaborate form of 'playing along', in which closet extroverts get to behave outlandishly, be the centre of attention, etc, all the while under the handy umbrella of "ooh I was hypnotised and therefore it wasn't really me in my undercrackers".
That wasn't the case with my wife. End point.

Sorry for distracting everyone.

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Old 10th December 2007, 01:41 PM   #15
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Quote:
She knows she did something - but doesn't remember doing the dance. I mean, she didnt know she was doing a dance. She didn't know what I was talking about when I said "Wow - I didn't know you knew how to do that Pee Wee Herman dance" she was confused as to what I was talking about. I didn't take it as the hypnotist erasing her memory, but rather since she didn't know what her body was doing it only registered as doing something.

"...spontaneous amnesia does occur in some subjects (and not too infrequently). However it is a phenomenon that varies with individuals and is modified according to the expectation of the subject and the suggestions of the hypnotist."

from "The New Encyclopedia of Stage Hypnotism" by Ormand McGill.
and

"Can hypnosis make me do things I don't want to do?

The simple answer is no, you can't be made to do anything you don't want to do in hypnosis. In hypnosis you retain power over your ability to act upon suggestions, although if you do allow yourself to act upon a suggestion you may feel as though the effects are happening by themselves."

from here.

Genuine memory loss or simply a self-convinced get-out for having done silly things?

Quote:
I'd say faith healing uses very similar psychology, but with one major difference, and that is the God factor. A stage hypnotist isn't calling on any higher power so doesn't have any heartfelt faith to exploit. A healer has a massive amount of emotional baggage and blind faith to manipulate in his victims.

Absolutely, hypnosis being all about the creation of expectation and belief which faith healers have in abundance in their audience by nature. A stage hypnotist has to go through several "tests" and convincingly work up through a "spiral of belief" in their effects before finally eliminating down to the final few subjects who'll happily play along with the really silly stuff. Having a ready made crowd who from the outset almost all already believe or at the very least want to believe in your every word would be any hypnotic stage performers dream!

Tapping someone on the forehead and making them fall over is basic stuff for any good hypnotist. There's no reason to see what the faith liars do in any other terms.

Clucking like chickens or baa'ing like sheep. It's the same effect.
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Old 10th December 2007, 01:57 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by A Christian Sceptic View Post
That wasn't the case with my wife. End point.
It was the case with your wife, it's just that you and/or she don't like/want to admit/face it. However, unless you can provide any evidence supporting your assertion that a human being demonstrated some sort of paranormal ability to manipulate your wife's movements and memories, then your protestations are worth as much as any other anecdote, I'm afraid.
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Old 10th December 2007, 02:16 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Freethinker View Post
I think they all fall into the same category. Gullible people who want to believe. The urge to fit in with a group doesn't end after high school.
It's also just a trick. If you push someone who's standing square with their weight back on their heels, they will fall backwards if they don't lean into it or move their feet.

It let's you pick out co-operative people, and it impresses everyone.
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Old 10th December 2007, 02:42 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by tkingdoll View Post
It was the case with your wife, it's just that you and/or she don't like/want to admit/face it. However, unless you can provide any evidence supporting your assertion that a human being demonstrated some sort of paranormal ability to manipulate your wife's movements and memories, then your protestations are worth as much as any other anecdote, I'm afraid.
Uh ... I've never made any assertion anything paranormal happened. Most likely, my wife hypnotized herself or thought she was. She probably already knew the Pee Wee Herman dance from in the past and remembered it, or simply mimicked the people next to her. She never remembered it as the sance because she didn't know what it was called or what it was she was doing - simply a something. What I do know is it had nothing to do with simply want to 'play along' as was asserted.

Moving on ... are there any other examples on how it seems hypnotist techniques and faith healer techniques are similar. Anyone have a link to a demonstration of those one-touch knockouts?
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Old 10th December 2007, 03:02 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by A Christian Sceptic View Post
Moving on ... are there any other examples on how it seems hypnotist techniques and faith healer techniques are similar.

Here's a whole chewy thread for starters:

Derren Brown Will Make You Believe In God

Lots of good stuff about hypnosis.
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Old 10th December 2007, 04:24 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by A Christian Sceptic;
Moving on ... are there any other examples on how it seems hypnotist techniques and faith healer techniques are similar.
No, no. You're not moving on. You're pretending that your claim can stand. Is there any evidence that hypnotism works as claims? Your anecdote is not proof.
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Old 10th December 2007, 04:46 PM   #21
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I know, I know, I'm taking the bait ...

Originally Posted by ImaginalDisc View Post
No, no. You're not moving on. You're pretending that your claim can stand. Is there any evidence that hypnotism works as claims? Your anecdote is not proof.
Are you even reading this thread?

I haven't made any claims, especially about whether "hypnotism works as claims".

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Old 10th December 2007, 04:51 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by thatguywhojuggles View Post
I would agree with you. Faith healing and stage hypnosis are very similar. They both use the power of suggestion.
Has anybody here been a volunteer for a stage hypnotist? My dad once was, and he said that the "hypnotist" said straight out "Look, we are going to put on a good show for the people here, anybody got a problem with that?". One person was shocked and disillusioned and left straight away and demanded his money back. The rest just played along and pretended to be hypnotised.
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Old 10th December 2007, 05:28 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by A Christian Sceptic;
I know, I know, I'm taking the bait ...



Are you even reading this thread?

I haven't made any claims, especially about whether "hypnotism works as claims".
The description of your wife's experience is inconsistent with reality. Your wife is either a liar or deluded. If you maintain that your story is accurate, I invite you to supply evidence. Until such time, I can confidently say it didn't happen as you describe.

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Old 10th December 2007, 06:24 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by JonWhite View Post
Here's a whole chewy thread for starters:


Lots of good stuff about hypnosis.
That was chewy! Thanks.
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Old 10th December 2007, 07:12 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
Note that this same phenomenon occurs with a variety of "marital arts" types who promote the idea of "one-touch knockouts".
Just jumping back here for a possible one-liner...

MARITAL arts?

I mean...is this the time and place??
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Old 10th December 2007, 07:40 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by tkingdoll View Post
The problem with the anecdotes after the fact is that they could easily be part of the elaborate 'going along with it' but there's no way to test it. You could have:

1) complete and concious fabrication
2) unconcious fabrication
3) a combination of both
4) genuine physical reaction.
I fail to see what the difference between (2) and (4) would be. The mind is physical, after all. If you can persuade a person to unconsciously fabricate their recollections of being hypnotized, then what meaningful difference would there between that and "actually hypnotizing" them? You get the same results in the end: a person does silly things and then can't remember doing it.

That said, I do think (1) tends to be a factor.

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Old 11th December 2007, 09:02 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by A Christian Sceptic View Post
That was chewy! Thanks.

You're welcome.

More very good links from another thread here, courtesy of Enlighten.
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Old 11th December 2007, 10:42 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by thatguywhojuggles View Post
I would agree with you. Faith healing and stage hypnosis are very similar. They both use the power of suggestion.
There are psychologists who claim hypnotism doesn't really even exist as a true phenomenon. These would thus just be cases of "the emperor's new clothes", where people are expected to behave in such-and-such a way. Skeptics who delve into theories of people tiring out and passing out, or passing out from falling into some sleep-like fantasy dream thing may be multiplying explanations needlessly by presuming there's something beyond fraud/confusion to be explained.

But in any case, hypnotism and faith healing results may be essentially the same phenomenon of people acting the way they are expected to prevent public embarassment at having "failed" to undergo the whatever. Tie in rationalizations of behavior, and people might actually believe the claims of what happened, rather than that they just "went along with it".
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Old 11th December 2007, 11:26 AM   #29
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I'm surprised it took so long for someone to catch my spelling error.... Though sometimes those marital spats get rather martial.....
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Old 11th December 2007, 04:17 PM   #30
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They like the attention, they want to be in-group, and they can't stand the thought that god might not like them, or worse, even be real.

So they fake it, and can even convince themselves they actually felt something.
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Old 11th December 2007, 04:42 PM   #31
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I have to admit I didn't read though this whole thread carefully. (I'm at work, sorry), but I did want to throw in my two cents for what it's worth.

I do stage hypnosis for entertainment, (not faith healing). I've been hypnotizing people, on my own, not through classes or anything, for nearly 20 years.

I've stated my opinion about hypnosis in another hypnosis thread, (which is here: http://www.internationalskeptics.com...=100185&page=1 ) but I'll restate it here. I believe that hypnosis is just like going to the movies. You sit there, focusing on the screen, listening to the sounds, but when something exciting happens, your heart pounds, you may sweat and you feel the emotions along with the main charactors in the movie.

So IMHO, I believe that faith healing is very much the same thing.

The mind is very good at fooling itself. It is incredibly easy to generate false memories, make people "feel good" (hell, I can make my girlfriend feel completely drunk on pez candies), even mask pain -- for a time. Especially if the subject desires the outcome.

Hypnosis is nothing magical or holy or anything like that. It's simply focus, relaxation and desire. It's something we do everyday: watching tv, going to the movies, driving, pondering a particular problem, etc.

I can see faith healers working the same way. When I see one heal someone, I can't help but wonder how long before the illness "comes back"? They take the people off the stage as quickly as possible and they are never heard from again.

(No offense meant to anyone of any faith. Just stating my observations).

Last edited by JFrankA; 11th December 2007 at 04:46 PM. Reason: added url of other thread.
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