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Propaganda of the deed wikipedia, lookup

is a set of messages made to influence the opinions or
behaviors of large numbers of people. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by
omission) to create a certain meaning, or tries to get people to think emotionally rather than
logically. The desired result is for the audience to change its opinions or thinking to further a
political agenda or sell a product.
Your deeper understanding of propaganda devices can:
 Save you lots of money.
 Help you distinguish between fact and
 Assist you in making better political
 Aid you in persuading others.
Ad hominem
A Latin phrase what has come to mean attacking your opponent, as opposed to attacking their arguments.
(Example: “Obama is a liar!”)
Ad nauseam
This argument uses repetition of an idea. An idea, especially a simple slogan, that is repeated enough
times, may begin to be taken as the truth. This approach works best when media sources are limited and
controlled by the propagator.
Appeal to authority
Appeals to authority cite prominent figures to support a position, idea, argument, or course of action.
Appeal to fear
Appeals to fear seek to build support by creating anxieties and panic in people.
Appeal to prejudice
Using emotional words to attach value or moral goodness to believing the proposition. For example, the
phrase: "Any hard-working taxpayer would have to agree that those who do not work, and who do not
support the community do not deserve the community's support through social assistance."
"Argumentum ad populum" Bandwagon
Bandwagon and "inevitable-victory" appeals attempt to persuade the target audience to join in and be part
of the winning team because "everyone else is." It works because people have a natural desire to be on the
winning side.
Black-and-White fallacy
Presenting only two choices, with the product or idea being sold as the better choice. (e.g., "You are either
with us, or you are with the enemy")
Beautiful people (Testimonial)
The type of propaganda that deals with "Celebrity" famous people or attractive, happy people. This makes
other people think that if they buy a product or follow a certain thinking, they too will be happy or
successful. (This is more used in advertising for products, instead of political reasons
Testimonial The reputation, respect, authority or fame of the person talking is used to cause the target
audience to identify itself with the authority or to accept the authority's opinions and beliefs as its own.
Common man
The "'plain folks'" or "common man" approach attempts to convince the audience that the propaganda
reflects the common sense of the people. It is designed to win the confidence of the audience by
communicating in the common manner and style of the target audience. It uses ordinary language and
actions to identify with the average person.
Demonizing the enemy
Making individuals from the opposing nation, from a different ethnic group, or those who support the
opposing viewpoint appear to be subhuman (e.g., the Vietnam War-era term "gooks" for "Viet Cong"
National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam aka Vietcong, (or 'VC') soldiers), worthless, or immoral,
through suggestion or false accusations.
Direct order
This technique uses images and words to tell the audience exactly what actions to take, eliminating any
other possible choices. Authority figures can be used to give the order, overlapping it with the Appeal to
authority technique. The Uncle Sam "I want you" image is an example of this technique.
The use of an event that generates happiness, or using an appealing event to boost morale. Euphoria can
be created by declaring a holiday, making luxury items available, or mounting a military parade with
marching bands and patriotic messages.
An attempt to justify an action by saying it’s patriotic, or will in some way benefit a group, country, or idea.
Glittering generalities
Glittering generalities are emotionally appealing words applied to a product or idea, but which present no
concrete argument or analysis. Empty words. A famous example is the campaign slogan "Ford has a better
A half-truth is a deceptive statement that might be partly true, the statement may be totally true but only
part of the whole truth, or it may utilize some deceptive element, such as improper punctuation, or double
meaning, especially if the intent is to deceive, evade blame or misrepresent the truth.
Intentional vagueness
Generalities are deliberately vague so that the audience may draw its own interpretations. The intention is
to move the audience by use of undefined phrases, without analyzing their validity or attempting to
determine their reasonableness or application.
Favorable generalities are used to provide simple answers to complex social, political, economic, or military
Quotes out of Context
Selective editing of quotes that can change meanings. Political documentaries designed to discredit an
opponent or an opposing political viewpoint often make use of this technique.
Propagandists use the name-calling technique to create fears and prejudices in their hearers, hoping that
the bad names will cause them to construct a negative opinion about a group or set of beliefs or ideas that
the propagandist would wish the audience to denounce.
"Ignoratio elenchi" Red herring
Presenting data or issues that may be true and important, but are not related to the argument or issue
being discussed, and then claiming that it makes the argument true.
Assigning blame to an individual or group, so the real group or person responsible can avoiding blame. Or
distracting attention from the need to fix the problem for which blame is being assigned.
Stereotyping or Name Calling or Labeling
This technique attempts to stir up prejudices in an audience by labeling the object of the propaganda as
something the target audience fears, hates, loathes, or finds undesirable.
Projecting positive or negative qualities (praise or blame) of a person, entity, object, or value (an
individual, group, organization, nation, patriotism, etc.) to something else. It evokes an emotional
response. Often highly visual, this technique often utilizes symbols (for example, the Swastika used in Nazi
Germany, originally a symbol for health and prosperity).
Virtue words
These are words in the value system of the target audience that tend to produce a positive image when
attached to a person or issue. Peace, happiness, security, wise leadership, freedom, "The Truth", etc. are
virtue words. In countries such as the U.S., religiosity is seen as a virtue, making associations to this quality
affectively beneficial. See Transfer.
Errors of Faulty Logic
Information is presented that is in direct opposition to other information within the same argument.
Example: If someone stated that schools were overstaffed, then later argued for the
necessity of more counselors, that person would be guilty of contradiction.
Someone fails to recognize (or conceals the fact) that an argument is based on an exception to the
Example: By using selected scholar-athletes as the norm, one could argue that larger
sports programs in schools were vital to improving academic performance of all students.
False Cause:
A temporal order of events is confused with causality; or, someone oversimplifies a complex causal
Example: Stating that poor performance in schools is caused by poverty; poverty certainly
contributes to poor academic performance but it is not the only factor.
Begging the
A person makes a claim then argues for it by advancing grounds whose meaning is simply
equivalent to that of the original claim. This is also called "circular reasoning."
Example: Someone argues that schools should continue to have textbooks read from
cover to cover because, otherwise, students would not be well-educated. When asked to
define what "well-educated" means, the person says, "knowing what is in the textbooks."
Evading the Issue:
Someone sidesteps and issue by changing the topic.
Example: When asked to say whether or not the presence of homosexuals in the army
could be a disruptive force, a speaker presents examples of homosexuals winning combat
medals for bravery.
Arguing from
Someone argues that a claim is justified simply because its opposite cannot be proven.
and Division:
Composition involves an assertion about a whole that is true of its parts. Division is the opposite:
an assertion about all of the parts that is true about the whole.
Example: A person argues that voucher programs will not harm schools, since no one has
ever proven that vouchers have harmed schools.
Example: When a school system holds up its above-average scores and claims that its
students are superior, it is committing the fallacy of division. Overall scores may be higher
but that does not prove all students are performing at that level. Likewise, when the
military points to the promiscuous behavior of some homosexuals, it is committing the
fallacy of composition: the behavior of some cannot serve as proof of-the behavior of all
Errors of Attack
Poisoning the Well:
A person is so committed to a position that he/she explains away absolutely everything others
offer in opposition.
Example: Almost every proponent and opponent on the ban on gays in the military
commits this error.
Ad Hominem:
A person rejects a claim on the basis of derogatory facts (real or alleged) about the person
making the claim.
Example: Someone rejects President Clinton's reasons for lifting the ban on gays in the
military because of Mr. Clinton's draft record.
Appealing to Force:
Someone uses threats to establish the validity of the claim.
Example: Opponents of year-round school threaten to keep their children out of
school during the summer months.
Errors of Weak Reference
Appeal to
Authority is evoked as the last word on an issue.
Appeal to the
Someone attempts to justify a claim on the basis of popularity.
Appeal to Emotion:
An emotion-laden "sob" story is used as proof for a claim.
Example: Someone uses the Bible as the basis for his arguments against specific school
reform issues.
Example: Opponents of year-round school claim that students would hate it.
Example: A politician uses a sad story of a child being killed in a drive-by shooting to
gain support for a year-round school measure.