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How to recognize propaganda techniques?

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posted on Jan, 9 2010 @ 12:14 PM
Edward Filene helped establish the Institute of Propaganda Analysis in 1937 to educate the American public about the nature of propaganda and how to recognize propaganda techniques. Filene and his colleagues identified the seven most common "tricks of the trade" used by successful propagandists.
These techniques are designed to fool us because the appeal to our emotions rather than to our reason.

These seven techniques are called
* Name Calling
* Glittering Generalities
* Transfer
* Testimonial
* Plain Folks
* Card Stacking
* Band Wagon

But how to RECOGNIZE them and many more?

So i have made a list of some of the techniques and how to recognize them.

Giving a person or an idea a bad label by using an easy to remember pejorative name. This is used to make us reject and condemn a person or idea without examining what the label really means.
Examples: "Republican", "Tree-Hugger", "Nazi", "Environmentalist", "Special-Interest Group".

These words are used to dupe us into accepting and approving of things without examining the evidence carefully.
Examples: "Natural", "Democratic", "Organic", "Scientific", "Ecological", "Sustainable".

This is when an idea is made to appear holy, sacred, or very special and therefore above all law. Any alternative or opposite points of view are thereby given the appearance of treason or blasphemy.
Examples: "God-given right to...", "Mother Earth", "Gia".

Transfer is when a symbol that carries respect, authority, sanction, and prestige is used along with and idea or argument to make it look more acceptable. Examples: American Flag, University Seal, Medical Association Symbol (or something that looks like it).
This method is also called GUILT- or VIRTUE-BY-ASSOCIATION.

When some respected celebrity (or alternatively someone generally hated) claims that an idea or product is good (or bad). This technique is used to convince us without examining the facts more carefully.

This is a way that a speaker convinces an audience that an idea is good because they are the same ideas of the vast majority of people like yourself.
Examples: "This is the will of the People", "Most Americans...". Another example would be when the speaker tells a story about a family or people that are "just like you" to reinforce the speaker's point of view.

This common propaganda method is when the speaker tries to convince us to accept their point of view or else we will miss out on something really good. The Band-Wagon technique is often used in advertising.
Examples: "This is the wave of the future", "Be the first on your block", "Act Now!". You might ask yourself "What if I was the only one on my block because no one else was interested (duped)?".

This is when someone tries to claim there are only two sides to an issue and that both sides must have equal presentation in order to be evaluated. This technique is used to dupe us into believing there is only one way to look at an issue, when in fact there may be many alternative viewpoints or "sides". Like most propaganda techniques it simplifies reality and therefore distorts it, often to the advantage of the speaker. A classic example is the "intelligent design" versus "evolution" controversy.

This is an inflammatory (often untrue) statement or question used to throw an opponent off guard, or to embarrass them.
Examples "Have you stopped beating your spouse", "When will you pay the taxes you owe?" The fact that it may be utterly untrue is irrelevant, because it still brings controversy to the opponent.


[edit on 9-1-2010 by Hithe Merinos]

[edit on 9-1-2010 by Hithe Merinos]

posted on Jan, 9 2010 @ 12:23 PM
This technique is used to play for more time or to avoid answering a pointed question.
Examples: "More research is needed...", "A fact-finding committee is working on this issue..." "I am calling for an investigation on this failure.." When asked about a tax increase possibility a senator replies: "I have always met the obligations I have to those I represent."

11. LEAST-OF-EVILS is used to justify an otherwise unpleasant or unpopular point of view.
Example: '"War is hell but appeasement leads to worse disasters".

This often use with Guilt-by-association to deflect scrutiny away from the issues. It transfers blame to one person or group of people without investigating the complexities of the issue.
Examples: "George W. Bush got us into Iraq", "President Reagan caused the national debt".

This technique confuses the audience about what is really cause and effect. In fact the causes of most phenomena are complex, and it is misleading to say just one of the following: "Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria", "Tuberculosis is caused by un-regulated capitalism that creates poor working conditions", "Tuberculosis is caused by a lack of effective antibiotics".

This technique is used to convince the audience by using selected information and not presenting the complete story.
Examples: "A study was done that showed eating peanut butter causes liver cancer" (the fact that later the study was later shown to be flawed or funded by the peanut butter haters and therefore suspect, is not revealed). A variation would be "Raising the speed limit to 65 mph resulted in many fewer traffic fatalities". Such statements need to be checked with how many people were driving before and after the change in speed limit. Fewer people may be driving after the speed limit change, even though the fatality rates (deaths per 100,000) may be higher, leading to the overall result of fewer fatalities.

Weak inference is when a judgment is made with insufficient evidence, or that the conclusion does not necessarily follow from the evidence given.
For example: Ducks and geese migrate south for the winter, therefore all waterfowl migrate south for the winter. Or, most rich folks vote republican, therefore most people who vote republican are rich.

This is when a comparison is carried to far. '
Example: "The economy is following the same path as right before the great depression, therefore we will experience a stock market crash soon!"

Some examples: Average results are reported, but not the amount of variation around the averages. A percent or fraction is presented, but not the sample size as in "9 out of 10 dentists recommend...". Absolute and proportional quantities are mixed as in "3,400 more robberies occurred in our town last year, whereas other cities hand an increase of less than one percent". Graphs are used that, by chopping off part of the scale or using unusual units or no scale, distort the appearance of the result. Results are reported with misleading precision. For example, representing 13 out of 19 students as 68.42105 percent.

18. FEAR:
"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

-- Herman Goering at the Nuremburg

[edit on 9-1-2010 by Hithe Merinos]

posted on Jan, 9 2010 @ 12:29 PM
Adding sources and related ATS threads
Propaganda Then and Now
Propaganda Critic
Rhetoric by Aristotele
Sacred Congregation Propaganda

Related ATS threads
This is Propaganda By LiveForever8

Thank you

[edit on 9-1-2010 by Hithe Merinos, added more sources]

[edit on 9-1-2010 by Hithe Merinos]

posted on Jan, 9 2010 @ 12:32 PM
Will be adding your thread to my Disinfo and False Debating techniques folder.

It is getting quite extensive. One must see the techniques used to manipulate ones own positions and positions of others. I have just written a thread on Labels and the Box they put us in.

Excellent post. S&F for you.

posted on Jan, 9 2010 @ 01:11 PM
Great post!

Some people naturally detect BS, but this is a good breakdown of the actual techniques.


posted on Jan, 9 2010 @ 01:51 PM
reply to post by InertiaZero

Thank you for your reply

Yes, i hope that this will help many of us to spot the propaganda BS floating all around us.

posted on Jan, 9 2010 @ 01:54 PM
The teacher I had in my media class in college who once said something like (not exact words, it's been a long time!!!) :

"Is it better to live in a dictatorship where you know without doubt that what is said to you is propaganda or is it better to live in a "free" and "democratic" society and never know?"

I found that pretty interesting...



posted on Jan, 9 2010 @ 01:55 PM
This is one of the best threads ever posted on ATS. In fact, I'd say the mods/admins should "sticky" this thread at the very least. If people want to deny ignorance and start thinking for themselves, this thread is a great start.

posted on Jan, 9 2010 @ 01:56 PM
Great Summary

(Of Course lot of people who are arguing a point dont even know they are using propaganda-techniques. They just repeat what they read or heard somewhere.)

posted on Jan, 9 2010 @ 02:09 PM
reply to post by Skyfloating

Ha, I was thinking something similar.

I bet there are plenty of people out there recycling the same language they hear on TV or the radio.
Maybe the language you heard, commanded your attention, therfore you use the same language yourself.

But after it has been rehashed so many times, does the same language have the desired effect?

posted on Jan, 9 2010 @ 02:41 PM
First post:
YES this is exactly what I've been looking into - detecting disinformation techniques. "Straw-man" arguments, the "X-Card" (X=favorite cliche) and "implied causation" are some of therecurrent themes I see . I'll be interested to research the included links. Thanks (S&F if I only knew how)!

posted on Jan, 9 2010 @ 09:10 PM

Originally posted by ganjoa
First post:
YES this is exactly what I've been looking into - detecting disinformation techniques. "Straw-man" arguments, the "X-Card" (X=favorite cliche) and "implied causation" are some of therecurrent themes I see . I'll be interested to research the included links. Thanks (S&F if I only knew how)!

Welcome to ATS!

And as you mentioned this is your first post- i`m honored, and i´m glad that you found the above post useful to you.

Keep up with good work with the interest you have into this sort of things and if you get into trouble in whatever reasons, ATS is here for you, (but keep an eye out of the above top propaganda

posted on Jan, 9 2010 @ 09:52 PM
reply to post by Hithe Merinos

Well done, very informative.

But did you get permission from Fox News before posting their operations manual on-line? They can be very thin-skinned about that type of thing.

posted on Jan, 9 2010 @ 10:01 PM
It's easy to spot propaganda. If they are in government or media , are Americans and their mouths are moving , you know it's propaganda.

posted on Jan, 9 2010 @ 11:08 PM
reply to post by Hithe Merinos

Thank you! Another appropriate thread created some time ago.


[edit on 9-1-2010 by whaaa]

posted on Jan, 10 2010 @ 05:39 AM
yes I agree, great thread Hithe Merinos. It is very extensive.

I'm sure this'll help all the peoples who actually read it, sharpen and improve on their 'B.S. Meter' and help be able to spot Propaganda much more easily and just ignore it, change the channel.. etc.

It made my think of the Obama Care Logo or whatever its called that came out a while back. I knew it was some form of Propaganda.. think about it after you have a look. It seems so obvious, but maybe its just me ?

posted on Jan, 10 2010 @ 08:49 AM
reply to post by Hithe Merinos

Great (and very important) thread.

Theres some other interesting statements made about propaganda here but I think this is one of my favourites:



posted on Jan, 10 2010 @ 08:52 AM
reply to post by Sk8rDude7

Awesome catch. Osiris eye and Goat of Mendes both.

[edit on 10-1-2010 by jcrash]

[edit on 10-1-2010 by jcrash]

posted on Jan, 10 2010 @ 08:53 AM
every single day each of us see all kinds of "brands" branded on the products you use everyday, every single day you see advertisements all around you, every single day you go on internet no matter which website, even ATS with all her banners regardless from third parties (paid) or ATS own advertisements, and so on and so on .... these in my books are all parets of our daily life's propaganda....

posted on Jan, 10 2010 @ 08:59 AM
I find it very easy to recognize propaganda. I find these two rules really help

Rule 1, If it's in the media it's likely propaganda.

Rule 2, If a politician's lips are moving it's likely propaganda.

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