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Logical Fallacy & Propaganda Techniques
What They Are and How They Are Used in the Media
Bill: "I believe that abortion is morally wrong."
Dave: "Of course you would say that, you're a priest."
Bill: "What about the arguments I gave to support my position?"
Dave: "Those don't count. Like I said, you're a priest, so you have to say that abortion is wrong. Further, you are just a lackey to the Pope, so I can't believe what you say."
"We admit that this measure is popular. But we also urge you to note that there are so many bond issues on this ballot that the whole thing is getting ridiculous."
"I think there is great merit in making the requirements stricter for the graduate students. I recommend that you support it, too. After all, we are in a budget crisis and we do not want our salaries affected."
False causality: stating that even B was caused by event A just because B happened after A
Example : Money makes people arrogant.
Not all people and not always just money.
Overgeneralization: forming a conclusion with too little evidence.
Look for words such as “all," "every," and "always". They’re statements that are so general that they oversimplify reality, ignoring important details.
In groups of 4, read through the different articles you are given. On a scrap sheet of paper, jot down what kind of logical fallacies, if any, you find. Also determine:
The dictionary defines propaganda as:
information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.
And Some Examples of Propaganda Are…
The name-calling technique links a person, or idea, to a negative symbol. The propagandist who uses this technique hopes that the audience will reject the person or the idea on the basis of the negative symbol, instead of looking at the available evidence.
The most obvious type of name calling involves bad names. For example, consider the following:
A more subtle form of name-calling involves words or phrases that are selected because they possess a negative emotional charge. Those who oppose budget cuts may characterize fiscally conservative politicians as "stingy." Supporters might prefer to describe them as "thrifty." Both words refer to the same behavior, but they have very different connotations. Other examples of negatively charged words include:
social engineering radical
The Glittering Generality is, in short, Name Calling in reverse. While Name Calling seeks to make us form a judgment to reject and condemn without examining the evidence, the Glittering Generality device seeks to make us approve and accept without examining the evidence.
We believe in, fight for, live by virtue words about which we have deep-set ideas. Such words include civilization, Christianity, good, proper, right, democracy, patriotism, motherhood, fatherhood, science, medicine, health, and love. For our purposes in propaganda analysis, we call these virtue words "Glittering Generalities" in order to focus attention upon this dangerous characteristic that they have: They mean different things to different people; they can be used in different ways.
When someone talks to us about democracy, we immediately think of our own definite ideas about democracy, the ideas we learned at home, at school, and in church. Our first and natural reaction is to assume that the speaker is using the word in our sense, that he believes as we do on this important subject. This lowers our 'sales resistance' and makes us far less suspicious than we ought to be when the speaker begins telling us the things 'the United States must do to preserve democracy.'
When propagandists use glittering generalities and name-calling symbols, they are attempting to arouse their audience with vivid, emotionally suggestive words. In certain situations, however, the propagandist attempts to pacify the audience in order to make an unpleasant reality more palatable. This is accomplished by using words that are bland and euphemistic.
Since war is particularly unpleasant, military discourse is full of euphemisms. In the 1940's, America changed the name of the War Department to the Department of Defense. Under the Reagan Administration, the MX-Missile was renamed "The Peacekeeper." During war-time, civilian casualties are referred to as "collateral damage," and the word "liquidation" is used as a synonym for "murder."
In the Transfer device, symbols are constantly used. The cross represents the Christian Church. The flag represents the nation. Cartoons like Uncle Sam represent a consensus of public opinion. Those symbols stir emotions . At their very sight, with the speed of light, is aroused the whole complex of feelings we have with respect to church or nation. A cartoonist, by having Uncle Sam disapprove a budget for unemployment relief, would have us feel that the whole United States disapproves relief costs. By drawing an Uncle Sam who approves the same budget, the cartoonist would have us feel that the American people approve it. Thus, the Transfer device is used both for and against causes and ideas.
The most common misuse of the testimonial involves citing individuals who are not qualified to make judgments about a particular issue. In 1992, Barbara Streisand supported Bill Clinton, and Arnold Schwarzenegger threw his weight behind George Bush. Both are popular performers, but there is no reason to think that they know what is best for this country. Unfair testimonials are usually obvious, and most of us have probably seen through this rhetorical trick at some time or another. However, this probably happened when the testimonial was provided by a celebrity that we did not respect. When the testimony is provided by an admired celebrity, we are much less likely to be critical.
By using the plain-folks technique, speakers attempt to convince their audience that they, and their ideas, are "of the people."
The basic theme of the Band Wagon appeal is that "everyone else is doing it, and so should you."
Example: Prices on cars are being slashed at the end of the year and “everyone’s rushing to the dealership, and you should, too, because these deals won’t last long!”
"The streets of our country are in turmoil. The universities are filled with students rebelling and rioting. Communists are seeking to destroy our country. Russia is threatening us with her might, and the Republic is in danger. Yes - danger from within and without. We need law and order! Without it our nation cannot survive." - Adolf Hitler, 1932
This technique can be highly effective when wielded by a fascist demagogue, but it is typically used in less dramatic ways. Consider the following: