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PROPAGANDA. versus persuasion. What is propaganda. “Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.” — Jowett & O'Donnell, Propaganda and Persuasion.

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versus persuasion

what is propaganda
What is propaganda
  • “Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.”
  • —Jowett & O'Donnell, Propaganda and Persuasion
five characteristics of propaganda
Propaganda is in the eye of the beholder.

“I’m persuading. The other guy is using propaganda.”

Propaganda has a strong ideological bent.

example: PETA, Queer Nation, or the Army of God

Propaganda is institutional in nature. It is practiced by organized groups

governments, corporations, social movements, special interests

Propaganda relies on mass persuasion

television, radio, Internet, billboards

Propaganda tends to rely on ethically suspect methods of influence.

deception, distortion, misrepresentation, or suppression of information.

Five characteristics of propaganda
propaganda in abstinence based sex education
Washington Post, December 2, 2004:

School children participating in federally funded abstinence-only programs have been taught “false, misleading, or distorted information” over the past three years.

Included in the misinformation were claims that:

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread via sweat and tears.

Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse

half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus

touching a person's genitals "can result in pregnancy"

Propaganda in “abstinence” based sex education
common propaganda techniques
Common propaganda techniques
  • plain folks appeal (“I’m one of you”)
  • testimonials (“I saw the aliens, sure as I’m standing here”)
  • bandwagon effect (everybody’s doing it)
  • card-stacking (presenting only one side of the story)
  • transfer (positive or negative associations, such as guilt by association)
  • glittering generalities (idealistic or loaded language, such as “freedom” “empowering,” “family values”)
  • name calling (“racist,” “tree hugger,” “femi-nazi”)
plain folks appeal
plain folks appeal
  • Based on the “common man,” “person on the street” or the “little guy”
  • A politician calls himself a “populist” or “man of the people”
  • “In this time of change, government must take the side of working families.” (George Bush, address at the Republican National Convention, Sept. 3, 2004.
  • Anecdotal evidence for diet pills, herbal remedies, new-age crystals, etc.
  • Anecdotal evidence of alien abductions, psychic phenomena
  • “I saw what looked to be a hairy human figure, about 6-6 1/2' tall, running behind my bike. Scared the crap out of me, so I hit the throttle and did what I could to get out of there.” (from the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organizations Website, report # 13424

Jarod Fogle for Subway

bandwagon effect
bandwagon effect
  • a “herd” mentality, following the crowd, or “counting heads”
  • An employee caught pilfering says, “everyone else does it.”
  • “A majority of Americans - 57% - say they believe in psychic phenomena such as ESP, telepathy or experiences that can’t be explained by normal means.” (CBS poll, April 28, 2002)
  • Projecting good or bad qualities from one person or group onto another
  • The positive or negative association will “rub off” on the other person or group
  • Politicians posing next to the flag, with troops, with veterans to appear patriotic
  • An ad for a dietary supplement features a researcher in a white lab coat with a clip board to make the product appear more scientific
glittering generalities
glittering generalities
  • Using virtuous words; democracy, freedom, justice, patriotism, family values, motherhood, progress
  • Embracing values at a high level of abstraction
    • “change”
    • “green”
    • “reform”
  • “patriotism is always more than just loyalty to a place on a map or a certain kind of people. Instead, it is also loyalty to America’s ideals – ideals for which anyone can sacrifice, or defend, or give their last full measure of devotion.” Barack Obama, June 30, 2008
name calling
name calling
  • Ad hominem attacks
  • tree-hugging liberals, right-wing zealots, femi-nazis, bureaucrats
  • Barack Obama “palls around with terrorists.”
  • “Despite the hysterics of a few pseudo-scientists, there is no reason to believe in global warming” Rush Limbaugh, See I told You So (1993)
  • “secular progressives made great inroads over the past five years" and "if you don't believe that ... you're a moron." Bill O’Reilly, Dec 19, 2005, on his syndicated radio show, the Radio Factor