Thursday, 5 March 2009

How to Detect Propaganda

Great little document right here, which offers a brief but powerful guide to the key elements of propaganda, think of it like a 'Propaganda for Dummies' type read.

In a nutshell then...

  1. Name Calling: the application of 'bad names' to opponents with no thorough discussion of what the term implies, to induce fear and hatred and to remove the need to examine evidence and call directly upon the emotions
  2. Glittering Generalities: the use of 'virtue words' that appeal to positive aspects of our nature, such as freedom, honour or the American Way (trademark, all rights reserved). First use name calling to get the victim angry then glittering generalities to make them happy they are angry
  3. Transfer: the device by which the authority or prestige of something respected or loved (the church, the flag, a historical figure) by the victim is transferred over to the agenda of the propagandist
  4. Testimonial: a well known method to make us accept something on the grounds that someone else does; can also be twisted into the counter-testimonial
  5. Plain Folks: utilised by the propagandist to appear as if they are 'just like us' in order to elicit feelings of empathy, understanding and to cloak their real background and origins
  6. Card Stacking: the employment of all the arts of deception; sham, hypocrisy and effrontery in order to stack the cards against the truth. Use of under and over emphasis to issue dodge and insertion of new themes and issues to smokescreen difficult facts
  7. The Band Wagon: the device to make us follow en masse, to be part of the crowd and the alleged majority. The suggestion that 'everyone is doing it' to 'follow the crowd' or to 'not be left behind in the minority'
You've been warned, keep 'em peeled and see just how often these techniques are used to play on our emotions, to manipulate and get us to act without thought, evidence and reflection.



  1. The political discourse in the US, is at a point where propaganda is step forward. Candidates are judged by would you like to have a drink with them.

    I think modern propaganda, can be sophisticated. If you listen to BBC, without knowing background about issues, you'll get propaganda repeated on the hour. It is not always easy to refute.

  2. We can point and say it is everywhere but there is a difference between bias and propaganda, whose aim is predetermined.


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