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Misinformation and More

Learn about misinformation, disinformation, malinformation, fake news, propaganda, and more.

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Propaganda...How to Recognize It

There are common propaganda tactics used to influence people.  Familiarize yourself with this list and learn to recognize them when you are evaluating an information source.


Word Games

  • Name Calling - A device to make us form a judgment without examining the evidence in which it should be based.  Here the propagandist appeals to our hate and fear.  He does this by giving “bad names” to those individuals, groups, nations, races, policies, practices, beliefs, an ideals which he would have us condemn and reject.
  • Glittering Generalities – This device allows the propagandist to identify his program with virtue by use of “virtue word.”  Here he appeals to our emotions of love, generosity and brotherhood. He uses words like truth, freedom, honor, liberty, social justice, public service, loyalty, progress, democracy, the American way, examples of words that suggest shining ideals.
  • Euphemisms – Name Calling and Glittering Generalities are devices that use vivid, emotionally suggestive words to arouse the crowd to the propagandist way of thinking. In other situations 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.

False Connections

  • Transfer – A devise by which the propagandist carries over the authority, Sanction and prestige of something we respect and revere to something he would have us accept. Symbols such as the cross and the Christian Church, the Flag, Uncle Sam are used to transfer the authority, sanction and prestige to something which otherwise we would reject.
  • Testimonial – This devise relies on the use of an expert, celebrity, or perceived expert to offer reasons why something should be believed.  The credibility of the personality is transferred to the item or campaign.  This also works in reverse based on the same premise that you will relate to the testimonial because of your belief in the person making the testimonial.

Special Appeals

  • Plain Folks – Used by politicians, labor leaders, business men, and even by ministers and educators to win our confidence by appearing to be people just like the common person. This device is used to show how normal they or their products is by comparing it to everyday events and places.
  • Bandwagon – This device makes us want to follow the crowd to just accept the propagandist’s program on mass. He directs his appeal to groups held together by common ties of nationality, religion, race, environment, sex and vocation to harnessing the fears and prejudices and biases and ideals common to the group to get everyone in the group to join his cause.
  • Card Stacking or Fear – A device where all of the arts of deception are used to win our support. He stacks the cards against the truth or for his cause by using half-truths and featuring only the good elements. For a successful fear campaign to work you must have a threat, a recommendation to fix the problem, people to see that the fix will work, and people to believe they can be the fix.

Sources:

Delwiche, A. "Propaganda critic: index of site dedicated to propaganda analysis." Propaganda critic: index of site dedicated to propaganda analysis. N.p., 28 Feb. 2011. Web. 27 Jan. 2017. <http://www.propagandacritic.com/articles/index.html>.

“How to Detect Propaganda.” Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors (1915-1955), vol. 24, no. 1, 1938, pp. 49–55. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40219502.