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Un-Spun: finding facts in a world of [disinformation] ---all information has been taken from this book by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson Illustrations.

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Presentation on theme: "Un-Spun: finding facts in a world of [disinformation] ---all information has been taken from this book by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson Illustrations."— Presentation transcript:

1 Un-Spun: finding facts in a world of [disinformation] ---all information has been taken from this book by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson Illustrations were retrieved from internet advertisements. All information is being used for educational purposes and is not to be attributed to the teacher using the information or sold to any other party. Many thanks to all the contributors for your permission to use the information for student education about disinformation as well as political cartoons.

2 From Snake Oil to Emu Oil Clark Stanley: Snake Oil Liniment Claimed it was good for man and beast and brought immediate relief from pain and lameness. Sold it for 50 cents a bottle Killed rattle snakes at Chicago Worlds Fair of 1893 Eventually declared a fraud. No snake oil in product

3 An undated poster, believed to be from around 1905. advertising Clark Stanleys Snake Oil Liniment, which consisted mainly of mineral oil and contained no snake oil at all. Could this happen today? 2006---Wrinkle Cream advertised to make wrinkles and unwanted lines disappear for good. Main ingredient was said to be pure Emu oil. Cost? $40 for ¾ oz. Said to be better than Botox!!! After some investigation, the product was found to have no Emu oil and no studies had been done comparing the product with Botox. DECEPTION TACTICS

4 What does this tell us about products that promise miraculous results? Spin=deception of some sort. When something seems to good to be true, is it? What kinds of questions should we ask about a product that makes promises? If cosmetic companies do this type of thing, who else does this? Before and after for a beauty product.

5 What are the effects of this type of spin? Trivial---Such as the beauty product Life and Death---Saying a drug will do something it cant. Other examples can be discussed. Financial---Many people are duped daily by promises from unscrupulous people out to make a buck. Ideological---If we have to make a decision and have been given false information, we may regret our decision later. Spin can be Political, Commercial, or Ideological

6 Prescription Strength Malarkey Bayer HealthCare once advertised Aleve pain medication as Prescription Strength Relief Without a Prescription. It wasnt. The maximum recommended dose of Aleve is less than half the usually prescribed dose of Anaprox, a prescription counterpart. Munchkin, Inc., said of one of its products: Baby bottles like Tri-Flow have been clinically shown to reduce colic. But look behind the clinically shown to reduce and you find the test was of a competitors similar bottle, not Munchkin. NetZero claimed its dial-up Internet service allows users to surf at broadband-like speeds. It doesnt. Cable modems are several times faster. Tropicana claimed in TV ads that drinking two to three glasses a day of its Healthy Heart orange juice could reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. The FTC said those claims werent supported by scientific evidence, and prohibited the company from repeating the claims in future ads.

7 Can you think of any other products that make claims about health or performance? Are they true?

8 Political Snake Oil Deceptive product promotion is minor compared to political spin. Claims made about crude oil---petroleum: 2004 Presidential Campaign Both candidates claimed they wanted to make America energy independent. Toward the end of the campaign, Professor Robert Mabro, director of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, told The New Yorker magazine, The two candidates, with all due respect, are lying to the people, or they dont know what they are talking about. An independent research study by Rocky Mountain Institute projected that the US could eliminate the need to import any oil from abroad by 2040, if we took excessive efforts. The cost $180 billion, at least $150 billion more than either Bush or Kerry had pledged.

9 Food for Thought/Discussion Before we continue with Unspun, I thought it would be fun to look at and interpret a few editorial cartoons. What is the purpose of these cartoons? How should we interpret them? After our discussion, everyone should be able to draw and illustrate his/her own political cartoon for the class.


11 Property of ddonar




15 Profits of Disinformation Supreme Greens---introduced by Dr. Alex Guerrero in Infomercials claimed that his natural herbal remedy could cure arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, heart disease, heartburn, fatigue, and the everyday ravages of aging, all while promoting weight loss of up to 4 lb a week and 80 lb in 8 months. Cost: $49.99 per month plus shipping and handling Even though the FTC hauled him to court and fined him $65,000 and suspended his ads, this case is small potatoes compared to the many other people making false claims about products. The FTC says that consumers are spending billions of dollars a year on unproven, fraudulently marketed, often useless health related products, devices, and treatments. Worthless weight loss products alone have grown so widely that in 2004 the FTC launched Operation Big Fat Lie to target them. As of 2007, $188 million dollars had been litigated on the part of consumers. This is thought to be a fraction of actual ill-gotten gains for weight-loss scams.


17 Deception can be bad for your health! In 1923 Listerine claimed that it could cure halitosis…a medical term made household by Listerine. Mouthwashes are generally cosmetic and do not have long lasting effects on bad breath. Had to change ads. In 1977 Listerine settled out of court, admitting that Listerine cannot prevent or cure cold sores. (after studies and litigation) In 2005 they were forced to take ads off television that claimed that using Listerine was as good as flossing. (after studies and litigation) In the meantime, some consumers believe what is advertised because they see it on TV or in a magazine. They mistakenly think that it is safe because it says it is.

18 Commercial Deception can cost lives. In May 2004 the FTC sued a Canadian outfit called Seville Marketing, Ltd., accusing it of deceptively advertising something called Discreet, supposedly a home test for HIV. Seville claimed its product was 99.4% accurate. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 59.3 of tested kits produced inaccurate results. These included both false HIV-positive and false HIV-negative results. (Flipping a coin would have been more accurate.)

19 Seville did not settle until a year later on May 18, 2005. They agreed to stop selling the kits or making deceptive claims. Seville also agreed to let the FTC tell customers that the product didnt work as advertised and that they should contact a health professional. The FTC offered no estimate of how many HIV-infected persons might have been lulled into a false sense of security by a false HIV negative reading. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that many people delayed treatment or unknowingly spread the virus to others because they were deceived by Sevilles advertising.

20 Prescription-Strength Political Bunk Politicians deliberately fill voters heads with disinformation about their opponents and their own policies. Example I: RNC chairman, Ed Gillespie, claimed in a speech on 12/3/03 that under Bushs tax-cut bills 80% of the tax relief for upper income filers goes to small businesses. It turned out that Gillespies definition of small business actually included all partnerships, a category that includes the nations biggest accounting firms,

21 Law firms, and real-estate partnerships, and businesses that are really only sidelines, such as occasional rental income from a corporate chiefs ski condo. Gillespie was trying to support the argument that cutting federal income taxes for high-income individuals translates at least in part to a tax cut for small businesses, stimulating hiring and thus helping some lower-income workers, too. But Gillespie was counting every rich person who go even a dollar in income from a small business as a small business owner--- and counting every dolloar of tax benefit they received as releif for small business. Under that preposterous definition President Bush and

22 Vice President Cheney both qualified assmall businesses, by virtue of $84 bush received from an oil drilling partnership, and the consulting income of Cheneys wife, Lynne. Neither was a notable job producer. Example 2: The Bush campaign would use their tax reasoning in a TV ad against John Kerry, claiming that Kerrys proposal to scale back Bushs tax cuts for those making $200,000 a year or more would mean 900,000 small business owners would pay higher tax rates than most

23 multinational corporations. In fact, according to analysis by the Tax Policy Center (a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution) the maximum number of small-business owners who could be affected---even by one dollar---was barely more than half the number the Bush ad claimed. (900,000 divided by two) Meanwhile, Kerry said that the jobs Bush had created paid much less than jobs lost.

24 Voters Deceived Dubious Campaign Claims Most Americans Believed Kerry Claim: The new jobs created since George W. Bush became president pay, on average, $9,000 a year or less than the jobs they replaced. 66%---Those finding statement very truthful or somewhat truthful. Bush Claim: John Kerrys tax plan would increase taxes on 900,000 small-business owners. 62% Those finding statement very truthful or somewhat truthful Source: National Annenberg Election Survey, 2004.

25 Falsehoods are sometimes implied rather than explicitly stated. One example was a Bush commercial showing a pack of wolves, symbolizing terrorists about to attack. The announcer said Kerry had voted to cut intelligence spending even after the 1 st terrorist attack on America. Truth: Kerry was supporting regular increases in intelligence spending for several years prior to 9/11/01. The polls showed that after the election, 55% of people still believed that Kerry voted for intelligence cuts after 9/11…a false picture that probably cost him votes.

26 The hard reality is that the public is exposed to enormous amounts of deception that go unchallenged by government regulators, the courts, or the news media. We voter and consumers must pretty much fend for ourselves if we know whats good for us. In the coming days, we will learn how to turn on our Bull---- Meters! Unprotected Public

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