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11 Techniques of Propaganda 11 Techniques of Propaganda PowerPoint, © September 2010 by Prestwick House, Inc. All rights reserved. ISBN 978-1-935466-35-2.

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Presentation on theme: "11 Techniques of Propaganda 11 Techniques of Propaganda PowerPoint, © September 2010 by Prestwick House, Inc. All rights reserved. ISBN 978-1-935466-35-2."— Presentation transcript:

1 11 Techniques of Propaganda 11 Techniques of Propaganda PowerPoint, © September 2010 by Prestwick House, Inc. All rights reserved. ISBN Item #: PowerPoint ® for the Classroom

2 Table of Contents

3 What is Propaganda? Back to Contents

4 What is Propaganda? Have you ever had a dramatic change of heart or a strong emotional response after looking at something as simple as a billboard or a commercial? If so, you may have been looking at propaganda. Back to Contents

5 What is Propaganda? Back to Contents Propaganda is a kind of persuasive and widespread message designed to represent the interests of a particular group. It attempts to bypass logic through faulty reasoning and emotional appeals. It can be found anywhere from the newspaper to the Internet to your favorite TV sitcom.

6 What is Propaganda? Back to Contents Propaganda is intended to give someone else control over your thoughts and actions. That’s why it is crucial to be able to identify propaganda when you see it.

7 What is Propaganda? Propaganda comes in many forms, but it always has the following characteristics: Back to Contents persuasive functionsizeable target audiencerepresentation of a specific group’s agendause of faulty reasoning and/or emotional appeals

8 What is Propaganda? This poster appeals to feelings of pity and guilt. Back to Contents Propaganda often provokes instinctive emotional responses that lead people to draw hasty conclusions.

9 What is Propaganda? Rather than suggesting a specific course of action, the poster simply describes a frightening scenario. Back to Contents Similarly, this poster appeals not to logic, but to fear and anger.

10 What is Propaganda? The previous examples of propaganda were created during World War II. However, propaganda can still be found today, all over the world. The same approach that convinces us to buy a certain brand of toothpaste one day may be used the next day to incite nuclear war. That is why it is important to know how to recognize and analyze propaganda. Back to Contents

11 What is Propaganda? In the slides that follow, we’ll look at eleven of the most basic categories of propaganda: Back to Contents AssertionBandwagonCard StackingGlittering GeneralitiesFalse DilemmaThe Lesser of Two EvilsName-CallingPinpointing the Enemy Plain Folk TransferTestimonials

12 What is Propaganda? By the end of this presentation, you should be equipped to detect and analyze most of the propaganda you encounter in the real world. Back to Contents

13 Discussion Topics 1. What are some potential sources of propaganda in the modern world? Sources include commercials, billboards, print ads (catalogues, magazines, direct mail, etc.), and political campaigns, among many others. Back to Contents

14 Discussion Topics 2. In order to qualify as propaganda, a message must meet the following criteria: Back to Contents persuasive functionsizeable target audiencerepresentation of a specific group’s agendause of faulty reasoning and/or emotional appeals Describe an example of a message that would meet all but one of the above criteria. Explain your answer.

15 Discussion Topics Back to Contents Describe an example of a message that would meet all but one of the above criteria. Explain your answer. (Discussion Topic #2 continued) Example: A high school assembly called to discuss the dangers of drunk driving may meet the following criteria: 1) persuasive function (persuading students not to drive drunk), 2) sizeable target audience (the entire high school), 3) representation of a specific group’s agenda (the school board’s desire to protect the school’s image). Nevertheless, the argument against drunk driving may be based on sound reasoning and facts, rather than emotional appeals and logical fallacies.

16 Discussion Topics 3. Identify an example of propaganda you have recently been exposed to, and explain to the class why this message constitutes propaganda. Answer will vary. Back to Contents

17 Techniques Back to Contents

18 Part 1: Assertion Back to Contents

19 Part 1: Assertion Assertion is the simplest form of propaganda. It consists of simply stating a debatable idea as a fact, with no explanation or justification. Back to Contents The Middle East will never be at peace.A record number of hurricanes have been caused by global warming this year.

20 Part 1: Assertion Assertion relies on the premise that people are essentially gullible and like to believe what they are told. Back to Contents Women are bad drivers.Men never stop to ask for directions.

21 Part 1: Assertion Assertion is sometimes used in political or military propaganda, as in this illustration from World War I. Back to Contents

22 Part 1: Assertion Unfounded assertions are also common in commercial advertising. Back to Contents Fulmer’s Glue: making life better since 1926Dogs that eat Nutri-Chow have more energy.

23 Part 1: Assertion Think about how many advertisements include phrases like the following, without any justification: Back to Contents the best product availablethe most popular brandwith a taste that will never let you down

24 Part 1: Assertion This German World War II poster makes the assertion that “Europe’s victory is your prosperity” without explaining this claim. Back to Contents Assertion is a quick and easy way to gain a foothold in people’s minds in political matters as well.

25 Part 1: Assertion George Orwell’s fictional study of propaganda and mind control, 1984, contains an example of the assertion technique. In the novel, the following three slogans of “the Party” are emblazoned on the walls of the Ministry of Truth building: Back to Contents WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

26 Part 1: Assertion Propaganda that uses assertions often suggests a course of action. This poster encourages readers to “sacrifice for freedom” based on the assertion that “This world cannot exist half slave and half free.” Back to Contents

27 Part 1: Assertion Often, an assertion will be supported by “facts” that are not necessarily true. Back to Contents This level of assertion is sometimes used to mislead people in a way that is potentially harmful. The scientific evidence, taken as a whole, is insufficient to establish that other people’s tobacco smoke is a cause of any disease. — Imperial Tobacco Group

28 Part 1: Assertion As you assess any given assertion, keep in mind the four qualifying characteristics of propaganda: Back to Contents persuasive functionsizeable target audiencerepresentation of a specific group’s agendause of faulty reasoning and/or emotional appeals

29 Discussion Topics 1. What makes a statement an example of “assertion” propaganda? In addition to meeting all the criteria of propaganda, a statement must present a debatable idea as a fact without explaining or justifying the claim in order to constitute assertion propaganda. Back to Contents Discussion Topics

30 2. Describe an example of an assertion you have seen in politics or advertising. Do you think that this claim has affected your point of view? Explain your reaction. Answer will vary. Back to Contents

31 Discussion Topics 3. Identify which of the following assertions qualify as propaganda, and explain your answer. Modify those that are not propaganda to make them fit the four criteria. Back to Contents A. Parent to child: “If you eat your vegetables, you’ll grow up to be big and strong.” Must be modified to target a larger audience.

32 Discussion Topics Back to Contents (Discussion Topic #3 continued) B. Billboard: “Mario’s Pizza, Next Exit.” This is merely a statement of fact. Must be modified to make an unjustified claim about the restaurant (e.g., “Mario’s Pizza: The Best Pizza in the World”). C. Magazine ad for “age-defying” makeup: “True Beauty is Ageless.” Propaganda. This is an unjustified assertion, made to a large audience, that appeals to the viewers’ feelings in order to advance the advertiser’s agenda.

33 Discussion Topics Back to Contents (Discussion Topic #3 continued) D. Commercial: “According to a study by the National Heart Association, eating this cereal, as part of a balanced breakfast, may reduce the risk of heart disease.” This is merely a statement of facts, and must be modified to make an unjustified claim about the cereal (e.g., “eating this cereal will reduce your risk of heart disease”). E. Political commentator: “Richard Williams obviously doesn’t have the experience it takes to be President of the United States.” Propaganda—assuming this statement is not explained with a logical argument.

34 Discussion Topics 4. Identify the audience and purpose for this poster, and discuss whether this is an example of assertion propaganda. Back to Contents

35 Discussion Topics 4. Identify the audience and purpose for this poster, and discuss whether this is an example of assertion propaganda. Back to Contents Aimed at an American audience (during World War II), this poster was intended to dissuade citizens from discussing military affairs. This slogan can be considered an example of assertion propaganda; however, the qualifier “might” opens this question to debate. If students emphasize the use of “might” in the poster, they can argue that this is a reasonable claim. (Discussion Topic #4 continued)

36 Part 2: Bandwagon Back to Contents

37 Part 2: Bandwagon People generally like to feel that they belong to a group, especially one that appears to be successful and popular. The bandwagon technique manipulates people by appealing to this desire. Back to Contents The term “bandwagon” has its origins in the 1800s, when politicians used wagons with music and entertainment to attract audiences. Once a sizeable crowd had gathered to listen to the band, a politician would speak. Other politicians would often try to get a seat on a popular bandwagon, hoping to take advantage of its success.

38 Part 2: Bandwagon In modern usage, the term “bandwagon effect” refers to any situation in which people attempt to be part of a successful or popular endeavor merely for the sake of its popularity. Back to Contents The phrase “jumping on the bandwagon” was used to describe this phenomenon, and eventually the term was used outside the political realm. Five million members and growing!Thousands of satisfied customers can’t be wrong.

39 Part 2: Bandwagon You may have experienced this persuasive approach in the form of peer pressure. Back to Contents “Everybody’s doing it!” Propaganda often uses the same illogical appeal.

40 Part 2: Bandwagon This German poster reads, “All the people say yes on April 10th!” The suggestion is that, since everyone else is supposedly voting “yes,” you should, too. Back to Contents

41 Part 2: Bandwagon The bandwagon technique can be seen in a number of different scenarios. It may be used casually, on a topic that’s not particularly controversial. Back to Contents Everyone knows that the Grand Canyon is the most beautiful place in North America.

42 Part 2: Bandwagon It can be used to validate a moral claim: Back to Contents More and more couples are living together without being married, so it must be all right. Similarly, the bandwagon technique can be used to promote a candidate or a product: The Jackson campaign has the popularity it takes to win the election. Choose the top-selling truck in its class.

43 Part 2: Bandwagon The bandwagon technique is especially visible in product marketing. Advertisers will try to convince you that by failing to do what “everyone else” is doing or use the product “everyone else” is using, you are missing out. Back to Contents Join the digital revolution.

44 Part 2: Bandwagon This World War I poster depicts sailors from Japan, France, the United States, Britain, Russia, and Italy as a happy band of brothers. It seems to suggest that everyone is enlisting in the navy, and those who don’t should feel left out. Back to Contents

45 Part 2: Bandwagon In the sciences, the bandwagon technique is often used as a way to gain mainstream acceptance of a given theory, since the general public may struggle to understand the science behind complex issues. Back to Contents Most scientists believe global warming is a result of human activity. Experts agree that obesity contributes to the development of cancer.

46 Part 2: Bandwagon Sometimes it does make sense to consider the majority opinion, but only if you have reason to believe that it is founded on solid logical evidence. Back to Contents Even the most reasonable opinions can be wrong, however, and even “scientific” bandwagon appeals should always be subjected to scrutiny. Scientists agree that the sun revolves around the earth. More and more doctors are recommending that their patients smoke cigarettes.

47 Part 2: Bandwagon The bandwagon technique is sometimes used in defense of claims that are true. However, regardless of the truth of the claims, any argument that relies on the bandwagon effect is based on flawed logic. Truth should be conveyed using logical arguments, not merely by appeals to an idea’s popularity. Back to Contents For example, take the following statement: Most people believe that gravity exists; therefore, gravity exists.

48 Part 2: Bandwagon Remember to look at the underlying logic of any argument, and judge that logic on its own merits, rather than depending on the opinions of the masses. If one individual can be wrong, a group of individuals can also be wrong—no matter what advertisers may tell you. Back to Contents The conclusion that gravity exists is true. Nevertheless, the logic that led to this conclusion was flawed. The law of gravity is not subject to popular approval; it exists independent of human beliefs.

49 Discussion Topics 1. What makes the bandwagon technique appealing to most people? Answers will vary. Back to Contents Discussion Topics

50 2. Identify a decision you have made based primarily on popular opinion. Describe the situation, and explain whether following the majority made sense in that context. Answers will vary. Back to Contents

51 Discussion Topics 3. Does the fact that numerous experts agree about a theory constitute logical grounds for accepting it? Why, or why not? Answers will vary. Back to Contents

52 Discussion Topics 4. Identify the audience and purpose for this poster, and discuss whether this is an example of bandwagon propaganda. Back to Contents

53 Discussion Topics 4. Identify the audience and purpose for this poster, and discuss whether this is an example of bandwagon propaganda. Back to Contents Aimed at the British public (during World War I), this poster was meant to encourage citizens to enlist in the armed services. The phrase “all answer the call” qualifies the poster as an example of bandwagon propaganda. (Discussion Topic #4 continued)

54 Part 3: Card Stacking Back to Contents

55 Part 3: Card Stacking Card stacking is a technique in which the propagandist gives an unfair advantage to one point of view, while presenting the counterpoint in its weakest form, if at all. While arguments that use the card stacking technique are usually honest in terms of the information shared, they may be misleading because they present information out of context or obscure important facts. Back to Contents

56 Part 3: Card Stacking This poster illustrates the card-stacking technique. It emphasizes the travel and adventure involved in serving in the Marine Corps, while de-emphasizing the considerable sacrifice required. Back to Contents

57 Part 3: Card Stacking Arguments that use card stacking can be convincing because they often rely on sound reasoning and facts. The problem is that in this technique, the opposing perspectives are unfairly downplayed; that is why card stacking is sometimes referred to as a “sin of omission.” Back to Contents Example: A pharmaceutical company wants to test a new drug and advertises its need for volunteers to participate in the study. The advertisements emphasize the benefits of participating in the study. The drug’s possible side effects are mentioned in passing in a speedy voiceover at the end of the commercial.

58 Part 3: Card Stacking Often, a propagandist will acknowledge alternative views, but in an oversimplified, dismissive way. Example: A group invites two experts on different sides of an issue to speak. The expert invited to support one side is a well-known, eloquent speaker, with extensive scientific credentials. The expert invited to represent the other side is a fringe scientist, known for a number of unconventional theories and for his loud, blustering demeanor. Back to Contents

59 Part 3: Card Stacking There is an underlying bias in this kind of debate. The person who represents one side of the argument was chosen for his strengths, while his opponent was chosen for his unappealing demeanor, his unfavorable reputation, and his unconventional views, all of which are likely to alienate some listeners. Back to Contents

60 Part 3: Card Stacking Back to Contents When signing contracts, people are often warned to read “the fine print.” That’s because often, the least attractive terms of a contract will appear in small, barely legible type. In written or visual propaganda, information that is not favorable to the propagandist’s case may be printed in a smaller typeface or in some way visually obscured.

61 Part 3: Card Stacking Back to Contents Card stacking is frequently used in “before and after” pictures that appear in advertisements for weight-loss programs. In many cases, advertisers “stack the deck” by manipulating factors in the “before and after” image that are not related to the individual’s weight loss.

62 Part 3: Card Stacking In this example, in addition to revealing the woman’s weight loss, the “after” photograph also reveals card-stacking efforts. In the second photo, the subject’s hair is styled differently, and she is wearing makeup and jewelry. Back to Contents

63 Part 3: Card Stacking When faced with possible instances of card stacking, ask yourself the following questions: If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” card stacking is probably taking place. Back to Contents Are opposing viewpoints misrepresented?Does one side seem to be presented more thoroughly than the other? Does it seem that important factors are being ignored?

64 Discussion Topics 1. Why is it often difficult to distinguish card-stacking propaganda from legitimate arguments? Card stacking is not always easy to recognize as propaganda because it often relies on facts and logic and makes mention of opposing viewpoints. Back to Contents Discussion Topics

65 2. What clues can help you make the distinction between card- stacking propaganda and legitimate arguments? If opposing viewpoints are either omitted altogether or unfairly represented, you are probably looking at an example of card stacking. Back to Contents

66 Discussion Topics 3. Describe the different forms card stacking takes in print advertisements and television commercials. What kinds of products are often advertised with card-stacking propaganda? In print advertisements, details are often obscured in small print or in inconspicuous colors or fonts. In audiovisual media such as television commercials, these visual techniques of obscuring information are often present, sometimes accompanied by speedy voiceovers detailing drawbacks or disclaimers. Card stacking is often used in advertisements for vehicles, cigarettes, medications, and many other products. Back to Contents

67 Discussion Topics 4. Identify the audience and purpose for this advertisement, and discuss whether this is an example of card-stacking propaganda. Back to Contents

68 Discussion Topics 4. Identify the audience and purpose for this advertisement, and discuss whether this is an example of card-stacking propaganda. Back to Contents Aimed at the readers of a magazine or comic book, this advertisement is intended to promote a book and a portraiture course. This is not an example of card-stacking propaganda because the words in fine print are not meant to be obscured—they simply describe the less vital information. (Discussion Topic #4 continued)

69 Part 4: Glittering Generalities Back to Contents

70 Part 4: Glittering Generalities Glittering generalities is a colorful term for the appealing but vague words that often appear in propaganda. Back to Contents This World War I poster requests billions of dollars in the name of “Liberty.” Here, “liberty” is a glittering generality—a pleasant term that is used in an overly vague manner.

71 Part 4: Glittering Generalities Glittering generalities are frequently used in advertising. They’re also a prominent part of political discourse. In the modern age of ten-second sound bites, glittering generalities can make or break a product’s reputation or a candidate’s campaign. Example: I stand for freedom—for a strong nation, unrivaled in the world. My opponent believes we must compromise on these ideals, but I believe they are our birthright. Back to Contents

72 Part 4: Glittering Generalities The propagandist will intentionally use words that carry strong positive connotations and offer no real explanation. This 1943 Nazi poster makes the vague, unexplained claim that “Adolf Hitler is victory!” Back to Contents

73 Part 4: Glittering Generalities Popular glittering generalities include: Back to Contents freedom/libertystrengthsecurityprosperitychoiceequalitychange

74 Part 4: Glittering Generalities This poster asserts that “Americans will always fight for liberty,” without explaining what this pleasant-sounding phrase means. Back to Contents

75 Part 4: Glittering Generalities Most advertising slogans use glittering generalities. Since slogans must be short and to the point, advertisers frequently use vague, positive words. Spotting glittering generalities is simply a matter of looking for vague, positive words that are not explained. A reasonable argument, by contrast, will justify the words being used, explaining exactly what they mean in context and how they will be achieved. Back to Contents Orange Cola: made from the best ingredients on earth

76 Discussion Topics 1. Glittering generalities are a common part of political campaigns. Compose a list of glittering generalities you have heard in campaign slogans, in debates, or in the news media. Answers will vary. Back to Contents Discussion Topics

77 2. Like politicians and journalists, advertisers often use glittering generalities to promote their products. Create a list of glittering generalities that are commonly used in advertising. Answers will vary. Back to Contents

78 Discussion Topics 3. Under what conditions are words like “freedom” and “choice” not glittering generalities? Use each word in a sentence that does not qualify as a glittering generality. Words like “freedom” and “choice” often qualify as glittering generalities when they are left to stand alone, with no explanation. However, they are not glittering generalities when they are assigned specific meanings. For example, “freedom” is not a glittering generality when used to describe emancipation from slavery (e.g., “The former slave had earned his freedom through years of hard labor”) Likewise, “choice” is not a glittering generality when it is used to refer to a specific kind of choice (e.g., “She was given the choice to rewrite the paper, but she chose, instead, to accept a failing grade”). Back to Contents

79 Discussion Topics 4. Identify the audience and purpose for this poster, and discuss whether, in the context of this poster, Lincoln’s words are being used as glittering generalities. If so, which words stand out as glittering generalities? If not, why not? Back to Contents

80 Discussion Topics 4. Identify the audience and purpose for this poster, and discuss whether, in the context of this poster, Lincoln’s words are being used as glittering generalities. If so, which words stand out as glittering generalities? If not, why not? Back to Contents Aimed at the American public (during World War I), this poster was meant to inspire its audience to save food. Lincoln’s words are used as glittering generalities in the context of this poster. Words like “charity,” “just,” and “peace” may sound admirable, but they are given no specific definition within this passage. (Discussion Topic #4 continued)

81 Part 5: False Dilemma Back to Contents

82 Part 5: False Dilemma The false dilemma is a popular technique used in propaganda. This fallacy is known by many names, including “black-and-white thinking,” “false dichotomy,” and “false choice.” Most commonly, it consists of reducing a complex argument to a small number of alternatives and concluding that only one option is appropriate. Back to Contents

83 Part 5: False Dilemma In this kind of propaganda: Back to Contents One product always works, and the other never works.One group intends to save the country, and the other is trying to ruin it.

84 Part 5: False Dilemma The view or product that the propagandist is promoting is depicted positively, and all competition or opposing views are depicted in a negative light. In reality, however, there are usually many possibilities that go unmentioned. Back to Contents

85 Part 5: False Dilemma The false-dilemma technique is used most often in political and ethical discourse. One option is described as being good, and the other is made to seem bad, or even evil. The propagandist oversimplifies the situation and denies the existence of any neutral ground. Back to Contents You are either an ally or an enemy.

86 Part 5: False Dilemma The message of this poster from World War II is that if you don’t join a car- sharing club, you are directly supporting Hitler. Back to Contents

87 Part 5: False Dilemma Advertising often makes use of the false-dilemma technique as well. Back to Contents If you aren’t using White Bright Detergent, your clothes are not clean. You can subscribe to Propaganda Weekly, or you can stay uninformed.

88 Part 5: False Dilemma The false dilemma reduces all choices to a simple matter of “either/or.” Back to Contents Either you conserve gasoline, or you’re helping Hitler. Either you agree with us, or you are a fool. Either you purchase a security system, or you do not love your family. Either you use a specific brand of detergent, or you wear filthy clothes.

89 Part 5: False Dilemma In the real world, of course, most issues are not so simple. There is a spectrum of gray between black and white, and life often requires us to make difficult decisions in a world of infinite possibilities. Back to Contents

90 Discussion Topics 1. List some examples of false-dilemma arguments you have heard in real life. Answers will vary. Back to Contents Discussion Topics

91 2. What are some of the clues that can help you distinguish a false dilemma from a legitimate presentation of facts? In a false-dilemma argument, a limited number of possibilities are presented, one of which is depicted in a far more favorable light than the others. In a legitimate presentation of facts, by contrast, a wider variety of options will be introduced, and each will be evaluated in an unbiased manner. Back to Contents

92 Discussion Topics 3. Following the examples provided in this section, create a false- dilemma argument to fit each of the following scenarios. (Hint: False dilemmas often take the form of “either/or” assertions.) encourage recycling endorse a political candidate support a tax increase Answers will vary. Back to Contents

93 Discussion Topics 4. Identify the audience and purpose for this poster, and discuss whether this is an example of false-dilemma propaganda. Back to Contents

94 Discussion Topics 4. Identify the audience and purpose for this poster, and discuss whether this is an example of false-dilemma propaganda. Back to Contents Aimed at the American public (during World War I), this poster was meant to encourage people to buy Liberty Bonds. This is an example of a false dilemma because it suggests that if people fail to buy bonds, there will be no liberty left on earth. (Discussion Topic #4 continued)

95 Part 6: The Lesser of Two Evils Back to Contents

96 Part 6: The Lesser of Two Evils This technique is often used when the propagandist is trying to convince people to adopt a perspective they will be hesitant to accept. While most false dilemmas offer a “good” and a “bad” alternative, the lesser of two evils technique is a specific type of false dilemma that offers two “bad” alternatives. Back to Contents

97 Part 6: The Lesser of Two Evils In order to make the choice more appealing, an even worse alternative is presented as the only other option. It is argued that an imperfect option is, at any rate, better than the horrendous alternative. Back to Contents You don’t want to drive a fuel-efficient automobile? Try living under a terrorist regime!

98 Part 6: The Lesser of Two Evils In nations like the United States, which has a de facto two-party political system, the lesser-of-two-evils argument is often used as a selling point for politicians. A candidate who is unpopular within his or her party may suddenly appear more attractive when pitted against a member of the opposing party. Back to Contents Senator Williams may have lied under oath, but at least he never embezzled money from his campaign, as his opponent did.

99 Part 6: The Lesser of Two Evils In presidential elections, this tactic is frequently used to lure people away from third-party candidates; Democrats and Republicans point out that voting for the lesser of two evils is better than simply “wasting” a vote on someone who will never win. Back to Contents The message was that a vote for the Green Party (Nader) would be the equivalent of a vote for the Republican (Bush)—whom, it was presumed, Green Party voters would not wish to support at all. In the 2000 United States presidential election, for example, the Democratic Party tried to use this technique with their “Nader = Bush” bumper sticker.

100 Part 6: The Lesser of Two Evils The lesser of two evils technique is most effective when one of the possible choices is truly awful, as in this poster, which pits frugality against fascism. Back to Contents

101 Part 6: The Lesser of Two Evils Often, adopting a lesser-of-two-evils stance discourages innovative thinking by needlessly reducing the possible options. While there are many flaws in the lesser-of-two-evils approach, the main problem is that, like the false dilemma, it usually ignores many alternative possibilities. Back to Contents

102 Part 6: The Lesser of Two Evils When you’re faced with such a choice, consider each option on its own merits, and keep in mind that there are probably other, undisclosed alternatives. It is always best to be suspicious of any message that purports to show you the only two options available. Back to Contents

103 Discussion Topics 1. How is the lesser-of-two-evils technique similar to the false- dilemma approach? What sets these techniques apart from one another? Like the lesser-of-two-evils approach, the false dilemma reduces a complex situation to a limited number of possibilities. Unlike the former technique, however, propaganda that uses the lesser-of-two- evils tactic offers two unpleasant alternatives. Back to Contents Discussion Topics

104 2. What are the keys to identifying the lesser-of-two-evils fallacy? In the lesser-of-two-evils fallacy, a limited number of possibilities are presented (usually two). This propaganda technique also encourages you to make a decision based on the fear of one outcome, rather than the merits of the other. Back to Contents

105 Discussion Topics 3. The lesser-of-two-evils fallacy is often used to defend the status quo, as exemplified in the familiar idiom, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.” Generate a list of real-life scenarios in which this technique of propaganda is used to preserve the status quo. Answers will vary. Back to Contents

106 Discussion Topics 4. Create a caption to go with this image that would make the poster an example of lesser-of-two-evils propaganda. Back to Contents

107 Discussion Topics 4. Create a caption to go with this image that would make the poster an example of lesser-of-two-evils propaganda. Back to Contents Examples: 1) You may not want to spend your summer building a fallout shelter, but it’s better than dying of radiation poisoning. 2) Maybe you won’t be able to afford a vacation this year, but that’s a small price to pay for protecting your family against nuclear attacks. 3) It may not be pretty, but it’s better than living in a nuclear wasteland. (Discussion Topic #4 continued)


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