Lawrence, KS - Events Local News Groups Contact
Know Your Propaganda Techniques
By Indy Media / filmsforaction.org

By Hunter Hogan. From HunterThinks.com:

It is not a secret that the US government uses aggressive propaganda techniques. Furthermore, even when the US government is not directly manipulating the major news organizations, the media tends to support the official position. If the news organizations and the government are sometimes misleading the public, what can we do?

The first step to fight the propaganda is to know when we are being mislead. A recent Washingtonpost.com article provides an excellent example of blatant propaganda: Post 9/11 dragnet turns up surprises - Washington Post- msnbc.com.

The article is about the US government's efforts to fingerprint thousands (millions?) of people outside the US even if they are not suspected of a crime. This article masterfully demonstrates a number of effective techniques. I recommend reading the article first, then coming back to this blog post to study the techniques.

Propaganda technique 1: use ingroup/outgroup bias

Ingroup/outgroup bias is the natural, psychological bias we all have that favors people we perceive as part of our group: the "ingroup." Similarly, we all disfavor people that we perceive as being in the "outgroup." The article sets the stage by invoking this strong bias: "[T]he U.S. government has been fingerprinting insurgents, detainees and ordinary people in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa . . ." The readers of the article are not from Afghanistan, Iraq, or Africa, so the people fingerprinted are part of the outgroup. Notice that the very first sentence admits that "ordinary people" are being fingerprinted, but by placing those "ordinary people" in the outgroup, the reader is less concerned by the obvious violation of their rights.


Propaganda technique 2: vilify

As readers, we are more likely to support fingerprinting bad guys than fingerprinting good guys or "ordinary people." To make it easier for us to accept violating the rights of others, the article builds on the outgroup bias and explicitly turns the outgroup into villains. Those that are fingerprinted are "insurgents" and "detainees" and "[t]hey have criminal arrest records in the United States." It is easy to support fingerprinting these terrible people. Notice that the government did not know that they were criminals until after they were fingerprinted. If the article described these people as "mothers, fathers, and workers", would you support the fingerprinting program as much?


Propaganda technique 3: use pejorative words, even if they are unnecessary or conclusory

All of the propaganda techniques are enhanced by the proper use of inflammatory words. Instead of saying that someone has an "arrest record", the article tells us it is a "criminal arrest record", as if they could have a "civil arrest record" or a "bake-sale arrest record." Adding the word "criminal" vilifies the outgroup more effectively.

Instead of proving something true, good propaganda will simply state the conclusion that it wants the reader to have. According to the article, the government fingerprinted a "suspected militant fleeing Somalia." He was "fleeing"? How do we know that? "And the man stopped at a checkpoint in Tikrit who claimed to be a dirt farmer but had 11 felony charges in the United States, including assault with a deadly weapon." (Emphasis added.) According to this sentence, if the US government charges you with a crime (but does not convict you), then you cannot possibly be a farmer. Notice how subtle it is to use conclusory words.


Propaganda technique 4: draw on highly emotional events

The point of propaganda is to influence what people think without using reasoning. It is obvious then to use highly emotional events to influence people. "The fingerprinting of detainees overseas began as ad-hoc FBI and U.S. military efforts shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." This directly connects the fingerprinting of the evil outgroup terrorists with the 9/11 attacks. The natural emotional response will be to support the fingerprinting because the evil terrorists caused the program to happen.


Propaganda technique 5: acknowledge counter-arguments but minimize them

If the propagandist ignores counter-arguments, then some readers will have lingering doubts. The best way to deal with this is to acknowledge the counter-argument, but to defeat it. The straw-man argument is very effective: state the counter-argument in a weekend form (a straw man) and then knock it down. In this article, "civil libertarians" (an outgroup) "raise concerns", but those concerns are vague. But do not worry about civil liberties, fingerprinting "is a boon for the government and the bane of privacy advocates." (Emphasis added.) Notice that fingerprinting is not the bane of "ordinary people" or law-abiding citizens or your family: it is the bane of the "privacy advocates" (an outgroup--are you a "privacy advocate"?). Therefore, any privacy problem here is minimal.


Propaganda technique 6: avoid providing evidence

Even if a claim can be substantiated with hard, easy to find data, avoid using it. A claim backed by data is a claim backed by reason. Propaganda is an appeal to emotion. Consider this amazing paragraph from the article:
"The bottom line is we're locking people up," said Thomas E. Bush III, FBI assistant director of the Criminal Justice Information Services division. "Stopping people coming into this country. Identifying IED-makers in a way never done before. That's the beauty of this whole data-sharing effort. We're pushing our borders back."

How many people were locked up? Where? By whom? What were they charged with? Were they convicted? How many people did we stop from entering the US? This is simple data to provide--if the program is actually working.


Propaganda technique 7: create improper connections between claims and evidence

If two ideas are close together in an article, then the readers will naturally connect the two ideas--even if the connection is nonexistent. The article has the following two paragraphs:
Already, fingerprints lifted off a bomb fragment have been linked to people trying to enter the United States, they said.

In a separate data-sharing program, 365 Iraqis who have applied to the Department of Homeland Security for refugee status have been denied because their fingerprints turned up in the Defense Department's database of known or suspected terrorists, Richardson said.

The first paragraph says that we rejected entry to bombers. The second paragraph implies that the total number of rejected bombers is 365. But that is not the truth. We have rejected a 365 applications from "known or suspected terrorists", and the article previously admitted that this list is not very accurate. These two paragraphs, however, convey to the reader that we rejected 365 applications based on irrefutable fingerprint evidence from bombs.

For each technique listed above, the article contains many more examples. As far as I can tell, every single sentence uses one or more of the techniques: it is a tour de force of propaganda.


Coda: this fingerprinting program is a disgrace

As described in the article, this fingerprinting program is a disgrace to the US. We are allegedly using war to spread freedom to the Middle East. Consider this passage from the article: "For example, a roadside bomb may explode and a patrol may fingerprint bystanders because insurgents have been known to remain at the scene to observe the results of their work." (Emphasis added.) Under this program, if you witness an attack on soldiers, then you can be fingerprinted. Said differently, if someone else with brown skin commits a crime, then you might be fingerprinted because you have brown skin and were in the area. Horrible.
0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
Dakota Access Pipeline Permit Denied
Nika Knight · 14,738 views today · 'For the first time in Native American history, they heard our voices.'
All the News Is Fake!
3 min · 9,838 views today · Jonathan Pie finds nothing new in the idea of fake news.
How Romanticism Ruined Love
5 min · 8,508 views today · The set of ideas we can call Romanticism is responsible for making our relationships extremely difficult. We shouldn’t give up on love; we should just recognize that it’s more...
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 5,835 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
After Historic Protests, Army Corps of Engineers Blocks Current Route of the Dakota Access Pipeline
3 min · 3,012 views today · The $4 billion dollar project could still be approved by President-elect Donald Trump who is heavily invested in the pipeline. Help support The Real News by making a donation...
The Numbers That Tell the Story of the Standing Rock Sioux's Victory
Tracy Loeffelholz Dunn · 2,529 views today · The Army Corps announced Sunday that the Dakota Access pipeline will be rerouted. Here are the numbers that show what lies ahead.
Post-Brexit Visions of The Possible: It's Time to Imagine a New European Community
Martin Winiecki · 2,339 views today · We live in the beginning phase of a global revolution which will turn societal conditions upside down. We cannot stop this transformation, but we can influence where it will...
Bikini Was Just the Beginning, Bombs Still Threaten the Islanders
John Pilger · 2,281 views today · I was recently in the Marshall Islands, which lie in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, north of Australia and south of Hawaii. Whenever I tell people where I have been, they...
93 Documentaries to Expand Your Consciousness
Films For Action · 2,193 views today · There are over 800 documentaries now cataloged in our library of social change films. That's probably way too many for any mortal to ever watch in a lifetime, let alone a few...
Lifting the Veil:  Obama and the Failure of Capitalist Democracy (2011)
114 min · 1,967 views today · This film explores the historical role of the Democratic Party as the "graveyard of social movements", the massive influence of corporate finance in elections, the absurd...
This is an Anthem for Our Times
6 min · 1,853 views today · I think the world deserves to see the truth about #NoDAPL I tried my best to portray what I felt at camp, I felt LOVE. Love for all people, all living things, Mother Earth...
United Natures: a United Nations of all Species (2013)
103 min · 1,824 views today · United Natures explores the Rights of Mother Earth, Environmental Philosophy, Wisdom, Spirituality and the potential for a Neo-indigenous future for humanity. Directed and...
10 Practical Tools for Building a Resilient Local Economy
Environmental Change Makers · 1,348 views today · The economy is changing. Dramatically. Coping with these changes means changing the way we do things. The path of the future involves root level, radical changes. Things we...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,341 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
The Venus Project by Jacque Fresco
4 min · 1,228 views today · For more information visit the official web site: thevenusproject.com Facebook: facebook.com/TheVenusProjectGlobal Music: Salomon Ligthelm - Close Horizonz Hanz Zimmer ...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 1,128 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 897 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Why Are Media Outlets Still Citing Discredited 'Fake News' Blacklist?
Adam Johnson · 804 views today · The Washington Post (11/24/16) last week published a front-page blockbuster that quickly went viral: Russia-promoted “fake news” had infiltrated the newsfeeds of 213 million...
Austrialian Government Promotes Crap with Adani Carmichael Coal Mine
2 min · 718 views today · The Australian Government just released this advert about the proposed Carmichael Coal Mine and it's surprisingly honest and informative. 6 WAYS YOU CAN HELP STOP CCRAP: 1...
The Fight for Clean Water (#NoDAPL)
2 min · 635 views today · Clean water or Corporate profits? What’s more important? #NoDAPL Energy Transfer Partners: (214) 981-0700 U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers: (202) 761-0010; (202)...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Know Your Propaganda Techniques