Propaganda Definitions

Section A

You Can Fool Yourself.

Techniques of Self-Deception

  1. PrejudiceYou prejudge before you really learn about a person or group. You often prejudge based on indoctrination, conditioning or some prior experience which could be pleasant or unpleasant. The person who is prejudiced has strong and deep emotional reasons why he or she prejudges.
  2. Academic DetachmentWhen a decision needs to be made, as in a voting situation for example, you give an argument for both sides of an issue but won’t commit one way or the other. You refuse to make a commitment or decision when action is demanded.
  3. Drawing the LineYou make a sharp distinction or division where it is inappropriate to draw sharp distinctions.You view things as either Black or White even though the issue isn’t that clear cut.
  4. Not Drawing the LineYou don’t stop at your preset limits; you are always just doing a little more.You ask what’s the big deal if I have one more.Your over indulgence is acceptable as long as it’s just a small over indulgence.
  5. Conservatism, Radicalism, ModeratismYou are Conservative if you ALWAYS prefer what is old and familiar, simply because it is old and familiar.You are Radical if you ALWAYS prefer the new and revolutionary, just because of its newness.You are Moderate if you ALWAYS choose the middle of the road or compromise ground; if you always avoid the two extremes.
  6. RationalizationAfter something happens, you try to think up a good reason why you did what you did.Most of the time, you know that your reasons are not very creditable or even believable.
  7. Wishful ThinkingYou want something (in the future) to be true or correct simply because you want it to be so.
  8. Tabloid ThinkingYou prefer quick summaries and like to put things in a nutshell. You stereotype people or issues with simple phrases. You have no deep-set emotions toward those people or issues; you just like to describe them with catchy phrases.
  9. Causal OversimplicationYou explain a complex event or issue by saying it has only one cause, when MANY causes are really responsible. You are simplifying the cause of an event, not the event itself.
  10. InconceivabilityYou believe a proposition or plan to be false simply because you can not conceive or consider that the proposition could actually ever happen.

Watch out for ‘0’ or No Technique. If the argument is logical or is identified as an opinion then 0 (No Technique) is the correct answer.

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Section B

Language will Lure You.

Techniques of Language

  1. Emotional TermsYou use words or phrases that arouse feelings for or against someone or some cause.
  2. Metaphor and SimileYou claim a likeness between two things that does not really exist. Or the likeness has nothing to do with the point you are making.
  3. EmphasisYou quote another person but stress one of their words or phrases. This changes the meaning of what was said.
  4. Quotation Out of ContextYou repeat just part of what someone said.
  5. Abstract TermsYou use an abstract term but cannot give concrete examples to explain what the term means.
  6. VaguenessYou are use a word or phrase means that has a range of meanings. However, you are not clear as to exactly what meaning you want.
  7. AmbiguityYou use a word or phrase that has two or more meanings. The listener is not sure which meaning you want.
  8. Shift of MeaningYou use a word or phrase to mean one thing. Then you use the same word or phrase again with a different meaning.

Watch out for ‘0’ or No Technique. If the argument is logical or is identified as an opinion then 0 (No Technique) is the correct answer.

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Section C

How Gullible are You?

Techniques of Irrelevance

  1. AppearanceThe way a person or thing looks becomes the basis of our acceptance or rejection.
  2. MannerThe way a person acts or behaves at a certain time becomes the basis of our acceptance or rejection of the person. Usually, the behavior has nothing to do with the issue at hand.
  3. Degrees and TitlesYou make a sharp distinction or division where it is inappropriate to draw sharp distinctions.We buy or believe out of respect for degrees or titles attached to the names of those who persuade us even though the degree or title is not relevant to the product or idea being presented.
  4. NumbersThe speaker wants us to buy or believe because of the large numbers associated with the product or proposition.
  5. StatusPersons or objects for which we have respect – or which possess some degree of fame or prestige – are used to convince us of something. It is the person’s fame and prestige that is used, not the person’s degree or title.
  6. RepetitionWe buy or believe because we have heard or seen the idea or product name so many times. The speaker or advertiser “pounds” the message into our heads.
  7. SlogansA slogan is a short, catchy phrase or sentence meant to promote action in favor of the slogan maker. However true the slogan may be, if your action is merely a favorable response to the slogan, and not based on an honest evaluation of the product, then the technique is successful.
  8. Technical Jargon”Jargon” refers to the terminology used in a specific field. In this technique, unfamiliar words whose meaning is too technical to be understood by the average reader or listener are used to impress us.
  9. Sophistical FormulaAn old or popular saying is used to close an argument so that the real issue is not settled.

Watch out for ‘0’ or No Technique. If the argument is logical or is identified as an opinion then 0 (No Technique) is the correct answer.

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Section D

What’s Your Weakness?

Techniques of Exploitation

  1. Appeal to PityThe speaker tries to gain your support by making you feel sorry for him or someone else.
  2. Appeal to FlatteryThe speaker tries to persuade us to buy or believe by flattering us on our personal appearance or our behavior or in some other way.
  3. Appeal to RidiculeThe speaker wants to get us to accept a certain proposition by poking fun at those who oppose the proposition. The speaker does not try to win an argument with logic but rather by “putting down” the opponent or the opposing idea.
  4. Appeal to PrestigeThe speaker asks you to buy or believe by suggesting that such an action will gain prestige for you. You will increase your social standing, culture, taste, and so on, if you do what the speaker wants.
  5. Appeal to PrejudiceThe speaker tries to get you to buy a product or agree with a proposal by appealing to one or your known prejudices for or against something. The Prejudice category in Section A refers to prejudice on the part of the speaker. Here in Section D, the speaker is not necessarily prejudiced, but is appealing to YOUR known prejudices to get you to buy or take action.
  6. Bargain AppealYou are asked to buy by appealing to your desire to save money.
  7. Folksy AppealThe speaker tries to convince you he is “one of the guys,” a real “member of the family.” The approach is informal, with a “personal touch.”
  8. Join the Bandwagon Appeal
    • This approach asks you to act a certain way because that is what is popular. “Everybody’s doing it!”
  9. Appeal to Practical ConsequencesYou should buy or believe for your own good; otherwise the results will be harmful. There is an implicit or explicit threat that bad consequences will follow from doing or not doing something. The consequence does not have to be for you; it could be something that affects a friend or relative, your city or school, etc.
  10. Passing from the Acceptable to the DubiousThe speaker makes one or more acceptable statements, then tries to draw a conclusion that is “dubious” (which means “doubtful” or “questionable”). The listener is “led down the path” and lulled by statements that he agrees with. Then the argument ends with a “zinger” that is not acceptable.

Watch out for ‘0’ or No Technique. If the argument is logical or is identified as an opinion then 0 (No Technique) is the correct answer.

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Section E

The Form will Fool You.

Techniques of Form

  1. TopConcurrencyBecause two things happen at the same time, it is wrongly assumed that one is the cause of the other.
  2. Post Hoc
    • “Post Hoc” is Latin for “after this.” One thing happens, then another. It is then claimed that the first event caused the second.
  3. Selected InstancesA person believes in a certain proposition. He then looks for examples that will support his belief. He selects only those examples or instances that back up his belief while ignoring examples that contradict his belief. He tries to persuade you by giving you only his selected examples.
  4. Hasty GeneralizationA person jumps to a conclusion based on only a few examples. Unlike Selected Instances, the person has no preconceived belief. Instead, after seeing only a few examples, he draws a conclusion.
  5. Faulty AnalogyThis false reasoning says that, because two or more things are alike in one way, they must be alike in some other way. The reasoning is valid if the way the things are alike has some bearing on the other aspect. If the similarity of the two persons or things really has no connection to the conclusion, the analogy is faulty.
  6. CompositionBecause each of the individual parts of a collective unit (a machine, group of people, etc.) has a certain good quality, then the entire unit is said to have that same quality. In other words, if the parts are good, the whole must be good (or bad).
  7. DivisionThis is the opposite of Composition. This technique says that, if the whole is good (or bad), each part must be good (or bad).
  8. Non Sequitur”Non sequitur” is Latin for “does not follow.” This means the conclusion is not justified by the given statements (premises). Therefore, this is a “catch-all” category. If an example does not fit into any other category, it is probably Non Sequitur.

Watch out for ‘0’ or No Technique. If the argument is logical or is identified as an opinion then 0 (No Technique) is the correct answer.

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Section F

Maneuvers will Mess with You.

Techniques of Maneuver

  1. DiversionYou get the other person off the subject.
  2. Disproving a Minor PointA speaker gives two or more reasons for what he thinks. You knock out one of them. Then you claim you have killed his entire argument.
  3. Ad HominemYou attack the other person as an individual rather than answering what he said.
  4. Appeal to IgnoranceWhat I say is true because you can’t prove it isn’t. Or what you say is false because you can’t prove it’s true.
  5. Leading QuestionYou ask a question which suggests its own answer. Or the question puts the other person on the spot. No matter what he answers, he is cooked.
  6. Complex QuestionYou ask a series of questions and then demand one “yes” or “no” blanket answer to all of them.
  7. Inconsequent ArgumentYou prove something but not what you think you proved.
  8. Attacking a Straw ManYou take what the other person says and twist it to make it stupid.
  9. Victory by DefinitionI rig what I say so that, no matter what anyone else says against me, I can say that’s not what I meant.
  10. Begging the QuestionYou argue in a circle. Statement A is true because of B. But B is true because of A.

Watch out for ‘0’ or No Technique. If the argument is logical or is identified as an opinion then 0 (No Technique) is the correct answer.

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