Is It Truth, or Propaganda? Part 2
For Part 1 of this three part series, click here.
Sometimes information does fall under the heading of propaganda. The definition of propaganda is a communication whose purpose is to influence the attitudes of a community or a group of people for a cause, position, or simply for the benefit of one’s self or one’s group. Usually, propaganda is based on biased information and distorted information. How do you tell if you are being targeted?
- Apply the criteria in Part I to what you are reading or watching. If it meets any of those criteria, be suspicious.
- Are you being subtly enticed to be part of a crowd of like-minded individuals? Are you being asked to jump on the bandwagon of people who are allegedly similar to you? Humans are social animals. “Everybody’s doing it” has a powerful appeal to our human nature. So do appeals by celebrities and those we would like to emulate or be accepted by. Identifying as “just plain folk” is another appealing tactic. Joining groups of “people like me” is another aspect of our desire to belong. If this position appeals to instincts to be part of a “tribe,” beware. Is this really what YOU believe? And is this position supported by facts?
- Are people who are different being called names? Are they being depicted as threatening? Are they stereotyped? The purpose of name-calling is often to arouse fear or anger. It’s suspicious, and a tried-and-true technique of propaganda to focus the group they are trying to influence on a common enemy, which in turn opens the recipient to manipulation by fear.
- Are things depicted as totally black and white? Is it us versus them? They are awful and we are needed to save the world? We are under attack? These appeals are highly effective. But is what you are being told true? I once received a letter from a party I oppose, (they must have thought I was a supporter), announcing that I and the group to which I belong “hated” the writer and his group. Well, I don’t hate anybody, and neither do the members of my group. It was inflammatory and untrue.
When applying the litmus test to new information, look to see if it seeks to identify and unite against a common enemy, to victimize you and your group, to vilify other groups, or to appeal to you to be part of the superior or truthful “tribe” against dishonest and dangerous “others”.
For Part 3 of this three part series, click here.