Propaganda and Debating Techniques
In his Rhetoric, Aristotle acknowledges that it would be better if we could make our case without either browbeating or flattering the audience; nothing should matter except "the bare facts." Yet he laments, "other things affect the result considerably, owing to the defects of our hearers."
— Stanley Fish, in his blog "Think Again" in the New York Times, 2008.11.09
"I soon realized that the correct use of propaganda is a true art which has remained practically unknown to the bourgeois parties. Only the Christian-Social movement, especially in Lueger's time, achieved a certain virtuosity on this instrument, to which it owed many of its successes."
— Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Volume 1, Chapter 6, "War Propaganda"
"Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way round, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise."
— Adolf Hitler
"Propaganda," Goebbels once wrote, "has absolutely nothing to do with truth."
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
— George Orwell
"This election is not about issues," Rick Davis, John McCain's campaign manager said this week. "This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates." That's a scary thought. For the takeaway is so often base, a reflection more of people's fears and insecurities than of our hopes and dreams.
— Judith Warner, New York Times, September 4, 2008
As you read the following pages, you will be exposed to quite a variety of deceptive propaganda techniques, logical fallacies, and lies (hopefully, none of them mine). You might as well learn a little about how the art and science of propaganda works, so that you can recognize the techniques as people try to fool your mind with them.
You probably already know a lot about this, whether you realize it or not, because politicians pull many of these standard stunts on you every election year, and you have grown immune to some of them. And modern advertising uses a lot of them, too, and you just tune them out. Nevertheless, let's just do a quick over-view of propaganda techniques.
Bear in mind that "propaganda" is not inherently a dirty word — it just usually is. Any time you are trying to convince anyone of something, you are using some kind of persuasion, debating, or propaganda technique. Just telling the whole truth about something is one simple propaganda technique, and a highly effective one. But lying often works better, at least with some audiences...
Master these propaganda techniques, and you too will be able to proselytize and promote cult religion and radical politics just like a battle-hardened old-timer.