Talk:Propaganda techniques

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I propose that the prop. techniques all be on one page.

While it's possible that "Logical Fallacies" might merit a topic of its own, for now, in the context of SourceWatch, I don't see that it requires separation from "Propaganda techniques"; though ... a cause ... of course ... may arise ;-} -- Maynard 23:04 30 Mar 2003 (EST)

I removed reference to 'spambot' as a propaganda technique, based upon this common definition of spambot: A spambot is a robot that specializes in gathering email addresses for a spammer to use. It basically follows links and saves any email addresses it finds as it goes along. A spambot usually gathers emails from the web or from usenet, but may also gather it from other sources.[1]
--Maynard 16:13 12 Jun 2003 (EDT)

Planting press article" was duplicated, so I removed one of the duplicates.

"Disinformation" had numerous grammar errors that I corrected, but the second paragraph is a jumble that mystified me. It makes no sense as is. Anyone have a clue?

I don't understand the "push poll" entry at all. Should it be revised?

Debbie 01 Feb 2004

What about 'astroturfing' as a propganda technique? I see you have an article about it on the site but it's not in the list on this page.


Don't know where to put this:

A search on "smear" brings up both "attack ad" and "attack ads" - any reason for the duplication? The text is not the same. One is in Propaganda Techniques -don't know how to tell where the other is. Should they be combined?

Also, the search does not turn up "Bush administration smear campaigns"

Debbie 12 Feb 2004

Hi, would it be okay if I tried to organize the list more hierarchically or kind of give them attributes? A lot of the listings are similar. I'm not sure exactly where everything would go, but I have some of my own ideas and they're sort of variations on certain propaganda themes, and I don't really want to add them by themselves. Dividing it up is also difficult because you start to run into philosophical problems and questions, and I'd rather avoid making it that complex, and just let people add things wherever they see fit. Maybe it would be better to just connect the techniques by similarity? Plus, the page is getting rather long. The other thing is I don't want to screw it up, since I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing.

Ben (newbie) 20 Apr 2004

Sure, edit away! If we disagree with your edits, we can always change back the parts we disagree with. I agree with you that a lot of the listings are similar. It would be good to try to consolidate and organize them better. --Sheldon Rampton 00:02, 21 Apr 2004 (EDT)

Hehe. Ok there ya go. Someone tell me what they think :P

Ben (newbie) 24 Apr 2004

Thanks! --Maynard 07:49, 24 Apr 2004 (EDT)

removed from article since these are not intended to be propaganda techniques, but there might be room for a category:

Tools like SourceWatch, Wikipedia, consumerium,, and are all attempts to equalize information and technology access.

I'm not sufficiently alert to grasp this issue now, but can a distinction be usefully made for mass persuasion in contrast with something else, say persuasive techniques in single or group discussions? there could also be a difference between written material which seeps to people with time, and TV commercial blasts which penetrate all simultaneously, and then disappear.


Suggestions, M ..

I like the idea of trying to organize this article better, but I'm not sure I like the current organizational scheme. It might help to use a scheme like the ones used in communications research, where communications is broken down as an act that involves the following elements:

  • A message source
  • The message
  • The medium through which it is transmitted
  • A recipient

Types of propaganda can be characterized by talking about which of these elements is being manipulated. For example, the "third party technique" that John and I have written about is an example of a PR tactic that focuses on concealing the true identity of the message source. Rhetorical techniques such as name-calling or glittering generalities focus on manipulating the message. Some propaganda is related to choice of medium. (For example, a political candidate might choose to only give TV interviews and avoid newspaper reporters.) Other propaganda focuses on selectively targeting certain people to receive a message while avoiding others.

I suspect also that some of the propaganda techniques listed here are actually redundant, using different words to describe basically the same technique. If this is the case, some of them could be consolidated into a single article. --Sheldon Rampton 20:24, 24 Apr 2004 (EDT)

Restating Sheldon's 4 elements in words which work for me, ...

  • source <intercession for humor [rabble-rousing]>
    • motivation (what brought it here) (past) <posterior [up the...]>
    • intention (what is it intended to do) (future) <anterior [smirk...]>
  • content <end intercession; end humor; end rabbling>
    • in-your-face, then gone (?soundbite?)
    • pass-it-on (?op-ed?)
    • for the reference library (?monograph?)
  • medium/delivery (print|cable/ad|VNR|informercial)
    • context
    • duration of exposure
    • subliminal or blatant
  • audience
    • size
    • composition
    • attention span
    • context (daily paper|convention|mass transit poster|etc.)

--Maynard 01:18, 25 Apr 2004 (EDT)

My two cents:

Rearranging this page was a nice idea, but I'm finding it doesn't work for me. I can't find topics easily and I'm not really sure where I would add new items from my to do list. The other suggestions don't do it for me, either, and I can't think of anything better. Why make it complicated when it doesn't need to be? I prefer plain alphabetic order.

--Debbie Saye 1 May 2004

I pretty much agree. I found it pretty hard to come up with categories. It doesn't need to be complicated, and I liked the plain alphabetic order, but the problem was (and still is) that there are a lot of duplicates, a lot of stuff that doesn't really qualify as propaganda (depending on what definition of propaganda is being used) some of it is techniques, some of it terms, some are more about effect, some are about about cause, some methods of communication, some mediums, some are just defining "being an idiot", some are duplicates, some are more reasoning based, some more on psychological factors, some on culture, etc. And don't forget that some are combinations of what I just wrote. I really don't know enough about the subject to really do a good job (and also wanted to keep everything, since I wasn't sure what was what), but I really wanted to try because I think it is important, and I found the plain order insufficient to get a good grasp of the subject. Please someone else give it a try!

--Ben (newbie) 11 May 2004

Has the word "tokens" ever been used with respect to propaganda? I think it would be a good word to describe "pieces of propaganda" in a larger scheme. So a testimonial would be a "token", and the technique would be "using a testimonial" under the higher category of "weighting arguments" or something. Or "name-calling" would be a "token", and the technique would be "ad hominem"?

--Ben (newbie) 13 May 2004

I reverted the page to its old version (16 Apr 2004). I'm thinking that it should basically be left like this until someone (or we) find a better way of organizing it. You might have to remake some of your changes (I told you I'm a newbie) Hopefully someone with a PhD in philosophy, media studies, and linguistics can help with a good model :P. I have some more ideas that I think would organize it better, but I'm going to work on them some more and put them on the table before committing to them.

--Ben (newbie) 31 May 2004

Nizkor certainly knows! ;o) <-- more on logical falacies

instance needs assignment

What technique is this? I'd call it a "false association" or maybe "unpredicated consequence", but there must be a commonly acknowledged name for it already:

"Many are now worried that as president, Humala would fall into step with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and march Peru down a path that takes the country far from Washington’s sphere of influence, toward insecurity and economic ruin." [2]

Especially since there is overwhelming evidence that "Washington's sphere of influence" in fact contributes directly to "insecurity and economic ruin" most notably in Latin America and the Middle-East and South Asia.
--Maynard 09:43, 14 Jan 2006 (EST)

Edit notes

As this page is most of the most highly trafficked pages in SW, I though it was time to start a cleanup of it.

They are indistinguishable except in degree from the persuasion techniques employed in social, religious and commercial affairs. Recently persuasion technology has come into common use, in all styles from digital image alteration to persuasive presentation and persistent telemarketing based on repetition, making these techniques impossible to avoid.
I couldn't really follow what this was driving at. Given it is in the preamble, I think we are better off without it.

I also deleted the following list of empty links.

they have been there for a long time without any progress being made on them. Given they are on a high-traffic page, we are better off moving them as many first time reader's either go to a dead end or donlt know the difference between a red and a blue link. --Bob Burton 22:43, 21 March 2007 (EDT)

Culling the Ext Links section

A lot of the links in the external links section were off topic or more appropriate elsewhere. Comments indented after each link. --Bob Burton 23:30, 21 March 2007 (EDT)

Not in English so of limited value
rather tangential to the topic of the page
a long and very difficult to read series of essays; hard going for an average reader;
this is about advertising and marketing so is not directly relevant to techniques
subscriber access only - but if like the above, suspect it is off topic
a link to a set of links on specific wars and military campaigns. better on another page
a useful link to specific military material but more appropriate on another page
  • Notes from Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion

Section Deletions

For the moment I've taken these sections off the main page. If we are going to keep something on logical Your signature with timestampfallacies then it belongs on its own or another page. The other section can perhaps be merged into the prepable and the latter part of the par dropped. For the moment I'll park it here. --Bob Burton 23:37, 21 March 2007 (EDT)

Logical Fallacies

In order to understand what a fallacy is, one must understand what an argument is. Very briefly, an argument consists of one or more premises and one conclusion. ... A fallacy is, very generally, an error in reasoning. [3]

References on Logical Fallacies

  1. Stephen's Guide to the Logical Fallacies
  2. Dr. Michael C. Labossiere's Fallacies
  3. The Atheism Web's Logic & Fallacies
  4. Wikipedia's Logical fallacy

Persuasion technology arms races

The use of audiovisual technologies in mass persuasion is supported by scientific research, involving use of proprietary databases, audience response measurement, sociological research and a growing understanding of the biological basis for human behavior. Persuasion technology of some form is employed by most groups attempting to change minds on commercial or political matters. Tools like SourceWatch, Wikipedia, consumerium, and are all attempts to equalize information and technology access.

Book List

I culled some links out of the book list. --Bob Burton 00:52, 22 March 2007 (EDT)

This is not a book, seems to be an article title but I couldnlt see it online; apart from which it seems to be about advertising.
this is, but its about as off-topic as you can get
this seems to be about the psychology of marketing but not really about propaganda techniques

Edit proposal

As for the list of 'techniques' on this page, as noted earlier there are many that seem to overlap. Much of the content on the individual sub-pages seems to be unreferenced and the subjective view of one person but without any supporting instances to illustrate the outline. The resulting impression is that many tactics have been elevated to be classed as a 'technique' and that the description on the page is less than authoritative.

While lots of people have added buts and pieces to the various pages since their creation my inclination is to reduce the material down to what is referenced and authoritative material and rework the leftovers into something more substantive.

Rationalising the list could be a bit time consuming so what I'm planning on doing is:

  • going through the list and relocating the links to pages that have unreferenced content to this page;
  • then see what is left and see if it is amenable to the structure that Sheldon had flagged above of * A message source, * The message, * The medium through which it is transmitted and * A recipient;
  • of the material delinked from the main page, I'll see what can be sensibly merged. The remanant I'll leave as a collection to be worked on when time permits --Bob Burton 20:12, 22 March 2007 (EDT)

List of culled links with unreferenced content