Propaganda Definitions

Section A

You Can Fool Yourself.

Techniques of Self-Deception

  1. Prejudice

    You 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 Detachment

    When 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 Line

    You 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 Line

    You 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, Moderatism

    You 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. Rationalization

    After 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 Thinking

    You want something (in the future) to be true or correct simply because you want it to be so.

  8. Tabloid Thinking

    You 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 Oversimplication

    You 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. Inconceivability

    You 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 Terms

    You use words or phrases that arouse feelings for or against someone or some cause.

  2. Metaphor and Simile

    You 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. Emphasis

    You quote another person but stress one of their words or phrases. This changes the meaning of what was said.

  4. Quotation Out of Context

    You repeat just part of what someone said.

  5. Abstract Terms

    You use an abstract term but cannot give concrete examples to explain what the term means.

  6. Vagueness

    You 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. Ambiguity

    You use a word or phrase that has two or more meanings. The listener is not sure which meaning you want.

  8. Shift of Meaning

    You 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. Appearance

    The way a person or thing looks becomes the basis of our acceptance or rejection.

  2. Manner

    The 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 Titles

    You 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. Numbers

    The speaker wants us to buy or believe because of the large numbers associated with the product or proposition.

  5. Status

    Persons 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. Repetition

    We 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. Slogans

    A 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 Formula

    An 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 Pity

    The speaker tries to gain your support by making you feel sorry for him or someone else.

  2. Appeal to Flattery

    The 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 Ridicule

    The 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 Prestige

    The 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 Prejudice

    The 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 Appeal

    You are asked to buy by appealing to your desire to save money.

  7. Folksy Appeal

    The 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 Consequences

    You 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 Dubious

    The 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. Concurrency

    Because 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 Instances

    A 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 Generalization

    A 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 Analogy

    This 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. Composition

    Because 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. Division

    This 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. Diversion

    You get the other person off the subject.

  2. Disproving a Minor Point

    A 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 Hominem

    You attack the other person as an individual rather than answering what he said.

  4. Appeal to Ignorance

    What 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 Question

    You 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 Question

    You ask a series of questions and then demand one “yes” or “no” blanket answer to all of them.

  7. Inconsequent Argument

    You prove something but not what you think you proved.

  8. Attacking a Straw Man

    You take what the other person says and twist it to make it stupid.

  9. Victory by Definition

    I 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 Question

    You 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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