More on propaganda

Key principles according to Communications Professor Brian Anse Patrick:

  1. Control the flow of information
    1. Obviously news sites do this. All organizations do this to some extent. Presumably news organizations make decisions based on journalistic principles.
    2. Democracy and the relationship between the government and the governed has traditionally afforded greater information access to the public.
    3. US is currently ranked 45th out of 180 countries (current issues), the president has engaged in verbal attacks and intimidation, calling some outlets ‘enemies of the American people.’
    4. Source filtering’ makes it difficult to know from where news originates.
  2. Distance propaganda from its source
    1. Source filtering’ makes it difficult to know from where news originates.
    2. 3rd party technique
    3. astroturf (some examples from ‘environment-friendly’ websites)
  3. Reflect the values and beliefs of the audience
    1. Fox, Huff Post, Breitbart, Vice, CNN, NY Times
  4. Disambiguate
    1. Fox vs CNN, republicans vs democrats, Coke vs Pepsi, Yankees vs Red Sox, left Twix vs right Twix, etc.
    2. the ‘Culture wars‘ (abortion, same sex marriage and LGBTQ justice, police shootings and racism, voter fraud vs voter suppression, #MeToo movement ….)
    3. Playing to consumers’ confirmation biases, using simple heuristics
  5. Horizontal group pressure
    1. pressure from peers is effective (e.g., multi-level marketing schemes)
    2. social media (just let the imagination soar on this one …)
  6. Cognitive penetration, ‘stickiness’ (novelty, repetition, simplicity, imagery, interest ..)
    1. language–sound bites, taglines/slogans
    2. merchandise (like hats)
    3. saturation–talking points (see the Mighty Wurlitzer, social proof)
  7. Accommodate informational needs and habits
    1. fake news videos fit the ritual TV news snippet
    2. politicians and consultants posing as ‘experts’ on newscasts (Mark Fuhrman at Fox, the ‘message force multipliers‘ from various networks)
    3. think tanks, the regular ‘beats‘ for information, press releases and staged (and spoon-fed) news events
  8. Address psychological, spiritual and social needs (comfort, familiarity, belonging)
  9. Personalize and dehumanize as appropriate
    1. President Trump illustrates
    2. use of passive voice to avoid blame ['mistakes were made']
    3. stereotyping  of MexicansMuslims, janitors, personal anecdotes
  10. Dispense truth, facts, logic and science (but in a self-serving way) — propagandists understand the value of ‘truth,’ but selectively. Conspiracy theory fits well into this category.

Some of these put together in the attempts to discredit climate change as anthropocentric.

Brian Patrick. 2013. The Ten Commandments of Propaganda. London: Artkos.