Monograph A8 ~ Recognizing Propaganda
Recognizing Propaganda

Propaganda originally meant the systematic promotion of a particular doctrine or idea. Today, it's a covert communication method applied by nations, politicians, church groups, cults, columnists, journalists, correspondents, and any writer or speaker with an agenda. It's no longer a means to inform. It is a means of mind control. Once so hypnotized, your future thinking in certain areas will be directed by another.

There are some who will defend the delusional web of the propagandist as a spur toward self review. This is like saying "Hitler was not all bad. He built some good roads." Those who see sincerity in the sermonizing party line of a propagandist are admitting to the wiser that they have been hoodwinked.

In the 1960s, I taught a course concerning propaganda techniques. I even authored a small manual. The manual has long been out of print, I gave away my last copy in the '70s, thus this is from an old man's memory and a few recent recalls. Following are some common techniques employed by the unscrupulous.

  1. If you don't wish to answer a question, feign deafness, and then set up a question you can easily answer and respond to that. "What you are likely asking is ...."

  2. Attack a belief on record that your opponent made in high school, for example. While every intelligent person changes his/her mind many times over the years, it's embarrassing to be asked, "Are you saying that you were an idiot then but not now?"

  3. Compare unrelated eras. As director of Public Affairs for the ACA, one of my jobs was to answer antichiropractic articles appearing in women's journals. Invariably, these "beware" articles compared 1895 chiropractic thinking to today's (then 1975) standards of medicine. When I submitted my rebuttal comparing the thinking of 1895 medicine to today's rationale of chiropractic, it was usually rejected. Editor's reply, "impossible, hogwash." Failed to be considered were direct quotes from Gynecology, published by Saunders in 1894, wherein vaginal massage was recommended as a cure for cervical cancer and scores of other "maladies." Masturbation was known to initiate psychosis.

  4. Attack the least common denominator. For example, choose the frailties of a radical fringe and sell them as mainstream thinking or action. "History shows that conservative democrats support cross burning and lynching."

  5. Quote only literature that supports your cause such as self-published papers or those friendly to your viewpoint.

  6. Hide behind a pseudonym and conceal personal warts until discovered. You remain a judge that cannot be judged if nobody knows who or what you are.

  7. Use lots of Latin phrases you just looked up. They will reflect your high-level intelligence.

  8. Have opponent defend a negative, which is impossible. "Still beating your wife? Can't just answer yes or no, simpleton?"

  9. Refer to the opponent's supporters demeaningly such as the "peanut gallery" or "the deluge of the delusioned." If you are alone in your position, always say "I'm sure that I'm not alone in saying that ...." Or "Everybody knows that the body of evidence suggests that ...."

  10. When stumped, criticize your opponents rhetoric. "What are you demanding in your grab bag of scrambled words?" "What are you trying to sell in this lottery of words?" "Can't get out of the paper bag you've created?" "You just parrot dishonest and stupid characterizations." "What are you snorting about?" "What's your problem with the truth?" What really is all your huffing and puffing about?" Shake your head slowly from side to side and say, "Why must someone have a pair of antlers strapped to their head before you notice that something's wrong with them?" "Having a reading problem with your crib notes?" This will give you time to think of another insult.

  11. Use a unique misspelling or creative expression. Everybody enjoys humor, unless it's directed at oneself. Then it's ridicule such as with chirodeism, chiropraxis, chiropractoid, chiropraxtism, medipractor, pillpractor, etc.

  12. If you must refer to an opponent's comment, preface it first with a shaming phrase such as "You self-righteously proclaim, ...," "Your witch hunt only produces that ...," "I thought you were going to reveal the mysteries of the universe, but you just gave the old worn out saw that ..., " "Are you plodding off into the sunset on your sway-back donkey of logic when you say that ...."

  13. To throw your opponent off balance, ridicule some core belief: "Thuh" adjustment, "Thuh" Hebrew religion, "Thuh" Holy Bible, "Thuh" concerns of liberals." Then quickly mandate some arbitrary rules of argument designed to favor your viewpoint.

  14. Never say anything that will insult the intelligence of everybody such as that spoken by the dean of Indiana Medical School in 1951, "I'd rather see a person die by orthodox care than be cured by a quack" or, by another, "You can't compare a patient dying under traditional care with a patient dying under nontraditional care."

  15. If speaking with an opponent before an audience, continually interrupt so that your opponent's words cannot be heard. You will be discourteous but clever. If you must be quiet, develop a broad smile and swing your head slowly from side to side to indicate everything being said is a humorous error.

  16. When an invitation presents itself, plant a quashing stinger such as "There HE goes again" or "I KNEW John Kennedy."

  17. If all else fails, release your true nature by being crass. Label your opponent with the most demeaning language possible such as dummy, dimwit, moron. imbecile, idiot, hole in the head, etc. "What's the matter, are you brain dead?" "Your ego's fly is open, and you don't want anyone to mention it."

  18. Any of the above sound familiar?

    ---R. C. Schafer, DC, PhD, FICC

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