Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Politics and Propaganda

Propaganda has always been commonly used for political gains. In the time of war, we see it commonly used to insight fear in Americans for what our future could hold. During a political election, we see propaganda used to praise, blame and power. The propaganda used in politics is very different from persuasion. Propaganda can often lose focus on reason, and rather focuses on the emotion the audience is already experiencing.

There are many techniques that are central to propaganda that we're seen in the recent election. One of those techniques is using fear, or nostalgia for a past time. Trump's slogan, "Make America Great Again," is just that. Although what he preached may not exactly protrude to a "greater America," his slogan gives his audience the nostalgia of this past time when America was once a great nation. Many critiques of his slogan argue whether or not America was ever really that great, but with his constant repetition and countless merchandise blasting the slogan for all to see, it slowly became a constant propaganda in Americans lives.

Hilary Clinton's campaign slogan, "I'm With Her" is also propaganda in the sense that her slogan and campaign, although not preached directly by Clinton, invoked fear for many women. It brought light to the lack of equality and rights women have as compared to men and everything we have to lose from Trump's victory. As for those who didn't support Clinton, not being "With Her" created the fear that you weren't for equality for all. It meant you didn't support women. It meant you didn't support a future for your daughters. Being a woman and not being "With Her" was scary for some, which is why many conservative women didn't speak out against her in fear of retaliation.

Another technique found in propaganda is praising or blaming things to the max. This one is constantly seen from both parties. Republicans blaming Democrats for the supposedly poor health care system. Democrats blaming Republicans for holding back rights and equality for LGBT. When arguments like these are constantly heard and repeated from both sides, the American voters start to believe it for their respected sides.

The final technique I want to talk about is totalizing situations, which is used to provoke the message of getting rid of what is harming us. For the Trump campaign it was "build the wall" and "make Mexico pay for it." There is little to no logos in this argument because there is no logical way to build the wall Trump envisions and Mexico will surely not be paying for it. His constant repetition of this idea of a wall on the border evoked fear in Americans that illegal immigrants are our biggest problem and they must be stopped first. When you think about that logically, there are so many other issues that could have been centered in any campaign, which is why this is also propaganda and not persuasion. There's just no logos to it. "Build the wall" also creates an in group vs. an out group. Legal American citizens vs. illegal immigrants.

Through these three techniques you can see propaganda used in politics in the modern day but also in the past. These techniques ignore the logos and hold onto the emotions already felt by many Americans today, which is why these are not merely persuasive arguments but a way to evoke fear, create a nostalgia and put the blame on a certain group of people or event.

March Blog Prompts

                                        Blog prompt: Choose a speech from a presidential candidate and identify how ethos is crafted along the three dimensions of virtue, intelligence, and goodwill.

      Blog prompt: Pick a piece of propaganda (from any time, any conflict, any country) and identify the core techniques that make it propaganda instead of persuasion. Draw from the examples in class, but feel free to identify additional techniques.

     Blog prompt, How can we turn clicktivism into more robust activism? Either in the context of your own Commons Campaign, or in the context of an ongoing activist campaign, answer the following questions: How do you turn weak ties into strong ties? How do you blend the benefits of hierarchies with the benefits of networks? How do you move from attention to action in an era of information abundance?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Propaganda in Trumps Campaign
Mikki Minton

One of the biggest places we see propaganda today is in politics. It is no surprise to any of us that politicians use propaganda to get us to side with them. Propaganda uses a wide range of things to classify it as propaganda such as creating fear, looking back on happier times, using slogans, etc. Today I will be focusing on Trump's slogan used throughout his campaign and how that classifies as propaganda rather than persuasion.
The one thing that sticks in everyone’s mind throughout elections are the slogans. In Obamas campaign, the simple one-word slogan “Change” spoke volumes of what his campaign was hoping to accomplish. Trump's campaign in the 2016 election, if you have not already seen it all over shirts and car stickers, is “Make America Great Again”. This slogan can classify as propaganda rather than persuasion for many reasons. A slogan becomes propaganda because once it is repeated so many times people start to believe it. Once people started seeing and hearing this slogan everywhere America was viewed as a lesser place than before. This slogan evoked fear in people because they saw America as not being as great as it once was. The slogan used fear and nostalgia to look back on better times and made Trump seem like the person to restore that greatness we once had. This idea of evoking fear and nostalgia is a primary part of propaganda.
By using this slogan Trump made himself seem like the one person to fix this problem and make America great again. People started to believe that Trump was the only person that could fix this problem. His policies and ideas for the countries future seemed like the only way that America could become as great as we once were. Trump in this scenario was viewed as the leader and only person that could save America from the “despair” we were in. This is an example of propaganda because it makes the person in power seem like the leader.
By using the slogan “Make America Great Again” it is saying that America is not great and there is a reason for this. Throughout Trump's campaign, he brought up many reasons for why America is not as great as it used to be. One of the main things Trump brought up was immigrants. By having this slogan and voicing that one of the main problems America has is immigrants creates an in-group and out-group. The in-group would be all the American citizens who are trying to make America great while the out-group is ruining America, in Trump's eyes. Propaganda tries to create an in-group and out-group to make people fear the out-group.
The slogan “Make America Great Again” uses propaganda techniques to get us to side with Trump rather than using persuasion. We can see propaganda in this slogan by the way it evokes base emotions like fear in us. The slogan increases emotions we already feel rather than trying to persuade us and change our opinions. Persuasion uses logic or ethos and there is a lack of that in this slogan. The slogan creates an in-group and out-group instead of bringing people together. As we can see from the propaganda techniques we learned from class, there are more examples of propaganda than persuasion in this slogan.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Three Men Make a Propaganda Technique

A good analogy for American political discourse is that of a car which has driven off of a cliff and has not yet hit the bottom. We're still in the air. What is being said by both Republicans and Democrats makes sense given the political context, but in many cases is downright fabrication, with fallacy-based backings. One could expect irrationality while careening off of a cliff similarly, one should expect irrationality in our current political discourse.
(American political discourse, 2017, colorized)

The 'three men make a tiger' fallacy is an unsound argument where something which wouldn't have been credible if a single person had said it seemingly becomes more credible because multiple people say it. It has a profound impact on what people think, by giving false credibility to something which is not true. This fallacy is incredibly popular, from gossip creating rumors to creation of assumptions on a broader societal level.

Conspiracy theories are proposed narratives which shape assumptions of how the world functions, that exist 'outside' of mainstream thought. Propaganda is a broader term for specific instances in which information is portrayed in a specific way for a desired end. There is quite a bit of similarity between conspiracy theories and propaganda, in that often times they employ similar tactics to persuade people and inculcate specific ideas. The most important difference is the degree of visibility between them. Often times conspiracy theories, if stated as fact, come into conflict with mainstream ideas which tend to challenge them in a direct way. Propaganda is different in the sense that it is actively weaved into popular discourse as a given truth, and as a result is much more difficult to challenge directly.

The internet, though particularly the app-based internet that we find ourselves on today, allows for the spread of both conspiracy and propaganda through algorithms which inadvertently propagate the three men make a tiger fallacy. You see a fact taken way out of context and because you viewed the page, algorithms direct you to similar content. This creates a perfect environment for fallacious information to spread, be it conspiracies theories about the Federal Reserve or the Illuminati or your run-of-the-mill partisan hackery.

The effect of this discourse is apparent. (Reference tire-fire, pictured above.) But it runs deeper than Occupy Democrats posts your slacktivist friend shares. The three men make a tiger fallacy runs rampant in the media as well. Having to do with some of the most profound and serious allegations that can be made, Russian interference in the 2016 election. Not to mention the fact that the Intelligence Community Assessment, which so many base their indictment on, is all claim, no evidence. You could say this is just to protect important sources; they said the same about evidence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq over a decade ago, that turned out well. Not only this but many stories in prominent mainstream journals, NYT, WSJ, whoever you like, run incredibly fallacious headlines that are redacted and corrected weeks later, after the damage is already done.

Though realistically speaking, media manipulation of the public isn't that new. Those interested should look into Operation Mockingbird. The present practice of journalists is one of close contact and symbiosis with intelligence officials. The journalists get a firebomb of a story, and the intelligence officials get to spread specific information for their ends. Essentially media outlets are often co-opted to spread certain propaganda.

The instance of Russia interference is incredibly salient; claims that they hacked into Vermont's electrical grid, that Wikileaks is a Russian propaganda outlet, or the Golden Shower dossier nonsense are all part of a growing amount of white noise that operate under this fallacious pretext. That if the public can feel as if the tiger (Russia) is in the market, that they will believe it, even if it isn't true. The more the public is inculcated with this view that our president is a Russia stooge, the more they're inclined to accept it as fact.

But let me back up. It might be true. The issue is that in present discourse the jury has already deemed Trump guilty of collusion and cooperation with Russia on fallacious pretexts. Ideally a select committee to investigate this would be great, but there is no time for methodical, publicly accountable investigations, there are tire-fires to light.

Amid all of this, the real question is how to avoid being fallacious in a world with such ingrained propaganda? View the relationship between journalists and their sources as one where they have their own interests, and most of the time it isn't promoting objectivity. It can be incredibly difficult but the immediate goal is not perfection, it is to do better. So do better y'all.

Because only YOU can prevent tire fires.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Can 3 men really make a tiger?

I found that the ‘three men making a tiger’ fallacy to be both fascinating and way too fitting for the world today. Essentially, this old Chinese proverb is saying that if one person is able to believe in some sort of crazy information, and will continue to believe in said falsehood if more and more people begin to believe it.  With all that is going on in the news lately, this fallacy can be easily applied to the world of politics today. Going back in time to the presidential inauguration, now president Trump believed that the crowd at his inauguration was larger than the crowd at former president Obama’s. Even though many of the reasons he made weren’t very accurate, he was able to convince his supporters one at a time. In the proverb, since the first man was able to convince the other two that, in fact, they could make an entirely different species, he was able to continue to believe that they could create a tiger. Like the case of the inauguration crowd, president Trump was able to convince at least one person to believe that the photo of his crowd wasn’t accurate in depicting his actual crowd, and by convincing one person, he was able to continue and convince more people that his crowd was bigger, however, it isn’t logically supported and doesn’t make it true just because he convinces enough people to believe it. Another incident where this fallacy proves to be a faulty explanation for an argument is president Trump’s recently unconstitutional travel ban on 7 different countries. While there has not been a single terror related incident caused by a single person in those 7 countries since at least 9/11, president Trump was able to persuade his audience to believe that these 7 countries contained the largest threat to national security. Again, he was able to convince enough people that these places were dangerous that he himself could continue to believe it, even more, implement it. While this fallacy is easily applicable to politics, it is a powerful and even dangerous tool for rhetoric and persuasion. As we have already seen in the presidents first 50 days, if the characteristics of this proverb are used effectively, then an individual’s rhetoric can become the most influential tool in the world.I found that the ‘three men making a tiger’ fallacy to be both fascinating and way too fitting for the world today. Essentially, this old Chinese proverb is saying that if one person is able to believe in some sort of crazy information, and will continue to believe in said falsehood if more and more people begin to believe it.  With all that is going on in the news lately, this fallacy can be easily applied to the world of politics today. Going back in time to the presidential inauguration, now president Trump believed that the crowd at his inauguration was larger than the crowd at former president Obama’s. Even though many of the reasons he made weren’t very accurate, he was able to convince his supporters one at a time. In the proverb, since the first man was able to convince the other two that, in fact, they could make an entirely different species, he was able to continue to believe that they could create a tiger. Like the case of the inauguration crowd, president Trump was able to convince at least one person to believe that the photo of his crowd wasn’t accurate in depicting his actual crowd, and by convincing one person, he was able to continue and convince more people that his crowd was bigger, however, it isn’t logically supported and doesn’t make it true just because he convinces enough people to believe it. Another incident where this fallacy proves to be a faulty explanation for an argument is president Trump’s recently unconstitutional travel ban on 7 different countries. While there has not been a single terror related incident caused by a single person in those 7 countries since at least 9/11, president Trump was able to persuade his audience to believe that these 7 countries contained the largest threat to national security. Again, he was able to convince enough people that these places were dangerous that he himself could continue to believe it, even more, implement it. While this fallacy is easily applicable to politics, it is a powerful and even dangerous tool for rhetoric and persuasion. As we have already seen in the presidents first 50 days, if the characteristics of this proverb are used effectively, then an individual’s rhetoric can become the most influential tool in the world. 

Slothful Induction



De’Mornay Pierson-El
Rhetoric
Blog 2


How much trust can you give a stranger? How much trust can you give a person you care about that hurt you previously. Trust is a very touchy subject because once it is gone you cannot get it back. Some people are blind to what is right in front of them, and continue to trust what they know. For example, friends could come back and tell you you’re significant other is cheating on you, but because you feel the love is so strong you deny it. You come up with excuses for them, even though your friends are showing you screenshots of conversation.
Slothful induction Fallacy consists of an unfair argument. Proof is presented, however the opposing side is denying all proof due to their own reasoning. However the reasoning is not accurate, and ignorant to the facts. A person who is arguing against all facts, can be manipulative in what they really want to focus the argument on. A sloth is referred to as a slow moving, lazy individual who lacks in motivation to do what is best. The induction increases the argument, makes you think as well as wonder how a person could come to that specific conclusion. The fallacy is the unwillingness to even try to understand the proof given. This would fall alongside with telling someone they are lying to you, although they are really telling the truth.
However the truth can vary based on the induvial. The sloth in this fallacy would ignore each and every person coming with proof, explanation, facts and evidence. The sloth would matter of fact come up with their own conclusion and reasoning. Even though it will not make sense the argument will still advance by the opposing side explaining why the sloth is wrong. Which would change the argument itself, into a new focus of who is right and who is wrong. The sloth doesn’t focus on the specific problems, instead creates another issue, and reasoning that makes no sense.
Trusting someone is hard to do. In any situation, as a person tells their side of the story it can be true to the extent they believe it. The fact could simply be the same problem is reoccurring, there for why deny it is happening? A coincidence would be a remarkable concurrence of circumstances or events with apparent connection. This would be the reason a person would go to instead of believing the proof given. “It’s a coincidence that you continue to crash your car every time after you drink?” a person may ask the “sloth” in this sense. The explanation for the crash would be, I do not have a good car according to the sloth. The person would then get into conversation about what type of cars are best for safety. This changes the argument focus, as well as ignoring the issue of possibility being an alcoholic. Slothful induction fallacy keeps you on your toes, because the main focus is to remain focused. Not to let the sloth stir your thoughts or change your motives because the reasoning behind it can be altered.


The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

This fallacy, at its core, is one that I believe every person will use as means to persuade other individuals; while, also being persuaded themselves when this is applicable. The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy essentially is when similarities are compared, regardless to how few there may be, with an attempt to ignore or hide the vast differences; thus leading to a false conclusion or sense of acceptance. There are many examples of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy in the link I've provided. I know I have fallen suspect to drawing conclusions and making assumptions based off of simple similarities that hide the differences, which are arguably more important when making a choice on certain topics.

This is the link to the article about the fallacy:
https://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/09/11/the-texas-sharpshooter-fallacy/

Through reading examples posted in this link, such as John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln; it becomes clear that anyone is susceptible to the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy. From reading these different examples and understanding what this fallacy truly aims to do, I focused on coming up with an example in every day, present, life in which we use this fallacy. That's when I turned to HGTV and their show Property Brothers.

Property Brothers is a home buying and flipping show. There are two brothers, Johnathan and Drew Scott, one who is a home flipper and the other who is more of a real estate agent. The two brothers are given a budget by the home owners looking to move; one is to remodel their current home, the other is to find them a new home. Where I discovered the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy happens quite frequently is in fact, in the home buying market. The one brother, I believe Johnathan, is the real estate agent and frequently shows couples different homes. I've noticed that often he'll take couples to home out of their budget and then show them all the amenities it offers as a way to distract them that is is over their budget. An example would be similar to "I know your budget is 400,000 dollars, but this house has everything you want. It has a pool, its remodeled, there's a ton of room in the back yard for future kids, there's a brand new roof AND it is only 700,000 dollars!" Not every time do couples accept the similarities as a way to outweigh the fact that the home is almost double their budget; but there are plenty of times in which this fallacy is used and successful to home buyers.

There are obviously many way in which people will use the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy with the goal to persuade or misinform; however, it is also the job of each individual to scrutinize what is said to them to whatever extend they need to, in order to make a well informed decision. This could mean in ways such as being an informed constituent in elections or being a home buyer with a set budget.

This is also a link to HGTV's show Property Brothers:

http://www.hgtv.com/shows/property-brothers

McRaney, D. (2010, September 11). The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy . Retrieved February 28, 17, from https://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/09/11/the-texas-sharpshooter-fallacy/