Friday, March 31, 2017

The Worldwide Web

            “Our media is a perfect reflection of our interests and desires” (Pariser, Eli). At this very moment, there are billions of people using the Internet. The Internet has the power to change the way we think, the way we learn, and the way in which we perceive the world. Not only is the worldwide web beneficial and entertaining, it also “revolves around us” (Pariser, Eli).
            Based on information received in class, a filter bubble is a series of algorithms that decide what we see and what we do not see, based on our personal interests and the person we claim to be. I have been a member of Facebook since 2008, and since that time, I have ‘liked’ thousands of posts and invited hundreds of friends to join my network. Out of these 900+ friends, why is it that I only see posts from a small number of them? How come every time I click on my news feed I see post from a high school classmate, Annie, and my sister, Cierra? These questions have crossed my mind several times and finally I have a reasonable explanation for these previously unanswered questions.
            Computer systems contain algorithms, which perform calculations documenting every move an individual makes on a computer. Through these algorithms, analysts are able to “mine our e-mails for ‘insights about our productivity, our treatment of co-workers, our willingness to collaborate or lend a hand, our patterns of written language, and what those patterns reveal about our intelligence, social skills, and behavior’” (Pasquale. Frank). In doing this, computers are able to personalize every person’s research done on the Internet. Jennifer Rome mentioned, that dating websites, like Tinder, use algorithms to “sort through who would be a ‘good catch’” for the individual participating in the websites services.
          So back to the big question, why do I always run into the same individuals when scrolling through Facebook? It is because my Macintosh computer, and every link I click on while searching the web, takes documentation of my interests and desires in order to show me what it thinks I want to see. It isn’t often that I encounter opinions other than my own in my media world but when I do I often keep scrolling, paying no mind to the post. I have never unfollowed somebody because of varying beliefs but I have unfollowed people who post inappropriate images on a regular basis.
            Our media, this is a phrase that can have both positive and negative connotations associated with it. It can be frightening to think about the invisible hands that transport our information to various systems circulating throughout the web. Nonetheless, if media is personalized to us, we are not overwhelmed by the several billion videos, images, and articles that are out there about every topic we search for; we are only shown the information that we want to see. The worldwide web is much more than just an information system, it is a sticky web, catching and processing every bit of the information thrown its way. 

Pariser, E. (2011). The User is the Content. In The Filter Bubble (chapter 2). Retrieved from

Pasquale, F. (2015). Digital Reputation in an Era of Runaway Data. In The Black Box Society (chapter 2). Retrieved from

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Filter Bubble of the “Preppy” Nebraska Girl

Clothes. Shoes. Makeup. Fancy places to eat. New music. Promotions, promotions, promotions. 

This is my filter bubble. Let’s be clear, I did not choose my own filter bubble. I wouldn’t have chosen a personalized feed such as this for myself. 

What I didn’t initially realize about the purpose of the filter bubble, was the idea of personalization. If you really think about it, however, is it really personalization at all? Personalization. Personal. How would an algorithm know anything remotely personal to us? 

Filter bubbles are a necessary evil of our generation. This is due to information overload throughout the digital world. There is so much information out there, it has to be organized in some way. It is how the filter bubbles are used and developed, however, that needs to be improved. My filter bubble targets me in ways that generalize me, that do not challenge me, and that causes me to miss out on critical ideological debates. 

As I am sitting here reflecting, I’m sure my filter bubble consisting of the topics above is due to the fact that I am female, where I am from, and the previous searches I have conducted. It’s sad to me that because I have online shopped a few times, I am now the target of filter bubbles consisting of fluffy promotions.

What the algorithm does not take into account, however, are my critical thinking skills, my strong interest in communication studies and digital marketing, my political leanings, etc. Why do I know this? I am never exposed to any of this unless I am actively looking for it. 

Just because I am a female from Nebraska who likes to online shop occasionally, doesn’t mean I should be generalized under a filter bubble of fluff. It does not speak for my intellectual capacity, and I am thankful that I am persistent enough to recognize that. What about those who don’t actively look for information that causes them to think critically? Will they ever be exposed to it through their filter bubble? Will this limit their intellectual growth, because of the popularity of digital platforms? 

Generalizing through filter bubbles can be dangerous. It can expose us to pieces of information that do not challenge us. In my personal experience, I am not exposed to pieces of information that line up with my views and interests, or that even challenge my own opinions. I have to go searching for those things, and even then I am never sure if I reach the amount of information I could if filter bubbles did not exist. 

I enjoy reading about opinions that challenge my own. I am not one to publicize my own thoughts and opinions, nor do I comment on things that I do not agree with, but I enjoy challenging my own insights through research. When friends on my Facebook feed post about politics I will read about it, but I would never unfollow someone because of it, especially if we had a real relationship. I try to embody the purpose of Dissoi Logoi every single day. No, I’m not perfect, but I try to envision both sides. 

That being said, I recognize that there are positive arguments revolved around filter bubbles. And maybe my filter bubble is flawed, and other users have had more rewarding experiences. I can only hope as I use my digital platforms more often for things I am interested in, my personalized feeds can keep up. And if it doesn’t, I will continue to stray away from being that “preppy Nebraska girl” who likes clothes, and I will continue to research the things that truly matter. 

Filter Bubbles and the Media

The definition of a filter bubble, from Wikipedia, is a result of a personalized search in which a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user (such as location, past click behavior and search history) and, as a result, users become separated from information that disagrees with their viewpoints, effectively isolating them in their own cultural or ideological bubbles. From our readings and lectures, we have explored the various examples of filter bubbles and the prevalence they have in the lives of people, especially millennials. I do not personally counter a lot of opinions other than my own on my media feeds. The lack of diversity, I believe, is due to two things: the filter bubble and the lack of diversity in my surroundings.

In California where I grew up, I constantly saw many diverse posts on various social media sites I used. I enjoyed this because deny reading the different points and articles, I was challenged in my own beliefs. Moving to Nebraska, a lot of the diversity in my surroundings was taken away. At first it was culture shock, but slowly I have become accustomed to the same ideals across many people. So as much as I am being filter bubbled by my media accounts, moving to a new state with new ideals has also changed my social media feeds.

On Twitter, which is not filtered, I do see a lot more of opposing political view points. On Facebook however, I rarely see any political posts that are not similar to my own, especially if they have links in them. I think an easy way to identify if posts are “liberal” or “conservative” is if they have a link with them, so that is why I rarely see one’s that are opposite of my viewpoint. I don’t usually follow people based on their idealogical leanings because I do not lean super strong on the side I am on. Yet, I did unfollow a few people who were over the top about their posts, especially during the election. It usually took extreme cases, but if there was any derogatory words or phrases I usually unfollowed people. The biggest reason I unfollowed people is if they bashed the other side for no apparent reason without even allowing any discussion. On girl posted in Twitter, “If you voted for Trump, you are saying you hate me and you are a racist. I will unfollow you and I hope you unfollow me”. Although I did not vote for Trump, I thought this was completely ridiculous and petty. If you are not allowing a conversation, you are filter bubbling yourself, farthing what the media is already doing.

Strongmen Rise on the Backs of an Army of Weak Men

If you’ve ever flipped on the television and heard the brazen chants of CNN and Fox News, you’ll know that in America, the cults of our two party system are alive and well. You’ll know that for every MAGA shouting Trump lover, there’s a self-righteous Bernie bro. America is not without two sides to everything.

But this is not what the Greeks meant by two-sided rhetorical discourse. Dissoi logoi is a process internal to an individual, from which it can be scaled up to groups and societies. It is the ability to simultaneously hold and consider contradicting views, and examine them honestly for the purpose of arriving closer to the truth. In America, we struggle to achieve this in our public lives. We live in a society where political debate is for social gain, for feeling good about how right we are, and for fighting against the tyrannies of clearly stupid arguments.

The latter of these is, I think, a central fallacy ruining the integrity of our democracy at this moment, and is better known as the weak man argument. Essentially, this is the practice of taking the most extreme, most deplorable, most clearly logically inconsistent view that you can scavenge from an opposing side, and making it the target of your rhetorical crucification. It’s really fun to hate on those darn Bernie bros, or those ignorant anti-vaxxers, or those clearly racist Trump supporters. But the reality is most individuals don’t believe those things; and they are arguments which, when dismantled, bring emotional satisfaction, but no real progress towards bridging the gap between two sides. America’s discourse has suffered in this way; and we now have a leader who is a strongman, because we lived an election chalk full of weak men.

So what does this have to do with dissoi logoi and polarization? If dissoi logoi is the ability to consider conflicting views, but all the views we consider are the rational ones with which we agree, and the clearly inane ones with which we don’t, then we really have quite a lopsided affair. Facebook, Twitter, and the culture of algorithms and fake news certainly help us make this dissoi logoi process quite easy. Your news feed is probably a lot like mine in that the most sensational claims make it to the top. So I frequently hear about the ridiculous arguments Trump and his supporters make. And I’m sure my conservative friends hear about the crazy left-wingers and their snowflake mentality. And this makes polarization the natural byproduct, because the other side is ludicrous.

As stated, from a rhetorical perspective, this is clearly a result of attention direction and the filtering of arguments, curated by our algorithmic culture. Just like trash TV and bad pop music are popular, so are the writings of Brietbart and Democracy Now. The difference is, bad taste in music robs Kendrick Lamar of a shiny piece of metal. Bad taste in argument severs the head of our democracy at the hands of autocratic figures.

Unrelated: I love Kendrick Lamar.

But surely we are justified in some of these actions? Doesn’t racism and anti-vaccination propaganda deserve our scorn? Certainly it does. But what does this behavior accomplish? It will never persuade a racist Trump supporter to reconsider their beliefs. In fact, it won’t do much other than releasing pent up anger, and act as a moral signal demonstrating that we’re not one of them. In this perspective, we get caught up in the emotion of the moment. This is a direct result of the rhetoric of our media. Headlines are sensational and short. Articles usually lack a nuanced understanding of the other side. Writing is frequently partisan and biased. And the whole goal of this rhetoric is specifically to arouse our anger. It brings clicks and ad revenue. So it’s no wonder we do get in such a fit.

But signaling that [insert ludicrous group here] are wrong does about as much good as reminding everyone of how much we hate people who leave the toilet seat up. Clearly, it’s wrong. Clearly, we don’t do it. But yelling about it does not actually help to change the minds of those who leave the seat up. It does not help one understand why people leave the seat up. And though it will serve as a check on others in our group, reminding them of the serious social consequences if they ever do leave the seat up, it will not at all affect those who habitually leave the seat up. They will only double down on their beliefs and continue the process of rationalization.

So how do we fight the polarization inherent in our digital lives? This post assumes the reader understands and believes American democracy is not in a healthy state. It’s argued that how Americans have been taught to engage in political discourse is wholly not what the Greeks had in mind, and has become another method by which we jockey for social status. It takes Facebook as a key example of this behavior, and explains how the rhetorical structure of Facebook itself induces this. Dissoi logoi is, of course, the answer to our problems. But dissoi logoi is predicated upon a host of assumptions which first need be met.

As always, there's a relevant XKCD for everything.

The first assumption prerequisite for dissoi logoi is humility. Humility is the belief that I could be, and very likely am, wrong about something. Humans are irrational and suffer from a host of glitches in our mental wiring, like confirmation bias and the hindsight effect. All it takes is for our judgment to be slightly skewed by any number of fallacies, biases, or stupidities, and we’re wrong. This is how we ought to see ourselves. Any beliefs we hold should be tentative at best. Absolute truths reside in the realm of propaganda and cults and mathematicians. If we must eventually commit fully to a stance, it should be with great caution. Just like mathematicians go through decades of rigorous proof before reaching a conclusion, so should we never be speedy to make absolute judgments, especially those which are value based.

The next assumption is charity. Charity relates to how we view the beliefs of others. Yes, others are subject to the same biases we are. But their biases don’t act in the same way. What we see through the muddied lens of confirmation bias, they might see clearly through the lens of objective skepticism. This is not to say another is automatically correct simply because they don’t hold the beliefs you do; but certainly they are likely to bring up arguments and ideas you never would have. Combined with humility, charity allows us to attempt to give fair weight to the equally plausible arguments of others, at least until fairly conclusively proven otherwise.

The final assumption is that argument ought to be seen as play, not war. This is where I question the usefulness of railing against Trump supporters and Bernie bros. If we know we are often wrong and that others have good points, and if we want everyone, including ourselves, to hold beliefs as close to the truth as possible, then the best process to arrive at that truth is through cooperative collaboration. Argument ought to be a process of reconciling conflicting values and beliefs and facts with another. If someone is, we believe, seriously misguided, then our best approach is to treat them with love and inclusion, to show them that we’re on the same side.

Our Facebook feeds, where people score “points” in online arguments whenever a friend likes their reply, serve only to reinforce the concept of argument as war. This is perhaps a benefit of having an in person debate amongst friends – no matter how much people agree with you or disagree with you, everyone is (ideally), quiet and respectful while the other talks. This means people are not forming cliques based upon who they signal they agree with; they’re not seduced into the atavistic tribalism of an “us vs. them” mentality; and they are able to form their own conclusions free of the influences of how others react. Facebook, as a medium, destroys this precious rhetorical affordance, and replaces it with a medium ripe for argument as war.

Anyone reading this may be left wondering how they are to respond to the real idiocy present on media like Facebook. And, I think, it is wholly justified to remove or unfollow friends who continuously post ill-thought out arguments. I have certainly done this myself. If a person is sharing or posting smart, well-written think pieces or videos, then that deserves an audience. We ought to respect those who at least put forth the prerequisite effort of research and careful thought. But, rather than going through and unfriending en masse, perhaps it is better to go to places other than Facebook for political thought. I personally enjoy reading a handful of really well-written blogs for views both affirming and dissenting. A general shift of removing politics from social media, given its rhetorical set up, would be a benefit to society.

Regardless, the polarization in America is thoroughly an effect of a filter bubble created by algorithms which promote one of two kinds of arguments: Those with which we passionately agree, and those which we love to hate. Anything which makes us question our beliefs, which poses difficult to answer questions, or which is longer than 1,200 words is immediately and intentionally filtered out by our digital algorithms. To solve the problem of our failing democracy, we need a formal process for transmitting the values of dissoi logoi, and for facilitating honest, collaborative political discussions. Until then, we shall see further strongmen rise on the backs of the multitude of weak men plaguing our democratic discourse.

Trump & Propaganda

Persuasion and Propaganda are two key words that political advertising use to keep consumers engaged and influence them to certain movements. Both parties, not to mention advertisers and public relations professionals, have deployed propaganda. Effective propaganda isn’t about facts and policy, it’s about emotion. In Trumps case, the emotions being provoked are fear and rage.

Name Calling: Using words to incite fear and prejudices and create a negative opinion; or diminish or discredit a person. Trump: “I have many friends who are; Black, Women, Hispanic, Muslim, Disabled.” “Get him/her out of here.” 

Transfer: Appeals to a persons imagination of something we like or trust: Trump: “Make America Great Again” The close of Trump’s convention speech marked the pinnacle of his use of the technique. “To all Americans tonight, in all our cities and towns, I make this promise: We Will Make America Strong Again. We Will Make America Proud Again. We Will Make America Safe Again. And We Will Make America Great Again.” 

Card Stacking: Manipulating information to show its best features. Trump: “I know how to make a deal.”

Glittering Generalities: Using emotionally appealing words with no basis to evoke a positive response. It is basically name calling in reverse. Trump: “ We’re going to build a wall, and Mexico’s going to pay for it.” Trump proposes magical solutions like a wall along the Mexican border that will keep out the armies of immigrant who he claims are taking away “American” jobs, and crime. They appeal to the emotions and are associated with high-minded ideals and beliefs. They inspire us, yet are usually not accompanied by specifics.

In his closing speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump repeated at least four times that he was the law and order candidate, replaying a major theme in the 1968 Nixon campaign. Trump declared in Fuhrer-fashion: “I alone can fix it.” Hence, his crowd was led to believe that he, Donald J. is going to fix the system and “Make American Great Again”, a slogan he puts on the baseball caps that he hands our or sells to his supporters.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

"Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself" FDR's 1933 Inaugural Address

Undoubtedly one of the best President's to ever be in charge of this great nation, Franklin D. Roosevelt was a man of planning, action, and execution. He saw the troubles that the United States were facing at the time, and although he was a Republican, just reading about this great man gives one the feel that to him he really was a man for the people. He wasn't as worried about his party's agenda because he cared about the people. He put the people above everything else, and throughout his 8 year tenure as president he proposed and had passed many bills and laws that created jobs here at home in the U.S., got the people who were recently devastated by the Great Depression that had plagued our great nation only 3 years prior back to working, and helped reconstruct an economy that seemed to be a devastated and almost insalvable.
Franklin D. Roosevelt not was a great president and I think we can attribute that to the great Ethos that he possessed. And while there we're a lot of great speeches and "talks" that came out of his run as President, I will briefly analyze one of my personal favorites, his 1933 Inaugural Address. He had ran a great campaign, and his first speech as boss of the White House was great. He showed empathy and sympathy with a nation just as confused and lost and not sure about the future, but before it turned into a complete rundown of how sad the condition of the U.S. was at the time, he takes over with an leadership attitude, and begins saying how he's going to get the country on the right track again. And while politicians typically promise great things that feel almost too good to be true, listening to his rhetoric he didn't just give a plan and a promise, he gave the American people something they desperately needed and hadn't seen for awhile: He gave them hope. Without digressing any further, I will analyze the speech, which can be found here(FDR's Inaugural Address).

I'll break down this analysis into 3 parts, which are the three central elements of Ethos: Intelligence, Virtue, and Goodwill.

Intelligence: -He explains things how they are, it's not the public's fault that the depression happened, rather the fault of corrupt "money changers" that put their own greed before the dignity of respecting the hard-earnings of families around the country.

-When tackling the topic of creating jobs, he explains not what can be, but what will be given that the American people collaborate together to redistribute farmland and generate more crops, lowering taxes temporarily, and by creating work relief programs. All this to spread the work to other fields, because as he states, the Industrial Industry is overpopulated with workers, so he simply wants to create more jobs in different fields to put those displaced workers back in a stable job. Genius if you ask me, which get's me to asking why no one had thought of that before? FDR just had that kind of insight.

-He reminds us of his power as President and how he intends to use it, saying he will propose the bills to Congress, but should they not pass them, then he will use his power as President to wage a WAR on this emergency that faces the country (He literally would wage a war on Poverty!) It shows he's well read on his power, but also that he knows how to manipulate the constitution to suit his plans and actions he want's to take. If that's not genius, I don't know what is. This example could also be thrown in with Goodwill, as it shows he's willing to pull out all the cards as a President to tackle this problem.

Virtue: The tone given throughout the majority of his speech speaks in a friendly manner. I didn't hear FDR give this speech, I just read it to myself. Yet when I read it to myself, I got the feeling that this wasn't just a stranger talking to me, a leader and a friend was speaking to me, telling me that he just wants what I want, to fix this economy and job problem in the U.S. and that if I work hard with him and his govt. ordinances he can help me get back into working. When talking about the robbing of families, the use of language clearly puts him on the side of the audience, distinguishing himself from the crooks that ran banks. I could only think that after the great depression, many people had trust issues with anyone in a high position of power. So the fact that he doesn't associate with any big bankers, especially the ones on trial, would make the audience feel like they can relate to him. And if the people can relate to him, surely he must be a good person!

Goodwill: After giving this speech a good read, its clear to see that he has nothing but the people in mind when it comes to running a presidency. He recounts how years of savings have been lost, how the country is in shambles and people are confused what to do. He then offer's the people an option, an only option: demanding we work together as one nation, create jobs for each other through relief and public programs, support our local economy more and rebuild. In a time when many people were sad and feeling depressed about the situation the United States was in, FDR came in and said there's no point in crying over it, it's time to get to work and fix this together. On top of that he thanks God for being given the opportunity to help rebuild the United States, and asks him to bless "each and every one of us". That's a great way to end a speech, something that would really rally people together and showing that with his presidency, the amount of success he'll have isn't just based on his actions but also the people, relating himself with the people for a common goal which would speak to the audience as him having nothing but the best intentions for them in mind.

The speech has a nice and relaxed feel, and like his many fireside talks that we're to come, this speech was less an address and more a conversation between the people and him. Needless to say, this speech was a good one, and a good sign of things to come for the nation from a truly inspiring man who showed nothing but great character throughout each year of his presidency.

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

Propaganda in Trumps Campaign
     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
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.