Propaganda is information- misleading or biased in nature- in the form of arguments, rumors or incomplete truths used to manipulate people’s beliefs, attitudes or actions. Propaganda may stem from a simple conversation or exchange of ideas but those who instigate it always have a specific goal in mind. Their acts of manipulation are always deliberate.
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Propaganda: A Political and Profitable Tool
The History of Propaganda
Propaganda can be traced back to Darius I when he ascended the Persian throne in 515 BC. Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Empire, was rumored to spread propaganda during his rise to power. Propaganda was disseminated throughout Europe during the Reformation which led to new ideas, thoughts, and policies. The United States of America did not involve them with Britain and France went to war against Germany.
The United States entangled itself with the war effort when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Once they sent their army to the battleground, artists created posters that would inspire the troop and instill fear in the rallies. Images depicted a blood-thirsty Hitler and menacing Japanese. These posters reflect how propaganda was used to link the country with those in the front line.
How Does Propaganda Differ from Education Then?
Education is the transmission of values and accumulated knowledge of a society. Educators try to provide factual information proven by science or stimulate the students’ minds by portraying both sides of the coin. In education, there is room for doubt and questions.
Every conceivable advantage or disadvantage is analyzed. The deliberate manipulation distinguishes propaganda from education. Education aids students in learning techniques and skills that will allow them to evaluate situations and evidence themselves. A propagandist may claim to be an educationalist and utter ‘half-truths,’ placing emphasis on some points while skimming over the others.
What is the Propaganda Model?
In reality, propaganda is influenced by a profit-driven system by businesses and emotionally charged scenes by politicians. It is further honed by mass communication and media. The Propaganda Model by Edmard S. Herman and Noam Chomsky claims that news passes through five filters that shape what the audience finally views.
Size, Ownership and Profit Orientation of Mass Media: News distributors are often associated with large enterprises and the news conveyed to the public is influenced by the information provided by these corporations.
Funding: Most news distributors rely on advertisements as their primary source of income. Their content must align with their advertiser’s needs and interests.
Source: News portals often rely on press releases and secondary sources for news and as a result release already doctored content.
Flak: Flaks, such as petitions or lawsuits, are negative responses from the general population over broadcasts or newscast by the media. This is often detrimental to media portals especially if they contradict a unanimous decision or opinion.
Fear: This unifies the public against a common enemy or threat.
How Can You Detect Propaganda?
Propaganda is a strong political tool that has shaped public opinion and activities. Propaganda often uses public relations to spread its traffic of lies so it is possible to detect deceit.
People have always desired to fit in with society and find a sense of belonging. Propagandists consider this to be a powerful force and exploit this feeling of longing to appeal to the public. They encourage the public to speak or think in a particular way to “fit in” with the others. And people comply not wanting to be left behind others.
Propagandists often appeal to the bourgeois’ secret desire to belong to the upperclassmen. They position themselves as people who have the ideas or opinions worthy of the elite and convince others to serve their purposes. Many businesses adopt this technique to sell ‘high-quality goods and services.’
A common technique propagandist uses is indistinct words or vague terms that evoke speculation amongst the audience. These words will have an incomplete or no real story and truth to offer. The audience is enticed by these cherry pickings and complies. Governments may to adopt this strategy too. If they release a study that claims “80% of the vehicles which drove over 60 miles per hour met with an accident,” the country’s inhabitants will immediately lower their speed limit. The data may neither come with insufficient evidence nor be conclusive, but it will appeal to the general population regardless.
It comes as no surprise when propaganda is orchestrated by stereotyping. Just by using a loaded term such as ‘Democrat’ or ‘Nazi,’ chaos can ensue. Words hold power over public relations and using such words to sway the public is not difficult. Propagandists inspire fear, anger, happiness, doubt or security with words with hidden meaning. Many political parties tear down their opponents through this simple method. Deification is often used to portray an idea or incident as holy and in some cases blasphemy.
Propagandists often conjure images- good or bad- and connect them with a completely unrelated concept or good to nudge the general public to take action. The exact opposite could also be encouraged with a warning that reminds them any action would lead to suffering. To redirect the attention of the viewers from something, propagandists use an individual or organization as a scapegoat.
Celebrities have a strong influence on their followers. So when a popular face tries to sell an idea or a product, their admirers will immediately buy them without any further analysis. It is often found that these celebrities have no personal experience with this product and have no idea where it originates from. Purchasers of this product do so based on their judgment rather than examining the product’s own characteristics.
There are always two sides to a story. And before making a decision, it is impertinent for the audience to know both to evaluate the situation correctly. Right? Protagonists have also used this to their advantage. They will convince you to look at other views but subtly emphasize on one. Another method they use is to by waiting while answering a question or ignoring it entirely.
In conclusion, it is advisable for you to pay special attention to the words that are presented to you. You will be able to filter out the underlying meaning with ease!