Propaganda techniques in the age of the spin
Between our culture of narcissism and the advent of “fake news,” critical thinking is more important than ever. Whether it be in personal relationships, government or corporations, the use of propaganda and logical fallacies seem to be at an all-time high. So with this is mind, we’d like to provide you with a refresher course on a few of the most relevant logical fallacies on display at this time. The first technique is probably the most common one because it is so easy to use and involves distraction. It’s known as a “red herring.” It’s defined as “something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand.”
A recent offender of this is Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. To undermine Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ argument about black Americans and their consistent patriotism to this country, O’Reilly took aim at her hairstyle. “I didn’t hear a word she said, I was busy looking her (James Brown) wig.” As an effect, the wig talk by O’Reilly dominated the headlines over the very important message the Congresswoman was trying to convey. Another technique that shares similarities with red herring is what is called ad hominem. Ad hominem distracts, but the difference is it makes an attack on the character or personal trait of an opponent making an argument in order to discredit them.
The president of the United States’ twitter account is something like an ad hominem factory. For instance, Arnold Schwarzenegger he was “praying that President Trump can start improving his approval rating.” Trump, who is on record as having the lowest approval rating for an incoming president, attack the Terminator’s performance as California’s governor when he held the position from 2003-2011; calling it a “bad job.” The response had nothing to do with the facts of his low approval ratings. The last technique we’ll mention is so extreme that it’s more of a blatant lie than it is a logical fallacy. Gas lighting as it’s called, is a popular narcissist character trait. In the words of the TV Judge, Judge Judy, gas lighting is akin to someone peeing on your shoe and telling you its rain.