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LongUlfPost (LUP) - 3Ps: Propaganda:
Posted June 25th, 2007 - 7:52 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
propaganda, noun:
Any type of communication ultimately directed to a large public, whose message has a deceiving character seeking a reaction, in terms of opinion or behavior, according to one's interests, cause or ideas.


[THIS IS NOT AN IMPORTANT THREAD! NOBODY HAS TO READ IT to be able to continue being an active CS member or participant in this or other groups' (other) ongoing discussions! But if you do read it and then find some things I wrote annoying or even offensive then, please, read my "LUP - DISCLAIMER" - thread (-> http://www.couchsurfing.com/group_read.html?gid=429&post=250090 ) BEFORE you give me my possibly well-deserved telling-off - thank you!]

Posted June 25th, 2007 - 8:15 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
I don't know why it is that I stumble so often across so obvious usage of the most classic propaganda tricks in so many threads here on CS but hardly ever on anyone reacting to those by pointing out and clearly naming and describing and denouncing those methods. Maybe I have a somewhat closer relationship (at least definitely a stronger affinity) with language than others - even with a foreign one? Or perhaps it's because I live and was born and raised in a country in which pretty recent history propaganda has enabled and backed up 2 totalitarian systems which is why we here are constantly told and taught so much about that even very early in school. Whatever it is - those very often recurring same old tricks have bothered me for too long and it's time I let loose...

trojan, noun: A program that appears desirable but actually contains something harmful.
The whole purpose of all propaganda is to create trojans! A piece of information is smuggled into a readers/listeners mind without him noticing so! You disguise what is in fact a fact (though usually an untrue one!) as something different which the reader/listener will let in into his mind rather uncritical (for examples: see below!) and once it got there it will nest in the usually not so conscious part of that mind - as a (ture!) fact. Why would somebody do that? Because just like with a real trojan once that fact got into the others mind it can develop it's evil powers there and make the recipient make up opinions based on those facts which he possible would not have developed otherwise. Especially if those facts are downright wrong. Or purely speculation! And since there's usually more than just one reader this will be true for many. Here are some of the most common fact-trojans:

Posted June 25th, 2007 - 8:15 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
If I go and address somebody - directly or indirectly - to tell him something completely and thus for everybody (including that somebody!!!) absolutely obvious then this will always look like I figure that this somebody does in fact not know this obvious fact -or has at least forgotten it. "Ulf: women are human beings, too!" If somebody else reads this he will immediately and unconsciously infer from that the information that Ulf has done something that seems to show he doesn't know that women are humans. Or does not agree with that. Or has forgotten so. If later Ulf - who of course was always perfectly aware of that fact of life - defends himself and accuses the author of that sentence of slander than this mendacious author can always claim that he has actually never said that!

And that's what annoys me so much about that trick: You convey a message very clearly without ever really saying what nevertheless ends up in the readers' memory. Such hypocritical cowardice! If you are ridiculous and/or stupid enough to accuse s.b. of anything without any real foundation for that - then at least stand by it! Say it clear and unmistakably! Say: "Ulf: from having read this or that of you I come to the conclusion that you have at least forgotten that women are humans, too, or you simply disagree with that! ..."

This is a classical trojan!!! It sneaks into the readers/listeners mind without him noticing so, gets stuck there and later in the ongoing discussion the reader will only somewhat remember that Ulf thinks women are not humans. And will continue or start arguing with that false knowledge in the back of his mind. And there'll be many of readers - our groups here are great to transfer such trojans into as many minds as possible! So in no time Ulf will be known as the guy who treats women like animals and his reputation will go down the drain and then he'll be banned from CS - officially on account that he had 5 out of 50 (yep - that's just 10%!) negative references of which 3 or 4 shouldn't really have counted in the first place... And nobody will remember that this started with the cowardly and lying usage of that simplest and dirtiest of all propaganda tricks!

There are some variations - some more subtle and thus even dirtier! A question instead of a statement: "Ulf: are women not humans, too?". Or even stating the opposite - and yet conveying the exact same thing: "Ulf, surely we both agree on that women are humans, too!" If we do agree on something that's so obvious that we can safely assume that in addition to us everybody else will agree, too, then why state this agreement among ourselves?!? That's what the readers - again: automatically and unconsciously - will ask themselves and just as unconsciously they will answer that question to themselves with that Ulf does probably in fact NOT agree...

For those of you who got confused by this example: I personally think that while women have many rather human sides, too, they are in fact of course goddesses - all of them!

Posted June 25th, 2007 - 8:15 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
Everyone has the right to publicly state his opinion - even if nobody else agrees!

Nobody should state things pretending those are true fact - when they are not!

Again: way too often I can't make myself NOT to believe that the line between those two things has been moved or blurred intentionally! Which isn't that hard, actually, for the line is in fact pretty often very thin and hard to see anyways...

First of all I wanna leave any rather philosophical approach aside (I really don't care if what I see is in fact only a shadow or reflection of some archetype...) as well as the fact that our senses can play nasty tricks on us and make us believe we see, feel, hear (...) "factual things" that are in fact not there! Let's just distinguish between "empirical facts" and opinions.

"This tree is 3 meters high" is a fact. "This tree is beautiful" is an opinion. The fact can be wrong - the opinion cannot be wrong. It can differ from somebody else's opinion about the tree - but none of them can be wrong. It's a bit more difficult with - for example - this sentence: "This tree is big". Of course - when compared to the size of the universe every tree is tiny. But that would be just lame splitting hairs - for in such a case it's, of course, always meant "in comparison with the average size of (such) trees!"

But sometimes we use the term "opinion" for what is in fact a "prophecy" or speculation, or better: the assessment of the probability of a possible future event to actually happen or come true. Or not. Since we cannot know that we often phrase it something like this: "I think that XY will happen" - which is exactly the phrasing we'd use for opinions: "I think this tree is beautiful"! And therefore people often confuse those two term. I guess you actually can even say "I am of the opinion that XY is gonna happen" - but strictly speaking this is NOT an opinion. And it can turn out to be wrong. So then in retrospect such an assessment ("prophecy"/speculation) was wrong, too. But opinions are - technically speaking - never wrong!

Now...

The propaganda trick is to kind of use the fact that those things are sometimes hard to distinguish to create more "trojan facts". Here you disguise facts as opinions or assessments. Again: cowardly hypocritical (one can later pretend to only have wanted to express a personal opinion...) and easier to convey a message into the badly prepared recipient - or rather many of them!

There are too many forms to list them all - but the most common one are the assessments about possible future events ("prophecys"/speculations). One very recent example that made me extremely angry was one of the opencouchsurfing guys' reason they gave us for why they started their fight/campaign/initiative on that extra site outside CS - because they feared that their posts might get deleted (in other words: censored) here on CS ("LUP - An open letter to the pirates" -> http://www.couchsurfing.com/group_read.html?gid=429&post=250098 ). Even though on first sight this just seems to be some guys' personal apprehensions it really immediately plants the "knowledge" in many reader's minds that on CS posts in groups can (and possibly will) be deleted by the guys who pull the strings. How convenient to create a certain mood against certain people!

And of course ultimately that leads to the conspiracy theories and prophecies as discussed in my " LUP - 3Ps: Prophecies" - thread (-> http://www.couchsurfing.com/group_read.html?gid=429&post=250105 )...