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Sunday, 14 April 2019

HOW TO DETECT PROPAGANDA by Clyde Raymond Miller


Clyde Raymond Miller

If American citizens are to have clear understanding of present-day conditions and what to do about them, they must be able to recognize propaganda, to analyze it, and to appraise it.

But, what is propaganda?

As generally understood, propaganda is expression of opinion or action by individuals or groups deliberately designed to influence opinions or actions of other individuals or groups with reference to predetermined ends.

Thus, propaganda differs from scientific analysis. The propagandist is trying to “put something across,” good or bad, whereas the scientist is trying to discover truth and fact. Often, the propagandist does not want careful scrutiny and criticism; he wants to bring about a specific action. Because the action may be socially beneficial or socially harmful to millions of people, it is necessary to focus upon the propagandist and his activities the searchlight of scientific scrutiny. Socially desirable propaganda will not suffer from such examination, but the opposite type will be detected and revealed for what it is.

We are fooled by propaganda chiefly because we don’t recognize it when we see it. It may be fun to be fooled but, as the cigarette ads used to say, it is more fun to know. We can more easily recognize propaganda when we see it if we are familiar with the seven common propaganda devices. These are:

1. The Name Calling Device
2. The Glittering Generalities Device
3. The Transfer Device
4. The Testimonial Device
5. The Plain Folks Device
6. The Card Stacking Device
7. The Band Wagon Device

Why are we fooled by these devices? Because they appeal to our emotions rather than to our reason. They make us believe and do something we would not believe or do if we thought about it calmly, dispassionately. In examining these devices, note that they work most effectively at those times when we are too lazy to think for ourselves; also, they tie into emotions which sway us to be “for” or “against” nations, races, religions, ideals, economic and political policies and practices, and so on through automobiles, cigarettes, radios, toothpastes, presidents, and wars. With our emotions stirred, it may be fun and infinitely more to our own interests to know how they work.

Lincoln must have had in mind citizens who could balance their emotions with intelligence when he made his remark: “… but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”


“Name Calling” is a device to make us form a judgment without examining the evidence on which it should be based. Here the propagandist appeals to our hate and fear. He does this by giving “bad names” to those individuals, groups, nations, races, policies, practices, beliefs, and ideals which he would have us condemn and reject. For centuries the name “heretic” was bad. Thousands were oppressed, tortured, or put to death as heretics. Anybody who dissented from popular or group belief or practice was in danger of being called a heretic. In the light of today’s knowledge, some heresies were bad and some were good. Many of the pioneers of modern science were called heretics; witness the cases of Copernicus, Galileo, Bruno. Today’s bad names include: Fascist, demagogue, dictator, Red, financial oligarchy, Communist, muckraker, alien, outside agitator, economic royalist, Utopian, rabble-rouser, trouble-maker, Tory, Constitution wrecker.

“Al” Smith called (Franklin D.) Roosevelt a Communist by implication when he said in his Liberty League speech, “There can only be one capital, Washington or Moscow.” When “Al” Smith was running for the presidency many called him a tool of the pope, saying in effect, “We must choose between Washington and Rome.” That implied that Mr. Smith, if elected president, would take his orders from the pope. Likewise, Mr. Justice Hugo Black has been associated with a bad name, Ku Klux Klan. In these cases some propagandists have tried to make us form judgments without examining essential evidence and implications. “Al Smith is a Catholic. He must never be president.” “Roosevelt is a Red. Defeat his program.” “Hugo Black is or was a Klansman. Take him out of the Supreme Court.”

Use of “bad names” without presentation of their essential meaning, without all their pertinent implications, comprises perhaps the most common of all propaganda devices. Those who want to maintain the status quo apply bad names to those who would change it. For example, the (William Randolph) Hearst press applies bad names to Communists and Socialists. Those who want to change the status quo apply bad names to those who would maintain it. For example, the Daily Worker and the American Guardian apply bad names to conservative Republicans and Democrats.


“Glittering Generalities” is a device by which the propagandist identifies his program with virtue by use of “virtue words.” Here, he appeals to our emotions of love, generosity, and brotherhood. He uses words like truth, freedom, honor, liberty, social justice, public service, the right to work, loyalty, progress, democracy, the American way, Constitution defender. These words suggest shining ideals. All persons of good will believe in these ideals. Hence, the propagandist, by identifying his individual group, nation, race, policy, practice, or belief with such ideals, seeks to win us to his cause. As Name Calling is a device to make us form a judgment to reject and condemn, without examining the evidence, Glittering Generalities is a device to make us accept and approve, without examining the evidence.

For example, use of the phrases, “the right to work” and “social justice,” may be a device to make us accept programs for meeting the labor-capital problem which, if we examined them critically, we would not accept at all.

In the Name Calling and Glittering Generalities devices, words are used to stir up our emotions and to befog our thinking. In one device “bad words” are used to make us mad; in the other, “good words” are used to make us glad.

The propagandist is most effective in the use of these devices when his words make us create devils to fight or gods to adore. By his use of the “bad words,” we personify as a “devil” some nation, race, group, individual, policy, practice, or ideal; we are made fighting mad to destroy it. By use of “good words,” we personify as a godlike idol some nation, race, group, etc. Words which are “bad” to some are “good” to others, or may be made so. Thus, to some the New Deal is “a prophecy of social salvation” while to others it is “an omen of social disaster.”

From consideration of names, “bad” and “good,” we pass to institutions and symbols, also “bad” and “good.” We see these in the next device.


“Transfer” is a device by which the propagandist carries over the authority, sanction, and prestige of something we respect and revere to something he would have us accept. For example, most of us respect and revere our church and our nation. If the propagandist succeeds in getting church or nation to approve a campaign in behalf of some program, he thereby transfers its authority, sanction, and prestige to that program. Thus, we may accept something which otherwise we might reject.

In the Transfer device, symbols are constantly used. The cross represents the Christian Church. The flag represents the nation. Cartoons like Uncle Sam represent a consensus of public opinion. These symbols stir emotions. At their very sight, with the speed of light, is aroused the whole complex of feelings we have with respect to church or nation. A cartoonist by having Uncle Sam disapprove a budget for unemployment relief would have us feel that the whole United States disapproves relief costs. By drawing an Uncle Sam who approves the same budget, the cartoonist would have us feel that the American people approve it. Thus, the Transfer device is used both for and against causes and ideas.


The “Testimonial” is a device to make us accept anything from a patent medicine or a cigarette to a program of national policy. In this device the propagandist makes use of testimonials. “When I feel tired, I smoke a Camel and get the grandest ‘lift.’” “We believe the John L. Lewis plan of labor organization is splendid; the CIO should be supported.” This device works in reverse also; counter-testimonials may be employed. Seldom are these used against commercial products like patent medicines and cigarettes, but they are constantly employed in social, economic, and political issues. “We believe that the John L. Lewis plan of labor organization is bad; the CIO should not be supported.” (BJ: I would only note here that famous people are often used in the testimonial device, like actress Sally Field selling us bone-strengthening medicine.)


“Plain Folks” is a device used by politicians, labor leaders, businessmen, and even by ministers and educators to win our confidence by appearing to be people like ourselves – “just plain folks among the neighbors.” In election years especially do candidates show their devotion to little children and the common, homey things of life. They have front porch campaigns. For the newspaper men, they raid the kitchen cupboard, finding there some of the good wife’s apple pie. They go to country picnics; they attend service at the old frame church; they pitch hay and go fishing; they show their belief in home and mother. In short, they would win our votes by showing that they’re just as common as the rest of us – “just plain folks,” – and therefore, wise and good. Business men often are “plain folks” with the factory hands. Even distillers use the device. “It’s our family’s whiskey, neighbor; and neighbor, it’s your price.”


“Card Stacking” is a device in which the propagandist employs all the arts of deception to win our support for himself, his group, nation, race, policy, practice, belief, or ideal. He stacks the cards against the truth. He uses under-emphasis and over-emphasis to dodge issues and evade facts. He resorts to lies, censorship, and distortion. He omits facts. He offers false testimony. He creates a smoke screen of clamor by raising a new issue when he wants an embarrassing matter forgotten. He draws a “red herring” across the trail to confuse and divert those in quest of facts he does not want revealed. He makes the unreal appear real and the real appear unreal. He lets half-truth masquerade as truth. By the Card Stacking device, a mediocre candidate, through the “build-up,” is made to appear an intellectual titan; an ordinary prize fighter a probable world champion; a worthless patent medicine a beneficent cure. By means of this device propagandists would convince us that a ruthless war of aggression is a crusade for righteousness. Some member nations of the Non-Intervention Committee send their troops to intervene in Spain. Card Stacking employs sham, hypocrisy, effrontery. (BJ: “The Big Lie” falls into this category: if you tell a lie often enough people will believe it. The release of falsified documents is included in “The Big Lie.”)


The “Band Wagon” is a device to make us follow the crowd, to accept the propagandist’s program en masse. Here his theme is: “Everybody’s doing it.” His techniques range from those of medicine show to dramatic spectacle. He hires a hall, fills a great stadium, marches a million men in parade. He employs symbols, colors, music, movement, all the dramatic arts. He appeals to the desire, common to most of us, to “follow the crowd.” Because he wants us to “follow the crowd” in masses, he directs his appeal to groups held together by common ties of nationality, religion, race, environment, sex, vocation. Thus, propagandists campaigning for or against a program will appeal to us as Catholics, Protestants or Jews; as members of the Nordic race or as Negroes; as farmers or as school teachers; as housewives or as miners. All the artifices of flattery are used to harness the fears and hatreds, prejudices and biases, convictions and ideals common to the group; thus, emotion is made to push and pull the group on to the Band Wagon. In newspaper articles and in the spoken word this device is also found. “Don’t throw your vote away. Vote for our candidate. He’s sure to win.” Nearly every candidate wins in every election – before the votes are in. (BJ: It is my fervent prayer that “one day a lemming will fly.”)


Observe that in all these devices our emotion is the stuff with which propagandists work. Without it, they are helpless; with it, harnessing it to their purposes, they can make us glow with pride or burn with hatred, they can make us zealots in behalf of the program they espouse. As we said at the beginning, propaganda as generally understood is expression of opinion or action by individuals or groups with reference to predetermined ends. Without the appeal to our emotion – to our fears and to our courage, to our selfishness and unselfishness, to our loves and to our hates – propagandists would influence few opinions and few actions.

To say this is not to condemn emotion, an essential part of life, or to assert that all predetermined ends of propagandists are “bad.” What we mean is that the intelligent citizen does not want propagandists to utilize his emotions, even to the attainment of “good” ends, without knowing what is going on. He does not want to be “used” in the attainment of ends he may later consider “bad.” He does not want to be gullible. He does not want to be fooled. He does not want to be duped, even in a “good” cause. He wants to know the facts and among these is included the fact of the utilization of his emotions.

Keeping in mind the seven common propaganda devices, turn to today’s newspapers and almost immediately you can spot examples of them all. At election time or during any campaign, Plain Folks and Band Wagon are common. Card Stacking is hardest to detect, because it is adroitly executed or because we lack the information necessary to nail the lie. A little practice with the daily newspapers in detecting these propaganda devices soon enables us to detect them elsewhere – in radio, newsreels, books, magazines, and in expression of labor unions, business groups, churches, schools, political parties.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

EUexit is not about money, it is about Freedom

There are two sides to BRexit - the economic and the political. The reason why businesses do not have a vote is: society is comprised of people and people are, supposedly via the ‘social contract’, represented by government.  Business interests are of relevance but the economic is secondary to the political in terms of the interest’s of the people. 

Just because the economy and business would do better that would not, for example, justify having a despotic totalitarian government.  People come first.

Businesses have to fit-in with the political landscape that is generally best for people. That does not mean businesses needs are of no relevance, clearly society needs a thriving economy so it is greatly a balance. 

Where there is a fundamental people rule. Exiting the EU is a political fundamental. If the EU was just a common market as originally described we would still be a willing partner I am sure. But it is not. The EU has become a political construct and it is that which has been firmly rejected by a majority of British people in a democratic referendum. 

Live with this change. We will adapt. Stop whining about economic downsides because that is not what is important. Leave understands the political need for independence.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Money and Currency

Money is a store of wealth that may be possible to use as a means of exchange and currency is a means of exchange that may be possible to use as a store of wealth.  Definitions are important.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Offshore Tax Avoidance & Cameron's Panama Hat

Another stage-managed 'leak' of documents enamours the world as this time the mainstream media tell tails against the ready made usual suspects of most wicked who have been off-shoring their wealth in tax-havens.  Naughty naughty.

Strange it is that amongst this cast of pantomime villains David Cameron, Britain's own beloved leader, is probably 'at it' too as it is evident his deceased father was an expert in the tax avoidance industry and operated companies to manage his wealth outside of the reach of the UK tax-man's grasp.

Strange it also is that David Cameron makes oblique statements about if he and his family derive benefit, or will someday derive benefit, from something that in all probability, near certainty, beyond reasonable doubt, exists: a substantial pot of gold buried on a treasure island with a pirate's map only they have possession of.  Why else would his father have formed off-shore companies with board meetings in Switzerland and all if there was no more than the £2.5 million declared in the UK at his death.  That is not enough ever for a decent London house these days.  We can see; David's wearing a Panama, we can see.

The retching hypocrisy is only illustrative of the quality of the material that survives the political system to rise to the top.

But in the wider scale of things, outside of the blatant perfidy, I am happy the wealthy work so hard to conceal and protect their lucre from taxation and death duties.  It is a war of attrition.  The higher taxes are the harder more wealthy folk will work to find the loopholes.  But the harder it is to find the loopholes the higher taxes will become.  If taxes were very low avoiding them would only need to be a little bit complicated.  As taxes rise most taxpayers would take prudent steps to avoid incurring them if it is simple and economical to do so.  High wealth tax payer's desire to invest in tax avoidance mechanisms helps keeps tax levels low.

If it is to be believed; JK Rowling famously admits to paying UK taxes without taking advantage of avoidance strategies and yet she is still one of the richest people in Britain.  How can this be?  She is a world wide best selling author and clearly has won substantial royalties all round but it is not like she owns and controls a giant global petro-chemical industry or media and aviation empire.  Her publisher's should be earning a few bob too and on other writer's works also.  Could it be she is showing that almost all the truly well-off do not have their money as visible as she does.

Apparently most multi-millionaires are self-made.  Is that because they fritter their spoils away in later life or is that because their eventual beneficiaries have trust-funds and off-shore investments made ready for when the time comes to pass it on.

The various means of tax planning for the wealthy are not the exception they are the norm.  You do not get to earn a fortune to let half of it vaporise in death duties, you do not have that mentality.  You do not pay more in tax than you can legal avoid either.  And the more that is at stake the more time and fees you will invest to hold-on to it. That is just good business.

None of this simple commercial reality for the taxation of the prime yielding human-herd tax-livestock is not known to the policy setters.  They understand.  And more; they understand that the ultimate tax-avoidance includes exiting the nation with all your wealth.  People would rather be rich overseas than taxed into poverty.  People would rather live on their wealth than slave away to earn nothing after the tax-man has took it all.

There is a competitive market in the provision of a national tax-efficient environment and top of that game has been for years the United Kingdom - not for the residents, the domiciles, but for the non-domiciles it is treasure island incarnate, with shops and shows and glamour.  The UK is the biggest off-shore provider, especially in combination with its extra little tax havens dotted here and there about the world.  For the international money/power super-rich there has been nothing else like it.  Until now!

It is becoming apparent that for the globe-trotting ultra money clique the USA is sharpening its offer of hush-hush trust facilitation and with good reason.  Having their money in your banks keeps your 'printed' money in demand and, in the event of a global central banking funny 'money' over-issue crises there is nothing better than to have the rich of the world all keeping their eggs in your basket to focus their attention on keeping the USD then durable for a while longer still no doubt.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Guidance for the Brexit Undecided - Go Back to Sleep

Great Britain, for tens of hundreds of years, has had an ever developing political, cultural, social and legal stability. So why do we need to tether our successful independence and sovereignty to the for-ever variable hotchpotch member states of the EU?

People who do not wish for this nation to be just a part of the EU still wish for the EU to be successful, strong, united and enduring.  We just do not want to be, or believe we need to be, a part of it.

If you are not sure already - not already 100% clear in your thinking - I strongly advocate you simply abstain from voting. Leave the matter to those with a clarity of conviction. If you are not already up to speed you are sleeping and a danger to our nation.

This matter has been progressing for fifty years, it is not about current issues, talking points, short term outcomes. It is about the sovereignty, prosperity and security of our nation. It is about who rules us. It is about the freedom of the British people long into the future.

Why I will vote in the Brexit Referendum

I shall not be voting to beg our political masters: please sir, can we leave this nest of vipers.

I will cast a 'vote' and by doing so I will be, simply and only, signalling the fact (putting on notice) that I no longer consider the political relationship between the UK and the EU to be a valid one or one that is applicable to me.

If the outcome is remain I shall be a dissident.

Remain a United Kingdom - Kiss EU Goodbye

What are you worried about, Dear Remmenents, what? Economic predictions, guesses, assumptions, estimates, opinions for the effect our nation's exit will somehow cause. Well my prediction, my guess, my assumption, my estimate, my opinion is that it will be all for the better and in the long term I am truly confident of that. But such matters not are the primary to me.

I want freedom, independence, autonomy, I want the established balance of the political and legislative system, that has been developed, tuned and worked so well in this country for so very long, to REMAIN. I am not voting to EXIT I am voting for this nation, to my mind the greatest mix of people and social system in the history of the world, to remain, remain a sovereign entity.

Even the language is false. Remain is the language of security, safety, ease. Exit is the language of fear, risk, the unknown. These are the choice of words that a Kafkaesque government would want to frame the question to err the minds of the gullible and pliant towards their version of 'truth'.

And such petty fears, of the remmenents, are just as simplistically formed by others too. Remmenents busy themselves with questions of business, finance and commercial interests when what should be foremost in their minds is enduring freedom. What poses the greatest risk? Being a part of a new, still forming state comprised from a hotchpotch of countries who have seen more shifting of boarders and powers in a hundred years than Britain has seen in ten thousand. If they want safety they are misguided as to the real nature of the real threat. The real risk.

It is not about short term prosperity it is about long term freedom.