Propaganda, Deception & Demagoguery

by Chip Berlet

Political Research Associates

This is an excerpt:

In 1936 Boston merchant Edward Filene helped establish the short- lived Institute for Propaganda
Analysis which sought to educate Americans to recognize propaganda techniques. Alfred McClung
Lee, Institute director from 1940-42, and his wife Elizabeth Briant Lee, co-authors of The Fine Art of
Propaganda, Social Problems in America, recently wrote an article in the periodical Propaganda
Review in which they suggested educating the public about propaganda techniques was an urgent
priority. The Lees also discussed the Institute's symbols for the seven hallmark tricks of the
manipulative propagandist:

Name Calling: hanging a bad label on an idea, symbolized by a hand turning thumbs down;

Card Stacking: selective use of facts or outright falsehoods, symbolized by an ace of spades, a card
signifying treachery;

Band Wagon: a claim that everyone like us thinks this way, symbolized by a marching bandleader's
hat and baton;

Testimonial: the association of a respected or hated person with an idea, symbolized by a seal and
ribbon stamp of approval;

Plain Folks: a technique whereby the idea and its proponents are linked to "people just like you and
me," symbolized by an old shoe;

Transfer: an assertion of a connection between something valued or hated and the idea or commodity
being discussed, symbolized by a smiling Greek theater mask; and

Glittering Generality: an association of something with a "virtue word" to gain approval without
examining the evidence; symbolized by a sparkling gem.

The Institute's last newsletter reflected that "in modern society an element of propaganda is present in
a large portion of human affairs...people need to be able to recognize this element even when it is
serving 'good' ends."