I found an excellent piece written by a Mr Gunnar AP Language and Composition which was adapted from the Institute of propaganda in 1937 and I have a link to this document on the links page for the qualification and you can find it at: http://readlikeawriter2.weebly.com/uploads/1/2/6/3/12633502/propaganda.pdf

I was searching for a check list to help my learners and financial advisers identify propaganda or fake news when they see it.

It is clear that the first thing you will notice is that the message is emotional rather than logical or analytical. This can be positive or negative emotion, so when you see a message for a commentator that is clearly appealing to emotion rather than logic, be careful. Emotive language and a lack of detail and facts are dangerous and a clear indication of fake news or propaganda.

So when you see the following 7 you are probably on the receiving end of propaganda:

  1. Name-calling when you hear the commentator, be it a news reader, blogger/vlogger, political commentator, expert or politician calling people by negative names, making fun of them, being cruel or destructive the speaker is probably feeding you propaganda and trying to manipulate you.  These are emotive negative words which are designed to resonate with their audience and are designed to get the audience riled up.
  2. Glittering generalities are essentially the opposite of the above when the speaker builds up an individual by using emotional and powerful words and language. The other part of this positive and emotional input is that it is not specific and has no detail.  This person will save the day, save the country, and change the world of look after the worker, without specifically saying how this will be done or achieved. It is often used to describe the wonderful things they have done, in the past, but again no details or facts.
  3. Transfer is when the communicator uses large and important concepts that create emotion and links these to the message they are trying to convey. So when the speaker uses religion, God, our way of life, our culture, democracy, our country, the flag, our culture, cultural values and other large important issues in their message and ties this to fear of loss of these, if you do not follow or support the message.Transfer links these things to the message so if you don’t support the message you clearly are against these important parts of our world. Essentially you become the enemy.
  4. Testimonials are used in selling products and in convincing people to follow an agenda or support a movement. This is where a famous, powerful, trustworthy or special person is used to support the idea of the concept. First check if this support is true, if the message and support is in context with the issue. Often people who have passed away are used in this way as there is no way to check if they would have supported this, other than to check the persons writing and comments to see if this is true. I have seen many ridiculous issues and comments attributed to famous people. Always check if the quote is true.
  5. Plain folks or ordinary people, when the speaker is trying to convince you, they are one of the ordinary people they are probably trying to get you onside with their agenda.  This is used by politicians, leaders and business people extensively to “relate” to their audience. They will dress down, engage in activities that the “normal” people follow, and wear clothing like baseball caps, hard hats and other work clothing to convince you that they are just like them. I always distrust this behaviour and prefer people who stay who they are when presenting their message to the people as it is manipulation and impossibly fake news or propaganda.
  6. Card stacking, this effective and dangerous practice is beautifully described in the above document. The communicator uses over-emphasis, under-emphasis, creative use of the truth, emotional triggers to stack the cards against the truth when putting forward his message to convince you to follow the path suggested. This is difficult to spot if it is done well and again apply facts and information to the message and you will see the gaping holes in the logic and content of the message.
  7. Band wagon, this is the message that generally states “everyone “is doing this, believes this or wants this and if you do not agree you are clearly out of step with everyone. Peer pressure at its most evil. Again, Check quotes.

When you are presented with a view or opinion, always:

  1. Check the author
  2. Check the publication
  3. Check the organisation
  4. Check the facts, check the details, look at the sources and ask questions
  5. Look for balance, are you only hearing one side of the story?
  6. Check with experts in the field
  7. Last, but not least always be a little bit of a sceptic. Look for details and information to help you to make an informed decision.