Hey! Did you know four out of five dentists recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum? How many of you have heard that one before? It’s from a gum commercial.
Commercials are a form of propaganda. It’s using the media in an effort to influence you, the viewer/listener/reader. They want you to buy into the benefits of their product or service. No prob, it’s what they do. Just keep that claim in mind about the dentists, and we’ll look into other areas where we are vulnerable to propaganda.
A government uses propaganda as a tool to steer its culture and control its people. If you didn’t before, you know now. Prime examples include the Nazi propaganda machine in World War II. Adolf Hitler had an entire country convinced they were super men, superior to every race on the planet, and the Jewish people were the enemy of mankind. Look at this example:
So we see two purposes of propaganda: dehumanize the enemy, and draw popular support for your agenda.
Germany wasn't the only player in the propaganda war. Here are some examples from our side:
These are all very open examples. There is no doubt about what they are trying to do, and that is to bend public opinion in their favor, to coerce cooperation from the masses.
Surely, you say, you should be able to spot propaganda from a country mile and dismiss it, right? What if I suggested you were being subjected to propaganda on a more subliminal level, and not only letting it happen, but being bent by it? We can't always help it.
Let's look back at our dentists in the sugarless gum commercial above, and apply it in a slightly different way. "Four out of five dentists recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum."
This seems to say that eighty percent of all dentists recommend this particular product to their patients. That isn't what this says at all, and here's how the numbers shake out:
First, let's take a look at how the question is phrased. "Do you recommend sugared gum or sugarless gum for for your patients?" Like there's another choice? Ever been in one of thos polls where none of the answers fits how you really think? That's deliberate. It's so they can juggle the numbers later to get the results they want.
Second, on our gum commercial, is the sample. Let's say the team polled five hundred dentists. four hundred and ninety of those dentists might have wanted to say it doesn't make a difference to them, but that's not an option on the poll. So they settled and said, yes, if their patient HAD to chew gum, sugarless would probably be the way to go. The other ten dentists just got disgusted with the pollster and hung up or chased them out of the office with a drill.
The final results are based on a sample of the poll results. So the pollsters take five samples, hand-picked, and leave in the result from one of the psycho-dentists. That makes four out of five dentists surveyed, doesn't it?
Commercials aren't the only place you see this kind of covert propaganda, either. The news media, political parties and others use these tactics and others to shape opinion and coerce public support for their agendas.
In future posts, we'll examine some of the ways the public swallows things they normally would lynch someone over. Next week, we'll look at the role of a willing press. See you then.