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Spotting Spin - The Lies Before Your Eyes - 28 Tricks of the Trade



Spotting Spin

The Lies Before Your Eyes

28 Tricks of the Trade




Media Spin D20a

Think of a spider spinning it's web to trap it's prey.   Would you be willing to be tricked into a trap that was likely to be to your disadvantage? Would you like to know how to recognize the almost invisible but very powerful spiders' webs being spun to capture you each day?


Spiders web spin D20
Like the spider's web, the type of "Spin" we are talking about today uses deception. Individuals, specific groups or the general public are the intended victims.
Advertising and public relations activities which are truthful and either do not use deception (or at worst use "white" lies) are not regarded as spin. See:  http://www.truthliesdeceptioncoverups.info/2014/07/categories-of-lies-white-lies-grey-lies.html
"Spin" refers to the forms of marketing  and public relations that use trickery and psychological manipulation. It developed out of military propaganda techniques. It refers to deceptive methods used to create a desired impression upon people; or to create a desired action (or prevent an action) by a person, group of people or the general public. Spin is spun in response to, or in preparation for something. The focus of spin-doctors tends to be on either promoting or covering up the actions of their employers (or doing both of these). 
Propaganda squealer pigs D20
Spinners of the "Spin" form of marketing and public relations are also referred to as "Spin-Doctors" (which sounds a bit better than spiders). George Orwell's "Squealer Pig" in Animal Farm was a spin-doctor. Spin doctors commonly work behind the scenes - coaching politicians, managers of large organizations (including government) and big businesses; and they often deal with the media on their employer's behalf. 
Spiders web D20a
The spinner's of "spin" usually like to keep out of the limelight in order that their employer will appear to be acting honestly and spontaneously (rather than in a carefully orchestrated fashion). That's a bit like spiders that tend to stay away from their web while they wait for it to catch a victim.  But sometimes spin-doctors do act as the "mouthpiece" for an individual or organization.

Spin-doctors are usually employed by others and what they do is usually on behalf of others. It's a bit like a boss spider hiring another spider to spin or teach them to spin a web as a trap. While the spinning spider creates the trap, the boss spider consumes the prey. Individuals are also capable of spin-doctoring on their own behalf. Please keep this in mind when reading the rest of this post because I may refer to spin-doctors, spinners and the employers of spin-doctors in the same way because they employ the same techniques. Likewise, because spin arose from propaganda, these terms may be used interchangeably.


spoonful of PR propaganda D20
The objectives of spin-doctors most often involves  promotion. The audience is manipulated to: 
  • Buy a product or service, or
  • Vote in a certain way, or 
  • Support a policy such as a war, or an economic decision such as a tax measure, or a change in law; or, 
  • Not support the competition; or, 
  • Not take action that would prevent the spinner having something that he/she wants etc 
Spin-doctors are also commonly involved in damage control or coverups. In these cases the purpose of the spin is to reduce the impact of the negative event, deny it or distract the public away from talking about the problem; and consequently reduce the negative consequences. 

Spin is not limited to any one political party or type of business. Spin-doctors (and those who need spin) make extensive use of all forms of media. Consequently, we are exposed to "spin" on many matters in the media every day.

The lies that were spun to continuously lure people into investing in financial institutions - when their managers knew they were bust - is just one example of the negative consequences of spin. 
blinky nuclear reactor fish D20

Stephen Stockwell, in his article: "Spinning the fabric of reality" gives a short insight into spin-doctors in his review of a show from the cartoon serial - The Simpsons - where "Blinky" the three-eyed fish is found near a nuclear power plant. This is from his article:
"When a three-eyed fish is found near Mr Burns's nuclear power plant, he becomes desperate to roll back health and safety regulation and decides to run for governor. His campaign team boasts not only a spin doctor, a joke writer and a make-up man but also a muck-raker, a character assassin, a mud-slinger and a garbologist. It is the politics of the bottom-feeders. 
In the end, despite the spin doctor naming the fish Blinky and coming up with a sterling defence of the creature as an evolutionary necessity, Marge Simpson out-spins them all by serving up the three-eyed fish for Mr Burns's televised dinner the night before the election. It is a spin doctor's nightmare when Mr Burns spits out the fish and destroys his credibility on live television."
https://griffithreview.com/edition-5-addicted-to-celebrity/spinning-the-fabric-of-reality
Media propaganda D20Stockwell's article also includes a summary of the modern history of spin - introducing some background on the father of public relations - Edward L Bernays. Bernays  worked as a military propagandist for Woodrow Wilson during the first world war. He started using propagandist techniques in advertising and political circles after the war. 

In the 1920s Bernays began to tutor politicians on the use of the media and the "Engineering of Consent." It was the birth of the non-military use of propaganda (which subsequently became known as "spin") on the general public. Owing to the negative connotations associated with the word propaganda, Bernays  introduced the term "Public Relations". "Marketing" became a strong and powerful influence on the general public.  

http://scienceblogs.com/evolvingthoughts/2008/08/31/spin-versus-framing-the-traged/


Controlling the masses D20

Bernays (like despots and authoritarian rulers) felt that the public's democratic judgment was:
"not to be relied upon" and he feared that "they [the American public] could very easily vote for the wrong man or want the wrong thing, so that they had to be guided from above".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Century_of_the_Self#CITEREFH.C3.A4ringDouglas2012http://web.archive.org/web/20110514032526/ 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/century_of_the_self.shtml
Bernays argued in Propaganda (1928), one of his first books. http://www.whale.to/b/bernays.pdf
"If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it" 
Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. Born in Vienna of Jewish parents, it is ironical

that Bernays believed that manipulation of the masses was necessary. In his 1965 autobiography Bernays recalls a dinner at his home, where he learned that Goebbels (who
was in charge of propaganda in Nazi Germany) had been using Bernays work as a reference in designing his propaganda campaign against the Jews.
Nazi propaganda D20
"Karl von Wiegand, foreign correspondent of the Hearst newspapers, an old hand at interpreting Europe and just returned from Germany, was telling us about Goebbels and his propaganda plans to consolidate Nazi power. 
Goebbels had shown Wiegand his propaganda library, the best Wiegand had ever seen. Goebbels, said Wiegand, was using my book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. 
This shocked me. ... Obviously the attack on the Jews of Germany was no emotional outburst of the Nazis, but a deliberate, planned campaign." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays

The Nazi views on propaganda focused on repetition of a simple message:
"But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and important requirement for success."  
Adolf Hitler , Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. VI (1925)

Hitler was a believer in the power of the "Big Lie" (and believed that other politicians used this technique too.)
"...in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously." 
Adolf HitlerMein Kampf, vol I, ch. X (1925)
tricks of propaganda D20Joseph Goebbels was appointed Hitler's propaganda minister in 1933. He also was a believer in the power of lying big and repeating the message:

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. 
The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. 
It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”  
Joseph Goebbels  
http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/holoprelude/goebbels.html
who pulls the strings D20Bernays also used “Freudian Theory” to deal with the public's conception of communism. He believed that the American government should not be easing the public's fear of communism, but rather promote that fear and play with the public's emotions of it. This theory and his influence was so powerful that it became one of the weapons used during the cold war, and not just in the US.


Bernays coined the term "engineering of consent" to describe his technique for controlling the masses. The "Engineering of Consent" (which is just another name for the the propaganda processes involved in spin) and "Spin" are about manipulating how the public thinks and what they do. 
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society," Bernays argued. 
Intelligent manipulation D20"Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. . . . In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons . . . who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind."
 http://www.prwatch.org/prwissues/1999Q2/bernays.html

When consent is successfully "engineered" the audience/victims are tricked into agreeing to do something (or not do something) by means of deception and psychological manipulation. It is questionable whether or not the audience would have "consented" if they were aware of the fact that they were being deliberately manipulated and were aware of the whole truth. 


What lies straight to our faces D20


In an age of of the right to "Informed Consent", the hypocrisy of this is rather striking.

While the consequence of marketing spin on consumerism has been dramatic over the past 80 years - so has the consequence of financial and political spin. We are subject to staged "spin" in the news media on a regular basis, and it's not just in the advertising. We have certainly seen spin implicated in the downfall of the banking system and financial institutions around the world - the victims hooked with lies hidden by spin.  We have also seen it used in the rationalization for actions related to wars, and the rapidly evolving oppressive practices of countries spying not only on the enemy, but upon their own people.

We are also seeing it today in so-called democratic countries where politicians are manipulated to act on behalf of the wants of huge corporations and politicians from other countries - rather than acting on behalf of the general public in their own country. Like the other farm animals in Animal Farm, "spin" is required to manipulate the general public to agree with the government carrying out policies that benefit big business rather than benefit ordinary people.
Propaganda D20

It may be argued that there is a war by stealth going on at present. Terrorism may be a symptom (and is also being used as an excuse to implement oppressive, intrusive and authoritarian measures.) The toppling of banks and financial institutions the world over is also a sign. The related dependence of affected nations on help from huge banks (share-holder owned by huge corporations) and dependence on other countries puts those countries at risk of losing control of their own economy; and following on that loss of job opportunities for it's citizens and loss of control of natural resources. When these things are lost; loss of independence, and eventually loss of democratic rights and freedoms can be expected to follow. Do not underestimate the importance of this. These matters are of global concern - and the consequences for ordinary citizens in democratic countries is great.
Do what you are told D20
The public must be fooled to agree with these processes (or tricked so they do not actively object to them.) 

Spin (which is actually propaganda from a military perspective) is making us blind to what is happening. Being blind, we let our governments and big corporations get away with doing things that are unjust and to the detriment of the economy of the ordinary people and detrimental to democracy. Spin has been and continues to be used to pull the wool over the eyes of the general public.
http://www.truthliesdeceptioncoverups.info/2013/04/button-button-cyprus-and-rest-of-us.html
http://www.truthliesdeceptioncoverups.info/2013/03/neoliberalism-porker-politics-porkies.html

The deceptive misinformation and misleading actions of spin-doctors (and their employers) are a major threat to democracy, justice and the economy the world over. 

We need to avoid being tricked by "Spin".
Spin propaganda D20

Spin Techniques 
(Note: These apply to circumstances where deception is used)
See if you, your family and friends can spot the use of these impression management techniques in marketing, government communication or the various media you use for news:


1. Truthiness (or Half Truths)
  • People who want to deceive do not want their deception to be detected.
  • Although truthiness may be described in different ways, the truthiness we refer to in the context of spin is not the truth but deception. It involves the use of various techniques to hide the deception and create an impression of truthfulness for a person, group or the general public. Truthiness may contain various amounts of truthful facts or no truth at all. 
  • It involves various types of techniques used for "impression management", some of which you will find below.
2. Dumb down the news (Denials and Avoidance)
  • This technique involves denial and other methods to  avoid answering questions from
    Denials D20
    the media and concerned public. If an issue is not reported, and the general public does not know about it, it's like it never happened. (Fortunately, good journalists tend to recognize denial spin when they hear it. We should too.)
  • Characterizing the issues as just "rumors" or dismissing the charges as old news and using these as excuses not to comment are other techniques used to put the media and concerned public off the scent.
  • The opposite ploy is claiming the issues are too complex to discuss, and the truth unknowable (with the intent to prevent further pursuit of facts and the truth) and using this as an excuse to avoid the topic.
  • Spinners should be challenged when they use denials and avoidance.
3. Creating a Diversion
  • Changing the subject may be as simple as ignoring the relevant question and changing the subject; or may go so far as to involve creating and publicizing distractions (good or bad) to divert attention from the matters the spinner wants to cover up.
4. Proofiness
Proofiness D20
  • Proofiness is lying with numbers or using incorrect logic deliberately to mislead. 
  • Proofiness can involve: outright lying about numbers; quoting statistics out of context so that they mislead; distorting statistics; or using incorrect logic in order to mislead the audience.
  • Proofiness with numbers or incorrect logic is not just used by unscrupulous spinners in governments, big business and marketing. 
  • Proofiness is unfortunately also used deliberately in some instances in science and medicine (often in the interest of boosting or protecting interests of big businesses etc). As with the censoring of contributions in mainstream media, in some instances editorial and advertising processes in scientific and medical media can inadvertently facilitate the spread of false conclusions arising from proofiness.
5. Using Fallacious (false or incorrect) Logic. 
  • Logical thinking may be correct or incorrect. Incorrect logic (fallacious logic) is common and does not necessarily mean there has been an intent to deceive.
  • When talking about incorrect logic in terms of spin - once again, the intent and the consequences matter.
    Logic and Mr. Spock D20
  • Fallacious (incorrect) logic may involve using misleading comparisons (which may have some irrelevant similarities) resulting in a false conclusion. 
  • If the incorrect logic is part of a "spin" then usually the spinner will assert that the logic is correct and true, whereas it is wrong and misleading. 

Example"
Snow is white.
There are no calories in snow.
Sugar is white.
So there are no calories in sugar. 
  • Or fallacious logic may involve incorrect backwards reasoning (inductive reasoning) - where you assume the conclusion is true and reason backward to the (preferred by the spinner) evidence that leads to a false conclusion. Incorrect inductive reasoning can also be used by a spin-doctor to create a misleading illusion of cause and effect for the audience.
Example of incorrect inductive (backward) reasoning:
All of the swans we have seen in New Zealand are black
Therefore all swans in New Zealand are black.
6.  The "Straw Man" Argument Technique 
Straw Man Technique D20

Things made of straw are fairly easy to tear apart. 

The Straw Man Argument technique involves ignoring the opponent's actual position. Instead, the spinner or propagandist creates a "Straw Man" argument - and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of the opposition's position and attempts to make the opponent's stance appear ridiculous. 

Then the spinner attacks the distorted "Straw Man" argument the spinner has created, rather than the opponent's actual position.
Straw Man Instructions D20
The objective of this technique is to distort the opponent's argument and hope the audience will not see that this has happened; and mislead the audience into thinking that the opponent's position is off-the-wall.

The spinner also wants to create the impression that he has won the argument - and that this has been shown by the spinner having torn apart the (non-existent) "Straw Man" which was crafted by the spin-doctor or propagandist (rather than their opposition.


7. How Dare You?
  • This is a variation on the "Straw Man" gambit. It involves avoiding key issues of an opponent's position and trying to link some side issue in the opponent's position so that it appears insulting to a given group. This is often accompanied by wrongfully attacking the motives of the opponent.
8. "Hit and Run" 
  • In any public forum the spinner may make a brief attack on the opponent and then disappear before the opponent can reply.
9. Mud-Slinging and Name Calling
  • This is an evasive spin and propagandist technique whereby the spin-doctor side-steps their expected response in an argument or discussion by making a personal attack on their opponent instead of responding to the argument:
eg: "Well, he would say that, wouldn't he."
  • This includes belittling opponents by calling them derogatory names or making sarcastic comments about them while avoiding the issues. It may also include questioning their motives (once again diverting attention from the topic of the discussion).
  • This is also what's going on when a point in an argument or discussion is side-stepped by the spin-doctor by attacking the group the opponent may be associated with, instead of addressing the argument.
10. Appeal to Misleading Authority
    Quack Ad for medicine D20
  • We often rely on expert opinions when drawing conclusions about technical matters where we lack the expertise ourselves. 
  • An Appeal to an Authority may be misleading under the following circumstances. 
  1. The authority cited is either not an expert (or is an expert but in an unrelated area), or
  2. The person is an expert but has a bias or conflict of interest, or
  3. The person may be an expert, but the views he holds may not be representative of the majority  in the field of expertise.
11. Fear-Mongering Appeal to Fear (and Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt)
  • This is a propaganda technique that capitalizes on fear.
  • Fear by-passes the rational parts of our brain. It makes us more susceptible to overt or hidden messages in media that are designed to induce fear and anxiety.
  • Multiple forms of lies and deceptive techniques are used to spin fear-mongering stories.
  • This technique psychologically prepares the audience for something that is going to happen that they won't like; or forces the audience to do something by causing them to fear something bad will happen to them if they don't do it.
  • It is used in politics (particularly when military action, additional taxes or other policies that the public might object to - are planned); and it is also used in marketing.
  • With the Appeal to Fear - the spin-doctor usually also presents a solution (their solution) to cope with the fear they have induced.
Examples:
"Voting for "Mr. A" for [some claimed reason - commonly untrue] is the same as voting for terrorists. Vote for our guy, Mr. "B" - Security for Sure." 
"Don't lose friends due to your bad breath. Use Brand X for fresh breath for 24 hours."
12. Bandwagon Effect
    Bandwagon D20
  • The Bandwagon technique attempts to persuade the target audience to take a course of action because "everyone else" (or a given percentage) is taking it or doing it. "Join the crowd." 
  • Statistics are presented (which may be partly or entirely made up) that imply that the majority of people support a certain government policy or a certain product that is for sale etc .
  • The subconscious psychological manipulation that occurs with this technique is to convince the audience that a program (or product) is supported by large numbers of  people (whether it is or not) - and that it is in the interest of the audience to join in because if they don't they may lose out.
  • There is also an unspoken psychological message that the majority of people will follow the winner. An invitation to "inevitable victory" (by joining the majority) lures those not already on the bandwagon to join those already on the road to apparent success. This type of spin also serves to reassure those already, or partially on the bandwagon - that staying aboard is the best course of action. 
Lemmings jumping off cliff D20
  • When confronted with bandwagon spin, we should weigh the pros and cons of joining in - independently from the numbers of people who have already allegedly joined the bandwagon. As with most types of spin, we should seek more information.
Examples: 
"Everybody's doing it. Buy Brand X exercise DVD and dance those pounds away." 
"85% of people buy extended warranties."
13. False Choice (The Either/Or Conundrum) 
  • This reflects a deliberate attempt to eliminate the middle ground on an issue. This technique involves presenting an issue as consisting of 2 extremes or a limit of only two choices. One choice is typically portrayed as having negative connotations.
  • Relevant details are often withheld and other options are not offered.
  • It is often used by politicians. 
Either Or Choices D20
  • This technique is used to force the audience to make the choice that the spin-doctor wants or to accept the choice the spin-doctor has made.
  • Simplification is a technique related to false choice. With simplification, favorable and simplified  generalities are applied to complex social, political, economic or military problems - and the spin-doctor stacks the information provided so that you believe the spun story and proposed action is good and the only alternative is bad etc. 
  • Card-stacking (selective provision of facts favorable to the spin-doctor's preferred decision) is often also used in this technique.
  • The lesser of two evils is another technique used to influence the audience that an undesirable action is OK, because it is not as bad as the (only presented) alternative.
14. Card Stacking (Selective omission)


Cheating at cards D20
  • This technique is often used on its own. It is a well-known propaganda technique.
  • It is a form of spin that is very commonly used by politicians, government bureaucrats, big businesses, lobby groups, organizations of all types and marketing.
  • The term comes from cheating at cards (stacking the deck in your favor).
  • It is used to slant a message.
  • In using this technique, facts are selected and presented in such a way as to most effectively strengthen and authenticate the point of view of the spinner. It involves selective omission and is related to censorship, lies of omission and truthiness.
  • First the spin doctor chooses what to present (and what to omit) so that information is presented to the audience in a manner expected to get the desired reaction. Then, these crafted facts (which are half truths or worse) are used as a basis for conclusions - leading the audience into accepting the conclusions as a consequence of their accepting the stacked facts.
  • Success or failure depends on how successful the propagandist is in selecting facts or "cards" and how they "present" them or "stack" them, and whether or not the audience is gullible enough to accept the story on face value. 
15. Cherry Picking 
Cherry Picking D20
  • "Cherry Picking" is also a propaganda technique, somewhat like "Card Stacking". 
  • Rather than selectively omitting data as occurs in "Card Stacking" - "Cherry Picking involves selectively including data. 
  • It involves selectively pointing to individual cases or data that supports a particular opinion while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that opinion. 
Blue Cherry Picking D20
  • Cherry picking may be unintentional such as when a person uses anecdotal (personal experience) as a basis for conclusions without the intent to deceive.
  • But, with "Spin", cherry picking is intentional. The objective is to manipulate the evidence to the audience so they come to the conclusion that the spinner wants. 
Cherry Picking Pseudoscience D20
  • "Card Stacking" and "Cherry Picking" are often used together to create a "truthiness" story by spin doctors.
16. Lesser of Two Evils
  • This technique is related to False Choice. 
  • The Spin-doctor acknowledges that the course of action being taken is  undesirable but that any alternative would result in an outcome far worse. The trick here is that the audience is led to believe that the choice is limited to one of two choices. 
    Lesser of 2 evils D20
  • This technique is generally used to explain the need for sacrifices or to justify the seemingly harsh actions that displease the target audience or restrict personal liberties. This technique is often implemented during wartime to convince people of the need for sacrifices or to justify difficult decisions. 
  • This technique is also used in relation to government policies made in peace time to persuade the public not to act against a policy the government wants to implement.
  • Other options are withheld and part or all the truth is often hidden by officials. 
17. Glittering Generalities
Glittering Generality D20

  • Glittering generalities are intensely emotionally appealing words so closely associated with highly valued concepts and beliefs that they carry conviction without supporting information or reason. When these words are used, they demand approval without thinking, simply because such an important concept is involved. 
  • Though the words and phrases are vague and suggest different things to different people, their connotation is always favorable. Glittering Generalities appeal to such emotions as love of country, home; desire for peace, freedom, glory, honor, etc.
  • When we come across an idea that is being spun with glittering generalities, we should look beyond the emotional call of the words and consider the merits of the idea itself (and the facts related to the idea) - and not be way-laid by our emotional reaction to the words.
18. Weasel Words
  • Weasels suck the contents of birds' eggs through a small hole, leaving the eggs
    Weasel with empty eggs D20
    appearing in tact - though actually empty. In other words what is left is an illusion that the egg is a functional egg.
  • Weasel words are qualifying words tacked on to other words that reduce the overall effect of the words and make the statement ambiguous. 
  • The use of weasel words results in statements that have the appearance of the speaker having said something meaningful, important and to the point - but they have not. The weasel words serve to obscure the fact that claims which may have been made are ambiguous and assertions unsubstantiated - making the overall statements actually vague and misleading, not meaningful.
    weasel words D20
  • Words with attached weasel words have the appearance of being truthful. But weasel words are often used to mislead; to coverup something or to create an impression in the absence of facts (or at least in the absence of facts the speaker wants to acknowledge).
  • Weasel words effectively protect the speaker from being definite or from specifically admitting or committing to something.
  • Weasel words are popular amongst some politicians and officials of various organizations including government as a method to avoid telling the truth without outright lying. They particularly tend to be used when the spinner is questioned on matters liable to draw criticism, censure, loss of a benefit, or punishment of some sort etc. They are also used to mislead by creating an impression that may cause others to believe or do something the speaker wants.
  • Weasel words are also common in advertising and marketing spin. In marketing spin  weasel words are used to suggest something that will hook the audience to buy-in without risking outright lying. The goal is to create an illusion of truth and a false  impression, so that the audience "fills in the blanks" and make presumptions to the spinners benefit (without the spinner having to lie outright) .
Examples:
The classic: "Mistakes have been made... 
"Questions have been raised..." 
"People say..." 
"Designer shoes from as little as $20 pair..." (The "from as little" are weasel words that make this a best case description, but the buyer sees Designer and $20 and is inclined to be hooked).
In defense of Weasel Words: 
  • The qualifying words and phrases that are weasel words in a certain context are not bad words in themselves, and they are commonly used. 
  • It's a bit like that funny bank ad on TV where the concluding statement is: "Money isn't bad.  It's what you do with it." 
  • Words (including those that can work as weasel words) are not bad in themselves. It is how they are used. 
  • As with lies in general, it is the context, intent and consequence of the usage that let you know when a weasel is at work. 
19. Euphemisms (Words that are easier to swallow)
Euphemisms D20
  • A euphemism is a word or expression often used instead of another word that may be found offensive or might suggest something unpleasant. 
  • Some euphemisms are intended to amuse but mainly they are intended to downplay what the actual more applicable word or term means. Most euphemisms are used to protect the hearer rather than to mislead.
  • When part of a spin performance, euphemisms are usually used with other spin methods. With spin, euphemisms tend to be used when the intent is to manage the impressions of the audience so that they will not react to bad news in a way the spinner does not want.
Examples of euphemisms:
"an environmental hiccup" (a large oil spill)" 
downsize / rightsize / agreed departures / terminate / deselect / lay off / release / made redundant / let go" (fired or otherwise lost jobs) 
"job flexibility" (lack of job security)
"human resources" (employees)
"improving productivity" (making people work harder for the same salary) 
"incident" (crisis) 
"undocumented workers" (illegal aliens) 
"campaign contribution" (political donation) 
"pro-choice" (wanting abortion to be legal) 
"pro-life" (wanting abortion to be illegal) 
"improper / questionable" (wrong, wrong-doing) 
"air support" (bombing) 
"neutralized" (killed) 
"collateral damage" (missing the target, causing civilian deaths or damage) 
"friendly fire" (weapon fire coming from one's own side that causes accidental injury or death to one's own forces) 
20. Assertions
Marketing Assertions D20
  • These frequently stand alone as an audience manipulation technique; but also get used in  association with weasel words and other spin techniques.
  • Assertions are positive statements presented as fact. They imply that what is stated is self-evident and needs no further proof. Assertions may or may not be true.
  • (Remember we are talking about spin. Spin involves deception. When assertions are true and not presented in a manner to mislead they are not spin.)
  • Any time an advertiser states that their product is the best without providing evidence for this, they are using an assertion. The unspoken object of the spin-doctor is for the audience to simply agree to the statement without searching for additional information or reasoning about it. 
  • Assertions, although usually simple to spot, are often dangerous forms of propaganda because they often include falsehoods or lies.
21. Plain Folks or Common Man: 
Common man D20
  • The "plain folks" or "common man" approach attempts to convince the audience that the spinner's positions reflect the common sense of the people. It is an old propaganda technique.
  • It is designed to win the confidence of the audience by copying the common manner and style of the audience in order to convince the public that the spinner's views reflect those of the common person and that they are also working for the benefit of the common person. 
  • The spin-doctor will often attempt to use the accent of a specific audience as well as use  specific idioms or jokes. 
    Common man ad WW2 pic D20
  • Also, during speeches they may attempt to increase the illusion through imperfect pronunciation, stuttering, and a more limited vocabulary. Deliberate errors such as these help add to the impression of sincerity and spontaneity.
  • In a political arena, this has quite a capacity to back-fire if the audience feel they are being mocked or spoken down to.
  • But this is a common advertising technique.
  • When confronted by this type of spin, the subject should consider the proposals and ideas separately from the personality of the presenter.
22. Transference 
  • This is a technique of psychologically transferring the positive or negative qualities normally associated with a particular person, object, organization etc to another in order to make the second more acceptable or to discredit it. 
Flag Transference D20
Example: An American politician may have his TV interview shot in front of the Abraham Lincoln memorial. (The purpose of this is to psychologically transfer positive attributes of Lincoln to the politician in the eyes and minds of the viewers.) Or a soldier may be photographed with a national flag in the background.
  • This technique is also used in advertising: for example, using an igloo and a polar bear to link with the cooling properties of an air conditioner.
23. Repetition
Slogans D20
  • Repetitious use of words, phrases or symbols are not as innocuous as you may think.  When things are repeated time after time, psychologically the information is being taken on board in our minds. It makes us more likely to do what we are being programmed to do (eg buy Brand X for washing whites, shopping at grocery store Z etc).
Remember Goebbel's (the Nazi propaganda minister) attitude towards repetition (which was similar to Hitler's):
Nazi slogans and repetition D20"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."
  • Slogans  are based upon the technique of repeating a catchy phrase, assertion or symbol. Slogans also provide an opportunity for spin doctors to set thoughts in our minds, and influence our attitudes and actions.
  • The repeating of the same ad on multiple occasions in the course of an evening of watching TV attests to marketers believing in the power of repetition.
  • The repetitive assertion of messages by politicians and others (whether based on facts or lies) have power over our thoughts and actions as a consequence of our repeated exposure to them.
24. Labelling or Pin-pointing the Enemy
    Enemy cartoon D20
  • This technique is more than name calling.
  • It attempts to arouse prejudices in an audience by labeling the object of the propaganda campaign as something the target audience fears, hates, loathes, or finds inferier or undesirable.
  • This technique employs sarcasm, ridicule and cartoons. 
  • It was used against the Jews in Nazi Germany and the blacks in apartheid South Africa.
  • "Swift-boating" is a more recent political example of this technique.
25. Ignoring Proof 
Ignoring Proof D20
  • This involves ignoring material presented by an opponent as inadequate and demanding more proof. It may be associated with the spinner repeating a message he wants to get across (for which there is little or no proof).



Destroying Proof D20

26. Destroying Proof
  • This occurs when there has been wrong-doing and there is risk of being found out, embarrassment, censure, or punishment. It involves destroying all or unfavorable parts of evidence or hiding the evidence in difficult to find places; and/or using code words to obscure data.
27. Creating Proof
  • Spinners can create "proof" by altering existing documents or data in various ways or completely fabricating it.
  • "Proofiness" in manipulation of statistics and incorrect logic is also used.
    Creating Proof D20
  • The media is also often manipulated by the spin-doctors who present the media with press releases written as they were news items. The intent of this technique is to mislead the audience to think in a certain way or act in a certain way (which they may not have done if it weren't for the fake proof).
    Media Manipulation D20
  • Because news media relies on advertisers, there is a tendency for media to censor articles that are critical of major sponsors (which of course includes government and big businesses). This makes it difficult for the public to voice dissent (which is what the spinners want). 
  • It can also make it difficult for staff journalists to publish some articles. However if it becomes publicly known that the media has been subjected to censorship tactics by government or other sources, this can have significant negative consequences for those implicated in the censorship.
  • It is also an old propaganda tradition for "Front" companies or groups to be created to create an impression that there are large numbers supporting the spinner (and creating the false illusion that the group is independent of the spinner). In modern media, spin-doctors also create fake support forums and blogs (with input created by a few spinners using multiple IDs). This is truly a black art form of spin as it is unquestionably a lie designed to deceive.
28. Outright Lies and deliberate Omissions
Pack of Lies D20

Spin is all about deception. Sometimes the spinners don't bother with complex methods to cover-up deception. Outright lies and deliberate omissions can work on a gullible audience too.


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If you are interested in more tips on detecting deception,
you might also be interested in...

White Lies, Grey Lies and Dark Lies

Can you recognize genuine Grass Roots from Astroturf Trickery?
Tip - This is not a gardening guide. 

Quotes on Lies, Lying and Liars

On Being a Shit - Unkind Deeds and Coverups - a Review



Let us think for you D20

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Lies disguised as truth P3


Some politicians and bureaucrats think the general public are dumb. They want to keep us that way by controlling what information we are given. 

The information we are provided may be "truthiness" (which is not the truth, and involves all manner of deception), not truth. Lies and deception are often used to put a positive spin on matters  we would not agree to, or would disgust us if we knew the truth. Secrecy is another tool of "impression management" to cover up wrong-doing, or shameful or corrupt acts.

Freedom of information is a cornerstone of democracy and justice. Without it, the risk of a decline into an authoritarian form of government is virtually inevitable.

Are we "sheep-les" or mere puppets who can be led to believe and do whatever our masters say; or are we thinking people who want to be truthfully informed? 

Are we willing to speak up and insist on the truth? Are we prepared to take action to guard our democratic rights and our rights to justice and fair treatment?
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Thinking Tiger D20

The people generally trust their government, law-makers and the publicly funded bureaucrats who are responsible for representing their interests. But the "people" are being deceived in many instances. We feel this is wrong.  The "people" - ordinary folk like you and me have great power in democratic countries. We can and should do something about this.
Lies, deception, cover-ups and corrupt practices must be "out"-ed if they are to end. This is necessary for democracy and justice to survive.


Tiger sleeping D20





The "people" are like a sleeping tiger.




Tiger jumping D20


If you pull the tail of the tiger; it is to be expected that the tiger will wake up, take notice of it's tormenters and give chase.




Tiger running wrong do-ers to ground D20

In the interests of democracy, justice, world peace and a stable economy for ordinary people - the tiger must run wrong-doers to the ground.
Separator D20c
Original 3 monkeys D20
Original 3 Monkeys

 All that is required for evil to take hold and grow is to: close your eyes, block your ears, shut your mouth - and do nothing.

If we do nothing - then nothing will improve.


Spreading the Word D20
Spread the word!

One person can achieve little or nothing. 
Many can move mountains.

3 Freedom Monkeys D20
3 Freedom of Information Monkeys
Thank you from
3 Monkeys & me


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