Adapted from the Propaganda Critic Web site. For more detailed definitions and additional examples
PROPAGANDA – the use of a variety of communication techniques that create an emotional appeal
to accept a particular belief or opinion, to adopt a certain behavior or to perform a particular action.
There is some disagreement about whether all persuasive communication is propagandistic or whether
the propaganda label can only be applied to dishonest messages.
NAME CALLING – links a person, or idea, to a negative symbol. Examples: commie, fascist, yuppie
GLITTERING GENERALITIES – use of virtue words; the opposite of name calling, i.e., links a
person, or idea, to a positive symbol. Examples: democracy, patriotism, family
The next two are ways of making false connections:
TRANSFER – a device by which the propagandist links the authority or prestige of something well-
respected and revered, such as church or nation, to something he would have us accept. Example: a
political activist closes her speech with a prayer
TESTIMONIAL – a public figure or a celebrity promotes or endorses a product, a policy, or a polit-
ical candidate. Examples: an athlete appears on the Wheaties box; an actor speaks at a political rally
The following three constitute special appeals:
PLAIN FOLKS – attempt to convince the audience that a prominent person and his ideas are “of
the people.” Examples: a prominent politician eats at McDonald’s; an actress is photographed shopping for
BANDWAGON – makes the appeal that “everyone else is doing it, and so should you.” Examples: an
ad states that “everyone is rushing down to their Ford dealer”
FEAR – plays on deep-seated fears; warns the audience that disaster will result if they do not follow
a particular course of action. Example: an insurance company pamphlet includes pictures of houses
destroyed floods, followed up by details about home-owners’ insurance.
The next two are types of logical fallacies:
BAD LOGIC – an illogical message is not