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Card-stacking

 

Techniques Propaganda > Card-stacking

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Method

In 'card-stacking', deliberate action is taken to bias an argument, with opposing evidence being buried or discredited, whilst the case for one's own position is exaggerated at every opportunity. Thus the testimonial of supporters is used, but not that of opponents.

Coincidences and serendipity may be artificially created, making deliberate action seem like random occurrence. Things 'just seem to happen' whilst you are 'in town'.

Example

A politician just happens to be in town when a new school is opening - so they just drop in, hi-jacking the press for their own means.

During election periods, political parties will often gag their loose cannons, who might open their mouths and say the wrong things.

A minister of a new church sect sets up in a poor area, feeds people who will listen, tells them of how the poor will be saved, and so on.

Discussion

Card-stacking makes significant use of the evidence principle, whereby we find evidence to be particularly persuasive.

Card stacking, particularly with testimonials, works when we confuse real statistics with availability, leading us to assume that just because there appears to be overwhelming support from other people, then this is a representative sample of the whole population.

Advertising makes great use card-stacking, including repeated adverts that seek to batter their audiences into submission.

The term 'card-stacking' comes from the world of gambling, where accomplished players will stack the deck in their favor, even as they are shuffling the card!

See also

Availability Heuristic, Evidence principle

 

Clyde Miller, Propaganda Analysis, NY: Institute for Propaganda Analysis, 1937

 

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