The Honest Broker

Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics

Propaganda Syllabus: Ignorance

One part of understanding propaganda and its effectiveness is understanding why people believe the things that they say they believe. But it is not just individuals — beliefs are shaped by many factors, including institutions and practices. Understanding the nature of belief is important for understanding why it is that knowledge alone (whether you call it facts, truth, science, or whatever) does not compel action.

This section of the propaganda syllabus focuses on ignorance, defined by the OED as a “Lack of knowledge or information.” What is ignorance and why does it occur? Continue reading “Propaganda Syllabus: Ignorance”

Propaganda Syllabus: Dynamics 1

It has been a busy semester so far, and I finally have a chance to revisit my evoloving propaganda syllabus. In this entry I include research on the dynamics of “the management of collective attitudes by the manipulation of significant symbols.”

In other words, how does propaganda shape collective attitudes? These papers provide some insight to that question. Propaganda dynamics can be thought of in terms communication, using the famous definition: who says what, to whom, how and with what effect. Continue reading “Propaganda Syllabus: Dynamics 1”

Scientists Need to up their Political Game

I have a piece in The Guardian this week with some suggestions for scientists who wish to oppose the words and deeds of the Trump Administration. I focus on propaganda, policy and politics. You can read it all here. I’m happy to hear your comments.

Propaganda Syllabus: Fake News

Here is the next installment of my propaganda syllabus, this time I focus on recent treatments of issues associated with what’s been called “fake news.” The notion of fake news is, of course, quite similar to how I’ve been using the concept of propaganda.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. The next posting is tentatively under the category of”dynamics of belief.”

Borel, B. 2017. Fact-Checking Won’t Save Us From Fake News, FiveThirtyEight, Jan 4.

R. Darnton, 2017. The True History of Fake News, The New York Review of Books, 13 Feb.

Kloor, K. 2017. Journalism under attack, Issues in Science and Technology, Winter.

McAllister, T. 2012. Walter Lippmann and the Crisis in Journalism, Public Discourse.

Oremus, W. 2016. Stop Calling Everything “Fake News”, Salon, Dec 6.

Soll, J. 2016. The Long and Brutal History of Fake News, Politico, Dec 18.

Propaganda Syllabus: Fact Checking

This is the latest installment in my ongoing project to create a syllabus for a to-be-taught-in-the-future graduate seminar on propaganda. When I get a critical mass of these posts I’ll compile into a summary post, and at the end I’ll publish a complete syllabus.

This one focuses on the rise of “fact checking” by the media and the growing number of outlets which purport to serve as arbiters of truth by evaluating claims made in political debates. Continue reading “Propaganda Syllabus: Fact Checking”

What is Propaganda?

I’ve started assembling a syllabus focused on propaganda and politics.  The creation of the syllabus will take place on this blog, and it looks like it will be useful for the 2nd edition of The Honest Broker as well.

This post takes a step back to offer a definition of the term propaganda so that readers and collaborators know what I mean when I’m using the term.

Continue reading “What is Propaganda?”

Propaganda Syllabus Module: Truthiness in Policy

In the aftermath of the recent election, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a syllabus for a grad seminar on propaganda. I spent a lot of time studying propaganda in graduate school (in the Lasswellian tradition) and writing on symbolic politics has been a theme of some of my research over the years.

I will start posting up some “modules” that might be part of a future syllabus. Continued … Continue reading “Propaganda Syllabus Module: Truthiness in Policy”

Scientists and President Trump

Jack Stilgoe and I have a piece in The Guardian suggesting three questions for scientists following the surprise election of Donald Trump as US president.  Here is how we start:

Donald Trump has won. Science and scientists played almost no part in the campaign. Now, scientists must consider how they fit into a Trump future. This won’t be easy. Many scientists are scared. In the tribal world of US politics, many now find themselves on the outside looking in.

We welcome your comments.

The Nobel Prize Winners for Clinton and Democracy

I was asked by AP journalist Seth Borenstein for my views on the letter released yesterday by 70 Nobel Prize winners in support of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president of the United States (the letter actually had 69 signatures).

Indicating the significance of such letters, it merited only a short blurb in an AP election news round up. Below you can see my full response to Borenstein on the letter. Continue reading “The Nobel Prize Winners for Clinton and Democracy”

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