TL; DR Summary
- This poster is designed to lead you to the conclusion someone died because Republicans fund wars rather than highway infrastructure.
- But your conclusion, based on the provided evidence trail, is not just wrong but spectacularly wrong when you see the full set of evidence.
- This poster was shared over 25,000 times within 24 hours of appearing on Facebook, making it one of the most effective propaganda posters I have seen.
This poster is elegant in its design, use of “anchoring” and logical fallacy – but the poster is a work of fiction and an outright lie. Yet it successfully engaged System 1’s quick and intuitive thinking to lead viewers into a false conclusion, and whose viewers then quickly shared it with their friends, encouraging their friends to reach the same false conclusion.
Read through to learn how false this poster is – yet why it worked as such a spectacular piece of social media propaganda.
Here is the original poster as it appeared on July 3, 2015. Note the link to “Read more here”.
To lend authenticity to the poster, the story links to http://usat.ly/1LVf5cu for additional information (that shortened URL then translates to http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/01/19/southbound-i-75-closed-after-major-bridge-collapse/22031819/)
If you follow the link (which apparently few did), you discover the poster’s claims are absurd.
A construction worker who was in process of demolishing an old bridge because they had already built a replacement!
This was posted on July 3, 2015. No one died “last night”. The link that the poster provided is to a January 20th, 2015 news report about the highway overpass “collapse”.
The overpass did not collapse – It was intentionally demolished by a construction crew because a brand new, $91 million replacement had already been built and this old bridge was no longer needed. The person who died was a construction worker on the overpass during the demolition.
WAS FUNDING AN ISSUE?
The collapsed occurred because the engineering design of the demolition had a significant error and the construction firm violated safety rules.
WAS THE REPUBLICAN VOTE AN ISSUE IN THIS DEATH?
The initial Senate vote on the highway infrastructure bill occurred over a period spanning late March to early April 2015 – two and half months AFTER the collapse. There is no connection.
The Congressional vote took place 2 1/2 months AFTER the bridge collapse. It is true, as stated, that “A FEW MONTHS AGO” – relative to July 2016 – the vote took place but this was not relative to the overpass collapse. This was worded this way to deliberately deceive.
$700B ON WARS
The US DoD budget is about $700B per year. This is true for 2015.
Within 24 hours, this “post” was shared about 25,000 times, reaching up to millions of viewers. Hundreds of comments to the story, including those from people living in Cincinnati pointed out this was a lie and made Occupy Democrats look bad. Occupy Democrats refused to back down and kept replying to those comments with a link to the same story about the collapse during demolition, as if they had never read the story and never intended to read the story.
As a propaganda piece, it is probably one of the best examples ever seen. It strings together a sequence of approximately true statements that directly draws the viewer into a false conclusion. The items seem plausible, which is typical of good propaganda.
The last item on the poster asks, “What is wrong with this picture?” Obviously, the answer is the poster is full of bull shit. That is not the answer they want you to come to, of course, but this one is loaded with bull shit.
Why it Works
As an example of propaganda, it illustrates how remarkably gullible everyone is – few people fact check or even click through a provided link to a news report to see that the propaganda falls on its face. Too lazy to click a link!
This poster works because of a technique in psychology called “anchoring”. People are highly influenced by what they have recently seen, heard or read. Surveys, for example, can be influenced by providing some information – even unrelated information – prior to the survey. The information provided creates a reference frame for the subsequent questions.
In this poster, “Last night someone died from a bridge collapse” provides a frame of reference that anchors your perspective to the next item about Republicans blocking a highway spending bill.
The poster relies on the logical fallacy that the three independent items are linked together, when they are not.
This poster was intentionally and cleverly designed to use these methods of mass persuasion to convince its targets of an outright lie, thereby manufacturing a false fact out of thin air.
Those who share posters like this are saying more about themselves than they are saying about others. They are embarrassing themselves. Think about it.
What I learned from researching this and other Occupy Democrats posters that appear in my Facebook news feed is that Occupy Democrats is likely the most effective and most prolific creator of mass propaganda on social media. Those that create these posters are experts at propaganda methods and use every trick available to persuade their target audience. Nearly 2.5 million people voluntarily signed up to their page to receive multiple propaganda posters every day. People are voluntarily seeking to be targets of propaganda and to voluntarily be manipulated!
Update: December 2016
As of this date, Occupy Democrats has nearly 4.8 million “subscribers” to their Facebook page.
Occupy Democrats defines itself as a news source:
(Screen capture of their FB page on December 30, 2016).
Snopes has a partial list of false reports distributed by Occupy Democrats, as does our own web site – see this partial list of posts. A left wing professor of communications alleges that Occupy Democrats is a fake news web site (but note there is no precise definition of a “fake news”).
Again, as of December 2016, 4.8 million people voluntarily subscribe to numerous daily propaganda posters from Occupy Democrats. Occupy Democrats is likely the largest and most widely read propaganda distributor in the online, social media-based, for profit publishing world.
Text for Search Indexing
Last night, a highway overpass collapsed in Cincinnati, with at least one confirmed dead.
A few months ago, Senate Republicans blocked at $478 Billion Six-year infrastructure bill. In comparison, we spend $700 billion a year on wars each year.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Occupy Democrats, July 1, 2015