Goal: Dr. Ben Carson is an idiot
Method: Assertion, Strawman Argument: Fabricate a statement about your opponent and then use that fabrication to argue your opponent is an idiot.
Scorecard: Over 36,000 shares within a month of this propaganda item posted online.
Snopes.com notes the headline is fiction; Dr. Carson never said what is claimed.
Here is the original headline:
A political report claimed Dr. Ben Carson said he had no idea how gravity works but asserted climate change is a hoax. He said neither of those things.
Source: Gravity Well (Snopes.com)
The headline is a fabricated quote. By fabricating a quote, the propagandist creates a “strawman argument”, making the target’s position look unreasonable while making your own position and argument sound reasonable, by comparison.
Follow the link to see how Snopes found the headline to be false and that Carson never said any of the things attributed to him by Occupy Democrats.
This type of propaganda messaging works because it feeds into what the target (Occupy Democrats supporters) wants to believe (about Dr. Carson). It is a simple message that elicits a rapid emotional response (“Good grief! He is an idiot!”) which is quickly translated into clicking on the social media “Share!” button.
Strawman arguments, like this one, can backfire by showing that the propagandist is foolishly making things up and thereby, harming their own reputation. However, from the tone of the comments at the original post, the “targets” do not recognize the quote is false nor that they are being manipulated with a “strawman argument”. Because most people lack an understanding of these basic propaganda methods, they do not recognize when they are being manipulated.