Propaganda methods: Framing the story

Propaganda methods: Framing the story

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Think about it this way: Something that has a “95 percent effective rate” will sell better than something with a “5 percent failure rate.” It’s all in how you frame it.

Although we can’t see or hear frames, they’re extremely powerful because most of our actions are based on the unconscious and metaphorical frames we already have in place. That is, once a frame’s architecture is in place, the boundaries of that frame and the associations of that frame are all taken into account in our decision making.

Source: This is How Tiny Changes in the Words You Hear Impact Your Thinking

After that, this devolves in to political speak and propaganda messaging of its own. His primary message is that progressives must learn to use better framing.

He claims politicians on the right are successful because they use messaging “which aligns with conservatives’ strict father worldview” while

progressives’ framework of the nurturant parent just isn’t as deeply embedded because it’s missing the moral importance that conservatives weave so tightly throughout the architecture of theirs.

You have to buy in to his narrow definition of conservative versus liberal frames.

The framing concept is not unusual, however. In fact, it was proposed for developing artificial intelligence solutions to scenarios as far back as the 1970s. Every one has a “frame” structure. Think of walking into a restaurant – you have a fundamental idea of how the restaurant works – getting seated, receiving a menu, ordering, courses, possibly desert, paying the bill and leaving a tip. That’s your frame of reference.

Propaganda works by tapping into people’s existing frames of reference. Messaging can be more effective by tapping into the target’s existing frame work – which, not surprisingly, means using language that makes sense to the target. At the end of this story, this does not sound very profound!

In fact, the professor is saying that propaganda that ties in to what the target already knows is going to be more effective. This is extremely old knowledge! There’s a good description of this in the late Jacques Ellul’s book Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes. I am perplexed why Professor Lazoff’s views are presented as something new and novel.


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