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How to deceive a nation

Abraham Lincoln

ABRAHAM Lincoln is reputed to have observed that it is possible to fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time. But it is not possible to fool all the people all the time. To the best of my knowledge he never made reference to the necessary corollary that it is certainly possible to fool many (perhaps most) of the people much (perhaps most) of the time. Nor did he acknowledge that this is all the professional propagandist might require. Deceiving some of the people may be enough to achieve the propagandist’s aim if the deception is specifically directed at those whose perceptions are particularly relevant. Similarly, there may be no need for a deceit to work all of the time, provided it works when its effect is most needed.

Propaganda is the dissemination of ideas, information, or hearsay for the purpose of aiding or hurting a nation, an institution, an organisation, a movement, a cause, a group or an individual. It is the deployment of various methods of persuasion for the purpose of manipulating perceptions and attitudes in the service of an agenda. The term ‘propaganda’ implies neither veracity or falsehood in the content nor any normative assessment of the agenda. Both truth and lies may be used as propaganda, for purposes that may be judged either benign or malign.

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