Please Retweet and share this article because it may not reach all my usual audience due to censorship by one of my writer’s groups.
Being a social scientist, I occasionally like to write about social issues. That is what social scientists do. We’ve studied social movements, social theory, forms of government, counseling techniques and theory, human development, education theory, and the biology of behavior. We use math and statistics to verify our theories.
I’ve worked in Federal pilot projects, verifying the results of pilot programs. The job of the social scientist is to define what makes society work for everybody and what doesn’t. I can be quite boring in my passionate pursuit of accuracy.
I have to admit that social media, while a fascinating study, often makes me cringe at the concepts or legal terms people misuse. Thus it came about that in my desperate search for new material for my blog, I decided to write a series of articles on the construction and use of propaganda—a topic well within my professional expertise.
I got censored. Really! I have an online group of authors who review my blog articles. They wouldn’t look at the articles on propaganda because they claimed the articles were too political. Really? I thought I was sticking to general principles and the definition of words. I did use real life examples such as the pairing the word muslim with terrorist. The first article was totally about manipulating the populace by redefining a legal term to mean the opposite of its legal meaning.
The second article was about pairing unrelated words in order to manipulate. The second article was when people informed me that I couldn’t post political articles to the group. That rule isn’t written anywhere. The group states in writing that they don’t accept erotica or pornography, but politics has never been mentioned as off-limits.
The bigger problem here was that a couple educational articles on a topic of vital importance to our community were deemed unacceptable for review because their topic could be interpreted as political. How are we going to have open communication that leads to forming a society that works for everybody if we cannot define the ground rules for that discussion?
When I was in high school, we regularly had a unit on the construction and use of propaganda. I remember an English class where for a month we had to comb through US News & World Report, Time, the local papers, and the NYT to find examples of propaganda and identify the principle that made it manipulative. The next year we had a similar assignment in history class. In history class, We got to examine Patrick Henry’s speeches as appeals to emotion rather than fact. This was high school. Last week, I was trying to write about things that used to be taught in high school. How did a topic that is so basic to decision making and logic come to be defined as too political for a writer’s group to even review?
Folks, we’re in trouble. We do need to be able to communicate in a manner that separates fact from opinion. We need to adhere to dictionary meaning of words instead of making them mean whatever suits our goal. We need to recognize that the popular opinion isn’t always right. We need to separate fear and an adrenalin rush from decision making. Propaganda is designed to manipulate by shifting the ground under us. We really need to to be vigilant in setting our decision making on a firm foundation. Defining that foundation is neither political or bipartisan. It is basic logic as defined by the ancient Greeks and Romans.