Although few studies have looked at this topic, it seems fair to suggest that many people respond to this pressure [of information overload] by processing messages more quickly and, when possible, by taking mental short-cuts.
Propagandists love short-cuts — particularly those which short-circuit rational thought. They encourage this by agitating emotions, by exploiting insecurities, by capitalizing on the ambiguity of language, and by bending the rules of logic.
Name Calling is used as a substitute for arguing the merits of an idea, belief, or proposal. It is often employed using sarcasm and ridicule in political cartoons and writing.
When someone talks to us about democracy, we immediately think of our own definite ideas about democracy, the ideas we learned at home, at school, and in church.
Our first and natural reaction is to assume that the speaker is using the word in our sense, that he believes as we do on this important subject. This lowers our 'sales resistance' and makes us far less suspicious..
In the Transfer device, symbols are constantly used. The cross represents the Christian Church. The flag represents the nation. Cartoons like Uncle Sam represent a consensus of public opinion. Those symbols stir emotions. At their very sight, with the speed of light, is aroused the whole complex of feelings we have with respect to church or nation.
'The Times said,' 'John L. Lewis said…,' 'Herbert Hoover said…', 'The President said…', 'My doctor said…,' 'Our minister said…' Some of these Testimonials may merely give greater emphasis to a legitimate and accurate idea, a fair use of the device; others, however, may represent the sugar-coating of a distortion, a falsehood, a misunderstood notion, an anti-social suggestion…»
We are all familiar with candidates who campaign as political outsiders, promising to «clean out the barn» and set things straight in Washington. The political landscape is dotted with politicians who challenge a mythical «cultural elite,» presumably aligning themselves with «ordinary Americans.» As baby boomers approach their sixth decade, we are no longer shocked by the sight of politicians in denim who listen to rock n roll.
Assume a newspaper editor were in favor of the non-enforcement of immigration laws. Should the issue of immigration law enforcement ever be debated among legislators, the editor might publish articles and editorials that ignore all mention of illegal alien criminals, gang members, and prisoners and report only on decent, hard-working foreigners instead. This sort of card stacking could go on for weeks and influence public opinion on the issue.
With the aid of all the other propaganda devices, all of the artifices of flattery are used to harness the fears and hatreds, prejudices and biases, convictions and ideals common to a group. Thus is emotion made to push and pull us as members of a group onto a Band Wagon.