Maclean and the use of statistics to misrepresent or

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MacLean and the use of statistics to misrepresent or lie as outlined by Randal Marlin A continuous barrage of information is a fundamental method used by a propagandist to get the target audience to accept a message without thinking, and to react immediately in the way the propagandist wishes This is known as information cascade, the analogy being that information comes at us much like the flow of water down a waterfall Like a waterfall, it never stops, so we do not have time to think. The verbal and visual information just keeps coming - non-stop A classic example of an information cascade o The Story Stuff is a classic example of an information cascade o We first encountered this concept in Lesson 4, analyzing Train Busters - The World War II propaganda film produced by the National Film Board of Canada. o In Train Busters, the continuous wall of music and battle noises, accompanying rapidly edited shots of two Canadian Air Force fighters blowing up a German supply train, keep us riveted to the screen, until we breathe a sigh of relief as the two Canadian planes fly off into the distant sky after a successful strife o Annie Leonard in Story Stuff keeps up a constant torrent of words with constantly changing cartoon drawings in the background. The sound and visual design of the film can easily mesmerize its target audience, which are school children in North America. They, and we, are inundated by her information cascade. Perhaps it is even fair to use the word “intimidated” in this case. o Her constant hammering away at her theme of imminent, planetary disaster produces thoughtless reaction and sets aside our ability to think critically (the Story Stuff is simplistic, but not simplified, rendition of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth) The War of Men’s Minds In the first sequence: the narrator addresses French citizens - “you should not have wept.” The Nazi threat was already present in France. So the narrator gives hope to 23
French citizens (although it is not clear that they could have seen the film) that in their country the invader met his first “spiritual defeat.” When we spoke about propaganda and truth we saw that if you are in control of a conflict situation, you can afford to tell the facts. If not, you need to work through more general words such as how the enemy met his spiritual defeat until such time as the situation changes, which for the French was D-Day in June 1944 several years after this film was made. The end of the film: does for the entire planet what the previous sequence did for the French. It set the ground for what was to come. What was not present in the film was that the “people of the earth” that is, in this case, the Russian and Nationalist Chinese allies of the Canadian and Americans who were to forge this new world order, became enemies in fairly short order after the war ended. There are shades here of George Orwell’s political situation in his novel 1984.

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