More writings of Gary Green

The sheer volume of writing from Gary Green is monumental. He has

been published since 1971, and despite some “drier” years, he has

consistently created. This periodically-changing web-page will offer from

time-to-time a sampling of Gary’s writing from the more obscure and

harder-to-find works.

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This excerpt is taken from a 1982 public relations booklet written by Gary in conjunction with his political, labor, and marketing consulting practice: Gary Green's Nine Postulates of Propaganda From How To Mold The Minds Of Men (and Women) While in pursuit of the mystical white-rabbit, which was late for a very important date, Alice plunged into a new world of Wonderland. Later, lost in her new world, the little girl turned to the wily Cheshire Cat and asked, "Please sir, where should I begin?" The cat coolly replied, "at the beginning, of course my dear." With much more pomp but no less sense, the German philosopher Hegel wrote the same thing: "We must make a beginning: and a beginning, as primary, makes an assumption, or rather is an assumption, it seems as if it were impossible to make a beginning at all." With any technology there are certain premises or principles assumed to be true and used as the basis for further reasoning. In most cases there is not even a need to acknowledge premises even though they exist. We could not discuss, for example, an illness befallen the family dog unless we first agreed that there was indeed a dog and an illness. Even a purely academic discussion must be based on some starting point of agreement. This agreement is a postulate. Beyond academia, in the real world of practice and activity (in which propaganda falls) there must be some basic premises accepted. In some cases, postulates are "understood," and never specifically listed. In other cases, authors go to great extremes to prove their postulates. Euclid, the Greek father of geometry, wrote 13 books of "elements" proving each of his premises before presenting development of even his first theorem. Karl Marx, on the other hand, began The German Ideology with the premise, "there is an existence of living human individuals." Choosing somewhat of a middle-ground between those two extremes, I have prepared nine postulates or principles which we need to accept as being true and therefore a basis for everything else we will discuss about propaganda. While, like Euclid, I could write a volume on each of these topics, you and I both have been spared that by the grace of many other writers who have thoroughly proven these points over many centuries. Everything we discuss and all the techniques and methodologies we use will be based on these principles. Therefore, I present as a starting point these nine premises: 1. Propaganda is a tool of manipulation and control of human behavior. 2. Propaganda is not a dirty word. 3. Every statement has a corresponding argument. 4. There is no such thing as a universal human nature. 5. The world does not consist of things, but of processes; and therefore the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 6. In whatever realm an argument begins, it necessarily ends in the same realm. 7. There are 18 common logical fallacies that invalidate any argument regardless of content. 8. The possible behaviors in any specific circumstance are finite and may be categorized. 9. There are 26 laws of persuasion. Having stated these premises, I will briefly explain each. Keep in mind that it is absolutely necessary to fully understand each of these points in order to effectively apply propaganda. I. The purpose of using something called "PROPAGANDA" is to manipulate and control human behavior either on the individual (retail) level or on the mass (wholesale) level. II. PROPAGANDA is not a dirty word and despite American connotations, does not refer to lies, half-truths nor any other "Goebbels-esque" definition. Propaganda, rather, is nothing more than a systematic effort (and note the word "effort") to persuade a body of people to support or adopt a particular opinion, attitude, or course of action. Propaganda may include fact and/or fiction but does not necessarily preclude one or the other. Before anyone begins seeing swastikas painted between the lines of my definition, let me quickly point out that the most common form of propaganda we encounter is advertising. For what is commercial advertising other than a systematic effort to persuade consumers to take the course of action of purchasing the product? The point here, and the postulate itself is: that the word "propaganda" is an objective term referring to the attempt to persuade people. III. There is a corresponding ARGUMENT, stated or unstated, to every possible inference; the validity of an argument is, however, another issue. A technology of propaganda is involved in the presentation of arguments from inferences. Within the academic fields of philosophy and mathematics there is a specialized study of Logic. This is a field that is not to be confused with Star Trek's Mister Spock and his pointed-ear non-emotionalism. Application of the technology of logic does not preclude the application of emotion. Logic is the process of evaluating arguments. Any statement we utter may be considered a logical proposition. An inference from that statement is a process by which the statement was arrived at and confirmed. That process of inferring may be either stated or unstated. For example, consider the following two statements: (1) Before you go outside you should get your umbrella. and (2)   Since it is raining, before you go outside you should get your umbrella to avoid getting wet. Each of these statements makes an argument that you should take an umbrella with you. The inference in each is the premise that it is raining and you need an umbrella to protect yourself from the rain. In the first statement the premise is unstated; in the second it is stated. We, as the readers of the first statement, assumed that it was raining outside and that was why we were warned to take an umbrella. However, there are many possible reasons that we could have been given such a warning. Perhaps we needed to be protected from the sun; perhaps rain was forecast for later in the day; maybe the handle of the umbrella doubled as a sword and we might expect a dual with Zorro when we step outside. In the second statement, the premise is clearly stated. There is no room for speculation nor is there the possibility of any other premise. A technique of propaganda, which we later will discuss in detail, is to make arguments with unstated, overstated, or understated inferences. IV. There is no such thing as a "universal" HUMAN NATURE. Specific human behavior and those general behaviors we have come to call "human nature" are the products of very specific historical circumstances. If I could collect a nickel for every time I've heard someone say, "It's just human nature to want more," I would be wealthy beyond my dreams. "Jealousy is the eternal cornerstone of human nature," to seek reward for work done is human nature;" the examples go one and one. The fact is anthropologists, historians, sociologists, psychologist and philosophers have provided ample proof that human nature is generally a direct product of the epoch of history in which the human lives, and specifically a product of the culture in which that human lives. The tenants of human nature, therefore, change with time and differ from culture to culture. While we can use the phrase "it's just human nature," we must understand that it is human nature of this particular moment and not the human nature of 1,000 years ago nor necessarily the human nature of 1,000 years in the future. Moreover, it is the human nature of the specific culture of the time to which we are referring. It then follows that the contents of a propaganda for one era and culture will not have the same impact on another culture in another time. V. The world does not consist of things, but of processes. Any existence, anything must be considered in both content and form. The form that you are reading now is a book. Books are written on many subjects; this one happens to be on propaganda. What differentiates this book from one about sailing ships or a fictional romance is the content. The content of this book is a specific how-to manual for using propaganda. What differentiates it from an article on the subject or a pamphlet or a television program or an audiocassette tape is its form: book. Therefore, there is a special relationship between content and form. And it takes this relationship to make a general thing (the book or the writing) into a specific thing (this particular book). In propaganda we use the content and form in tandem. Traditional thought considers a material thing as merely an object. In other words, this book is an object. But as I have just shown you, this specific book is the product of a relationship between content and form. It so happens that this is true of all things; they are made up of a relationship between their content and form. This means that in considering a subject for propaganda (or for anything) we must look at the relationships that make up that subject. Pay close attention to what this means: An object (any object like this book) only becomes a specific object when it is considered subjectively in the relationship between its content and form. In other words: the usage, the practice, the human activity makes us view the object subjectively in order to make the object specific. The relationship or interaction between content and form is the basis for the existence of the specific object. This is a very important concept and bears re- reading if it is not clear to you. It follows then that any subject for propaganda, in fact anything in the universe, cannot be viewed as isolated, unconnected, independent of other phenomena; things are connected, dependent on and determined by each other. Moreover, the opposite is also true. Just as the form (the book) is determined and made specific by the content (the subject of the book), so too is the content (the subject matter) determined and made specific by the form (the book). If we look at either content or form from a purely empirical standpoint as "parts" of the whole and ignore the special relationship, then it is impossible to see the whole. A book is a book is a book...without the relationship with content. It has pages and binding and type and whatever else. But without the relationship it is incomplete. When I was in elementary school we were taught that all of the elements that made up the human body were worth about $32 (today's inflation probably makes them worth $3,200 as I write this). Each of those elements can be (and has been) studied empirically. They can even be mixed together. But they do not become a real living human being without some very special relationships. The lesson of this is that the whole (of anything) is greater than the sum of its parts. Understanding that relationships are necessary for specific existence is a cornerstone of propaganda technique. This radical interpretation of existence can be simply stated, as "the world does not consist of things but of relationships." We need to take this one step further; we need to define relationships. Albert Einstein defined relativity as the principle of the interdependence of matter, energy, space, and time. This interdependence of all things is manifest through processes that make things specific. In short, everything is related to something else and depends on the processes of those interrelationships to exist. It therefore follows, for the purpose of understanding propaganda, that to manipulate or control any thing, one must manipulate and control the processes that make up that thing. VI. Within whatever realm of inferences one posits an argument, one logically concludes within the same realm regardless of the propositions. This is a sort of philosophical way of saying "you are going to reap just what you sow." While this is akin to the logical fallacy of "begging the question" (see Postulate VII below), it is much more complex and much more key to understanding a basic tool of polemics. I began this list of postulates with a statement that in consideration of any topic certain premises must be established to deal with that topic. That statement has (as I noted of all statements in Postulate III above) a corresponding argument; the argument here is that one must agree on premises in order to have a discussion. That argument is the realm of the inferences. By beginning within my realm (or any realm we posit) we become prisoners of the laws governing realm. One cannot start out within any realm of extraction without ending up within that realm. For example, if I want to convince you that one brand of laundry detergent is better than another because the second brand is bad, then you are forced to debate NOT the merits of the two detergents on an equal basis but rather you must begin from the unequal position of disproving that the second is bad or that my detergent is just as bad. In either case, you have a disadvantage because you are trapped in my realm of premises that the second detergent is bad. Even if you disprove my claim, you have still argued within my realm. In whatever realm an argument begins, it necessarily ends in the same realm; this is a basic law of polemics. VII. If the premises of an argument do not prove the conclusion, the argument is a fallacy. A fallacy is an element of the structure of an argument rather than having anything to do with the truth of falseness of the propositions. In other words, if the structure or form of the argument is a fallacy, the argument is invalid regardless of the content. There are 18 common logical fallacies. Most of these of self-explanatory; the ones that are not, I will define. 1. Appeal to force (or threat). 2. Abuse. This is caused by attacking the messenger rather than the message. That is to say, not arguing the issue but arguing about the person who presented the issue. 3. Circumstantial. An example of this fallacy would be to argue that you should buy an American-made car not because of the merits of the vehicle but because to buy a foreign car would be "un- American" or against the tenets of being a good citizen. 4. Argument from ignorance. This is an argument that is said to be true just because no one has ever proven it is not true. For example, "there must be ghosts because no one has proven there are no ghosts." 5. Appeal to pity. 6. Emotional appeal "to the people." This is the "bandwagon" appeal: to smoke a certain brand of cigarettes will give you sex appeal; to drink a certain kind of beer will make you have fun in a bar like the guys in the commercial. Advertisements use this fallacy subliminally by depicting happy people in expensive surroundings using their product...implying that if you use the product you will be part of that lifestyle. 7. Appeal to authority or and expert opinion. 8. Accidental circumstances. This occurs when one applies a general rule to a specific case and implies that the general rule is universally true without exception. 9. Hasty Generalization. If you take several "exceptions" to a general rule and claim that they are the rule, you commit this fallacy. For example: 100 people who had sex got AIDS; therefore no one should ever have sex. 10. Negative correlations. My favorite example of this fallacy is the famous situation involving the New York City newspapers following the power blackout of 1964. In May of 1965, nine months after the blackout, reporters noticed an increase in the birth rate in the city. The papers announced that this was because without electricity, television and lights on those fateful three days nine months earlier couples had nothing better to do than make whoopee...and hence the baby boom. It was later that it was discovered that the birth rate increases every year during May and in 1965 the figures were actually down from the previous May's increase. Another example I often give of this fallacy is consideration of the relationship between shoe size and vocabulary in children. Between kindergarten and 10th grade a child's shoe sizes gets larger. So does her/his vocabulary. Therefore, the bigger the shoes the bigger the vocabulary. Such is a fallacy. 11. Begging the question or circular argument. When presenting the conclusion of an argument as a premise, one is begging the question. For example: You might argue that Sunday morning worship service at the local church is attended by good people. And if I were to ask what makes these people "good," you would respond, "they attend Sunday morning worship service." 12. Complex question. "Do you still beat your spouse?", is the typical example of this fallacy. The conclusion is implied in the question. If you say "yes," then you admit that you beat your spouse; but if you say "no" you still admit that you did at one time beat your spouse but you are not still doing it. 13. Irrelevant conclusion. Example: "If we want to avoid being overrun by terrorist nations we must develop an adequate defense capability. So it follows that we must deploy a Neutron bomb system and the MX missile system." This is a fallacy because the Neutron bomb and the MX system are offensive weapons and do not relate to defense in any way. The conclusion is irrelevant to the premise of defense. 14. Equivocation. Many words in the English language have more than one meaning. An equivocation is an ambiguous use of words. For example: "It is our duty to do what is right. We have the right to disregard good advice. Hence, it is our duty to disregard good advice." The equivocation involves the dual meanings of the word "right." 15. Amphiboly. This is another grammatical error. One of my favorite examples is: "I've looked in every bookstore in town for a step-by-step beginner's instruction book on how to play the piano without success." Obviously, from this sentence structure I am looking for a book about "how to play the piano without success." 16. Accent. This is another shift-in-meaning fallacy which is dependent on how the statement is accented. One of my favorite examples comes from a headline I put on the front page of a union newspaper several years ago. Five union members (out of a total of 42,000) were tested for asbestos poisoning. Of those five, four of them were determined to be poisoned. My headline screamed at the readers: "FOUR OUT OF FIVE UNION MEMBERS POISONED ON THE JOB." Reading it one way was absolutely true...but my accident left open an entirely different meaning. 17. Composition or Specific to Universal. This relates to putting sentence together so that it is misleading. For example: "In the new FORD, the heaviest single part of the car weighs only 35 pounds...and that is the driver's seat. Therefore, the new FORD is extremely light weight." This is not necessarily true because even if every other part only weighs one- pound, there may be 450,000 parts giving the car a weight of 450,000+ pounds. But the sentence is structured to mislead. 18. Division or Universal to Specific. And, this is the opposite of the composition fallacy; that what is true of a whole must be true of its parts. For example: "Americans love hot dogs. I am an American. Therefore, I love hot dogs." The fact is, I am a vegetarian and I despise hot dogs. This fallacy is also fun to use in parody: "Men who wear hats are vanishing. That man is wearing a hat. Therefore, that man is vanishing." There is an old adage that in order to break rules one must first know the rules. Thus I have presented these 18 typical fallacies for the purpose of recognizing holes in arguments. When used carefully all 18 have a place in the propagandist's bag of tricks. VIII. The possible behaviors in any specific circumstance are finite and quantifiable; they therefore may be categorized. If we consider any behavior in any specific situation to be one of several possible behaviors in that situation, then we can list what other behaviors are possible. If I ask you to buy a new brand of soup, you may either buy it or not buy it. In this clear-cut illustration there is no middle ground. Regardless of where you may be in the process of buying or not buying; regardless of the motivational factors; regardless of the reasons for or against; the fact is that your behavior was either you bought or did not buy...period. (The cliché is that "close" only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.) In any behavior situations (and most have more complex options than this example) the possible behaviors may be listed. Once they are listed, it is possible to classify like behaviors in groups of things that make them alike. This will later prove to be a very important tool when choosing a method for propaganda. IX. There are (at least) 26 laws of persuasion. These laws hold true whether the audience is mass or one-on-one. The propaganda techniques for persuasion are constant whether they are applied on the wholesale or the retail level. 1. Persuasion results are relatively high when fear is used to regulate behavior. 2. Opinion change is more likely to occur if you specifically state the desired conclusion rather than let the audience draw their own conclusions. 3. Pleasant forms of distraction can increase the effectiveness of persuasion (especially food, sex, and humor) but are not techniques of the persuasion. 4. Persuasion is enhanced by requiring activity participation by the audience (rather than passively receiving the message). 5. When an audience is friendly or when your position is the only one to be presented, or when you want immediate (though temporary) results, present only one side of an argument; When the audience is hostile or disagrees or when it is likely that the audience will hear the other side from someone else, present both sides of the argument. 6. Information alone almost never changes attitudes. 7. Humor is not effective as a persuasive technique. 8. Strangers can modify a person's behavior. 9. Opinions and attitudes are strongly influenced by the groups to which a person belongs or wants to belong. 10. People are socially rewarded for conforming to group standards and punished for deviating from them. 11. People most attached to a group are least persuaded by methods that conflict with the group norms. 12. Opinions which people openly express are harder to change than privately held opinions. 13. Opinion change must be a continual process...a continuing campaign; in time the effects of persuasion wear off unless constantly reinforced. 14. The change of opinion is more likely to take place some time after exposure to the propaganda than immediately following the exposure. 15. The people you most want to persuade are least likely to be in your initial audience. 16. Because of the sexism of roles and self-image in American society, female audiences are easier to persuade than male audiences. 17. Your propaganda must take into account the processes and underlying attitudes of behavior in addition to the immediate issues. 18. Individual personality traits affect susceptibility to persuasion. 19. Credibility of the persuader is a factor in propaganda immediately after exposure but not later on. 20. A low-credibility persuader can increase credibility by appearing to argue against his/her own best interest or by not being identified at all or until after the presentation. 21. Effectiveness is increased if the propaganda expresses some views held by the audience. 22. What the audience thinks of the persuader is directly related to what they think of the message (this is the content and form paradox). 23. The more extreme the opinion change asked for, the more actual change will take place. 24. If the audience identifies with the persuader in some way, they are more likely to be persuaded. 25. Sensationalism rarely has long-term effectiveness. 26. The less information a person has, the easier it is for them to make a decision...especially a persuaded decision. There is actually a tenth postulate in this series: "Behavior is a series of reinforcements; using the correct reinforcements, behavior can be not only modified but controlled." However, I have deliberately chosen to leave this most important postulate out of the list of nine non-debatable issues because of the controversy surrounding this postulate.