tv Propaganda Discussion at Zocalo Public Square CSPAN September 3, 2019 9:40am-10:46am EDT
idaho mountains. melinda gates discusses her life and work with women around the world. arguing that the press standards and journalism. enjoy book tv this week and every weekend on c-span2. >> watch c-span's campaign 2020 coverage of the democratic presidential candidates at new hampshire democratic party conventi convention. our live coverage is saturday 9:00 eastern, and on-line c-span.org or listen with the c-span radio app. >> panelists weigh the pros and cons of political propaganda at the zocala square in los
angeles. >> thank you and i'll introduce the panelists. hal studies cognitive bias and how people imagine their future selves, op-eds for the new york times and the wall street journal. >> jennifer is a historian at texas and am university and a contributing editor. and expectations, establishing the obama presidency. and the next book, demagogue for president, the rhetorical genius of donald trump. [laughter] >> she is she'll be talking about that later. anthony is a professor emeritus
of social psychology at uc santa cruz and the co-author of age of propaganda, the everyday use and abuse of persuasion. he previously taught courses in advertising and consumer behavior at carnegie mellon university and he is a magician. [applaus [applause]. so thank you for being here. so the theme of this panel is, is contemporary propaganda damaging our attention spans, our relationships, our ability to ponder bigger questions? or does it suffer -- offer some benefits like nudging us to eat healthier, save the earth or maybe even vote? so is it all those things? hal? >> thanks. thank you for moderating, too. so i think so much of this depends on how we define
propaganda and defined a certain way, we could say it's all bad. defined like you did, we could say there are many uses where you could actually help people do the things that they say they want to do. where my research comes in on this, there's often a gap tw between people, how they want to live their lives. i don't want to eat as much as i do, i want to wake up earlier and exercise, but i don't. how do we get people to do those things? i think we will probably touch on some of these topics, but there are messages and framings that we can use and that marketers do use that do try to help people do these things. >> and it's okay to believe that. so the definition when i looked up propaganda sounds to me of the definition of propaganda sounds shady and skanky. information, especially of a
biased or misleading nature used to promote or public size the particular political cause or point of view. well, that sounds awful. but is it always that awful? it's not. is it, anthony? >> well, i have a very specific definition of propaganda. first of all, it's defined in a lot of different ways and can just mean promoting aside or take a more nefarious definition. mine is a message that plays on your emotions and prejudices. it's typically short like a sound bite, a photo, a vivid image and it's designed to speak to your gut, that you have the arousal, fear, guilt, a negative emotion like that and it can also speak to your prejudices. i don't like -- it's against that kind of people, person i don't like. if you think from history's standpoint. how do you do prop granada?--
propaganda. fritz, who was the propaganda minister for josee gherbles. and he says it was to simplify and make it entertainment and repeat, repeat, repeat. that's the formula. can that ever be done for good? obviously, it can. you can raise fear about tooth decay and get someone to go to the dentist, probably will if you couple it with a doable response. the problem is, people feel like they're manipulated and it can come back to bite them. second of all, you're not getting a discussion of the issues. democracy is founded on
deliberatie persuasion. if i'm couldens stanley appealing to your emotions, one after another, that debate is not happening and it also creates a situation where the next prop began tis who can appeal to your emotions even better can mislead you again and undo everything the previous propagandist. >> you say we're broken-- we don't know the rules of discussion and debate, what are the rules? where do we learn them? part of problem is that we spend so much time in our own media bubbles and our own private sphere that we fail to join. >> 0s that used to teach us and we've done this over generations, but that used to teach us democrat skills, democratic decision making,
democratic skills and democratic decision making. nos are stills that we have to learn. i'll in a communication department and there are communication departments around the country that have loud discourse where students learn how to organize processes for fair, deliberative discussion. so we can join organizations that teach this. the kettering foundation they have the civil issues forum and they teach these skills how to design a process that's fair to all sides, that allows people to feel like and to actually contribute to decision making, at that allows people a fair amount of time to talk, and to reach concensus and decide how we should value what objects, and how we should make decisions, what the decision rules are. you can't say that there's one perfect way, you know, of organizing any conversation because that's going to need to be decided on a case by case
basis. but we know what works, right? so what's happened is that we've failed to do the things that communication experts know we should do. and that's because largely we're taught to communicate as pr propgandists. >> there are those who run the nations and those who run next door, e-mail things, all talking to each other and talking at each other and facebook and we're using propaganda and we're terrible, i think i hear you saying, at knowing how to really talk to each other. >> well, part of it is is that we are terrible at it, but it's also, in some ways, not our fault. so, the algorithms that control
maybe not your next door app, but what you see on facebook or what you see on twitter, those algorithm ofs are designed to promote the most emotive, most outrageous content, right? and the notifications that you get on your apps, those are designed to ping the dopamine in your brain and you'll go back looking for more and more positive feedback because you're addicted to it. so it trains, you it literally trains you to speak as a propagandaist on social media and only show your content if you're outrageous. it will only show you that people have enjoyed your content if you go back enough times and say enough outrageous things, right? they call it the outrage
industry for a reason. it's designed not to facilitate democrat democratic, but to keep you engaged. >> i guess in some ways, my business, the media is -- kind of plays with this, too, hopefully not as evilly as you're talking about it, but when we put a headline on something on-line. >> yes. >> it's supposed to, and we get dinged on google if we say woman caught without her head in a bar and it turns out to be a story just about sanitation in bars. i mean, we can't do that. [laughter] >> but we do look for something provocative that has -- that relates to what's going on in the story and then we are rewarded on google by being moved up. >> and sensationalism is nothing new, right, from the
media, but when you have a finite number of producers of sensational content that's one thing. but we have an infinite, right? we have an infinite number of sensational content producers today, right? every single one of us produces sensationalist content. >> so i wanted to go back to the idea, sometimes propaganda in marketing can be good and i was thinking about, there's this story out about how the 10,000 steps, we're all supposed to walk 10,000 steps a day for our health. it turns out that was never scientifically backed, that was promoted by a company that made pedomete pedometers, and they wanted you to use them to walk 10,000 steps. it turns out you actually only need to walk 4400 steps. >> you shouldn't tell them that. >> well, yeah, okay.
maybe that was okay, they did it for, to make more money or to get you to think, oh, my god, i've got to get this pedometer. but isn't that good that they -- that the byproduct was we all walked more steps? >> we have to ask two things, that's the intention behind the, you know, the dispersement of information, right? so that statistic that millions of plastic straws are thrown away. and eventually someone figured out a fourth grade science project and put that out, four, five, six years ago. there wasn't an intention to be nefarious. i don't know what the 10,000 steps came from. was it intentionally misleading or somehow misread over time. and then we ask, if that's
moving people in the right direction health-wise, is that a problem? you know, this becomes a real sort of philosophical debate, we can ask, what do people want to do? is there some sort of agency taken away when messaging is put out like this and it's against-- people somehow feel they're doing something that's against their free will or don't even realize that they're doing this sort of behavior and that opens up a whole sort of can of worms that's hard to grapple with. i think for the most part, a lot of messaging that may sort of err on the side of getting people to do something good, when done right, allows people to the decision power to do this sort of thing or not. it's just that it nudges them essentially in the right direction, in the direction that they say they want to go in, at least. >> can you speak of an example of something where it's marketing, but it's also making us do the right things?
>> so, i mean, i think about a lot of the-- i think about a lot of the work and in the behavioral economics or psychology space in the retirement world. so, some of this is messaging and some of this is structuring choices to are people so that they end up doing something that can help them. so you look at 401(k) participation, if you default someone into contributing to their account, they're much more likely to do so. that is they have to make a decision to not contribute than to contribute. or fault them into adding every year, that's-- >> that's a good example. but do you -- i know, anthony, you feel that this is a message dense environment. in fact, i'm sure you all feel
that way. we all feel that way. thousands of commercials, things on the internet, junk mail. how do we pick power way through that environment? because all of those senders of those message are propaganda. >> that's the rub, it's impossible to think about each one of them and that's the real issue that we face as citizens. one social psychologist tried to keep track of the number of persuasive messages that he got in a day and he gave up around 9:30. [laughter] >> because he was already over top of his clicker, yeah, 9:30 in the morning. how do you think about each one of those? and that's one of those-- the key reasons why propaganda can be effective, you can't think about them.
and so then what you do, we all do, we start to use horrifics, simple rule, is that a good thing or a bad thing. true or false? it came from my political party must be good. came from their political party, must be bad. or an older white guy or that person, or a millennial. and you start to use those kind of simple things, it agrees with me, it's something that i want to be true and that's the rub. and the interesting side of it is, we also have at our fingertips all the information we need to be able to sort out these issues. the problem is we don't have the time and we also don't often times have the skills to go through them. you know, i'd say on facebook and somebody will post something, i'll google it and you know, there are things like fact check that will tell you whether this statement was made or not. >> yeah, yeah. >> so, there are tools like
that, but there's not enough of them and that's one of the reasons why propaganda is so effective. >> and also, we get all of this stuff. all of this information. has it made us -- has it made our attention spans shorter and/or are we just -- we're just in an age where this is all we want to look at? >> well, it certainly has cut the amount of time given to a specific topic. as you look back at now, the typical presidential candidate would have had in 1968 on the evening news they would get two to three minutes. all they did was talk. >> wow. >> by the 90's, late 9 90's, you're lucky to get seven, eight seconds of a candidate saying something and it's still then. and now we just get tweets and
simple sound bites and that has an effect. now, imagine if i was a political candidate and i wanted to convince you of any kind of issue. i only have seven seconds to do it. how do i do that? and also, half of you have left, that i said something for seven seconds, half of you leave and another half come in and i now have another seven seconds. that's impossible for me to outline the trade-offs that you would have on health care or any of these sorts of-- or why we should go to war. why we shouldn't go to war. and that, i mean, that's the obstacle that we face. and yet, it also feels to me like cnn has already started these town halls with the presidential candidates, the democratic candidates, so, i feel like i see them constantly and then cnn again is covering all of their rallies and stuff
or the rallies of frontrunners. so i feel like i'm seeing them a lot and hearing them a lot although, i'm not sure this early on that really is making much of an impact on me, you know? because there's just-- even though it's longer, there's still too much of it, kind of. you know, it's almost like it's not organized, it seems like. but, jim, let me ask you about your books. so you wrote one book on obama and now you're at work on your next book is about trump. you can't think of two presidents, politics aside, who are different people and obama was the meticulous measured thinker, at least this is what i think he was. and a famous story about him finishing dinner in the oval offi office--
so obama always is focused on the facts, the policy. he uses what we can think of as soaring or high style, transcended rhetoric. so what we all have in common rather than what divides us. very optimistic and hopeful, yes, we can, that kind of thing. he ran as all presidents do as the nation zero in 2008 and convinced the nation, a good percentage of the nation, not just the democratic party, that he was the right hero for the moment. so that's what the book i wrote about obama is, an edited collection of people explaining why they thought that obama was going to be the right hero to save america during this national crisis.
trump also ran as a hero. you might not think that. so my book is about trump running as a demagogue. if you look at the word demagogue in the oxford english dictionary first definition says a political leader who defends the people's interest against the other part of the state, i hero. the second definition says a political leader who uses polarizing propaganda for their own gains against the other parts of the state. a villain, right? so trump right as as a public figure, just like obama did. some people who followed him, his fans, seeing still that way. they see him defending their interests against the corrupt of the parts of the state, of the people don't seem that way. they don't seem as the heroic figure. they seem as the villain this figure. either way trump is this main character, who has been
occupying all the space in our heads since 2013. >> so now with the new, next campaign, next election coming up, how do we navigate our way through all this? what advice would you give us to be smart -- i don't know -- consumers? >> of propaganda or of trump's rhetoric? >> well, what advice would you give us to be smart consumers of all the propaganda about all the democratic contenders, and about trump? and then how do we take that to a dinner table conversation? >> in order to convince people. >> it's hard because the propaganda is so good at this point back, right? it's all designed to have us as he said, do not reflect critically on what we are spreading information that wishing and amplified.
it's designed to push the buttons to make us outraged and then react. it's very difficult of the presence of mind to calmly reflect on the information you're being provided and the information you're sharing. i have to check myself and sometimes i delete tweets because, i shouldn't have done that. i shouldn't have said that. and i'm very careful about how i communicate. if i share a video and it had made me cry or make me laugh, i'll let people know. i'll be like this is hilarious. watch it if you want to laugh. this is sad. watch this if you need to cry. i know those videos go viral because it's the way they evoke emotions, and those emotional responses then, therefore, persuade us in maybe ways were not cognizant of.
my best advice is to be super vigilant, but that's hard. because again the platform and the technology are designed to prevent us from being super vigilant. they don't want us to think critically. >> or take time like you said. you could look up everything. you also wrote that, i think you wrote this, that the way of anything that plays on your emotions are makes you feel guilty. but couldn't those things be good? with what you said about saving for retirement, we feel guilty and then we start saving. >> what i said i think was when you're receiving messages, pay attention to your emotions. pay attention to how your thinking. all of a sudden you're changing. i wasn't feeling guilty, i wasn't feeling moral outrage three seconds ago. ask yourself why.
if you go on a sales situation and somebody all of a sudden says you're not going to be able to buy that today's net and you start to feel panicky. ask yourself why all of a sudden do i feel panicky. that could be a clue that somebody is trying to use propaganda against you. >> the same with when you watch the news. if you're feeling anxious while you're watching the news, that news is making you feel anxious which doesn't a big favor. it keeps you tuned in to that news channel through the commercials, right? find out what happens next. cicerone used to say who profits. if you're starting to notice that you feel anxious about things or you feel like you're being manipulate, you probably are. try to think about who is profiting from that, who was
manipulating you for what reason i'll ask one more thing. maybe feeling guilty is the right emotion. because things might've done something wrong. you know, somebody who is suffering that needs your help so you want to take a step back and ask why am i feeling that. is it a legitimate emotion, or somebody playing on it rapidly one after another. >> i have to defend newspapers. because much of the news may be anxiety producing, but we believe it's what's really happening and you need to know that speed is i'm not thinking of newspapers. thinking about cable news channels where the music is intense and you feel overwhelmed just listening to the music and multiple windows and its all designed to look you in and keep
you there and have you on the edge of your seat. i can't watch cable news. makes my heart race. >> is there a way, you were saying like we don't join things anymore. we don't join clubs and stuff like that, but we do join facebook and twitter, instagram. facebook, i know facebook is such a bad rap for mining our private information, bombarding us with ads. it's also this forum where people wished each other happy birthday and express sympathy when family members die, when pets die and congratulate you when you graduate from something. isn't that like a good community? can't that be good propaganda? >> maybe it was. i guess the relevant question is, is it still?
we know so little the way the algorithm, algorithms work in terms of what gets displayed and win. we actually just tried to run a research study on facebook when we displayed, without we running a well-controlled scientific experiment with multiple messages that would get displayed to three different groups. it turns up facebook just took over and optimize the messages and undigested who was this when working for better? it turns up by one message worked really well for middle age women in the midwest and with no idea as could be the case and that was not what we wanted to be the case. >> those like apps, right? >> yes, but the same algorithms are at work for the messages that you post and jim post and anthony posts. even just the stories we are reposting that we had nothing to do with. facebook and other social media platforms know what is going to get the clicks and the views and
the outrage. i think part of this question is not only how can we change the way that we react to these things, but also how many of us in the room? this is not enough to make an impact. we also knew the social media platforms to figure out ways to change the algorithms so that people are more mindful consumers of the messages. >> so how do we do that? >> so, i'm not the one -- i don't have an answer. there's research right now that is really looking into essentially how we can do this. dave brandt brand and gordon ft have done some lasting work showing essentially what is it that predicts when we we share things? and mindlessly share things, especially with regard to political propaganda. and one school of thought is we
are motivated and rationalize, that sounds like it's at the trump, but, let me see how it is right it turns out it's not so much we rationalize things but the people who didn't do reshare and retweet and really consume more that fake news of the way to doing so in that impulsive and not a limited manner. turns out there's an easy way to measure it if you're more impulsive or deliberative, it's a task and ask them questions. every question as an answer that's more impulsive or more deliberative. something like you're running a race and you pass the person who is in second place. what place a u.n.? the impulsive answers, now you are in first place. but if you think about it, now he wouldn't second place because you past the person who was in second place. people differ on this and people were more likely to be impulsive are more likely to share fake news and believe it.
part of the solution is to get people to more accurately, to think about the messages they are receiving more accurately. so they have run really clever study with facebook we just put a message of the says can you rate out i could this article is? just the act of doing that puts people in the more deliberative, reflective and not impulsive mindset, regardless of their political persuasion, regardless of their education, income, all of those factors. now they're more likely to critically consume the news are the stories that are being shared. this to me is something that can affect millions contents the needs of people. in a way they can actually change the discourse, i think. >> that's fasting. it does make me, i am worried that, because everything gets consumed in a bite sized way, that people will never give themselves a chance to try and
look at things more accurately. and also, i mean, i think you wrote, think you say -- >> i'm getting old. maybe i did. >> i think about we should be skeptical of authority, which seems fine, but at some point it is one thing to be skeptical of politicians who wants to convince you of something. but what about the anti-vaxxers for skeptical of science and scientists? >> i didn't mean it as skeptical, like were stickers question authority kind of always tries me nuts like how to do that, what is it about. instead -- instead start asking
questions about the persons expertise. as an example he gave earlier about 10,000 steps, that was great that got people walking but also just polluted the communication environment. i don't know whether this is real science or not. that's what's driving the kinds of things with the facts errs and at a of signs deniers. they've gotten into a cluttered environment and how do i know that this is really from a doctor? what is the authority here? and so what i suggest doing is ask sets of questions. first of all credibility expertise can be faked. i studied con criminals. that's their modus operandi. a collet with the fbi, pretend to be law enforcement. you have to ask is this really a
legitimate authority? second, do they have a basis for making the statement? so i'm not, i'm an expert in certain areas but i certainly couldn't say the person in the front row needs his gallbladder out because that would be outside by expertise. that's an obvious answer, but oftentimes we will look on facebook and other places, person has to expertise. one of persons whose writing parent guides consciously deal the on the college gate issue. she's that good at getting -- able to get them in college without cheating. [laughing] this is a proclaimed expert. what was her area of expertise? why was she able to tell you how to raise your kid? these are the kind of questions we need to ask to sort out what the basis is.
it is difficult. one of the issues that happens in science is a lot of publicity science, press release think it's out there on facebook. i have religious friends and they says that shows you a better person. i get that from the religious person. religion shows you are a worse person. i get all the atheist posting that. both studies get the right of both of them are publicity. that environment is becoming polluted and we can't tell what -- by the way, i like the suggestion, taking a step back and think deliberative and asking questions. as one of the most, i did some work on fraud criminals and what's the best way to prevent a fraud from happening? what we did was we had people
who were mucha was. fraud criminals would call them routinely and we would have about five or ten minutes to try to tell them something on how to deal with it. the number one thing we learned was getting didn't ask questions. so for a charity fraud, ask what percentage goes to charity for a financial investment fraud, what is your investor id number? just having those questions reduce the fraud rate by 50% come we know because we have called them up about a week later and try to take on a fraud. which is the only way you can find that stuff. so asking a kind of question, taking a step back is very key. >> those are all like good, that's good advice about everything, people are trying to sell you something. we spend, i want to ask you
something about how we begin -- propagandized each other but first, you look at an issue, i can think of in the polarized issue today than the debate on abortion and abortion rights. do you think there's propaganda on both sides of that? >> i do, absolutely. >> there's propaganda on all sides of all questions. >> its it's propaganda all the y down. >> just the label pro-choice versus pro-life -- >> which i hate as a writer. i say pro-abortion rights are antiabortion. >> once you decide to live, whose against choice, whose against life? >> that's true, that's true. >> hanna just go back to the question of facebook and how it is different from the community organizations we used to join? if you guys have read robert
atkins bowling alone, his research, about how we have for generations failed to join civic organizations that teaches democratic decision-making and skills related to democracy, and that it's a problem, and so all of the examples you gave of people being supported committey members which is what you like about facebook, think about how all of those things are about emotions. i feel better today because it's my birthday. people remember. our i get to help someone celebrate their marriage or their anniversary. that's all about connecting through emotion. highly emotive content is rewarded by the algorithm because people respond to it. that stuff will always get put up high in your feed, always. the second point about that is that the difference between that
community that is important for you, and for all of us, hopefully, and what is actually productive for democracy is a very big difference. putnam wrote about the difference between bridging social capital and bonding social capital. bonding social capital is the relationships you have with your family members, close friends, people who are under facebook, probably, right? those people that you know throughout your life and that might be -- bridging social capital would be people who just randomly meet. people you would meet at the organization are waiting in line or in the book club. those things that would bridge socioeconomic divides and racial divides and all kinds of other things. it turns out the bridging social capital is what makes democracy work. those connections that would make with people who are not
like us, who are not already in our phone, or not on our facebook. that's how you get a job when you don't have a job and you need one. that's how you find someone may be who in his example will give you a kidney transplant. it's that bridging social capital that actually solidifies the moxley. that makes this trust one another. the trust that we have -- >> what we learn about each other. >> and it makes the world less scary. we learn to trust one another. we learn that the world is not as scary as it seems on cable news, and we create these sick of bonds throughout the community. instead of with and are already developed social network. that's the difference between facebook and these community organizations ike the rotary club of the pta or whatever that we used to be speedy or book
club. >> book clubs are great. libraries are great. go to your library. >> we should have summer camp for adults. >> summer camp for adults would be good. >> do you guys have come other people in your lives personally that you have a hard time resisting their propaganda? >> or maybe you know the person so well that you never believe their propaganda. i don't know. i was just wondering if -- i did best friend and she could tell him anything and i would be like -- >> the reverse, so i may, i say persuasion and i'm married to a philosopher and i window arguments with him and he cannot be persuaded. i might make a statement and he
will tell me what's wrong with it. [laughing] but then later, like he will self persuade, think about it and then he will say you know what, i was thinking about what you said and you are right. but i can't persuade him and him away. he has to decide for himself. >> that's great. >> took me a while to figure that out. the once i figured it out everyg is great. >> is there any way, seems like all lot of our discourse whether it's in person among people we kind of dough, or whether online, it's very high-pitched and people don't exchange frank but judicious comments. we are always bitching at each other. is there any way to fix that?
>> i think there's a two-pronged approach that kind of emerged from this discussion. i think the first thing we need to do is, it's a new media, and we need a discussion about what our norms are. what do we expect from that media? and also do we want to regulate certain aspects of it? this is not a new question if you go back to radio. goebbels loved it. it was a new propaganda. lane he loved the phils. it was a new propaganda form but eventually we learn how to handle it. same thing with the old penny press in the late 19th century that got us into wars. we have to ask this kind of questions and they are tough questions. so if you want to censor speech, and how much you want to censor speech? those are questions we should have as a kindred on facebook and twitter and the rest.
the second approach is a personal approach. when a think about how to handle this, they are two philosophers of democracy, niccolò machiavelli and thomas jefferson. machiavelli wrote the prince and basically it was a wheel power but in his later life eastern to say how do i control the sky? how do i control this prince? they both came up with the concept i call democratic virtue. and that is the kinds of things that we have to do as citizens of a democracy. and this is how we should be thinking about our facebook. one is to approach things humbly. not with arrogance. that i could be wrong. and so before i post, i should that through. another is to follow the facts. another is to create an environment of power of tolerance and respect for other people. and then a support for the
social institutions of democracy, the rules that we go by. one of the most interesting questions was secretary clinton, hillary clinton, asking people what would happen if the democratic candidate 2020 said china, if you're listening, you will be rewarded for our media if you can get the tax returns for donald trump. i thought is really interesting because the last time i taught my course on autocracy democracy i use the same exact example. i don't know how she got my lecture notes -- [laughing] >> doing email. >> i guess it was in an e-mail, yes. >> wow. [laughing] >> but if you're a democrat, you should be yourself, should we be doing that? and if so you should be okay with trump doing it. if you're a republican you should be saying, if the democrats do that will be
hunky-dory? is that going to be fine? and if your answer is no, it shouldn't be hunky-dory when donald trump did it. and so that's the key question that each one of us should be asking right now. i personally think it would be wrong for the democratic party any candidate to ask china to interfere with our elections. that's one to each of us has to make. i'd like to see us make that decision. because if it's fine, well, maybe the democrats will have to do that next time. and that's what it means by protecting the norms of our society, the norms of what it means to be a democracy. and the final thing is to try to create the liberty of persuasio persuasion. so on facebook, and i've not had success at this, so you should
try it. is when somebody post something, like this happened on tariffs. i just ask a question, i just want to know the answer why are the terrorists being put on not on raw materials as opposed to final goods? -- tariffs. i just want to know if you supporting the tariffs please why. i do want people -- people attack trump, i don't want to do that. so what the answer. it's an important answer. because if you put on raw materials that are needed for detroit and automobile industry are practically bombing yourself and economic trade war. i didn't get an answer, but i think it was important to do because those are the kind of questions you have to make, answer, in order to have the liberty of persuasion. healthcare, everyone wants healthcare but there's a lot of trade-offs. which one are you willing to make? those are the discussions that are needed in a democracy.
>> you've given us all a lot of homework to think about. thank thank you so much. you guys have all been so interesting, and let me just give a round of applause. [applause] >> and now is a part of the we take questions from the audience. we are going around the room with microphones. please set your first and last thing before your question. that would be greatly appreciative. also this part of the program will be recorded and posted online tomorrow morning. finally, if you could have asked relatively be questioned and have relatively brisk answers so we will get to as many questions as possible this evening. your first question is on your left. >> thank you for really fun and informative conversation. i guess the ancient greeks, teaching you to be a good
citizen in learning about rhetoric and persistence of argument. you think education maybe in high school could be part of the solution to some of these problems? >> we would all say yes. and one of the differences between ancient greece antedate is that a citizen was an officer of the government in ancient greece. we don't think of ourselves as officers of the commitment we don't think of ourselves of having an office, citizens of the united states. to me that's a problem. i think we act more as partisans than we do a citizens in this country. we don't think of the common good. we think of what's good for our party, and that is a result of propaganda and to think that makes us communicate as propagandists. do you agree? >> i definitely agree with that. it was taught in schools long time ago, an institute for
propaganda analysis in the 1930s. that's where you might've heard phrases like glittering generalities and just plain folks, which was a demagogue technique used by huey long and father coffin at the time. so it was taught -- father kaufman. it was an effective thing to do. >> i would just add one thing that which is we can all agree there there's need for more education about critical thinking but also more of the specifics with the tools for how to actually deal with propaganda in the modern world. that could be very useful. >> also i think it simple to teach people how to persuade. because if you don't know how to persuade, how to get anything done? and so they become alienated and a sense of hopelessness. so learning how to persuade in a fair and honest manner is just
as important as being able to spot the propaganda slog. >> my name is mike. i want to ask about trolls. there are a whole bunch of people out there who use social media in a way that seems very malicious and mean, , and the objective seems to be to make other people as angry as possible. this seems to be, this is something seems new to me. can you talk about that? >> some of those trolls are paid, and some of them come from overseas in russia. one of the objectives is to divide americans, and how best to do that -- mike, was it? is is exactly how you described
it, mike. >> i call it weaponized communication. trolling, propaganda, conspiracy theories, there's a whole constellation of really bad communication practices that we have primarily online, but in other places and they have a long history. what i mean by weaponized communication is the use of communication as the kind of force. so rather than democratic persuasion, you are seeking compliance. and so the trolling behavior, any of these other behaviors, always trying to get people to acquiesce. >> next question is on your left. >> i don't know how many of you have seen the tv series called who's american with sasha baron cohen. he goes around in different characters but the one that really amazes me is he being an israeli ex-militant and goes
around and does, uses this propaganda and ten minutes turns these people like big adults doing these weird things. i was just wondering, it's one thing to look at some fake news and say like it or send it to others or retweet some bad stuff, but like how to get people to do these ridiculous, outrageous acts in the matter of minutes by just using propaganda? >> i think that's a very specific case. >> you could do it, right? >> i would say sasha baron cohen is a master at doing this sort of thing and there's a lot a behind the scenes to get people to do what seems like minutes of ridiculous act on that and there's a lot of set up there. i think that actually is more of the lesson which is it's not just that people responding in quick ways, but there's a build up over time and would respond to messages over time and
eventually something, there's a tipping point there. that's what the lesson from sasha baron cohen. there's other things there. it's humorous and its particular context if that's not always the case. >> i agree with that. i would also point out there's a power of the situation. once you create the situation that defines reality, has social pressures, social consensus, peer pressure, authority, you can get people to do crazy things. just remember the old tv show candid camera. one of the clips that always enjoyed, this was way before 9/11, but the headache i take off from phoenix and he was handed oranges by miss sunshine arizona. and then you landed in denver but they made the denver airport look exactly like the phoenix airport. they had a twin give the guy oranges. he thought he was in phoenix
because of the power of that situation. have you ever gone to disneyland and get swept up in the pirates of the caribbean? it's a pirates life for me. that's the power of that situation. what makes it look crazy come think about it, you saw somebody going down the boat it's a pirates life for me and you didn't see any of the rides that person is not. that can be the power of that situation -- nuts. i don't know the particular case that -- okay. >> it is good. >> next question on your right. >> i was wondering if propaganda could be associate with group thinking, and how that would be harmful and how to like not -- you know what i'm talking about. >> when i teach rhetorical theory, i have a map i use my
graduate students and undergraduates undergraduate students that sort of maps the field of rhetoric since ancient greece. the most simplistic view of rhetoric and the when i start y class with, actually labeled groupthink, and it has two authors in it. when is the founder propaganda and public relations, and the other is -- about the power of rhetoric to make people do just what you want. to answer your question in the affirmative, yes. it is absolutely a wave understand it and definitely the goal, the instrumental goal. in the dialectic of enlightenment talk about tropicana as using people as a lever, as like a machine. that it uses people, it abuses them, it denies their free will to try to force them to think all the same so that you can control them.
that's certainly the problem. >> i look at it in a similar vein. one of the most powerful influence tactics that is talked about, we talk with interpol, is called -- which for those of you who know kurt vonnegut, it's a meaningless group that takes on a significant meaning. the social psychology term is social identity. once you get into a group of a social identity, that's a very powerful way of determining your thinking. because this is what i believe. and if i want to be a really good traits also want to be more of that. i don't want to be kicked out of the group so i will comply even more. he becomes a very powerful tool for knowing what to say and putting pressure, what to say and think and putting pressure on you to continue in that line.
>> next question is on your left. >> my name is ryan and my question is, is it more the problems in media, , is a more f a symptom of postmodernist culture or is it media that is projecting a postmodern culture on to the rest of us? >> that's a great question. certainly like if you're thinking of society as a spectacle, any of those versions of postmodernism as a theory, then yeah, like postmodern critiques the popular culture emerged with the proliferation, saturation of media. but i think what we have today is different, right? it's what ever after postmodernism in terms of meeting in the way that the spectacle works. when i used to teach the board to my student to use their phone
was their spectacular device. that connected them to the spectacle. they started calling it their spectacular device. good propaganda on my part. but it is that. now what we know is that that phone controls us. like it's not that we are connecting to the spectacle through the phone. it's the phone is controlling us in a way that i don't think we thought about before now. >> and i would add to that. i think it's impossible to sort of disentangle these things. it's not the one causes the other there's a cycle they are. the need is responding to us and we responded to the immediate and continues on and on. >> we're just about to get to a less questions. i there are few more out there. all of our speakers will be at the reception just outside the lobby to continue conversation. you can ask your questions there. last question to underwrite.
>> i heard you guys touched on how to teach high schoolers about propaganda. i was just one as a high school, how would you defend children being taken advantage of by propaganda? >> i feel like that's a really great question and it really difficult one to answer, but, of course, i think when one went to start thinking about this is figuring out where the filters are. and so how does information to two children to begin with? and what can parents, i'm thinking of who in children's lives are the one who control the information? what can parents do to monitor it, to figure out what children are hearing, and to essentially control it for lack of a better
word. this to me is where we start making an impact. you can't say how can we control the information source? that ship has sailed. but you can start to think about where the information comes from and also what your behavior as an adult you in front of kids, even a simple thing of we pawn on npr anymore and astounding that as my daughter start asking questions surrounding the things she was hearing. i didn't realize she was listening but, of course, that's one thing. >> at least it is npr. >> that's fair, okay. [laughing] >> i would suggest watching tv and the needy with your kids, and helping them understand what's happening. one of the best ways to prevent persuasion is to inoculate the person, , give them a small dose of the propaganda tactic and then the tools for refuting it. so how would you do this with a kid? when my son was younger we
watched on one of these tv commercials where the cars to all the spending and stuff. he said while not come naturally could. i said you're right, that is really cool. let's go to the toy store right now and see if it does it. if it doesn't, i'll buy it for you. [laughing] -- does it. he didn't want the toy, put it that way. he's getting healthy skepticism. proud of. >> on that note -- [applause] >> before the close of like to thank the school of management, our cobras are tight for bringing us together for this fantastic program. also thank all of you for joining us. please degraff a drink afterwards just outside in the lobby to continue the conversation. thank you for c-span recording
two nights rocher and final of the grant of applause for our speakers tonight. thank you so much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] queen elizabeth last week we to suspend parliament for five weeks in response to request from new british prime minister boris johnson. the prime minister asked for the suspension as a uk continues to work at a brexit deal before the october 31 deadline. members of parliament will have questions about the suspension and the way forward on brexit during prime minister's question time live on wednesday septemben c-span2. >> this is the story of how this whole new economy was built and iphone is been really interested ever since i was working in washington in how
business and government interact with one another. they have an antagonistic relationship and also a collaborative relationship in the real story american history is one of public private partnership in many ways, ways that sometimes our unseen and so this was i think the story is really can't wait to get into that. >> university of washington history professor margaret o'mara discusses her book "the code" sunday night at eight eastern on c-span's q&a. >> acting all my security secretary kevin mcaleenan testified recently on president trump's 2020 budget request for his agency. members asked about the administration's immigration enforcement actions, efforts to protect migrant children, drug interdiction efforts, and fema's response to recent flooding in oklahoma and turners in missouri. this is