i. thinking about propaganda, the Nazis, and us

Propaganda. When you think about the word, it brings to mind negative connotations: sinister enemies trying to manipulate the minds of innocent people by telling lies. Maybe some old black and white movie about evil foreigners comes to mind.

Propaganda is a word that sounds musty and out of date, a left-over from the struggles with fascism and Communism. Old-fashioned stuff that doesn't touch our lives today. We have moved beyond such clunky attempts to manipulate us.

Ah, but propaganda is not so easily put aside. It is not that simple. The underpinnings of propaganda - its effective techniques and insights into human nature - have fused with advertising and political campaigning. It is often difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins.

The issues that propaganda raises are much more subtle and pervasive than we might imagine at first. We pride ourselves that we live in an empowering Information Age, but so much of the information that we receive on a daily basis has been crafted to make us think and act in a particular way that it might be more accurate to say that we live in an Age of Messages.

Select and expand the image at the right to begin identifying propaganda techniques and strategies.

All of the thumbnail images in this lesson expand for additional information or a closer look.

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