Monday, February 23, 2015

How Propaganda Destroys Our Reasoning Abilities

Joseph Goebbels was one of Adolph Hitler’s closest advisers. He was in charge of the German propaganda program and was known for making powerful speeches even though much of what he said was either completely false or extremely distorted versions of the truth. He famously said “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Some versions of the quote add the phrase “… eventually you will even start believing it yourself.” Though the Nazi regime is long gone, the style of propaganda they promoted is ongoing.

I witnessed this the other day in a fiery discussion on Facebook. A young adult friend posted a meme that supported a conservative viewpoint of a hot cultural topic. Within minutes he was crucified by many of his "open minded tolerant" peers who hold to the opposing viewpoint. As they spewed their hate filled venom at him, they posted one talking point after another that are commonly used by those on the extreme left to push that agenda. But those talking points had no basis in facts. Some of those talking points were completely erroneous, others were simply opinions, but because they have been repeated over and over again, many now consider them facts.

As I read that conversation, I wondered if those posting propaganda points as fact realized how hateful and judgmental they were being to a young man who merely posted a meme. He was trying to make a point in a respectful way; they attacked him without showing respect at all, calling him all sorts of negative things. They were proving that they were the very thing they were accusing him of being. The young man was unwavering though, and refused to knuckle under to their thug like tactics.

Another thing I wondered as I read that comment thread was if they had taken time to consider how false their talking points were if one took the time to think them out fully and look at actual facts. At one point one young lady quipped, "A person cannot help who they love, it is just how he or she was born and we should be accepting and let them act on the feelings of love." She was merely parroting a common talking point used by those who support the liberal viewpoint on the issue. I could not help but wonder if she realized how messed up her logic was on the issue. Take a step back from the rhetoric and think about her response. That kind of thinking would easily lead to justification for far more things than that young lady was considering. She is smart enough to know that, if she had been able to separate the propaganda from the truth. But she has heard that talking point so many times from so many different voices, that it sounded right to her even though it is based on a false premise that a few in our society would accept if fully implemented.

Our culture is struggling to know the difference between truth and falsehood. Like Goebbels so infamously pointed out decades ago, when a piece of propaganda has been repeated so often that everyone accepts it without thinking it through, even those who made up the lie often start believing it.


Terry Dorsett has been a church planter and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. Find all of his books at:


  1. Terry, you have spoken the truth! I have, quite often, come against that very reality where talking points are more present in the debate or argument than truth. It becomes verbally abusive, and leads nowhere. But, Jesus Himself endured the propagandists of his day - and I suppose that we will do no less in ours.

  2. Sounds like The White House and Media may have taken classes from history.

    1. I think it goes beyond the White House and liberal media to a lack of learning to think through issues - and even more tragically, a dismissal of truth as revealed from the creator of life to begin with.
      Yesterday at 9:17am · Unlike · 1

    2. Today's postmodern mindset is that we each make up our own truth, hence, we start to believe the lies we tell ourselves.

    3. "Your truth is your truth, and my truth is my truth." Never mind that truth is an accurate description of that which is real. There can only be one accurate description of reality, though there can be many elements of that reality which need understood and expressed in conjunction. That's where the challenge comes, because there are always more elements that tie into the equation than any of us have fully considered and incorporated into our comprehension of that description.

    4. Once had a young man for whom I was responsible to the judicial system, tell me that what I was saying was only my opinion and had no significant weight for him... I shared with him that he was indeed entitled to his opinion and could give it weight as Truth however much he choose... However, I am the one who determines where you sleep tonight and if your refuse to follow my advice and seek to in any way violate what I am telling you....I also am the one who is trained in bring others into submission.

  3. You hit the nail on the head!