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Re: Design and public opinion - fully on topic

From: jbrady-AT-email.unc.edu
Date: 10 Aug 2001 19:30:03 UTC   (03:30:03 PM in author's locale)
To: graphics-AT-lists.graphicslist.org (The Graphics List)
> Thanks for that, it was really interesting. Actually, what it made me
> realize is how effective the oil companies' PR campaign against Kyoto
> must have been in *hardening* popular opinion within the US, given
> the differences of opinion we've seen here over the last few days.
> But I don't particularly want to open that up again. (In any case,
> it's miraculous how we're all prepared to believe that communications
> are extremely effective in shaping *other people's* opinions).


But there are some notable, very successful campaigns that changed public
opinion by the way the arguments were framed (or spun, depending on your
position, I guess):

Joe Camel kills children. This single central axis of spin--almost
completely untrue on the fundamental assertion that the spokes-ungulate
turned children's heads toward using cancer sticks--changed popular opinion
in the US (or at least hardened it significantly) about cigarette marketing
to the point that the companies capitulated in a $250Billion settlement
with the federal govt.

"Freedom of Choice" as a euphemism for aborting fetuses. The proponents of
practically unrestricted abortions tied the issue to civil rights (and
particularly effective in the US, used the two key words 'freedom' and
'choice') and quite effectively neutralized the underlying fact that
abortions kill ... something. That's debated, and the proponents' casuitry
in avoiding calling a fertilized egg a human life is breathtaking.

Of course, there are many other examples of effective propaganda, viz., all
military euphemisms (like 'collateral damage', which has entered common
parlance in such things as news reports of an accidental explosion, etc.).
And in the US lately, all manner of "bills of rights": they're going to
pass a patients' bill of rights (legal rules about health care coverage)
and, God love 'em, an airline passengers' bill of rights, something about
making all the planes take off and land on time (without building new
airports or requiring schedules that dont include 500 takeoffs withing 10
minutes from any airport).

Michael Brady
jbrady-AT-email.unc.edu www.unc.edu/~jbrady/index.html

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