Category Archives: Appeal to Authority

False: President Roosevelt on why the minimum wage must be a living wage

CaptureTL;DR Summary

  • A true quote but taken out of context – the quote is  referring to something completely different than a modern day “minimum wage”.
  • As a propaganda message, this has  been widely shared, which makes for successful propaganda, even though the message is untrue.
  • Roosevelt did say this quote, but it was not about the minimum wage but about creating opportunities to become skilled, employable and have the ability to earn good wages. The speech was about the need to balance the interests of labor and capital. The speech was not about a minimum wage, which was not enacted until 28 years later.
  • The basic methods used are Assertion (that this is about a minimum wage), “Appeal to Authority” by citing President Teddy Roosevelt and a Logical fallacy of linking his comments  to today’s minimum wage.
  • The poster originated from Occupy Democrats.

Below is the full paragraph from the 1910 speech so you can see the original context. The speech is available online at  No where in the text is a minimum wage discussed. The context in which this was given was about creating opportunities and providing everyone with the education and skills to be able to earn a living. He proposes the need for regulations to ensure sanitary and safe working conditions. The reference to “workman’s compensation” refers to workers being compensated when injured on the job – not to normal wages or minimum wages. You can find discussion on the “workman’s compensation” issue and what Roosevelt meant at the Social Welfare History Project at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Accurate quote, but the quote itself is false

CaptureTL;DR Summary

  • Good, simple design, good eye contact, simple message, easily processed.
  • Former President Bill Clinton really did say this in a speech in 2013.
  • The Washington Post, however, says the claim is not true: Three Pinocchios.
  • As a propaganda poster, this uses  the “Appeal to Authority” method.
  • The poster was shared on Facebook.
  • I like the poster design – clean with a simple message.

Bertrand Russell noted that facts are either true or false, and their truthfulness is independent of who is making the claim. Bill Clinton’s saying this does not make it true. However,the “appeal to authority” format is common in social media propaganda as we tend to trust “experts”, “authorities” and “officials”.


The term “fake news” is “an instrument of propaganda and censorship”

TL;DR Summary

  • This poster appeared on social media.
  • The quote is accurate:

“The phrase “Fake News” has exploded in usage since the election, but the term is similar to other malleable political labels such as “terrorism” and “hate speech”; because the phrase lacks any clear definition, it is essentially useless except as an instrument of propaganda and censorship. The most important fact to realize about this new term: Those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.”

Source: A Clinton Fan Manufactured Fake News That MSNBC Personalities Spread to Discredit WikiLeaks Docs

The above poster appeared on Facebook – and surprisingly, is an accurate quote of what he said.

Unfortunately, there is no formal definition of “fake news”. The media spin is that they make mistakes – they do not publish or broadcast fake news. In their view, “fake news” applies to false or exaggerated stories that come from (in their view, mostly) right wing web sites.

My definition of fake news: any story that is false or exaggerated, is shared widely on social media, and uses inflammatory or emotional headlines to encourage sharing, for the purpose of generating eyeballs for advertisers, is fake news.

It does not matter if the falsehood is due to poor reporting – or it is intentionally false. The end result is the same – wide spread sharing on social media.

It is the sharing on social media that turns false and poorly reported “news” into “fake news”.

The frictionless nature of social media is what turns poor journalism – and actual fake news – into fake news.

President Obama Warns Social Media Is Becoming a Threat to Democracy

Spot on:

“…increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.”

Source: President Obama Warns Social Media Is Becoming a Threat to Democracy | Vanity Fair

That would include subscribing to social media groups, such as on Facebook by Liking or Following their page or group, that focus on political advocacy and fake news, in order to receive daily propaganda updates. Not a healthy way to live!