Category Archives: Glittering Generality

Effective propaganda posters that do not actually mean much

TL;DR Summary

  • President Obama selected as the most admired man in the world, per Gallup Poll of U.S. residents.
  • Analysis: True! And it is good that the US President is selected for this, in this poll.
  • Almost every year since 1946, the current sitting President has been identified by this Gallup poll as the most admired man in the world. Doesn’t matter who is in office (except for Gerald Ford – it sucks to be Gerald Ford, apparently).
  • This works on a propaganda level because (a) it is a true statement, (b) the message is simple, and (c) “What you see is all there is”. When you see all US Presidents since World War II (except Gerald Ford) were selected as the most admired man in the world in this annual poll, the message of the poster becomes less significant, of course.

Continue on to see the chart of the Gallup Poll results from 146 to 2014.

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Do more people go to jail than to college?

10513476_892508824175506_5896618412694483809_nTL;DR Summary

  • This type of quote is known as a “glittering generality”. The clearly implied assertion is that more people go to jail than to college but this is false. The quote makes for good propaganda but it is a lie.
  • Comparing “instant in time” measures, there were 20.6M in college in the fall of 2012 to about 2.4 million in prison or jail or detention. 41% of those aged 18-24 are in college!

Poster source: Occupy Democrats

Even though the quote is dumb, it was shared 17,000 times and “Liked” over 50,000 times (which is the same as sharing since FB, by default, shares your likes to your friends). That this easily disproved quote was shared so widely demonstrates the incredible power of social media propaganda to influence millions of people.

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Denmark Fairy Tales: Is Denmark the happiest country because of this? No.

DenmarkPoster2TL; DR Summary

  • Denmark is the happiest country because of an alleged $20/hour minimum wage, 33 hour work week, etc.
  • Is Denmark the world’s happiest country? On one survey, yes. On other surveys, no. Pick your survey!
  • Is the happiest nation rating system based on the items listed on the poster? No. They have little or nothing to do with the rating. The poster uses a logical fallacy.
  • The fictitious and non-existent link between the rating and the alleged reasons are a logical fallacy.
  • And besides, the World Happiness Index never measured “happiness” of anyone.
  • This first post looks only at the ranking of Denmark as the happiest country in the world. This is a long post – sorry!
















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Pre-propaganda – not all propaganda messaging comes with a “to do” list

11221711_467941113387769_9069897769083277186_nTL;RD Summary

  • A positive message, albeit, a “feel good” glittering generality. The message is honest .
  • The design of the poster could be better by suggesting some action to be taken but in some ways, this might be viewed as “pre-propaganda”  which is messaging that preps the target for later propaganda that calls for action.

The poster was on FB and came from  It uses the methods of “testimonial”, “appeal to authority”, “celebrity endorsement” and a “glittering generality”. The poster design is clean and simple and the message is easily understood.