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WAG THE DOG:

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Matías Argüello Pitt

on 19 August 2014

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Transcript of WAG THE DOG:

WAG THE DOG
:
UNCOVERING FALLACIES
&
GETTING THE DOG
TO WAG ITS TAIL

Content
Skills
Media Studies:
Paradoxes of the Age of Information
Critical thinking
Argumentative skills
Establishing connections
Spontaneous oral discussions
Satire
Black Comedy
Critical Discourse Analysis
(Van Dijk's Triangulation Framework)
Manipulation (…) involves (…) abuse of power, that is, domination. [It] implies the exercise of a form of illegitimate influence
BY MEANS OF DISCOURSE
: manipulators make others believe or do things that are in the interest of the manipulator, and against the best interests of the manipulated (…) Such illegitimate influence may (…) be exercised with pictures, photos, movies or other media.
…manipulation is a
SOCIAL
phenomenon – especially because it involves interaction and power abuse between groups and social actors – a
COGNITIVE
phenomenon because manipulation always implies the manipulation of the minds of participants, and a
DISCURSIVE-SEMIOTIC
phenomenon because manipulation is being exercised through text, talk and visual messages.
Society
Cognition
Discourse
Group membership
Institutional position
Profession
--> Acces to material and professional resources
(e.g. preferential access to the media & public discourse)
“Cognitively, manipulation as mind control involves the interference with processes of understanding, the formation of biased mental models and social representations such as knowledge and ideologies.”

Control of the minds then lead to control of the actions
HOW?
>> Manipulation of STM (which selects what to process for understanding)
Saliency (of a topic or a specific piece of information)
General layout, use o colors, gestures, facework, loudness, etc.

>> Formation/Activation of mental models, social representations, and/or socioculturally
shared knowledge (e.g. knowledge of MDW, association with terrorism, the figure of the hero,
the US as champions of democracy and freedom, etc.)
“…the overall
STRATEGY
of manipulative discourse is
TO DISCURSIVELY FOCUS ON THOSE COGNITIVE AND SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE RECIPIENT THAT MAKE THEM MORE VULNERABLE
and less resistant to manipulation, that make them credulous or willing victims to accept beliefs and do things they otherwise would not do.”
• Give many details (of something) and few (of something)

• Manipulating explicit vs implicit information

• How: intonation, volume, speed. (Sounds and visuals)

• Dramatic rhetoric (emotional appeal)

• Make sources appear reliable.

• Lexicon: Use words that signify or evoke “good things” and associate
them to “us”

. Positive "Us" + Negative "Them" representation
RECIPIENTS OF DISCOURSE:
passive role as victims
unable to understand the real intentions or full consequences of that which the manipulator advocates
lack knowledge (to resist manipulation)

Argumentation and Fallacies
Argument
Validity
Fallacies
An organized discussion of an idea/issue. It can proceed from a premise or several premises to a conclusion, or it can start with a claim and then give evidence to support that claim. It is meant to persuade recipients that the belief/position held by the arguer is true and valid.

An argument is good only if its
true
and
valid
.
In
FORMAL REASONING
, validity depends on the FORM/STRUCTURE of the argument.

In
INFORMAL REASONING
, validity depends on the TRUTH of the different claims that make up the argument.
A fallacy is a particular kind of
defect in an argument
caused by unsound or
incomplete reasoning. It weakens an argument and makes it vulnerable to attack.

In formal logic, an argument that is invalid is fallacious.
In common usage, fallacy is often used to mean
anything that is wrong
with an argument.
More precisely, a fallacy is a deficiency in the form of an argument that is
not immediately apparent
.

An argument based on a common mistake in reasoning, a sort of mistake that

people tend not to notice
. Fallacies are
poor arguments
but
often strike people as being cogent
. (Source: Govier, T.)

WHY learn about fallacies?
Formal/structural fallacies

Informal/content fallacies
False analogy
Red herring
Ad-hominen / Straw man
Slippery slope
Non-sequitur
Making people register their own guns is like the Nazis making the Jews register with their government.



If we legalize marijuana, more people will start using crack
and heroin. Then we’d have to legalize those too.
His objections to capital punishment carry no weight
because he is a convicted criminal.
"The opposition claims that welfare dependency leads to higher crime rates -- but how are poor people supposed to keep a roof over their heads without our help?"


"Racism is wrong. Therefore, we need affirmative action."



Why does the dog wag its tail?
Because the dog is smarter than its tail.
If the tail were smarter it would WAG THE DOG.
 Why are these words used at the beginning of the movie?
 What do they mean?
Schizophrenia
Simulacra
Hyperreality
(Beaudrillard)

We’ve created a “culture of illusion”

(Chris Hedges)
“America thinks it is a meritocracy, but in fact it has become
mediacracy... ruled by those who know how to
manipulate symbols, information and the media.”


(David Considine)
“The media is not just a source of entertainment and information, but an experience that defines our lives.”

(David Considine)
“…governments and politicians can manipulate the presentation and revelation of information to achieve the same basic goals as a policy of secrecy and obfuscation. There are two basic strategies: divert audience attention and supplement politics with new realities that crowd out and eventually displace other political realties [
sic
] and political issues.”


(J. M. Balkin)
“Indeed, television creates its own political reality (…) television coverage of politics is part of politics, and hence media discourse about politics continually
supplements
and
alters
the politics that it purports to
portray
.” (Emphases added)


(J. M. Balkin)

Agenda-setting

(Maxwell McCombs)
“…there is this new art in the method of democracy, ‘
manufacture of consent
.’ By manufacturing consent, you can overcome the fact that formally a lot of people have the right to vote. We can make it irrelevant because we can manufacture consent and make sure that their choices and attitudes will be structured in such a way that they will always do what we tell them, even if they have a formal way to participate. So we’ll have a real democracy. It will work properly.”

(Noam Chomsky)
How are these claims supported by the reality presented in the movie?

How do these words/expressions/concepts relate to the movie?

How significant do these words/quotes/concepts/etc. become after watching the movie, and how do they apply to the non-fictional world?
“Critical thinking is a path to freedom from half-truths and deception.”
(Dave Ellis)
Do you agree? Is it possible to escape the illusionary world we seem to be trapped in? How?

Would you say the value of
media literacy
is an absolute value, or a relative ambiguous value, which in this case makes us aware of the manipulative tactics to which we are inevitably subjected?
Is there a
paradox
to media literacy?
To pull (the) strings
Grassroots
Movers and shakers
Read between the lines
To overplay sth
To have a mind of one’s own
To be economical with the truth
To wrap sb around one’s little finger
To jump on the bandwagon
To bury your head in the sand
Jingoism
To connive with sb to do sth
Behind closed doors
The tip of the iceberg
Easier said than done
To be like water off a duck’s back
To weed out
A wild goose chase
Hook, line and sinker
To turn the tide
Circular Reasoning
Bandwagon
Card Stacking
Ad Ignorantiam
False Dilemma
“The Governor would never lie to the public because he’s an honest man.”
Purporting that there is life outside of Earth is absolutely ridiculous; you simply need to look at the evidence and you’ll find that there’s nothing that proves such a claim.
“They did oust a brutal regime, the Taliban.”
“The fact that the majority of our citizens support the death penalty proves that it is morally right."
"Get a degree or else you won’t get a job!"
Hasty Generalization
"After a few tours round modern art museums, I can tell you: modern artists can only produce abstract works of art."
Identification of Fallacies in the Movie
Fragment 1
Fragment 2
Fragment 3
Full transcript