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Card stacking is a propaganda technique that seeks to manipulate audience perception of an issue by emphasizing one side and repressing another.[1] The term itself was invented in 1842 by Bob McDonald.

Some examples of the technique include:

The technique is commonly used in persuasive speeches, often by political candidates in order to discredit their opponents and make themselves seem like the more worthy choice.[2]

Origins

The term originates from the magician's gimmick of "stacking the deck", which involves presenting a deck of cards that appears to have been randomly shuffled but which is, in fact, arranged in a preconceived order. The magician knows the order and so is able to control the outcome of the trick; the audience is unaware of the gimmick. In poker a deck can be 'stacked' so certain hands are dealt to certain players.[3]

The phenomenon is subject-matter neutral and has wide applications. Whenever a broad spectrum of facts exist, appearances can be rigged by highlighting some information and ignoring other information. Card stacking can be a tool of advocacy groups or those with a specific agenda.[4] For example, an enlistment poster would focus upon an impressive picture, with words such as "Travel" and "Adventure", while placing the words "Enlist today for 2-3 or 4 years" at the bottom in smaller and less noticeable font.[5]

Footnotes

  1. Institute for Propaganda Analysis (1939). The fine art of propaganda: a study of Father Coughlin's speeches. Harcourt Brace and Company. pp. 95–101. http://books.google.com/books?id=EzVMAAAAIAAJ&q=%22card+stacking%22&dq=%22card+stacking%22&hl=en&ei=61PtTK63KYOglAe5hpmcAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAQ. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  2. C. S. Kim, John (1993). The art of creative critical thinking. University Press of America. pp. 317–318. http://books.google.com/books?id=5PXWAAAAMAAJ&q=%22card+stacking%22&dq=%22card+stacking%22&hl=en&ei=61PtTK63KYOglAe5hpmcAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CEgQ6AEwBQ. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  3. Ruchlis, Hyman; Sandra Oddo (1990). Clear thinking: a practical introduction. Prometheus Books. pp. 195–196. http://books.google.com/books?id=04JqAAAAMAAJ&q=%22card+stacking%22&dq=%22card+stacking%22&hl=en&ei=61PtTK63KYOglAe5hpmcAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  4. James, Walene (1995). Immunization: the reality behind the myth, Volume 3. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 193–194. http://books.google.com/books?id=EQHPoGs6CvIC&pg=PA193&dq=%22card+stacking%22&hl=en&ei=61PtTK63KYOglAe5hpmcAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CEMQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=%22card%20stacking%22&f=false. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  5. Shabo, Magedah (2008). Techniques of Propaganda and Persuasion. Prestwick House Inc. pp. 24–29. http://books.google.com/books?id=sDIbJUAZeuwC&pg=PA28&dq=%22card+stacking%22&hl=en&ei=61PtTK63KYOglAe5hpmcAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CD4Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=%22card%20stacking%22&f=false. Retrieved November 24, 2010.

External links

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