Wikipedia Page on Propaganda Techniques Uses 97% Meme

August 20th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

If 99 billion mouths agree, shouldn't you?

If 99 billion mouths agree, shouldn’t you?

Oh, this is too rich.

I’ve blogged before on how global warming alarmists use all of the standard propaganda techniques to convince the not very super-sophisticated masses, and I listed Al Gore’s own statements as examples.

Well, it turns out the “97% of all scientists agree on global warming” meme is being used as an example on the Wikipedia Propaganda Techniques page:


Bandwagon and “inevitable-victory” appeals attempt to persuade the target audience to join in and take the course of action that “everyone else is taking.”

Inevitable victory: invites those not already on the bandwagon to join those already on the road to certain victory. Those already or at least partially on the bandwagon are reassured that staying aboard is their best course of action. (e.g., “The debate is over. 97% of scientist agree”)

I wonder how long the example will stay there, without William Connolly to play gatekeeper. I also see “Hope and Change” is given as an example. Hmmm…sounds vaguely familiar.

Of course, Tom Steyer’s recent claim that 99.5% of the country is not “super sophisticated” when it comes to global warming beliefs is belied by the fact that research shows the more educated you are in math and science, the more likely you are to be a skeptic.

Being super sophisticated doesn’t mean being smart.

23 Responses to “Wikipedia Page on Propaganda Techniques Uses 97% Meme”

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  1. Gary says:

    These propaganda techniques rely on emotional thinking so well described by Kahneman’s System I,_Fast_and_Slow
    More educated people have learned to employ System II deliberate thinking before coming to a conclusion so it make sense they would tend toward skepticism. Of course, you can short-circuit System II if you allow the propagandist to push your buttons.

  2. Lewis says:

    One of the reasons propaganda works is because most people do not have the time or, as Dr. S. points out, the resources to investigate the many things they are confronted with on a daily basis.

    The conventional wisdom confirms certain beliefs and when they are reinforced regularly, i.e.97%, the believers become solid in their belief that they know. But they know they don’t know, that they only believe but belief is more difficult to change than knowledge. So when an unbeliever tries to convince a believer that she is wrong, the reaction is an emotional one because the person came to their beliefs emotionally, not rationally.

    All politicians (poli – meaning many – tics- blood sucking insects) know this and rely upon it in their campaigns etc.

    P. Obama is a master. He lies every time he opens his mouth but the believers who worship at his feet are unable to stop believing long enough to find the truth. If they did, they would be shaken and this is the way it is for most common knowledge.

    Old wives tales etc are another example.

  3. richard says:

    Usage of language and how the game is played in the AGW industry. It works the same as in the advertising industry.

    May be (or maybe)

    A lot of alarmist articles include the words might, may, maybe, could etc,

    Unproven, exaggerated or outrageous claims are commonly preceded by “weasel
    words” such as may, might, can, could, some, many, often, virtually, as many as, or up to.

    Watch for these words if an offer seems too good to be true. Commonly, the Intensity and Maybe techniques are used together, making the whole thing meaningless. ”

    Name-calling (Denier)

    This technique links a person or idea to a negative symbol (liar, creep, gossip, etc.). It’s the opposite of Glittering generalities. Persuaders use Name-calling to make us reject the person or the idea on the basis of the negative symbol, instead of looking at the available evidence.

    A subtler version of this technique is to use adjectives with negative connotations (extreme, passive, lazy, pushy, etc.) Ask yourself: Leaving out the name-calling, what are the merits of the idea itself?

    Cause vs. Correlation (CO2 causes warming)

    While understanding true causes and true effects is important, persuaders can fool us by intentionally confusing correlation with cause. For example: Babies drink milk. Babies cry. Therefore, drinking milk makes babies cry.

    Scientific evidence

    This is a particular application of the Expert technique. It uses the paraphernalia of science (charts, graphs, statistics, lab coats, etc.) to “prove” something. It often works because many people trust science and scientists. It’s important to look closely at the “evidence,” however, because it can be misleading.


    Advertisers use repetition in two ways: Within an ad or advocacy message, words, sounds or images may be repeated to reinforce the main point. And the message itself (a TV commercial, a billboard, a website banner ad) may be displayed many times. Even unpleasant ads and political slogans work if they are repeated enough to pound their message into our minds.


    This is the opposite of the Association technique. It uses something disliked or feared by
    the intended audience (like bad breath, failure, high taxes or terrorism) to promote a “solution.”

    Ads use fear to sell us products that claim to prevent or fix the problem. Politicians and advocacy groups stoke our fears to get elected or to gain support.

  4. Jim Curtis says:

    Repetition is also a powerful way to make a deceit into conventional wisdom. OMG do I get that on the “science” websites and MSM. The alarmist branch (worse) of the environmentalist bunch (bad enough) have been at it for decades. They’re well funded too. Just have to outlast them ‘till the facts catch up.

  5. John Owens says:

    Deceptive methods of getting people to think in certain ways has been around a long time. I notice a number of tactics being used to discourage readers on your blog. We see a lot of posts that are wordy and contain references to things that do not exist, such as technical terms that have no meaning. Also, from the writing style, you can recognize people that post and come back with another name and with statements that support their initial post which was not correct. These people are not as obtuse as it would appear from their posts, in fact they have the style of free flowing professional technical writers.
    There was a good article on a non-climate blog. It lists most of the methods used by these people.

  6. You’re fast. That example was added only a few days ago. Its almost like you did it, or someone did it and then told you. No? Seems like a pretty bizarre coincidence otherwise.

    • > only a few days ago

      A month and a few days. So, not so fast.

      • Peter C says:

        William, Why did you revise the Harold Lewis page to remove reference to his resignation letter from the APS?

        • John S says:

          I would like William to answer Peter C’s question as well. I compliment Dr. Spencer’s devotion to free speech to allow some one like William Connolley to even post here. As a editor at Wikipedia, Connolley, allowed his man-made global warming alarmism bias to color his judgment. Instead of being an impartial editor, he engaged in censorship of ideas that differed from his own. William Connolley abused the trust given to him at Wikipedia. When his Wikipedia shenanigans became too numerous, he was removed by Wikipedia for violating the trust and responsibility given to him. The fact that he is even allowed to post here shows we skeptics are the true guardians of free speech. Kindly, answer Peter C’s question. After censoring so many others at Wikipedia, I want to know whether you still justify your actions to quash other’s free speech based solely on them having differing views on man-made global warming.

          • > censorship of ideas that differed from his own.

            You made that up. Notice the characteristic absence of any form of reference.

            > post here shows we skeptics are the true guardians of free speech.

            Well, you’re allowed to post at my blog. As is RS. So that makes me a guardian of free speech by your logic. But WUWT isn’t, and BishopHill isn’t, and so on. And you aren’t skeptics.

        • Its a wiki page; like all other such, it has a talk page where editors discuss the reasons for their edits. This one is You could try reading it.

    • If I was the one to edit Wikipeida (which I have no idea how to do), I would have placed the “97%” example under a more appropriate propaganda type, e.g.:
      – Ad Nauseum
      – Appeal to authority
      – Disinformation
      – Exaggeration
      – Half-truth
      – Oversimplification
      – Repetition

      …and I wouldn’t have misspelled “scientists”, since I are one. 😉

  7. John W. Garrett says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    Thank you for the link to the study suggesting that the more educated you are in math and science, the more likely you are to be a skeptic.

    William Connolley is an accomplished propagandist and a very slippery character.

  8. richard says:

    There are some very strange people out there who do and say very strange things.

    GAW or CAGW

    Rather than say it’s great there have been very few hurricanes, they would rather see an increase. Still rather proves that nothing very extreme about the weather is happening and a certain desperation at the lack of.

    “@EricHolthaus I kind of hope N. America gets its ass kicked this hurricane season. It would motivate us on #climate action.

    Yes Global Alarmist Weirding is here and increasing as desperation/ realization that polls show little interest in the AGW or believes it to be a major problem.

  9. richard says:

    To achieve any kind of traction with the general public the alarmists would have to go the full Ghandi and live very modest lives. This will never happen and AGW will never be taken seriously. We are already paying co2 taxes but the rumblings are starting and will grow.

    For not how to do it, and the message this sends out –

    Leonardo DiCaprio: ‘I will fly around the world doing good for the environment’

    Propaganda tricks are effective for a while but the actions of the global traveling, many housed, well paid alarmists tends to water down and drown out their message- thank goodness for greed in this instance!!

  10. Mike says:

    Interesting stuff. This looks like an instruction manual for global warming alarmists. There is not one method on that list that they have not worn to the bone.

  11. John S August 22, 2014 at 7:55 AM> And Peter C’s question to Connolley remains unanswered.

    You’re not very good at this stuff. Here, I’ll repeat if for you:

    William Connolley says:
    August 21, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    Its a wiki page; like all other such, it has a talk page where editors discuss the reasons for their edits. This one is You could try reading it.

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