The human mind does not readily accept the notion that chance can be responsible for unfortunate events. Our desire to make sense of the world around us can cause us to see patterns that are not truly there. But there are also times when our willingness to accept the proclamations of those in authority can lead us to believe propaganda and other fictions.
When individuals put forth false information and deceive others for fun or to make a statement, it is a prank. When corporate entities or governments do the same to further their own agenda, it is far more dangerous and troubling.
The “Fact or Fiction” category will provide look at conspiracy theories, “official truths”, political spin, propaganda, tall tales, urban legends, magic, and illusion, all as they relate to the Art of the Prank. When truth intersects with a personal agenda, established facts are challenged, or human gullibility is preyed upon for ulterior motives, we hope that skepticism, logic, reason, and facts have a balancing effect.
Conspiracy theories are an integral part of American culture — a reflection of our deep rooted and well earned suspicion of official truths and those in authority. They challenge official truths, but can also be a distraction from serious dialogue. Sometimes there is truth in the most radical allegations, or a lie in a mundane belief, we will seek out both
Propaganda most frequently refers to the practice of governments spreading false, selective, or misleading information for ulterior reasons. Propaganda is as old as government itself and has been transmitted in every medium from the roman news readers to YouTube videos. It has ranged historically from positively framing information, to constructing misinformation. We will look at different forms of propaganda used historically, trying to understand their effect, and the intent of those who create it. One of the challenges is determining what is truth and what is propaganda
Spin has been used with increasing frequency to describe the active efforts of political candidates and interest groups to win elections as well as political battles by shaping the facts.
Hype is by far the broadest category of misinformation. It covers a broad array of corporate, government, and personnel efforts to aggrandize. This includes deceptive ad campaigns and marketing practices, but it can bleed into other elements of life.