Monday, November 14, 2005

Bunye & Goebbels--Masters of the Big Lie Technique

oseph Goebbels and Ignacio Bunye share the same profession. One was the Propagandaministerium of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany during World War II. The other is the Media Czar and Spokesman of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during the Gloriagate controversy--this long toilsome endeavour to cover up a rigged election and get away with it.

Historically of course, the name Joseph Goebbels will always be much bigger than Ignacio Bunye. For while the latter may be an adept practitioner, it was Goebbels who invented and perfected the technique of the Big Lie, This is where one must have the nerve to LIE BIG and STICK TO IT; to deliver colossal falsehoods without batting an eyelash. The best description in the context of Goebbels' job of propping up the dictatorship of Hitler, comes from a report of the US Office of Strategic Services on the psychological techniques of the Nazi leader:
"... never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.
Now one would think that a big fat lie should be easy to spot and expose. But they are not. So I am not going to try and catalogue all the Big Lies that Bunye has told during Gloriagate. Instead I shall focus only on those Big, Fat Bunye Lies that are so well-crafted that they really confuse and divide people. They are well-thought out by professional liars, sophists and casuists of the Palace who can turn Jews (such as Journalists) into cash-guzzling zombies or terrorist coddlers--take your pick!

I shall concentrate on Big Fat Bunye Lies that have what Goebbels loved in his own lies--the force of credibility from sheer size or cleverness. I want for my readers a polemic that reveals something scientific or mathematical or psychological at the heart of a Big Fat Lie. Luckily all of Bunye's Big Fat Lies are also stored along with his Small Scrawny Lies here. where we shall have, eventually a museum to Bunye's Big Fat Lies available for History's vast audience.

Today I am going to dissect the following Big Fat Lie taken right from his website at the Palace:
President's comments on media: Honest, straightforward assessment Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye said this morning that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s comments that today’s Philippine media were fixated on negative developments were "her honest and straightforward assessment" which also happens to be shared by 41 percent of Filipinos nationwide.

"When we talk of Metro Manila, an even bigger 47 percent think that the country’s media have become ‘purely negative’ and are no longer helping the country" as shown by a survey conducted by the Social Welfare Station (SWS) between Aug. 26 and Sept. 25 this year, he added.

Bunye was referring to the President’s speech during the 31st Top Level Management Conference of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) held Thursday at Camp John Hay, Baguio City.

In her keynote address, the President deplored the negativism of Philippine media, saying "we must admit that some segments of the media are pushing the negative angle of stories too far and too often" while glossing over positive developments, including the bullish stock market, the strong peso and the growing investor confidence in the country.

She expressed disappointment with the "press overly sensitive of its prerogatives when at the same time, many of our journalists arrogated the license to fire away at anybody without even circumstantial evidence."

Bunye pointed out that the President is after objectivity and fairness, not praise or plaudits, adding that to read "suppression of press freedom" into her statements is way off the mark.

"The President considers media as an important democratic institution. She acknowledges the role and power of the press which should entail a high degree of responsibility and self-control for the public good," Bunye said.

Forty-one percent of Filipinos believe the country’s media have become purely negative and are no longer helping the country, according to the SWS survey commissioned by the AMA Education System, a regular subscriber to SWS’ quarterly "Social Weather Survey."

Malacanang obtained a copy of the survey, which involved a statistically representative sample of 1,200 voting age-adults throughout the country.

On the SWS test statement: "Often, news on television, on radio and in newspapers are purely negative and are no longer helping the country," 41 percent agreed, while only 29 percent disagreed.
This was a very interesting Big Fat Lie from Bunye because it is subtle and understanding HOW it is a big fat lie can be very instructive. So let us begin the dissection by examining the following specimen questions that anyone, like the Palace and its front organization, AMA, could commission a public opinion poll around, thru Social Weather Stations or Pusle Asia Surveys:

Set A

"OFTEN, news on television, on radio and in newspapers are PURELY NEGATIVE and are no longer helping the country,"

"OFTEN, news on television, on radio and in newspapers are PURELY BORING and are no longer helping the country."

"OFTEN, news on television, on radio and in newspapers are PURELY IRRELEVANT and are no longer helping the country."

"OFTEN, news on television, on radio and in newspapers are PURELY PROPAGANDA and are no longer helping the country."

"OFTEN, news on television, on radio and in newspapers are PURELY VIOLENT and are no longer helping the country."

"OFTEN, news on television, on radio and in newspapers are PURELY MISLEADING and are no longer helping the country."

Set B

"OFTEN, news on television, on radio and in newspapers are PURELY INFORMATIVE and are no longer helping the country."

"OFTEN, news on television, on radio and in newspapers are PURELY CORRECT and are no longer helping the country."

"OFTEN, news on television, on radio and in newspapers are PURELY RELEVANT and are no longer helping the country."

"OFTEN, news on television, on radio and in newspapers are PURELY TRUE and are no longer helping the country."

"OFTEN, news on television, on radio and in newspapers are PURELY POSITIVE and are no longer helping the country."
Notice that although I have replaced the phrase PURELY NEGATIVE in all the questions, but I have left intact the phrase "and are no longer helping the country." Now, while Set "A" questions seem to be rhetorically well-posed, there is something "OFF" about the Set B questions isn't there. That is because the generally NEGATIVE traits in Set A in pure form CANNOT ipso factor be helping the country. Whereas, in Set B, how can news that is "purely TRUE" not be of help to the country?

Joseph Goebbels would've been proud of Bunye for commissioning this question because it elicits precisely the response desired by the propagandministerium from within the very structure of the sentence itself.

But it is far more subtle than just that, because of the introductory word also in all the questions and the original: OFTEN.

Look again at Set A and Set B, but remove the phrase "and are no longer helping the country". You will realize that ALL the questions can now be reasonably asnwered in the affirmative, because we OFTEN do see news that is purely, negative or boring or irrelevant or propagandistic or violent or informative or correct or relevant or true and positive. That is because the Media reports on everything that has to do with people, and these adjectives are all applicable to that daily narration of our foibles and triumphs, and so naturally we would OFTEN encounter examples from all categories. Now put the phrase back in and you will see again that the questions seem wrong because naturally purely positive things will surely be helping the country, not the other way around.

Ah, and here the memes of Goebbels run strong at the Palace, because by putting in the phrase "and are no longer helping the country" the respondents are led by the ear to the desired result: any statistic close to 50% is good enough for the propagandaministerium to claim that a lot of the the people agree the news is purely negative and no longer helping the country.

Why IS the result so close to 50%? It is because of another word in the question: PURELY. The public knows there is nothing PURE about the Media, because it IS a free Press and exercise its democratic prerogatives proudly and in your face. But that was the genius of "OFTEN".

I shall christen this particular Big Fat Bunye Lie as "the Falsehood of the Loaded Survey Question."

Damn these guys are really good. Sig Heil!


There is so much more to analyze about Bunye's most recent Big Fat Lie. But I know commenters will bring this up, so I will pose a question as tickler:
Why is it that people say that a survey must be rigged and inaccurate when they disagree with the published statistical result of a public opinion survey, but uphold the scientific integrity of the pollsters when the headline displays the answer they might have given themselves?

My own answer is that citizens intuitively sense that public opinion pollsters are really more like newspapers than true meteorologists. SWS "reporters" don't do anything but ask questions from randomly selected samples, those questions being posed and paid for by "advertisers" whom they call "subscribers" or "commissioners" of the surveys; while the editors use mathematical statistics to crunch a one-liner out of the data. But I should like to hear other opinions.

Also, I have blogrolled Social Weather Stations in case you want to observe the politics of statistics in action.


james said...

Hello djb,
Reading your post, it is not at all clear to me that the survey questions were the actual questions used, or if they were just hypotheticals meant to demonstrate loading of survey question.

Please clarify.

Another interesting note is, the palace thru their underlings made the same accusation of the BIG LIE to the oppositionists.

Monsod's inquirer article comes to mind.

Rizalist said...

A Warm Welcome Traveler!

It is partly cloudy in Manila, where all the men are weak and the women all good looking, while the children are all exceptional.

Rizalist said...

Hi James--Yes the question is exactly as you would find it in the link to Social Weather Stations at the end of the post.

Regarding the Technique of the Big Lie, anyone can attempt it, but who has been more "convincing" the Palace or the Opposition? I think the Palace!

Frankly, I am not so interested in "truth" or "falsehood" when it comes to statistical results, because such concepts are too small to encompass such a subtle genre of propaganda as the modern public opinion poll.

AmericanPainter said...

I cast my opinion only as a casual observer. But it seems to me that the press has treated her unfairly.

I see comments such as yours “this long toilsome endeavor to cover up a rigged election and get away with it” as though it were fact. I see newspapers giving headline space to opposition opinions, without merit or foundation, as though they were fact, over and over, to the point that it grows tiresome.

What I fail to see in all of the hullabaloo is any credible evidence against her. I’m not asserting that she didn’t cheat, but her guilt should be established by more than shouted claims, suspicion and innuendo. The so-called Garcie tapes were handled and possibly manipulated by so many opposition people with their own political axe to grind so as to be without credible merit to any prosecution. In addition, they were tainted evidence from the outset because they were illegally obtained.

It’s clear to anyone with objectivity, that the opposition is greedy for power, therefore their agenda is self promoting.. The problem is that every effort they’ve made has been met with failure. They even stoop to “paying” people to protest and even then could not mount sufficient numbers to matter. So they scream the same things over and over with great hope, just as Goebbels did, that it will stick.

Now in smaller numbers, they just want to tie up Manila traffic to draw attention. They can protest in parks and other proper places or even on the street with permit, but it’s not protest that they seek. They use it to give them the false claim that their freedom of speech is impeded. As the great U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “freedom of speech does not give one the right to yell fire in a crowed theater.” Likewise, freedom of speech does not give protesters the right to tie up traffic for thousands of others.

It would seem that the same statement “people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it,” can be just as easy, be attributed to the opposition side of the fence.

Rizalist said...

Your points are well taken. But you must listen to the Garci tapes yourself. For if I were to replace every reference you have made to PGMA and Gloriagate, with Richard Nixon and Watergate, you may see the point of view of those who have when reading your post. I don't think there is any doubt she rigged the 2004 Presidential elections. That is NOT innuendo or suspicion. That is about as close to FACT as there could be...a far, far greater quantum of proof that existed in the public sphere even on the very day that Nixon resigned. But it has not been PROVEN. I grant that.

However, I don't particularly care about the elections, nor the fate of anyone in the Opposition. My greatest concern is the fact that 79% of the people wanted her impeached (SWS survey 3Q national plus or minus 2.9%) or ousted, but instead her allies in Congress successfully killed the move. That is a danger in far more ways than one can imagine because we essentially have someone driving the bus that no one trusts but has merely allowed to stay on for lack of a better alternative. What made is worse is that the Opposition shot itself in the head and foot with that silly People's Court and all the insane and automatic rallying by the Left.

I've broken with the Opposition because of that, wishing they just prepared for the next chance to impeach her on June 26, 2006. Which they will. If we ever get there in one piece.

Oh and yes, the Opposition attempts the Technique of the Big Lie, but they do not have the smarts to pull it off. Viz. Erap.

AmericanPainter said...

I’ve listened to the Garci tapes and there is no clear and convincing evidence that it is in fact her voice on the recording. A recording presented into evidence without supporting testimony is worthless. There has been no such support, only claims can be made that it “sounds” like her. Without a doubt, I could gather enough imitators to convince you or anyone else that you are listening to her many times over. Sorry, but that’s not evidence.

I submit that the difference in evidence between Richard Nixon and PGMA is vast. The Garci tapes are unsubstantiated and originate illegally, while the Nixon tapes come from his own White House official recording. There was ample testimony as to him being the voice on the tapes. There has been none vs PGMA.

The “plumbers” (the unit that broke into the Watergate building) were under direct orders from Nixon to commit the illegal act. They confessed and testified under oath and were sent to prison. Nixon was impeached and the evidence (in his own tapes and testimony from his subordinates) against him was so overwhelming that he chose to resign rather than face trial before the Senate. He too might have gone to prison but for the fact that his successor, President Gerald Ford granted him a pardon before a charge could be made against him. Talk about dirty politics, the Philippines has no monopoly, it’s everywhere.

In the instant case, however, there is nothing! No witnesses! No testimony! No credible evidence!

I find absolutely no value in the fact that 79% of the people wanted her impeached! People are gullible, as Goebbels said, “people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”

Why do they want her impeached? It’s certainly not based on evidence, for there is none. But instead, because there has been enough headline grabbing by her opposition and the press has fallen for it hook, line and sinker. And it was done over and over and over and over with out end.

If she is to be impeached, convicted and removed from office, at least let it be because there is untainted, comprehensive, legitimate, unquestionable evidence presented. So far that just has not been done!

Rizalist said...

Ap: I wish you'd been in the last 6 months of comment threads over at PCIJ, coz all this has been gone over before. Perhaps the telling thing is her behaviour AFTER the Garci tapes came to light. It's not the behaviour of an innocent person. Where in the world for example is Garci? Why can't he show up at Congress and answer the WARRANT FOR HIS ARREST? But I grant that we cannot force the President out. It SHOULD be hard to get rid of them and ought to be done according to the Rule of Law.

However, there is one point I'd like your expert opinion on if you have one. That is, who do you think made the Garci tapes. Erap and his henchmen in a studio. Boy that would be incredible. This is three hours of the most expert forgery if that were the case. How come they are such bumblers at everything else. And why did the thing come out a year after elections were over, FPJ was dead and the cases dismissed?

The two questions are related. The leading theory is that the tapes, like the Nixon tapes, were ordered by the Palace itself, because GMA and FG did not trust Garci farther than the nearest cell site. Given his past as a n election operator, he could easily have sold out to the other side.
Then after it was all over, these lower level guys in the ISAFP, SARGEANT Doble go the idea that the tapes thay had were worth a lot of money. I for one believe the testimony of Sgt. Doble that he sold the "mother of all tapes" to Laarni Enriquez, Eraps sweetie.

The thing about this theory is that it explains many of the puzzling things about the Garci tapes esp. the timing of their release. Actually NONE of this would have happened at all if Bunye had not fabricated a supposedly genuine disk and held it up as the false one.

By the way, if you think the tapes are fake, why did Bunye say there was a "real" tape and "fake" tape? On examination, the one he called "real" was an obvious "fake" and vice versa.

Like I said 6 months of comment threads...


I for one don't believe Sgt. Doble could have operated the proper equipment without "command and control" in the surveillance team.

These were real tapes and not "studio" stuff. Where they came from that's still a mystery, I agree.

Rizalist said...

AP,Just a followup: it is not mere speculation that ISAFP had this capabiliity. I remember distinctly the US Embassy offering such equipment to ISAFP in the wake of the "escape" of Fathur Rohman Al Ghozi in 2003. True Ping and his people also did. But as you might know, such an operation required a knowledge of where Garci was at any given time, something the Opposition could hardly be expected to have known at the time. Also, it has been testified to in the Senate that the cellphone Garci was using was given to him by the wife of the jueteng lord Bong Pineda, a close supporter of the President.

All these facts and accusations could have been tried, proven or disproven in the Senate trial. Remember that impeachment would only have led to that trial. If I were innocent, I would not have the thrown the country into this tizzy just to avoid that trial. And that of course was only significance of 79%--the proportion of those wanting the truth. This week Pulse Asia reports that number is now 84%. Is the Big Lie working, or the Big Truth?

Trosp said...


Garci has a warrant for his arrest? I haven't heard of it. What I heard from Remulla as a disinformation is that GMA has him murdered thats why nobody can locate him. And this same lie is always being repeated.

BTW, what can you say on the latest survey by the SWS(?) on how many from Metro Manila are joining this stupid opposition rallies?

Rizalist said...


Here is a Link to one of the many articles announcing the Congress' issuance of a warrant for his arrest (for contempt of Congress!) and a one million peso reward:

Only a tiny tiny minority of Filipino people ever join "stupid rallies"--including that big one at EDSA in 1986 and far far fewer in 2001 when Gloria executed her coup d'etat on Erap.

But what really is your point?

Trosp said...

All the while I thought you were referring to a warrant of arrest for some criminal act by Garci. Thanks for the explanation.

Rizalist said...

Who can blame you for not knowing, when the Government itself is contemptuous of the warrant of arrest issued by Congress against Garci for contempt. [sic!]

AmericanPainter said...

****The leading theory is that the tapes, like the Nixon tapes, were ordered by the Palace itself, because GMA and FG did not trust Garci farther than the nearest cell site****.

I find it absolutely incredible that anyone would submit that PGMA would specifically order recordings that would make her look like a cheater of her own election. That would be the ultimate in stupidity. Nixon’s recording are a poor example. He didn’t specifically order recordings of the Watergate mess, he arrogantly had everything, EVERY conversation, during his presidency, recorded in the hope that history would prove him a great President. He simply forgot about the recorder which was always turned on, and it backfired on him..

Speculation is just another word for guessing. Everyone wants her out based on speculation, but guessing is not evidence. The more people muddle, the muddier and less clear things become.

If election cheating did occur, it seems that with today’s technology, it would be provable at the polls and unnecessary to try to rely on a flimsy alleged recording, this is really skating on thin ice.

Rizalist said...

Welcome AP -- As I said it is the leading theory, but if you do read my previous posting The Wire Tapping you may see I don't entirely disagree with your perspective on what proves what. I for one am thoroughly disgusted by those who've listened to the tapes and think that constitutes proof of VOTERIGGING. My own position is the existence of the tapes constitute physical evidence of a crime of ILLEGAL WIRETAPPING -- an accusation in which VIRGILIO GARCILLANO happens to agree with me! He IS the victim of illegal wiretapping. The theory is leading to the Palace, for who would have the means AND the motive to tap a Comelec Commissioner?

Face it AP -- there were two sets of crimes, and if the Democratic Opposition had half the head of the Watergate investigators, they can still beat them to ousting and alleged VOTERIGGER and WIRETAPPER.

But I am prepared to be persuaded by further evidence and your often reliable logic. Thanks!

Rizalist said...

AP you said: "I find it absolutely incredible that anyone would submit that PGMA would specifically order recordings that would make her look like a cheater of her own election."

The perception is now definitely widespread if the Surveys are to be believed, but such perception is only in hindsight and could not have been intended by the President IF the allegations are all true. All I am convinced of is that these conversations were illegally recorded or manufactured (less likely on technical reason) But I don't actually know WHY the tapes were made, or exactly by who. Do you? Such violators of the Anti Wire Tapping Law and of Garci's rights to privacy ought to be hunted down, and in HIS words, "meted out the harshest penalty" [sic!]