Propaganda: Emotion vs. Fact

5 Jan

Toronto recently elected a new mayor, Rob Ford.  He’s a pretty conservative guy and strikes me as being a Chris Collins type.  He’s not real popular with the intelligentsia, but average Joe Taxpayer loves him.

Anyhow, one of his initiatives has been to advocate against a transit plan that would have dramatically expanded the city’s light rail and instead call for a much smaller expansion of the city’s subway system.

A Toronto environmental group opposes this, and came up with this piece of simple, completely fact-based propaganda that struck me as very persuasive (via BlogTO).

When I think of the civic arguments we have in Buffalo about development, I wonder why it is that the groups who agitate the loudest seldom have the facts to back up their arguments.  As a specific example, I’ll bring up the arguments against the Route 5 Southtowns Connector battles from 2007 – the opponents of that DOT plan came up with the most disingenuous arguments based more on emotion than fact; (e.g., the bermed Route 5 on the Outer Harbor “separates downtown from its waterfront”)

You can’t really argue with someone’s subjective emotion, but you can argue with facts, and you’ll note that the BlogTO article linked-to above specifically mentions that some of the figures contained in that propaganda piece may be flawed or, themselves, disingenuous.

But we can argue about the way in which facts are presented, because after all, they can be determined objectively.

I think facts, presented simply, are much more persuasive and helpful than emotion.

3 Responses to “Propaganda: Emotion vs. Fact”

  1. Mike In WNY January 6, 2011 at 1:03 am #

    The “facts” presented are selective and very incomplete. What is the total cost of the 2 projects? The number of Torontonians served is pulled out of someone’s ass, just because it is built doesn’t correlate to everyone using it in the expanded areas. What is the cost for ongoing, increasing subsidies?

    The information provided is quite emotional, but hardly completely factual.

  2. Pauldub January 6, 2011 at 3:32 am #

    And thank you Mike, for your objective and fact – based comment.
    Seriously though – If you want to kill something in the public forum you go with emotion. Facts will reinforce those in favor of Initiative X, but for the most part will not generate the support like “Granny will pay triple for her meds”. (See healthcare, death panels, public union commercials against state spending cuts). It would be really nice if this were not true, but…..

  3. Bbill January 6, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    Emotion vs. fact:

    “everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.”

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