Here is how Wilipedia defines and describes SPIN:
Spin is propaganda or presenting lies to the public as the truth. The term, “plausible deniability” actual means to protect politicians from the consequences of getting caught in a lie.
In public relations, Spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing a biased interpretation of an event or campaigning to persuade public opinion in favor or against some organization or public figure.
While traditional public relations may also rely on creative presentation of the facts, “spin” often implies the use of disingenuous, deceptive, and highly manipulative tactics.
Politicians are often accused by their opponents of claiming to be truthful and seek the truth while using spin tactics to manipulate public opinion. Large corporations with sophisticated public relations branches also engage in “spinning” information or events in their favor.
Because of the frequent association between spin and press conferences (especially government press conferences), the room in which these take place is sometimes described as a spin room.
Public relations advisors, pollsters and media consultants who develop spin may be referred to as “spin doctors” or “spinmeisters” who manipulate the truth and create a biased interpretation of events for the person or group that hired them.
The term has its origin in the old American expression “to spin a yarn”.
Sailors were known for using their spare time on board making thread or string (yarn) and also for telling incredible tales when they were on shore.
When someone fooled you, it was said that “he spun me an amazing yarn”. Yarn also became a synonym for “tall tale” – “What a yarn!”, means “what a lie”.
A coarser and more contemporary version of this expression is “bullshit”, and, for anyone who seeks to deceive, “bullshit artist”.
History of Spin
Edward Bernays has been called the “Father of Public Relations”. As Larry Tye describes in his book The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and The Birth of Public Relations, Bernays was able to help tobacco and alcohol companies use techniques to make certain behaviors more socially acceptable in the 20th-century United States. Tye claims that Bernays was proud of his work as a propagandist.
As information technology has increased dramatically since the end of the 20th century, commentators like Joe Trippi have advanced the theory that modern Internet activism spells the end for political spin. By providing immediate counterpoint to every point a “spin doctor” can come up with, this theory suggests, the omnipresence of the Internet in some societies will inevitably lead to a reduction in the effectiveness of spin.
The techniques of spin include:
Selectively presenting facts and quotes that support one’s position (cherry picking). For example, a pharmaceutical company could pick and choose trials where their product shows a positive effect, ignoring the unsuccessful trials, or a politician’s staff could handpick speech quotations from past years which appear to show her support for a certain position)
- Non-denial denial
- Non-apology apology
- Politically-correct deception
- Making misinformation (deliberate lies) seem like the truth
“Mistakes were made” is an expression that is commonly used as a rhetorical device, whereby a speaker acknowledges that a situation was managed by using low-quality or inappropriate handling but seeks to evade any direct admission or accusation of responsibility by not specifying the person who made the mistakes. The acknowledgement of “mistakes” is framed in an abstract sense, with no direct reference to who made the mistakes and what exactly the mistakes were. The ultimate mistake, of course, is to get caught in the lie.
A less evasive construction might be along the lines of “I made mistakes” or “John Doe made mistakes.” The speaker neither accepts personal responsibility nor accuses anyone else. The word “mistakes” also does not imply intent.
Phrasing in a way that assumes unproven truths, or avoiding the question
“Burying bad news”: announcing unpopular things at a time when it is believed that the media will focus on other news. In some cases, governments have released potentially controversial reports on summer long weekends, to avoid significant news coverage. Sometimes that other news is supplied by deliberately announcing popular items at the same time.
Spin includes the art of misdirection and diversion
For years businesses have used fake or misleading customer testimonials by editing/spinning customers to reflect a much more satisfied experience than was actually the case. In 2009 the Federal Trade Commission updated their laws to include measures to prohibit this type of “spinning” and have been enforcing these laws as of late.
Additionally, over the past 5 to 6 years several companies have arisen that verify the authenticity of the testimonials businesses present on the marketing materials in an effort to convince one to become a customer.
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