Fall 2010 Intro J Wiki



A propaganda concept that involves someone (or people) of prominent status perpetuating a known lie and backing it will the full intent of spreading that lie and believing no one will disprove it due to the sheer size of the lie and with the belief that no one could organize such such a lie effectively. This concept has been attributed to both political and advertising personnel who push "big lies" to wash away the truth they are attempting to conceal or ignore.


This large scale propaganda technique has been credited to, and coined by, Adolf Hitler in 1925 in his book Mein Kampf. The foundation of this concept is built upon the idea that a significant "big lie" (or a lie of very large proportions) carries significant weight and force on its own, lending to itself almost unquestioned credibility. Or in other terms, if someone can perpetuate a lie so large in nature no one would conceivably believe it to be untrue or that someone could manipulate the lie so effectively. This concept was used by Hitler to explain his belief that the Jews blamed specifically Erich Ludendorff for Germany's loss during World War I. The concept's definition was slightly modified later by Hitler's Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, who attributed that "big lies" were regularly being released by the English people. Accoring to Goebbels, when the English (as a whole) lie, they choose to create and stick to a large lie they sell to anyone who will listen, including themselves. Goebbels himself would regularly use this tactic for his propaganda, as he believed that through strong enough rhetoric, and if the lie itself was strong in of itself, the masses would believe it.

Examples of Modern Day Use

Tobacco lobbyists and politicians are often attributed for using this concept to justify their claims. For decades, the tobacco industry were accused of using the "big lie" to explain that cigarettes were not only healthy and totally not addictive but made one more attractive and joyous.

Cigarettes are awesome according to Ronald Reagan.

Former President George W. Bush often trumped his military service to justify his presidential candidacy, despite glossing over a six-month lapse in his service with the Nation Guard. Instead of explaining, Bush brushed the questions aside in favor is supporting the idea that he nobly serviced in the United States military during the Vietnam War era.

Iranian representiative Gholam Hossein Elham reported publically in his belief that the Jewish people perpetuated a "big lie" to the world in an attempt to justify and win hearts with their settling of Israel. Additionally, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the United States of implementing a "big lie" to explain the occurrence of September 11th.

More recently, the United States military has been accused of perpetuating a "big lie" in that Iraq was a global danger and Saddam Hussein was witholding a cache of WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction). This was the basis of 2003's invasion of Iraq, dubbed Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Journalistic Relevance

The "big lie" is the primary example of how the media as a whole can be utilized to perpetuate political agenda to great lengths. In the age of widespread information and its ease of accessibility, the dangers of not fact-checking or questioning motivations can easily resort to large scale lies being passed as truth. Published material can be dangerously used to justify ill-intents, as Mein Kampf and the German Ministry of Propaganda are imfamous for. The film Control Room subtly explores the idea of the "big lie" in terms of the Bush Administration’s handling of information over the second Gulf War and their accusations that Al Jazeera supported terrorists.