Card stacking is a
propagandatechnique that seeks to manipulate audience perception of an issue by emphasizing one side and repressing another, for example by creating media events that emphasize a certain view, by using one-sided testimonial, or by making sure critics are not heard. Often used in persuasive speeches.
The term originated from the magician's gimmick of "stacking the deck", which involves presenting a deck of cards that appears to have been randomly shuffled but which is, in fact, arranged in a preconceived order. The magician knows the order and so is able to control the outcome of the trick; the audience is unaware of the gimmick. In poker a deck can be 'stacked' so certain hands are dealt to certain players.
The phenomenon is subject-matter neutral and has wide application. Whenever a broad spectrum of facts exist, appearances can be rigged by highlighting some information and ignoring other information. Card stacking can be a tool of advocacy groups or those with a specific agenda. For example, a crime story focusing on a particular ethnic group, without providing proper comparative data, could be considered card stacking.
Card stacking especially becomes a problem in more objective writing such as news stories and scholarly works. [Fallacy Files] .
* Assume a newspaper editor had a strong personal opinion on a topical political issue. Were this issue debated among legislators, the editor might publish articles and editorials that ignored the side of the issue the editor does not favor, and report only on stories associated with the favored side of the issue. This sort of card stacking could influence public opinion on the issue.
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