The French philosopher Jaques Ellul literally wrote the book on propaganda methods throughout history and around the world. Ellul examines propaganda as an existing sociological phenomenon in modern technological societies. One of his most important contributions is the distinction which he draws between agitation and integration propaganda.
Agitation propaganda appeals to anger and anti-social tendencies. Integration propaganda is subtle and perpetual; it speaks to our fundamental anxiety and our need to be part of the mass. In this post I'll explain both types of propaganda and elaborate on how you can make yourself less vulnerable to their effects.
Unchecked exposure to propaganda - even in a democratic society - tends to make people psychologically totalitarian. Propaganda works against dialog, towards belief systems which benefit the system as a whole, but make it genuinely hard for us to live together. So how do we avoid being influenced by propaganda? In short, by being a reasonable person.