A lie told online travels the world in milliseconds – is Cruz a Koch puppet?

10475506_666670603425997_1065796556594116068_nTL;DR Summary

  • Sen. Ted Cruz was bribed by the Koch brothers and is their puppet in the Senate.
  • Politifact rates this a “pants on fire” lie.
  • Relies on a false assertion to link the target’s presumed dislike of the Koch brothers as a reason to dislike Ted Cruz. In other words, the propaganda method of “transference”.
  • At the time I collected this item, it had been shared over 94,000 times on Facebook.

Politifact rates this social media propaganda poster as a “Pants on Fire” (a lie) fabrication. Even though it is a lie, within 3 weeks, it had been shared 94,000 times on Facebook alone, reaching nearly 40 million potential viewers, illustrating the incredible power of social media propaganda.

Note the wording: “He was just bribed…” – but as Politifact found, the poster creator (Occupy Democrats) claimed this referenced pre-2012 campaign donations made by groups that themselves had received money from Koch and then in turn those groups supposedly gave money to Cruz, and then without any evidence, linked this to an amendment offered by Cruz in mid 2015. (See http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2014/aug/17/occupy-democrats/ted-cruz-bribed-kochs-strike-match/)

In propaganda, the first message someone hears is the one most likely to be remembered, even if subsequently shown to be untrue. This is why skilled propagandists routinely make up nonsense that sounds plausible – our System 1 thinking style (see Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow) quickly agrees with the sentiment and clicks the “Share” button to let our friends know [how stupid and gullible we are!!!]

This poster asserts a false statement and then attempts to transfer the target’s presumed dislike for the Koch brothers to Ted Cruz. This technique is known as “transference” and works by linking items together.

Ironically, the last words on this poster “SHARE HIS SHAME” are largely sharing the shamelessness of the propagandist and embarrassing the sharer.

Text for Search Indexing

“This is Sen. Ted Cruz, a Koch puppet. He was just bribed by the Kochs to introduce a bill that would gift or sell them and their allies America’s national forests, parks, and other public lands and open them for mining, drilling, fracking and logging.” – Spread His Shame, Occupy Democrats.


Thinking Fast and Slow author Kahneman, and creator of the “System 1 and System 2” thinking concept acknowledges that 11 of 12 studies cited in his chapter on “priming” were from weak studies. That chapter implied that “subtle cues in their environment can have strong effects on their behavior outside their awareness“. This does not mean his conclusions are wrong but that the evidence supporting his conclusions may be weak on the subject of “priming”. This acknowledgement is independent of the System 1/System 2 thinking style issues.