“What you see is all there is”

A popular propaganda method is to give you some information that leads you to a likely incorrect conclusion, but the conclusion the propagandist would like you to reach.

The trick works because we see some information in the propaganda message and our brain short circuits and concludes that “What you see is all there is”. We then quickly agree with the message without considering that we have an incomplete picture.

The following social media propaganda poster was shared into my timeline and illustrates the “What you see is all there is” problem.


Wow – 7 species of bees were put on the endangered species list and havoc will result. Wow – Like and Share this post “Before it’s too late!” (or before your brain resumes functioning).

Did you know that there are about 4,000 species of bees in the United States?

Did you know that native bees – not honey bees – do most of our plant pollinating?

Does your view of the above poster change once you have additional information?

The above poster may also work because you may have heard about colony collapse disorder in the recent past. The die offs attributed to colony collapse disorder have become smaller in recent years and also see the EPA page.

This post is not about whether colony collapse disorder is happening or not, or whether humans or climate change or randomness are the cause. This post is about the concept of “What you see is all there is” and illustrates how a complex subject, simplified, can lead you to a potentially inappropriate conclusion.