Propaganda Tactics: Nitpicking

The scholar without good breeding is a nitpicker; the philosopher a cynic; the soldier a brute and everyone else disagreeable.

Lord Chesterfield

A favorite tactic of propagandists is to make mountains out of molehills. How do they do this? By putting a lot of molehills together and calling it a mountain. They nitpick about trivial details — any detail they can find fault with — and then suggest that those faults, in aggregate, are indicative of some larger issue.

In order to achieve this, of course, they must completely ignore — and expect the reader to completely ignore — the much larger mountain of positive “stuff” that’s there…ignore the beauty of the forest because they’re trudging through the underbrush.

The Amthrax propaganda machine loves to get down in the weeds and nitpick. In their “50+ Questions for TEAM/LIFE”, they ask some truly trivial questions, many of which are clearly a setup to criticize whatever the response is.

Cases in point:

Question 1: What does financially free specifically mean? Does this just mean job optional or rich? [In TEAM they would sometimes go back and forth, saying that in 3-5 years I could be ‘rich’ beyond my biggest dreams, then other times claiming that in 3-5 years I could replace my current job’s income with TEAM.]

First of all, “financially free” doesn’t “specifically mean” any one particular objective — why does it have to?  Can’t this be a personal definition for each person, just like “success” or “happiness”???  For some people, it may simply mean still working their day job (some people love their day job), and never having to say “no” to things that are within the lifestyle they want to live — eating out, entertainment, vacations, a nice car, paying off the mortgage early, etc.  For others, it may be replacing their current job’s income. For others, it may be “beyond their biggest dreams” (though really, that’s rare — only because you usually have to dream it in order to achieve it, but… that’s nitpicking semantics).

And the suggestion that there’s some kind of back-and-forth between what could be achieved in 3-5 years is ridiculous too.  These are possibilities.  You could be rich beyond your wildest dreams — it is possible.  You could replace your current job’s income and go full-time with LIFE.  You could keep your day job and just have a great lifestyle.  Or you could never really get the hang of the recruiting side of it and just be living a better life by learning and developing in the 8 F’s (and yes, you’ll have spent some money in the process, of course — it is personal development training, after all).  Or, you could get frustrated by the whole thing, decide it’s not for you, and be on some other path of your own choosing.

What are the odds of any one of these outcomes?  No way to tell.  Sure, you can look at the income disclosure statement, and assume that the odds are going to be based on those outcomes.  That would be a mistake, because your odds are based on your efforts, your investment, your attitude, your current life situation.

You define “financially free”, you figure out what a realistic goal is in 3-5 years, and you affect your odds of success at achieving those goals.

Question 3: Just how many people have become ‘financially free’ through TEAM/MV/LIFE?

As long as it’s more than 2 (or maybe 4 or 6), why does it matter?  As I said above, everyone defines “financially free” on their own terms.  And does it really matter whether it’s 17 or 379 or 5,294 or 16,728?  If it’s more than 2 or 4 or 6, it shows a) it’s possible, and b) there are people who have achieved it who are going to help you through the process.

Question 13: They say it’s important to own your own B-type business, BUT why does it say in the LIFE P&P that LIFE is not a franchise opportunity, but instead a membership? What, then, do you own?

First of all, a membership can be owned — just check the policies of most country clubs. Regardless, just because it’s not a franchise opportunity doesn’t mean it’s not still a business (and a B-type one). Franchising has a specific legal meaning, and laws that explicitly regulate franchising. LIFE’s business model (like pretty much all network marketing businesses) doesn’t fit that meaning.  The LIFE P&P just clarifies this.

Question 40: They say that those at the top had to start someplace [implying at the bottom, and therefore you can make it from the bottom too] but how does this make sense when those at the top who started first didn’t climb up but placed people below them?

No…not at the bottom…at the top…of their own pyramid.  That’s the beauty of MLM…everyone is at the top of their own pyramid.  If the founder recruited 8 people, and they each recruited 6 people, and they each recruited 4, and they each recruited 2…you can too.  You don’t have to climb to make more money — you have to build.

And I won’t go through the comp plan in detail, but suffice it to say that there are a lot of ways you can earn more than your upline.  But since when it is it a competition?  Why does it matter how much you make compared to your upline, if you have financial freedom, or at least or on the road to it?

Those are just a few examples of nitpicking from the “50+ Questions for TEAM/LIFE”.  Here’s one more:

LIFE Policy Changes Regarding Quitting and Rejoining

LIFE tweaked its policies regarding LIFE members who quit one team to join another. A member who quits must wait six months before joining another team. The change is that downline members from that member now face a two-year sit out period instead of six months. This effectively keeps people from moving their whole downline with them.

This is completely sensible.  You can’t have people just moving around within the organization at the drop of a hat.  And this one change prompted a post from Amthrax with unfounded, wild speculation as to the reason for this change, plus 19 comments, many longer than the original post.

Over one little policy change.  And, mind you, none of these people are actually still in the business and would be affected by it in the least.

Am I nitpicking? Maybe. The irony of the possibility isn’t lost on me. But reading through the Amthrax site — the comments as well as the posts — there’s a clear pattern evident. And combined with the other propaganda techniques in use, it looks more like a coordinated smear campaign than simply the rants of a disgruntled ex-member.

Nobody is perfect. You can find fault with anybody or anything if you look hard enough. You have to maintain a sense of perspective. Are those issues even significant at all? Or is someone just suggesting that they are? And even if they are significant, how much so, relevant to the bigger picture?

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