Propaganda, the spreading of information, generally false or mostly false information, to influence public opinion

Propaganda, has created some interesting, and very sad and cruel stories from our past. We are going to look at one of the most significant events of our nation's history, The Boston Massacre. Was this a massacre or was it propaganda used by the patriots to influence public opinion against England. But first, let's look at a few other examples of known propaganda.

British children "enjoying" Carrot Pops

Carrots and Night Vision: How British Propaganda Helped Keep the German's from Discovering the England's Royal Airforce use of Radar

In the Battle of Britain, in 1940, the British fighter pilot, John Cunningham, became the first person to shoot down an enemy plane with the help of radar. In fact, in WW II, he was the Royal Airforce, RAF's top-scoring night fighter pilot, with a total of 20 kills. Some pilots were better flying in daylight, while others, like Cunningham, were better at night. His nickname was "Cats' Eyes". The RAF put out the story in the British newspapers that he, and his fellow night pilots, owed their exceptional night vision to carrots. People believed this to the extent that they started growing and eating more carrots, so that they could better navigate at night during the blackouts that were compulsory during WW II.

But this story was a myth invented by the RAF to hide their use of radar, which was what really located the Luftwaffe bombers at night - not human carrot-assisted super-vision.

On one hand, not enough Vitamin A will make you unable to see at night. But lots of Vitamin A can be poisonous - and it definitely will not give you super-human vision at night.

The device that told the RAF night fighter pilots where the incoming bombers would be was the invention called "radar" (from RAdio Detection And Ranging). In a radar unit, an antenna sends out a brief burst of radio waves (say with a peak power of one million watts), then stops transmitting. It switches off, and then listens for the very weak echo, as some of the radio waves bounce off the metal skin of the plane and return to the antenna. They can be as weak as one millionth of a watt. The time interval between the transmitted and received signals gives the distance to the plane.

At the beginning of WW II, France, the UK, the USA, the Soviet Union, Italy, Japan and Germany each had explored and researched radar - but only the UK had developed a fully-functioning network. This network was called "Chain Home", and operated 24 hours per day from September 1938 until the end of the war.

But why did the German Air Force see past the obvious radar towers on the English coast, and fall for this blatant "carrot-super-vision" propaganda? Partially it could be attributed to a myth from German folklore that carrots would make their eyes better already existed.

Adapted from the website:

Another example of propaganda - The Roswell UFO

Roswell, New Mexico's UFO story is a classic. Supposedly, an alien space ship crashed near Roswell, New Mexico and the U.S. government was quick to recover the space vehicle remains and even the idea that actual alien(s) were found at the site and hidden by our government. Turns out that the "space ship" was part of a secret survelience vehicle. When a story surfaced that this might be an alien space craft, the U.S. government alllowed, and even encouraged this UFO story to help direct away any possible connection to the real purpose of the device and any government involvement. But even though today we know, quite conclusively, that this was a surveillance vehicle, many thousands, and perhaps, millions of people around the world still choose to believe it was a government coverup of an actual alien spaceship crash.


Over the next few days we are going to study propaganda by looking at an episode in history that was a catalyst to the American Revolutionary War, an episode in history that has come to be called The Boston Massacre.

Go back to CMS Home Page