A good idea is worth next to nothing if we can’t convince others of its value. The art of persuasion is often dismissed by those convinced of the strength of their own ideas. Unfortunately, this means that they remain the only ones convinced.

Persuading others of our ideas is the action that turns ideas into a reality. Persuasion is difficult and it can be even more difficult with the types of intelligent, thoughtful, and principled people that you want to convince of your ideas. So learning the skills of persuasion, of making a convincing case without deception and with good faith, are a must for anyone looking to implement their ideas in the world.

We are often up against the dark underbelly of persuasion, propaganda. Indeed, before we begin persuading others of our ideas, we often have to undo the noxious work that propaganda has done before we arrive.

Perhaps worst of all, each of us is susceptible to propaganda, whether we like it or not. Learning about the inner workings of this nefarious art can provide us with some protection against its effects, but cannot make us immune.

The following quotes about propaganda and persuasion are a must for anyone interested in the open exchange of ideas.

Quotes About Persuasion and the Power of Persuasion


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“People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.”

– Blaise Pascal


Persuasion Quotes (1)


“If you want to persuade, appeal to interest not to reason.”

– Benjamin Franklin


Persuasion Quotes (2)


“Being a contrarian is actually very easy. The problem is being a contrarian that makes money.”

– George Soros

“Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.”

– Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia


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“It is enough to ask somebody for his weapons without saying ‘I want to kill you with them’, because when you have his weapons in hand, you can satisfy your desire.”

– Niccolò Machiavelli


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“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful.”

– Edward R. Murrow


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“I’d rather argue against a hundred idiots, than have one agree with me.”

– Unknown, commonly misattributed to Winston Churchill

Quotes About Propaganda and Political Persuasion


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“Our country is now geared to an arms economy bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and an incessant propaganda of fear.”

– General Douglas MacArthur


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“All art is propaganda. It is universally and inescapably propaganda; sometimes unconsciously, but often deliberately, propaganda.”

– Upton Sinclair, The Jungle


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“All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.”

– George Orwell

“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

– George Orwell, 1984

“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”

– Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism


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“I’m afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security.”

– Jim Garrison


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“The biggest lesson I learned from Vietnam is not to trust [our own] government statements.”

– Senator James William Fulbright


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“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”

James Madison


Persuasion Quotes (11)


“You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”

Robert A. Heinlein

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

– H.L. Mencken

“State propaganda, when supported by the educated classes and when no deviation is permitted from it, can have a big effect. It was a lesson learned by Hitler and many others, and it has been pursued to this day.”

– Noam Chomsky, Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda