RationalWiki's Q4 2016 Fundraiser
We are 100% user-supported!
Without you, there is no RationalWiki!
Goal: $5000 Donations so far: $2890

Fighting pseudoscience isn't free.
Help and donate today!

Fear, uncertainty and doubt

From RationalWiki
(Redirected from FUD)
Jump to: navigation, search
Linux is communism! Apple is hippies hipsters! Anything but Microsoft is Satanic!
We control what
you think with


Icon language.svg
Said and done
Jargon, buzzwords, slogans

Fear, uncertainty, and doubt (or FUD for short) is a term which denotes a form of public relations propaganda intended to frighten consumers away from considering alternate products or services.

The term also has a more general use outside of the context of business, in reference to any strategy involving the deliberate employment of various slippery slope-style arguments in an attempt at poisoning the well and inserting fear, uncertainty and doubt. This is often done in the style of a Gish gallop by fringe groups such as Creationists and anti-vaxxers.

FUD is a commonly-employed tactic when it comes to infrastructure investment, particularly public transport and high speed rail. (To wit.) For certain political groups (Conservatives) it's ideal. Can't have the government doing something useful, must make money for the vultures.

In security, FUD can also stand for "Fully Undetectable", as in a virus that can't be picked up by antivirus software, like the rootkit the NSA has on your computer.


[edit] IT company tomfoolery

Some notable international corporations are notoriously known for using such tactics, and a class of business writers who are willing to generate well-written FUD have been labeled as "corporate whores", a term that was originally invented in response to IBM's bully tactics[1] back in the salad days of the IT industry.

Many years later, after it became overwhelmingly common for companies to have a computer at almost every employee's desk, Microsoft became better-known for FUD due to their particular vehemence for the free open source software movement. One example of FUD terminology is vaporware: Suppose a company is trying to market a software product that provides feature X. Microsoft will announce that it intends to bundle its own application that also provides feature X for free in the next Service Pack for the Windows Operating System, leading to customers deciding not to purchase the alternate product with the expectation of getting feature X for free with an upcoming round of patches from Redmond, but the promised Microsoft product never appears.[citation needed]

[edit] Fear Mongering

Fear mongering is a ploy used by anyone trying to sell you something, from an idea ("we need to go to war", "we need to stop this mosque"), to a politician, to a product for sale.

The basic trick is to link what you are selling as a curative of something dangerous, or more commonly, to highlight the dangers of not doing something. Facts are rarely used. Exaggerated statistics, links to dangerous individuals, and ambiguous language are far more useful in fear tactics.

[edit] Famous examples

  • When the US wanted to invade Iraq, General Colin Powell famously held up a small jar of powder and uttered the words "Weapon of mass destruction". There was no comment about what was in this jar of white powder, nor a statement that it came from Iraq. But it might have come from Iraq, and it might have been dangerous.
  • When a Muslim group wanted to build a community center in New York, one of the many tactics used to try to prevent it, was fear mongering. "Do you really want Islamic Terrorists who have already harmed us, here?"

[edit] See also

  • Denialism
  • Due diligence
  • Politics of fear
  • Brexit - When it came right down to it, the Remain campaign couldn't reach the hearts and mind of people who don't have a concept of the macroeconomic, whereas Leave could use FUD until the end. Funnily enough Nigel Farage was able to run a FUD campaign by accusing his opponents of running a FUD campaign. That's some triangulation right there. And he did it all without a single shot left untaken.
  • Tony Abbott - Abbott with his irrational bashing of the internet (I can't mine fiber! COPPER! COPPER IS THE FUTURE!) created a misconception in the public about the National Broadband Network, which wasn't even taxpayer-funded. Then when he and Turnbull came in and wrecked it, most people and the media were already sick of talking about it, allowing it to become terrible with a lot of silence.

[edit] Footnotes

  1. One of the original definers for the term itself was SERIOUS about this stuff, and it stuck in usage for this reason.
Personal tools