Fear, uncertainty and doubt  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is a tactic used in sales, marketing, public relations, politics and propaganda. FUD is generally a strategic attempt to influence public perception by disseminating negative and dubious/false information designed to undermine the credibility of their beliefs. An individual firm, for example, might use FUD to invite unfavorable opinions and speculation about a competitor's product; to increase the general estimation of switching costs among current customers; or to maintain leverage over a current business partner who could potentially become a rival.

FUD techniques may be crude and simple, as in claiming "I read a paper by a Harvard professor that shows you are wrong regarding subject XXX", but said paper does not exist. (Were the paper to exist then it would not be FUD but valid criticism.) Alternatively FUD may be very subtle, employing an indirect approach. Someone who employs FUD cannot generally back up their claims (e.g., "I don't recall which professor or which year the paper is from"). To dispel FUD, the easiest way is to ask for details and then provide well researched hard facts which disprove them. For instance, if it can be shown that no Harvard professor has ever written a paper on subject XXX, then the FUD is dispelled.

The term originated to describe disinformation tactics in the computer hardware industry and has since been used more broadly. FUD is a manifestation of the appeal to fear.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Fear, uncertainty and doubt" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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