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wednesday

On the big screen, conspiracy theories are exciting, what with all those disheveled-yet-handsome crazies running around, ranting about how the government is out to get them. In real life, such matters are rarely as compelling (or true, for that matter)—but, occasionally, there really is a government-sponsored plot to persuade the public to believe a terrible untruth. In their lecture “Propaganda and Persuasion: Psychology’s Use in Intelligence,” Arizona State University psychologist Robert B. Cialdini and resident historian Thomas Boghardt examine how such masterminds can effectively influence people. Cialdini, naturally, takes the psychological route, discussing research on communication, persuasion, propaganda, and social influence; Boghardt takes that science and applies it, offering an analysis of propaganda in modern history. One prominent example comes from the Soviets, who used a program called “active measures” to secretively and openly influence other countries’ policies. Oh, the hegemony. Cialdini and Boghardt speak at 6:30 p.m. at the International Spy Museum, 800 F St. NW. $12. (202) 393-7798. (Kim Rinehimer)