I was thinking of populism in the pejorative sense of the word. This can occur in tandem with demagoguery. Also distractionnism although it doesn't seem to underline any form of deceit.

However, populism can have a good connotation in defending the interests of people so it may not be a good choice.

Perhaps there's a better word or term for this? Open to any suggestions.

Edit: Here is hopefully some good sample sentences to help you understand what I'm getting at.

Incorrect cause:

A rumour led to [word] in claiming that gypsies settled in the locality were responsible for setting fire to a building in town when there had been reports of arson elsewhere.

Distraction from another issue:

A blogger gave rise to [word] within the population in claiming that immigration was responsible for the fall in available jobs in the province without considering that this was due to an economic downturn.

  • 3
    James, you should be aware that there are strict rules for single-word-requests: "To ensure your question is not closed as off-topic, please be specific about the intended use of the word. You must include a sample sentence demonstrating how the word would be used." [my emphasis] :-) Aug 12, 2016 at 1:36
  • @Chappo ok sorry if I didn't catch onto that. Don't know if another tag would be more appropriate.
    – James P.
    Aug 12, 2016 at 3:59
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    The SWR tag is the most appropriate one, and your edit meets the requirements for that tag. +1 for a challenging question! In both the examples you give, fearmongering describes what is happening but I'm not sure this is quite the angle you're after? Aug 12, 2016 at 5:10
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    Fearmongering and more generally playing on emotions would be a step in that direction. It also involves disinformation or misinformation, deceit (either knowingly or unknowingly) and perhaps involves manipulation and is motivated by beliefs.
    – James P.
    Aug 12, 2016 at 6:52
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    A couple of multi-word suggestions which I hope will inspire someone to come up with a good answer: "unfounded bigotry", "unjustified public outcry".
    – AndyT
    Aug 12, 2016 at 10:41

1 Answer 1


The word you're looking for is probably misdirection:

Misdirection is a form of deception in which the attention of the audience is focused on one thing in order to distract it's attention from another.

  • I was going to suggest "misleading" for similar reasons, but misdirection seems a slightly better fit.
    – The Nate
    Aug 12, 2016 at 15:37

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