« Female Orgasm as Screening | Main | You Don't Know Why You Act »

April 29, 2009

Comments

OH GOD I HADN'T HEARD ABOUT PANIC PANIC BEFORE!!! WHAT IF IT GETS HERE!!! WHAT IF IT HAPPENS TO MY CHILDREN??? MAYBE I SHOULD JUST KILL THEM NOW TO SPARE THEM THE PAIN!!! AAAAAAAH!!!

I'm developing infinite panic regress panic.

Oh no, the officials are about to panic out of fear we would panic! I'm in panic panic panic!

http://xkcd.com/574/

I thought it was about media outlets trying to sell advertising to stir things up, and then the politicians needing to respond to maintain voter constituencies. You know, wag the dog.

US, excellent XKCD, as always.

"That's a position held by a number of people in the government and a number of people in a number of governments who argue that, yes, we the government are going to prepare, but for God's sake don't tell the public, because . . . they might get excessively frightened, and that might be bad for their psychology and bad for the economy."

But didn't we see officials publicly panicking during the height of the financial crisis? Bush, Bernanke and Paulson all gave very nervous public speeches both before and after Lehman.

Is a financial crisis somehow different than an epidemic, regarding the manipulation of public opinion? It might be. Since we think we designed the economy, we're more likely to think we can do something to fix it. An epidemic, on the other hand, is a threat external to humanity.

What I'm afraid of, is what else is happening in the world that we're not hearing about because we're all too busy talking about this disease that's going to kill a handful of people, just like tons of other diseases do all the time?

This was one of the lessons included during my military training in urban ops: that citizens (Canadians, anyway) don't panic. During national emergencies, such as the Quebec ice storm, they've always cooperated with an organized and efficient government task force.

Mightn't government officials fear panic because it deprives them of control and power? If you believe you know what is best for the populace, the last thing you'd want to have happen is the populace to act on its own accord (which they WILL do if frightened enough, regardless of attempts to stop them).

I'm not sure I find the argument that officials want to avoid looking bad to be persuasive. The public generally finds out about any event big enough to "cause a panic" anyway, even if officials can keep it under wraps temporarily.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Less Wrong (sister site)

May 2009

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31