Scientists acknowledge government used pandemic scare tactics to influence behaviour

Matt Hancock HOC 250321-┬®UK Parliament_Jessica Taylor
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Fear was used to control behaviour and increase the perceived level of personal threat according to a new book published last week.


The Government has been accused of using fear to control the population’s behaviour during the Covid pandemic and feeding a non-stop diet of negative news without providing context on topics such as recovery numbers and whether the number of deaths were above or below what would be expected in normal years.

These charges, which scientists acknowledge were both unethical and totalitarian, are made in A State of Fear, a book by author Laura Dodsworth, who spent a year investigating the communications strategy and tactics deployed by the state apparatus.

Gavin Morgan, a psychologist on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviour otherwise known as SPI-B, aired misgivings about an approach that sought to increase the perceived level of personal threat as a method of changing behaviour. He said: “Clearly, using fear as a means of control is not an ethical stance for any modern government. Using fear smacks of totalitarianism.”

An SPI-B scientist, who advised the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, told author Laura Dodsworth: “In March (2020) the Government was very worried about compliance and they thought people wouldn’t want to be locked down. There were discussions about fear being needed to encourage compliance and decisions were made about how to ramp up the fear. Ultimately, it backfired because people became too scared.” A fellow SPI-B member confirmed the use of ‘mind control’ tactics with another stating that in the absence of a vaccine, psychology was regarded as being the main weapon in the government’s armoury.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Conservative MP Steve Baker, a leading member of the Covid Recovery Group, said: “If the state took the decision to terrify the public to get compliance with rules, that raises extremely serious questions about the type of society we want to become.”

The strategy could also shed light on policy impacting the hospitality sector not least the 10pm Curfew and the decision to keep pubs closed despite the fact that Track and Trace data showed a mere 107 cases of infection occurring in pubs over the period June 2020 to February 2021.

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