How and Why Government Creates Disease Panic

abg-report:

To be sure, the human brain is wired for negativity bias, so mass hysteria can occur without government manipulation. Bagus explains:

“There can certainly be mass hysteria without the state in a private law society or within the context of a minimal state. This possibility exists due to the negativity bias of the human brain which makes people vulnerable to delusions. Due to biological evolution, we focus on bad news as it may represent a possible threat. Focusing on negative news and feeling a loss of control may cause psychological stress that can develop into a hysteria and propagate to a larger group.”

Anxiety and fear can spread through a social process of conformity:

“Once anxiety has spread and the majority of a group behaves in a certain way, there is the phenomenon of conformity, i.e., social pressure makes individuals behave in the same way as other members of the group. In the end, there may be a phenomenon that has been called emergent norms: when a group establishes a norm, everyone ends up following that norm. For example, if a group decides to wear masks, everyone agrees to that norm. Emergent norms may explain the later stages of contagion. Contagion by fear can lead people to overreact strongly in a situation, even in a minimal state.”

How Private Property Reduces Hysteria

Crucially Bagus points out that without a strong government reaction, “there exist certain self-corrective mechanisms and limits that make it less likely for a mass hysteria to run out of control.”  

When even a minority exercise their property rights and ignore collective panic, hysteria is undermined:

“While anyone in a hysteria related to public health may voluntarily close their own business, wear a mask, or stay at home, in a minimal state, no one can use coercion to force others who are healthy and do not succumb to the hysteria to close their businesses, wear masks, or quarantine. A minority can just ignore the collective panic and continue to live their normal lives, because they are free to do so. Such a minority can be an example and a wake-up call to those that do succumb to the collective hysteria or are close to doing so. This minority may be especially attractive to borderline cases.”

Bagus explains how the example of others limits hysteria: “Suppose that a small group of people during a collective health hysteria continues to go shopping, to work, to socialize, and breathe freely and does not fall ill (massively and fatally). Having this example, the anxiety of observers may fall. Observers may follow the example, and the group of hysterics shrinks.”

Bagus catalogs the ways governments increased hysteria and inflicted harm.

How and Why Government Creates Disease Panic

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