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Mass Hysteria, Delusion and Panic

By February 15, 2021February 22nd, 2021Commentary

It really can’t be questioned that the global response to this epidemic has been characterized by mass delusion and panic.  I wanted to use a separate post to highlight this article which discusses that phenomenon.  (ERPH Article)   The authors delve into the phenomenon of mass delusion, as exemplified by the epidemic response.  The authors come from Chile and Spain.  Their thesis is that while many supposed that government is a force for better public health, its actions in promoting mass hysteria can actually harm the general welfare.  The interplay of media, science, politics and government in the past and during this epidemic is studied.  The authors suggest that government has actually encouraged the development of population-wide fear which is not supported by facts.  This amounts to a massive infliction of psychological stress resulting in greater mental illness, as well as people missing needed health care.  Modern governments have enormous powers and have grabbed even more by use of unlimited and indefinite “emergency” declarations.  Those powers have clearly not been used for good.

This is very simple to me.  Early on, partly out of a lack of dependable information, politicians and public health experts panicked.  They did not act rationally, waiting for more reliable data, they simply panicked and took the most draconian steps imaginable.  The public health experts relished their moment in the sun and could not resist the temptation to advocate extreme measures that failed to consider overall public health or welfare.  Leaders mimicked each other and used what others were doing as an excuse for their own actions.  When it became apparent that there had been an unnecessary over-reaction, both politicians and public health experts began twisting data and science to try to justify their behavior.  Instead of acknowledging an excessive response, they doubled down, and spread greater fear.  The traditional and social media were only too happy to aid in this process.  This all could have been avoided by elimination or serious limitation of emergency powers.  Forcing a truly democratic decision-making process on response measures would have resulted in a more rational response.  If we are going to avoid this happening again, we must strip all governments of any emergency power lasting more than two or three days.  And we must figure out a way to never again allow the kind of campaign of terror we have experienced in this epidemic to be imposed on Americans.

Join the discussion 22 Comments

  • Jim Kiehne says:

    Paper linked to doesn’t seem like the one you wanted…
    Meanwhile, the evidence abounds. One instance is, upon returning to our gym post-closure, mandated distancing became 12 feet. No indication of where that came from, but the contrarian in me thinks it was DOH saying ‘well, we’d really rather you don’t open, but here you go folks.’ The whole thing disgusts and angers.

  • Steve Gerads says:

    Yes, exactly this. Emergency powers and public health need to be reigned in. They represent a THREAT to public health.

  • Dan Riser says:

    The sad news besides the sheep being led over the cliff is that walz is getting away with murder and no one bats an eye. He already has a penchant for murdering the vulnerable in the womb just like cuomo and the others of democrat persuasion. If we subtract out the 4016 elderly deaths in assisted livings, that leaves a paltry 2360 deaths statewide that walz has to hang his miserable emergency powers on.

  • Fallacist says:

    The link seems to be to a different paper.

  • T Ferguson says:

    I don’t think you’ve got the right paper linked here. This is the seroprevalence for young adults (Marines)

  • Ann in L.A. says:

    New York City in the spring was and remains just about the worst place when it came to covid. Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths were very, very scary. Though I live on the other side of the country, I can imagine the fear that would have traumatized everyone living there.

    Unfortunately, people living there included almost all of our major media. Everything that has been said in the media from the beginning has been seen through the lens of NYC in the spring. If they went through horrors, then everyone else must be experiencing the same thing. Every outbreak must be just like theirs. Of course extreme lockdowns make sense, because NYC was so bad! Since few reporters ever venture across the Hudson, it’s easy to assume that everywhere else is the same.

    The fact that treatments have evolved and that hospitalization rates and death rates have fallen dramatically since then, gets little coverage–it’s still springtime in New York.

    According to stats from Florida, the hospitalization rate for the 76-85 year olds cohort was over 53% in March, but is now under 13%, fatality rates for that group has gone from 24% in April to under 9% today. But, no, it’s always NYC in April.

    How different coverage–and our perception–of the epidemic would have been if the media were based pretty much anywhere else!

  • ganderson says:

    Ann in LA: was it really that bad in New York, though? The hospital ship that “Literally Hitler” sent to NYC- not needed. The conversion of the Javits center to provide extra beds- not needed. I’ve no doubt that many idiot New York journalists thought it was the first 100 pages of “The Stand”, and that could be one source of the panic.

    Some random observations:

    • To what extent did that Johns Hopkins virus tracker contribute to the overall panic with its big scary red circles- “my god, the virus has reached the Færoe Islands!”

    • There’s only the baby-est of baby steps being done to open up here in MA- and even though our own IB governor has loosened crowd requirements up to an incredible 40%, many towns including mine which includes the University of Massachusetts main campus, are more or less still locked down. UMASS has essentially locked people in their dorms, because of spike ( 600) in “active cases”, a new term currently in use because “cases” isn’t scary enough. Hardly any of the kids are sick, as should come as no surprise to any of you reading this. Not to mention medical facilities in Western MA would be overflowing if that were the case. They’re not. UMASS sports are all on hold- many of feel we’ve seen our last hockey game until October.

    • Amherst College is still locked up- no outsiders allowed on campus (where I used to walk the dog), including students who live off campus. All classes (at UMASS, too) are remote: U of Phoenix education at Amherst College prices. I ran into a couple of Amherst men’s lacrosse players at my franchise gym- they’re not allowed on campus to work out, and they’re convinced their season, just like all fall and winter NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) sports, will be cancelled. Bummer for me- I’m a lax guy, and Amherst perennially has one of the best DIII teams in the country.

    • High school athletes being required to wear masks-no further comment necessary!

    From my perch I see no sign of any of this letting up, and we are approaching the one-year anniversary of “two weeks to flatten the curve”. I thought much of this would go away with Slow Joe’s election, but it seems to be intensifying. And the rumors are out there that Vegetable Joe is going to try and force Florida to shut down.

  • MLR says:

    You cannot dismiss the fact that in the USA we had a presidential election. The disloyal democrats and their minions in the fifth column like press were expert in using the virus as a cudgel to pummel Trump and essentially force him to listen to that snake Fauci.

  • The Dark Lord says:

    extraordinary measures like business closures and lockdowns should have required extraordinary evidence … instead we had faulty models and WAG’s from “scientists” / doctors to justify them … worldwide, political and medical leaders will have purposely caused the deaths of more people over the next 5 years than that German guy and Stalin combined …

  • Matt R says:

    Reporting from Orlando that mass delusion certainly exists in the amusement parks. Whether management actually believes it helpful or necessary, or perhaps they just recognize the masses have been deluded, their strict enforcement of masks ignores the lack of evidence in support of masks, and also ignores the pretty compelling evidence that on a day like today (sunny, 85 with a decent breeze) the Rona likely wouldn’t last a nanosecond once exhaled. More interesting yet is that they try to create the sense that they are doing everything to make a safe environment when 90% plus of the visitors are young people; young children and their parents, many under 40, vast majority under 50. In a rational world, a simple waiver or even just a sign saying “by being here you acknowledge the risks inherent in continuing to live” should be sufficient. In the world of mass hysteria, they must assure everyone they will kick out anyone who doesn’t don the virtuous face diaper. But as my mask says “Truth is Treason in an Empire of Lies”…

  • Cliff Hadley says:

    Like Mr. Roche, nothing frosts me more in this whole sorry episode than the abuse of children — denying them true education, keeping them from their friends, and scaring them into thinking they can get sick and kill others. Even here in South Dakota, which has had in-person classes the past six months, children are confined in plexiglass veal pens all day and forced to wear masks. The lack of social interaction stunts emotional development. The lack of oxygen from filthy face coverings causes headaches, lethargy, and depression. On top of that, teachers and administrators threaten: “If you take your mask off, you can’t be with your friends.” Disgusting. The children don’t know yet that they should hate the adults for this. Youngsters will pay a huge price in anxiety and fear, as well as reduced earnings from the disruption to their learning and socialization.

  • dirtyjobsguy says:

    There was a total lack of leadership at both the political and public health level. (A few calm people like Gov’s deSantis and Roem notwithstanding). The politicians first instinct was to either create a fearful crisis and then take sole command or to pretend nothing was happening but still take sole command. The public health types were allowed out of their conference rooms unsupervised and it was frightful. The hardest thing I had to do with my (critical infrastructure) employees who were mostly under 40 was to keep them calm. I did daily analysis of the actual case and fatality numbers from various governments and showed them their risks were small and manageable. Having us older guys take the lead on essential travel also helped. I saw the desperation in the small hotel owners and restaurateurs eyes when we patronized them in our travels. They watched closely as every random tweet from Dr’s Fauci and Brix pointed them to bankruptcy.

    Remaining calm and giving realistic guidance and hope was absolutely required and not produced.

  • Michael Andrews says:

    Emergency orders should require the signature of the Governor and the Leader of each House of the Legislature. A continuing emergency should only be with the acquiescence of both houses.

  • Ann in L.A. says:

    ganderson: It would have been nice if Cuomo had sent positive patients leaving hospitals to the Mercy or the Javits. How many would be alive today if he didn’t send the equivalent of small-pox infested blankets to nursing homes? But both of those sites were run by the feds, and thus if Cuomo had used them, it would have been because of Trump’s help. He seemed to make many of his decisions based on national politics and anti-Trumpism, not based on the health and safety of his state.

  • Ganderson says:

    Ann- in no way am I defending Cuomo, whose strategy seemed to be expose the most vulnerable, and lock down the least vulnerable, but I just think, as with everywhere else, the deadliness of this virus was way overblown. Sounds, too, like Andy boy is finally getting a roasting.

  • Susan says:

    Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
    Preparedness for a High-Impact Respiratory Pathogen Pandemic 09/2019

    8.Frameworksandplansarticulatingtheevidenceandrolefor nonpharmaceutical interventions need to be established.
    • Nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) have a greater likelihood of being imple- mented effectively if well analyzed ahead of time than if considered ad hoc during a crisis. Countries and international organizations need to better analyze the potential value and impact of NPIs; determine in which contexts, if any, a partic- ular NPI would be effective; and conclude in which contexts they are likely do more harm than good.
    • WHO and other public health authorities should have the capacity to provide risk/ benefit analysis to national governments, driven by scientific evidence where it exists, before NPIs are initiated in a crisis.
    • During an emergency, it should be expected that implementation of some NPIs, such as travel restrictions and quarantine, might be pursued for social or political purposes by political leaders, rather than pursued because of public health evidence. WHO should rapidly and clearly articulate its opposition to inappro- priate NPIs, especially when they threaten public health response activities or pose increased risks to the health of the public.
    • WHO and national authorities will need to provide strong evidenced-backed reasoning for the necessity of NPIs in order to effectively implement them and to communicate their role and necessity to the public, especially for NPIs such as social distancing that inherently limit civil liberties. Therefore, they should under- take directly or support research on NPIs and disseminate their findings on these analyses.

    (Apologies for the word sentence, copy/paste situation)

    The crimes committed that, at latest forecast, will be the cause of over 800,000 more deaths over the next decade never seem to be part of “prevents just one death”.

  • Alex says:

    There’s no question the concept of ‘Emergency powers’ has to be curtailed or at least be clearly defined. NO human should have this kind of power and control over people like we’ve seen. As you can see, they’re clearly not up to the task of being ‘philosopher-kings’. It’s shocking and appalling what I’ve seen across North America – and here in Quebec, after starting off on a fairly calm pace, they managed to turn this place into a dead zone of hyper-stupidity. The Premier is simply not following data or science but hunches and epidemiologists who cry for more hard lockdowns. The way I see it, it’s going to be very hard to remove the precautionary principle mindset that seems to grip public health. The idea of public health policy is to ensue the general welfare of all people but we complete spat on this and threw all our energies and resources into Covid. And even then we did this stupidly focusing on psychologically traumatizing children and not allowing for early treatments. We did everything possibly wrong. Here in Canada, Lt. Col. David Redman wrote the handbook on how to handle pandemics for Canadian policy. He spoke out because he was outraged at how the government did not follow a single protocol in the handbook the government itself endorsed a few years back. Worse still, for so-called ‘free’ societies our measures run afoul of even UN warnings cautioning against such measures. We went rogue and we went full stupid and it all started with the masks. The masks didn’t trigger the hysteria but it made sure it stuck around longer than it should.

    We’re a weak society. Simple as that and I don’t know what it will take to fix this. I hope people of sound mind come back into the picture with ‘never again’ commissions. And then hopefully begin to displace the ‘settle science consensus mafia of lockdown psychopaths’.

    Nothing was more foolish than giving into the fear porn. Politicians should have had the simple understanding and inner fortitude to not go there. But they did and it became ‘rational fear’. People think a mask is a useful tool in ‘fighting’ a virus but in reality all they’re doing is rationalizing their fear.

    Not even Lovecraft could pen this better.

    And don’t look now but Fauci just won a humanitarian award in Israel. And yes, the article is as nauseating and filled with inaccuracies as you’d expect.

  • James L. Edholm says:

    Actually, Kevin (I”m just getting around to reading this paper), the link takes one to a paper entitled, “SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity and subsequent infection risk in healthy young adults: a prospective cohort study” which seems to have no connection to the mass panic items you mentioned in your blog post. Am I missing something??

  • James L. Edholm says:

    Ignore my most recent comment … I hadn’t seen that you fixed the link

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