Covid: Scientists admit to using ‘ethically questionable’ fear tactics
A scientific advisory committee in Britain has expressed “regret” in a newly released book which outlines the group’s use of “dystopian” fear tactics to influence public behavior following the outbreak of COVID-19.
The Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behavior, or SPI-B for short, is a sub-committee of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) that advised SAGE on the role of psychology in nudging the British public into complying with government lockdown measures. SAGE, in turn, advises government ministers, wresting far-reaching influence on public policy.
On the back of SPI-B advice, SAGE issued guidance to the U.K. government, as they locked down the country last March, advising that they would need to couple their actions with a targeted fear campaign to ramp up the “perceived level of personal threat” from the virus. This would help the government to control “a substantial number of people” who were thought to “not feel sufficiently personally threatened,” according to SPI-B.
Journalist and author Laura Dodsworth, in her latest publication A State of Fear, documents “how the U.K. government weaponised fear during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The book features the testimony of SPI-B members who admit that the tactics used by the group were tantamount to “totalitarianism.”
“Fear is the most powerful emotion,” Dodsworth’s website states. “Hardwired into humans, fear is … one of the most powerful tools in the behavioural psychology toolbox and it has been used to manipulate and control people during the pandemic.”
An unnamed SPI-B member explained to Dodsworth that “[i]n March  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.”
“The use of fear has definitely been ethically questionable,” the source continued. “It’s been like a weird experiment. Ultimately, it backfired because people became too scared. The way we have used fear is dystopian.”
SPI-B psychologist Gavin Morgan told Dodsworth that “using fear as a means of control is not ethical. Using fear smacks of totalitarianism. It’s not an ethical stance for any modern government.” Morgan related that, in spite of his normally optimistic outlook on life, seeing the government implement fear tactics to control the population “has given me a more pessimistic view of people.”
Morgan’s colleague Dr. Harrie Bunker-Smith explained the bait-and-switch maneuver employed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson with lockdown restrictions, turning them on and off seemingly at whim, and always with a new justification.
“Abusers will say they won’t do something again, but then they keep doing it. Abuse is not constant; it’s not bad all the time. You have periods of extreme abuse followed by the honeymoon period, where you get flowers and apologies and promises, and then things deteriorate again,” Bunker-Smith said.
Another member of the team described the psychology work of SPI-B as “mind control.” “That’s what we do … clearly we try and go about it in a positive way, but it has been used nefariously in the past.”
Another still admitted to being “stunned by the weaponisation of behavioural psychology” over the last year, lamenting that fellow “psychologists didn’t seem to notice when it stopped being altruistic and became manipulative. They have too much power and it intoxicates them.”
Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens is one of vanishingly few voices in British establishment media to have consistently written skeptically about the Johnson regime’s COVID strategy. For some months, Hitchens has been drawing attention to an excerpt from an interview with Neil Ferguson, the man behind the modelling that predicted millions of deaths from COVID-19 and essentially launched worldwide lockdown measures.
In the interview, Ferguson draws attention to China’s strategy of mass repression “to flatten the curve,” but admits his hesitancy that such measures could be implemented in non-communist countries. “We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought,” Ferguson said. “And then Italy did it. And we realised we could.”