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Study: Mass Hysteria & Poor Public Policies Link During Lockdown

Principia Scientific | February 13, 2021

A new study shows that ‘lockdown’ mass hysteria over COVID19, generated via the media and politicians, has worsened the outcomes for policy decisions causing avoidable and unnecessary additional public health costs.

The new study, ‘COVID-19 and the Political Economy of Mass Hysteria’, written by Philipp Bagus et al., was published February 3, 2021 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. [1]

The paper’s conclusion is reproduced below:

Conclusion: Mass hysteria can have enormous public health costs in terms of psychological stress, anxiety, and even physical symptoms. To these costs must be added indirect adverse health effects from alcoholism, suicides, or damage from deferred treatment and delayed recognition of illness. Policy failures in mass hysteria can lead to economic decline and poverty, which in turn negatively impacts public health and life expectancy.

Studies of mass hysteria have mostly focused on outbreaks in localized settings of schools or businesses. However, in the digital age of global mass and social media, the possibility of global mass hysteria exists, a phenomenon that has not yet been studied. Our study of the political economy of mass hysteria draws on the well-established psycho-logical phenomenon of mass hysteria and applies it to a new and innovative context of global mass hysteria for which no literature exists yet. More specifically, we analyzed how the political system can influence the likelihood and spread of mass hysteria in a digitized and globalized world based on economic principles. We discussed how the state and its size increase the likelihood of mass hysteria by comparing an idealized minimal state with an idealized welfare state, addressing a previously completely unexplored research question. Our findings are highly relevant and important because the policy failures induced by mass hysteria are potentially catastrophic for public health.

We found that the size and power of the state contributes positively to the likelihood and extensions of mass hysteria. The more centralized and the more power a state has, the higher the probability and extension of mass hysteria. In a minimal state, there exist self-correcting mechanisms that limit collective hysteria. The enforcement of private property rights limits the harm inflicted by those that succumb to the hysteria. The state (thanks to a fuzzy public sector and its soft power [123,124]), by contrast, amplifies and exacerbates mass panics, potentially causing important havoc. What are temporarily, locally limited, isolated outbreaks of mass hysteria, the state may convert into a global mass hysteria for an extended period of time. Recent development in information technology and, particularly, the use of social media, as well as a decline of religion, have made societies more prone to the development of mass hysteria [125,126,127]. Unfortunately, once a mass hysteria takes hold of the government, the amount of damage the hysteria can inflict to life and liberty surges as the state’s respect for private property and basic human rights is limited. The violation of basic human rights in the form of curfews, lockdowns, and coercive closure of business has been amply illustrated during the COVID-19 crisis. Naturally, the COVID-19 example is indicative rather than representative and its lessons cannot be generalized. During the COVID-19 crisis, several authors have argued that from a public health point of view, these invasive interventions such as lockdowns have been unnecessary [128,129,130,131] and, indeed, detrimental to overall public health [132,133]. In fact, prior scientific research on disease mitigation measures during a possible influenza pandemic had warned against such invasive interventions and recommended a more normal social functioning [134]. Moreover, in reaction to past pandemics such as the Asian flu of 1957–1958, there were no lockdowns [135], and research before 2020 had opposed lockdowns [136]. From this perspective, the lockdowns have been a policy error. We have shown that these policy errors may well have been produced by a collective hysteria. To which extent there has been a mass hysteria during the COVID-19 crisis is open for future research. In order to prevent the repetition of policy errors similar to those during the COVID-19 crisis, one should be aware of the political economy of mass hysteria developed in this article and the role of the state in fostering mass hysteria. Public health is likely to be affected negatively by state interventions during a mass hysteria due to policy errors.

[1] Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 202118 (4), 1376;

February 13, 2021 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | ,

1 Comment »

  1. It is the Media’s job to keep the Public in a state of mass ‘Anxiety’, so that they will comply with the demands of Politicians. That is why Rupert Murdoch has been SO successful in Australia, then Britain, and now the USA.
    If you want “The People” to be ‘terrorised’ Rupert is the ‘go to guy’…..


    Comment by brianharryaustralia | February 13, 2021 | Reply

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