Secret government unit used “unethical” fear tactics to push Covid rules compliance – media


A parliamentary committee is reportedly set to investigate “scare ads” created by the UK government’s shadowy ‘behavioural insights’ team to “nudge” the public into obeying Covid-19 restrictions. The move comes amid concerns about the “grossly unethical” use of the unit to “inflate fear levels.”


The signatories reportedly criticized the use of dramatic adverts featuring slogans such as “If you go out you can spread it, people will die.” One such ad had a close-up photo of an intensive-care patient wearing an oxygen mask, with the caption: “Look her in the eyes and tell her you never bend the rules.”

The use of “images of the acutely unwell in intensive care units” and the “macabre mono focus on the number of Covid-19 deaths without mention of mortality from other causes” were also said to have been condemned by the group, which warned of unintended consequences.

“Shaming and scapegoating have emboldened some people to harass those unable or unwilling to wear a face covering,” they reportedly wrote, adding that the “inflated fear levels” and “strategically-increased anxieties” had “[discouraged] many from seeking help for other illnesses.”


Reader comment:


    “Emotional messaging” had no effect on me apart from inducing a chuckle.

    It’s good to find MPs extracting their digits and begin to earn their salaries.

    Throughout the epidemic almost all MPs passively accepted utterances and edicts from government. Clearly, they were influenced by the most successful message of all: “Follow the science.” That muted criticism because most MPs are as clueless as Johnson and his chums about what ‘science’ really entails and where its limitations lie.

    Nobody would have obeyed the more truthful slogan: “Follow opinion from a gaggle of third-rate ‘scientists’ chosen because they were biddable and had the gleam of ‘gongs’ in their eyes,”


    If the ‘scientists were better than third rate they would have taken proper account of conventional and formerly successful communicable disease control strategies. They would have expressed strong reservations over the reliability of disease modelling. They would have insisted on attempt at risk/benefit analysis before introduction of control measures which could cripple the economy and provoke widespread psychological distress.

    Moreover, they would never have endorsed the testing and isolation strategy because it is unsuited to controlling diseases like Covid-19 infection. Also, they would have noted the unsuitability of the testing technology for its stated purpose. The better among them would have laughed at the mobile phone application, scan codes, and Covid passports. Serious objection would have been raised against curtailment of proper procedure for validating new vaccines. Rollout of experimental vaccines to the highly vulnerable might have been ethically justifiable but extension to the entire population including children was grossly irresponsible, perhaps criminally so.

    Instead of being the voice of reason, these ‘scientists’ threw themselves into backing madcap schemes.

    Apart from the lacking quality of those chosen to offer advice there is the matter of scientists in general having narrow perspective centred upon their areas of interest. Few if any of that bunch appear to have had cognisance of the social and economic backdrop. They focussed exclusively on controlling spread of the virus. They had no insight to ‘externalities’ which could be unwanted effects of their measures. Their criteria for success were too narrow: estimates of prevalence of infection and estimates of deaths attributable (in vague manner) to Covid-19. There was not even the easily computed nuance of presenting years of life lost.

    Given inability of parliamentarians to scrutinise measures, these ‘scientists’ who collectively had direct access to Johnson and his cabinet were remiss by not recognising Johnson’s limited leadership qualities and not firmly taking him by the nose towards a less haphazard approach. If Johnson refused to be told then advisors could resign their positions (‘gongless’) and with full glare of publicity.

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