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Thursday, 28 May 2020

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself

The title of my blog is an excerpt from the 1933 inauguration speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd U.S. President. His argument feels appropriate during the current SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. Virologists and politicians have been successful in using fear in making us follow their instructions. However, fear results in a Fight, Flight or Freeze response.

The lockdown measures leave little options in our Fight-Flight-Freeze response. Only the very rich can use private flights and travel (read: flee) around the world (eg, TIME-2020). The rest of us are stuck and have two remaining options: fight or freeze.

People staying at home under lockdown orders show freezing behaviour. Hence, I assume that the normal or Gaussian distribution shows a response of about 5% fight, 90% freeze and 5% flight. This near-default freezing behaviour makes sense because fear changes our brains (eg, CNBC-2020Smithsonian-2017).

In general, I understand the people fighting the lockdowns. Unfortunately, their actions are being hijacked for less sincere political motives. Fighting seems valid given the contradictions with our Constitutions, and the absence of laws approving those contradictions. Moreover, the 2018 flu epidemic killed more people than the coronavirus, at least in my country.

Given the above, it makes sense that some people will start assuming that governments may have ulterior motives for using fear to control their populations. Similarly, some other people will start inventing conspiracy theories (my 2016 blog).

The main challenge for governments, which have been promoting fear, is how to undo that fear. How and when do you tell people that they should no longer fear? The Irish Times (2020):
"From the first signs of the pandemic, the Swedish Public Health Authority decided that a lockdown would be pointless. “Once you get into a lockdown, it’s difficult to get out of it,” the country’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, says. “How do you reopen? When?” Note: URL's in quote by LO.

Fortunately, the Risk-Reward trade-off (my recent blog) is also applicable here. All of us will individually and continually reassess the corona related health risks, either upwards or downwards. At some point in time, the reward (eg, freedom) will outweigh the risk.

Mad World by Gary Jules, a 2002 cover from the 1982 Tears for Fears original

All around me are familiar faces 
Worn-out places, worn-out faces 
Bright and early for their daily races 
Going nowhere, going nowhere 
Their tears are filling up their glasses 
No expression, no expression 
Hide my head, I wanna drown my sorrow 
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

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