A covert unit in the UK government deliberately ramped up fear levels about the Covid-19 virus to increase compliance to lockdown measures, a secret report has revealed.
It exaggerated the threat from the virus and used mainstream media to spread the “sense of personal threat”.
The tactics of the government’s ‘nudge unit’ are being reviewed by the ethics committee of the British Psychological Society (BPS) in June after receiving a letter from 47 clinical psychologists, who complain that the messages from government constitute an untested mass psychological experiment.
The catalyst for ‘project fear’ was a paper prepared by the government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) in March last year, just days before a total national lockdown was launched.
The paper stated: “The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging. To be effective, this must also empower people by making clear the actions they can take to reduce the threat.”
But some members of Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) were concerned about raising fear levels. One member said: “The British people have been subjected to an unevaluated psychological experiment without being told that is what’s happening.
Gary Sidley, a retired NHS consultant clinical psychologist who is one of the signatories of the letter to BPS, reveals it states: “Our view is that the use of covert psychological strategies—that operate below the level of people’s awareness—to ‘nudge’ citizens to conform to a contentious and unprecedented public health policy raises profound ethical questions.”
The experiment has caused great psychological damage to some, with cases of depression and anxiety, and domestic violence rising, and there has also been a high price to pay in terms of health, with people missing important hospital appointments.
Tactics used in the experiment included using death rates without putting them into context of usual mortality rates, and over-inflating projections of likely cases and deaths.
(Source: Daily Telegraph, April 3, 2021)