When the volcano erupted in Iceland and spewed clouds of ash, Europe shut down much its air space. They feared that the ash would cause crashes. Hundreds of thousands of people were stranded in Europe because of this fear.
Sociologist Frank Furedi, who studies decision-making, calls this "officialdom's apocalyptic thinking." Furedi writes that we live in an era where uncertainty and risk are amplified and officials always believe the worst-case scenario will come true.
Although verification flights through the ash went fine, thousands of flights were canceled. This overreaction has become routine. Some are much more expensive that flight cancellations. When America’s housing bubble popped, both Republicans and Democrats claimed the world would fall into a catastrophic depression unless they “rescued” us by using trillions of taxpayers dollars to further subsidize housing and banks. Routinely, the scaremongers’ apocalyptic thinking drives decision making. And the scares keep coming.
(T)he Millennium Bug, international terrorism, swine flu, climate change, etc – and we simply cannot wait until we have all the information before we calculate their possible destructive effects. ‘Shut it down!’ is the default response...
(P)olicies designed to deal with threats are increasingly based on feelings and intuition rather than on evidence or facts...
In today’s culture of fear, frequently ‘what could possibly go wrong’ is confused with ‘what is likely to happen’.
- Scare Stories