The Government’s “grossly unethical” use of its “nudge unit” stoked fear among the public during the pandemic, psychologists have said – prompting MPs to launch an investigation into the Government’s Covid propaganda. The Telegraph has the story.
A group of psychologists have written to Parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, warning that a team of civil servants dedicated to “nudging” public behaviour during the pandemic were unaccountable and unethical.
The letter’s 40 professional signatories – led by Dr. Gary Sidley, a retired clinical psychologist – said they opposed the use of dramatic adverts, which included slogans such as: “If you go out you can spread it, people will die.”
They also condemned the use of “images of the acutely unwell in intensive care units” on billboard and television adverts, as well as the “macabre mono focus on showing the number of COVID-19 deaths without mention of mortality from other causes or the fact that, under normal circumstances, around 1,600 people die each day in the U.K.”.
The signatories said it was “highly questionable whether a civilised society should knowingly increase the emotional discomfort of its citizens as a means of gaining their compliance”.
The letter added: “Government scientists deploying fear, shame and scapegoating to change minds is an ethically dubious practice that in some respects resembles the tactics used by totalitarian regimes such as China, where the state inflicts pain on a subset of its population in an attempt to eliminate beliefs and behaviour they perceive to be deviant.” …
The letter drew attention to a government memo from March 2020, which suggested that “the perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent” and called for more frightening messaging.
The Telegraph understands that Parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee will investigate the use of the Behavioural Insights Team as part of its investigation into the Government’s activities during the pandemic. It will coincide with the second anniversary of the first lockdown.
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