UK Govt Used ‘Propagandistic’ Fear Tactics To Scare Public Into Complying With Covid Rules
The UK government used “propagandistic” tactics to scare the public into mass compliance during the first covid lockdown, according to a behavioral scientist who worked inside No 10.
Simon Ruda co-founder of Downing Streets ‘Nudge Unit’, said while the group was initially set up to encourage positive behavioral changes in the British public without the need for coercion or legislation, it was weaponized during the covid pandemic to scaremonger and create fear.
Rada suggess there had been an overemphasis on modelling and data that he warned was ‘propagandistic’.
‘That fear seems to have subsequently driven policy decisions in a worrying feed-back loop,’ said Mr Ruda, who help set up No10’s Behavioural Insights Team in 2010.
‘In my mind, the most egregious and far-reaching mistake made in responding to the pandemic has been the level of fear willingly conveyed on the public.’
Launched under David Cameron’s Government, the group was responsible for positively influencing behaviour with tiny changes without introducing legislation.
Its previous successes included boosting diversity in the policeforce, helping the Job Centre get more people off benefits and increasing the number of organ donors.
But Mr Ruda warned deploying ‘nudge’ tactics during the pandemic may have amounted to ‘state sanctioned propaganda’.
‘Behavioural science was conceived as a means of recognising and correcting the biases that lead humans to make non-rational decisions.