A study appearing in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) entitled COVID-19 and the Political Economy of Mass Hysteria concluded that quasi-official “mass and digital media…may have had adverse consequences during the COVID-19 crisis. The resulting collective hysteria may have contributed to policy errors by governments not in line with health recommendations.”
The authors, Department of Applied Economics I, History and Economic Institutions and Moral Philosophy, Social and Legal Sciences Faculty, Rey Juan Carlos University, Madrid, Spain Professor Philipp Bagus, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universidad Autónoma de Chile Professor José Antonio Peña-Ramos, and Department of Business Economics (ADO), Applied Economics II and Fundamentals of Economic Analysis, Social and Legal Sciences Faculty, Rey Juan Carlos University Professor Antonio Sánchez-Bayón wrote their aim was “to develop a political economy of mass hysteria.
“Using the background of COVID-19, we study past mass hysteria. Negative information which is spread through mass media repetitively can affect public health negatively in the form of nocebo effects and mass hysteria. We argue that mass and digital media in connection with the state may have had adverse consequences during the COVID-19 crisis.
“The resulting collective hysteria may have contributed to policy errors by governments not in line with health recommendations. While mass hysteria can occur in societies with a minimal state, we show that there exist certain self-corrective mechanisms and limits to the harm inflicted, such as sacrosanct private property rights.
“However, mass hysteria can be exacerbated and self-reinforcing when the negative information comes from an authoritative source, when the media are politicized, and social networks make the negative information omnipresent.”
The authors conclude that “the negative long-term effects of mass hysteria are exacerbated by the size of the state.”
This may help explain why U.S. COVID fatality rates are about five time worse than the rest of the world. In his article Whose Science Should We Follow?, Dr. Geoff Mitchell asks why America’s wealth and purported medical expertise do not produce better COVID care for its citizens, and concludes that the information apparatus of social media contributed to the failure: “The worst part is that these terrible COVID outcomes have been accompanied by the shrill, condescending banning of outpatient COVID treatment and enforcement of those treatment bans by all manner of intimidation not the least of which are the Twitter/Facebook brown shirts.”