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Secret government unit used ‘unethical’ scare tactics to enforce Covid rules – media – Reuters

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Secret government unit used ‘unethical’ scare tactics to enforce Covid rules – media – Reuters

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The UK government’s behavioral analysis team is reportedly being investigated over allegations of using ‘fear, shame and scapegoating’ to influence the public

A parliamentary committee would be responsible for investigating “scary announcements” created by the UK government’s shadowy “behavioral analytics” team to “nudge” the public to obey Covid-19 restrictions. The move comes amid concerns over the “grossly unethical” use of the device for “inflate fear levels.”

The House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee should investigate the so-called “boost unit” as part of an ongoing investigation into government activities during the pandemic, The Telegraph reported.

Tory MP William Wragg, who chairs the committee, told the newspaper that the “The central question is how the ‘nudge’ fits into parliamentary democracy and ministerial accountability.”

According to The Telegraph, the committee this week received a letter from a group of 40 psychologists, warning that it was “It is highly doubtful that a civilized society should knowingly increase the emotional discomfort of its citizens in order to obtain their conformity.”

Government scientists deploying fear, shame and scapegoating to change mindsets is an ethically dubious practice.

Signatories reportedly criticized the use of dramatic advertisements featuring slogans such as “If you go out, you can spread it, people will die.” One such ad featured a close-up photo of an intensive care patient wearing an oxygen mask, with the caption: “Look her in the eye and tell her you never bend the rules.”

The use of “images of acutely ill patients in intensive care units” and the “macabre mono focus on the number of deaths from Covid-19 without mention of mortality from other causes” were also reportedly condemned by the group, which warned of unintended consequences.

“Shame and scapegoating have encouraged some people to harass those who can’t or won’t wear a face covering,” would they have written, adding that the “inflated fear levels” and “Strategically heightened anxieties” had “[discouraged] many seek help for other illnesses.

Secret government unit used ‘unethical’ scare tactics to enforce Covid rules – media – Reuters

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The letter also apparently quoted a government memo from March 2020, which warned that a “a significant number of people still do not feel sufficiently threatened personally” by the virus and asked “hard-hitting and emotional message” target the “complacent”.

But an unnamed government spokesman told the Daily Mail that Downing Street had taken the advice of scientists and taken the “the right measures at the right time” to fight against Covid-19. They added that the government had used “every possible way” to inform the public about the seriousness of Covid-19.

Established by David Cameron’s coalition government in 2010, the nudge unit is apparently designed to apply scientific principles to subtly influence public behavior without the need for legislation. Although his work has been visible in government advertisements, The Telegraph noted that his operations are shrouded in secrecy.

Secret government unit used ‘unethical’ scare tactics to enforce Covid rules – media – Reuters

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