In Israel, the availability cascade has not merely reset priorities, but has completely upended the prevailing order and tossed Israel into a cascade of fear with the government and public feeding off of each other’s hysteria, further escalating the situation.
The speed at which global governments have acted to quell the rise and spread of Covid-19 has overwhelmed many, to the extent of total mental paralysis. The ongoing reversal of civil liberties and individual rights should force us all to think clearly and to fully understand what we are witnessing.
Thing is, the media can count on the medical establishment to offer conflicting evidence/stats through mishandling or actual developments thereby adding to the confusion and spreading of more fear/hysteria.
Daniel Kahneman, Covid-19 and the Cascade of Fear
Kahneman provides us a perfect explanation of what we are witnessing today and how low-risk scenarios cascade into oversized ones.
In his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, published in 2011, Tel Aviv-born Daniel Kahneman examines the dichotomy between two modes of thought: System 1 is fast, instinctive and emotional, System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.
One of the book’s chapters, The science of availability, discusses availability cascade, a concept first developed by Timor Kuran and Cass Sunstein.
“Sunstein came to believe that biased reactions to risks are an important source of erratic and misplaced priorities in public policy. Lawmakers and regulators may be overly responsive to the irrational concerns of citizens, both because of political sensitivity and because they are prone to the same cognitive biases as other citizens.”
Kahneman expands on the theory and by doing so provides us a perfect explanation of what we are witnessing today, with low risk scenarios cascading into oversized ones.
“An availability cascade is a self-sustaining chain of events, which may start from media reports of a relatively minor event and lead up to public panic and large-scale government action. On some occasions, a media story about a risk catches the attention of a segment of the public, which becomes aroused and worried. This emotional reaction becomes a story in itself, prompting additional coverage in the media, which in turn produces greater concern and involvement. The cycle is sometimes sped along deliberately by ‘availability entrepreneurs,’ individuals or organizations who work to ensure a continuous flow of worrying news. The danger is increasingly exaggerated as the media compete for attention-grabbing headlines. Scientists and others who try to dampen the increasing fear and revulsion attract little attention, most of it hostile; anyone who claims that the danger is overstated is suspected of association with a ‘heinous cover-up.’ The issue becomes politically important because it is on everyone’s mind, and the response of the political system is guided by the intensity of public sentiment. The availability cascade has now reset priorities. Other risks, and other ways that resources could be applied for the public good, all have faded into the background.”