SDP_053 The Anatomy of Panic – Why The MOST Afraid People are the LEAST Likely to Confirm Information

PODCAST-Research Findings from the War of the Worlds Hysteria Noting Reluctance by the Most Fearful People to Confirm Information and How This Still Happens Today | Additional Perspectives on Parents Nixing the DC 8th Grade Class Trip Due to Terrorist Attacks Fears | David Loved Working at Menards in College | Mr. Meeseeks is 6-6!

 

DIRECT LINK to MP3 of this Episode:  https://tinyurl.com/SDP53-MP3 

 

CANCELING THE 8th GRADE CLASS TRIP TO DC – THE PARENTS’ PERSPECTIVE

As expressed in last week’s show, David felt that parents in a school district near Cleveland made a collectively poor decision by asking administration to cancel an 8th grade class trip to Washington DC due to fears of a mass shooting or terror attack. Yes, children are the most valuable assets of parents and a compelling sense of “protection” is natural. However, when such protective measures create a mini-verse youth are provided a negatively-skewed perception that the nation (not the world) is on the omni-present cusp of attack. People tend to double down when they are afraid. Dr. Perrodin saw this first hand as a school administrator and that visceral feeling is impenetrable to empirical science with no guarantee that something won’t happen – and people want that guarantee. An interesting statistical take-away from a bus trip to and from DC is that a student has roughly the same probability of perishing in a bus accident than via an attack – and both are very rare instances – less likely than being struck by lightning.

THE SAFETY CONTEXT WAS FRACTURED THE PAST 2 MONTHS

Let’s look deeper into the anatomy of panic – and this is the state David deemed the parents to be in a few weeks ago when thwarting the DC trip with raw recall of the Vegas shooting, Manhattan bike / walkway attack by vehicle, Sutherland Springs and ongoing saber rattling from North Korea.  These events and ancillary issues saturated the media and few people will dig deeper than what they are told – a fact supported by research studies.

WE’VE BEEN THROUGH UNCERTAIN TIMES BEFORE

Dr. Perrodin shares that his Mother was a child during WWII and she recalls air raid drills – diving under desks and “blackouts” at night – which were especially scary as she imagined German bombers descending into Wisconsin from Canada. Wisconsin was home to the largest munitions factory during the war – located near Baraboo / Sauk City. The narrative was plausible. Also, Britain’s citizens were remarkable robust during WWII – out during the day and orderly cued to shelters per wailing air raid sirens. It’s a different context and such, but there are lessons from our past. We can’t be afraid to, with awareness, participate in our iffy world.

INVASION FROM MARS – ANATOMY OF PANIC

On October 28, 1938 many Americans believed they were being invaded by Martians. This was the result of a Halloween stunt orchestrated by Orson Wells in which he adapted H. G. Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’ to the radio and broadcast the play as though it was actually happening. For Professor Howard Cantril of Princeton University and colleagues, this provided the perfect opportunity to investigate the anatomy of panic (Cantril, Gaudet & Herzog, 1940). Shortly after the event he interviewed 135 people in New Jersey to try and understand how they had reacted and what might have affected how they reacted. The most surprising category of people are those who failed to check the broadcast. Cantril found that those who fell into this category were also those who were most fearful and most likely to “double down” on their perceived “real” memories.

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Resource cited:

Cantril, H., Gaudet, H., & Herzog, H. (1940) The invasion from Mars: a study in the psychology of panic. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

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