It’s Not Fear Driving COVID-19 Panic. It’s Disgust

It’s Not Fear Driving COVID-19 Panic. It’s Disgust


Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, incurable skeptics have argued that many COVID-19 measures are based not on science and reason, but on fearmongering by an increasingly autocratic ruling class imposing new norms on an increasingly intolerant and conformist population.

Those even more inclined to skepticism would argue that autocracy, conformity, and intolerance are themselves, by their nature, highly effective public health measures. They evolved in primitive human society precisely because they protect from disease. Disgust, not fear, is the emotion that drives them.

These three postulates point to rational alternatives for the pandemic’s restrictions on civil liberties, and underlie an entirely new way of understanding the history of human conflict.

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How Outbreaks Affect Governance

In 2009, building upon data collected by social and biological scientists since the 1980s, researchers from the University of New Mexico published an influential article, “Parasites, democratization, and the liberalization of values across contemporary countries.” Their results showed that high levels of collectivism, authoritarianism, in-group loyalty,

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