The Science of Fear-Mongering: How to Protect Your Mind from Demagogues | Susan David


How do we thrive in a world where every which
way we turn our fear is being activated by politicians, by the media and by the desperate
events that are happening around us? What is really fascinating when we look at
the brain research around fear is that our brains proxy anything that feels unfamiliar,
incoherent or inaccessible as being unsafe. There is fascinating research that shows that
when people have lower levels of self-esteem and they are in a job in which they are recognized
and promoted, that promotion can feel incoherent to the person with low self-esteem. They have low self-esteem and they might be
used to and expecting to be treated badly. So what is fascinating is the results showing
that when people are promoted when they have a lower levels of self-esteem they are more
likely to leave their jobs. Fear is an incredibly, incredibly powerful
force in our lives and our brains are fairly immature in assessing anything that feels
slightly incoherent for unfamiliar as unsafe. What this might mean is that if you are used
to hearing a story time and time again from a parent or from a partner about how you are
not good enough, you are more likely to be drawn to that relationship because it feels
familiar. The messaging that you are getting time and
time again is connected with what you expect to get. When we have politicians who are effectively
demagogues who are inspiring fear in us, that fear leads to very particular and relatively
predictable responses. When we are fearful there is this idea in
psychological research of mortality say yes that when our mortality is threatened, when
someone says oh this group of people is out to get you and we feel that we are actively
being threatened we are more likely to stereotype, we are more likely as individuals to become
bigoted, we are more likely to respond to messages that we hear time and time again
even if they are against our values as somehow making sense to us. How do we protect ourselves against this? Daniel Kahneman describes system 1 thinking
and system 2 thinking. System 1 thinking is the intuitive response,
the emotional visceral us and them that can sometimes arise out of fear. System 2 is the deliberate thoughtful examination
of what is this person saying? Is it inline with how I really want to be? Is it connected with how I really want to
raise my children? Is this a world that I want to support? When we are able to step back from our fear,
not to pretend that it doesn’t exist but to see our fear for what it is, fear, not a direction
but data and an emotion. When we are able to step back from the fear
and able to assess the fear and assess the messaging from the place of our values in
a more deliberate thoughtful way, we are able to come to a place where we are ultimately
protected from the demagoguery message, from the message of the fear and are able to move
us ourselves forward in a way that is aliened with how we truly want to be and with a world
that we truly want to live in. When Donald Trump first started with all of
his messaging we used to hear things that the politicians would say and we would be
like oh my goodness how can the person possibly say that thing? But what happens over time is the more familiar
something sounds, so the more we’ve heard it time and time again, even if the story
is inaccurate, even if the story doesn’t serve us the more we are likely to become immured
to it and immune to it. So what I actually think from a media perspective
is when I speak to people in the media about this they will often say well we simply go
where the story takes us so we’ll give as much coverage to wherever the story is at
even if the story is one that insights hatred or violence. But I actually think that there is a very,
very powerful ethical choice that the media makes in that. Because when they expose and expose and expose
and expose a story that is about hatred and a story that is about violence, as human beings
the more familiar we become with that story the more immured we become to it. And I think we can see exactly this in the
current elections that things that were said six months ago where everyone was horrified
that a politician could possibly even prevail on people to listen to what was being said
are now being met with oh there we go again. We somehow have become immured to the messaging
because of the familiarity with which we are hearing it. And I think it’s really important for us as
a society and for us as voters to recognize that a familiar story it’s not necessarily
a truthful story. A familiar story might sound comfortable and
our brains might proxy that story for meaning safe and therefore right and therefore comfortable,
but that story doesn’t necessarily reflect us or what we value. And it’s really important to be able to step
out from the safety of what might at this point feel familiar and really recognize the
words for what they are. They are words that are inciting hatred and
division and stereotyping in us as a society. And for many of us that’s not the society
in which we want to live. And I think there is a moral impetus on us
to be able to step back from the story and step forward with our values.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. In the open she clumsily mentioned fearful confirmation bias and generalisation. I believe it is her whom has said bias, she is actively choosing to ignore information to the contrary and conflating views that contrast her own. Assuming your initial premise to be true, reacting fearfully towards a threat is still a logical response should the threat really exist. Fact is these threats do exist, it is true fear may inflate the perceived significance of a threat but to ignore them completely no matter how significant or insignificant is just lunacy.

  2. 6:00 THIS PERSONS LOGIC BE LIEK, Eerr TRIGGERED: a politician talked about a controversial topic and said things I disagree with….. REACTION: the media should be censored to stave off this dreadful wrong thing. RESULT: this person can stay unopposed in her safe space.

  3. This woman is guilty of the exact things she attempting to lambaste the opposition over. blah blah "things said 6 months ago" "everyone was horrified" NOPE that's just you and your pathetic hive-mind cronies.

  4. Acknowledge and asses our fear. Yes, absolutely. BUT you are clearly implying certain political issues going on currently and you can't apply this to all of them because let's remember why humans have fear wired into our brains in the first place, to keep us out of danger. So asses wisely.

  5. I see a lot of dislikes on this video. The content in this video is grounded in facts. I can see that most people got confronted with facts and got scared or offended.

  6. Don't be an idiot and listen to a terrible businessman, that's how you protect yourself. Just objectively speaking, the man is a failure of a human being. The fact that he's even a candidate is a mockery of our government. Trump is proving that fear mongering and lying can win you a primary when your base is made up of hateful, ignorant assholes. The Republican party is dead in the water, and will be forced to change after they lose Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court. Demographic changes mean that whites are no longer going to make up a majority of our society, and the Republican party is like 90% white. Without outreach to minorities, the Republican party will just dissolve. Here's hoping they don't learn their lesson and lose any and all power.

  7. Thanks. Maybe you could do a vid on ideological rigidity, cognitive bias, etc., including what makes it so hard for most of us to objectively examine our own cognitive rigidities.

  8. Fear, ISIS, terrorism, propaganda, rhetorics have resulted in a more Authoritarian world. More and more liberal democracies are becoming authoritarian democracies.

  9. haha I guess I'm OK with the fk it attitude good or bad fk it…I die fk it 10000000 die fk it jesus 2 coming proven with perfict dna sample…….ya got it fk it I'm dying anny so fk it and fk…she is atimting to explane an average social interaction and how easly humans are red to acept without good reason to acept I'd agree humans are easley manipulated using emotions such as fear.guess this is what kind James had in mind when he put the cannon together in the 16 hundreds.

  10. Fear moves us. The underlining lesson is trying to separate things that are actually dangerous and things that appear dangerous. The problem is you need the ability to see the future to be 100% sure. Fear mongering to me is playing on that percentage of doubt to push a perspective that lacks supportive evidence.

  11. Trump or Clinton, is that the best the USA can come up with? Both use fear and I'm frightened of both of them!

  12. BLM and feminists are a great example of fearmongering. The media is not helping, as they encourage the incorrect views on reality.

  13. What she is saying is: If it is against your values to fear something, then deny the reality of what you fear, replace it with a what you want to believe about the world instead.

    See the description of system 2 thinking:
    System 2 is the deliberate thoughtful examination of: what is this person saying? Is it in line with how I really want to be? Is it connected with how I really want to raise my children? Is this a world that I want to support?’

    These points tells you that if it is against your values to fear something, then go with your values and what you want to believe. She doesn't take into account the possibility that something might be an actual danger or threat, and that the fear might be valid.

    If this is how many people think, then that explains a lot.

  14. We have two demagogues running for the presidency this time around. Time for third parties to get some say, I'll be voting for my hopes with Jill Stein, not voting against someone I think MIGHT be the lesser of two great evils. I don't see a bright future with either the democratic or republican demagogue, I can see one with Jill and with the Green party.

  15. But what do we do when we have "hateful" things to say about others? Things that are true? For example, hundreds of millions, maybe even over a billion muslims thinks that homosexuality should be forbidden and many of them even wants them executed. Im from Sweden, just google "immigrant crisis Sweden" to see what happens when to many muslims enter a country. The people who spoke against this massinvasion was seen as hateful people. Now, we can see they were right.

    If there is Fact to back it up, I dont see anything wrong with spreading words that can be seen as insulting.

  16. i wanted bernie sanders, he got cheated out of the system. i shouldn't be scared, i should calm down and think about how i can get someone like him in office, but i live in a battle ground state and it isn't likely a third party can win. i will vote trump, hoping to push the pendulum too far at the same time punishing the DNC for cheating bernie. i can't be scared, it only has to be 4 years, and the resulting backlash will result in bernie getting elected next time. i just got to stick to my values. voting for clinton would be voting for a knife in the back, voting for trump is voting for a knife to the stomach. it won't be too bad, just 4 years of bleeding and the backlash will put a decent person in office. its the only way to fight the rigged system.

  17. Nice, I will remember this "sys2.ini" ;-p
    https://www.google.ca/search?q=.ini+files&oq=.ini+files&aqs=chrome..69i57.6207j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    +1

  18. Interesting and sad thumbs up here. A third of people have low self esteem and or fearful and or threatened by a woman explaining it to them. And a third of a third probably didn't watch or only watched a minute of this video.

  19. We shouldn't give in to emotion, especially fear, when selecting a politician to represent our interests.
    But being horrified at what Trump said 6 months ago is the right response, and we are horrified that people aren't more horrified towards Trump words now.
    I don't get it.

  20. Well said. This should be the conversation on the news. How do we bring logic to the front and center of the mainstream?

  21. This certainly brought the the 'system one' thinkers growling out from under their protective rocks of certainty.
    So much 'tough' talk and 'manly' posturing; so many verbal threat displays brought on by the mere suggestion that taking a step back and employing critical thinking might benefit our species more:
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/leading-emotional-intelligence/201104/where-did-my-iq-points-go

    It is interesting, (and not a little amusing), to note that such a presentation, suggesting the necessity of honing our critical thinking faculties, actually generates so many examples in the comments section of what happens when we don't.

  22. so basically this woman is biased to not vote for trump, LOL all those words and what she really is saying is "dont vote for Trump" I think she hasnt a clue what she is talking about.

  23. I guess thats why she left South Africa…cause she was not fearing for her children..I mean its all the fault of republicans.

  24. Trump is low hanging fruit. It would have been more useful to point out climate change fear mongering. It's easy to hate on Trump because he's an obvious ass. But when you point out fear mongering in sacred cows like climate change it helps people build up better psychological defenses against fear mongering.

  25. You are trying to instill fear (how ironic) about everyone's own personal fear response to natural situations, to push your own ideology. IMO.

  26. she's right about Trump, but you should vote for Clinton either. she's not even American and talking about "us as voters"?

  27. It isn't simply fear of the unknown. People are desperate to belong to some group, to feel validated, to identify with what is good and right, that they are willing to sacrifice the judicious exercise of their critical faculties to any charismatic charlatan with promises of glory, purity and self-actualization. It's the same basic reason people fight violently at soccer games, join cults or become politically radicalized. Having an enemy isn't just a matter of fear, but it's an easy shortcut to a fulfilling sense of superiority, a measure of assuring condescension against which a person can define their own identity, their loyalty to their tribe, to satisfy oneself with the just nature of their own beliefs. Ideology however arbitrary satisfies basic needs for structure in a chaotic world, transcendence in the face of impermanence and meaning in the face of meaninglessness. It can only be guarded against by a culture of healthy skepticism, but unfortunately at this point in American history innocent, willing credulity is yet celebrated as a virtue.

  28. Bashing a politician for "fear mongering" is a useful political tool to attack the foundation of that candidate's platform without directly addressing their positions or engaging on the issues. Take that statement at face value.

  29. although she throws out trumps name in relation to fear mongering. as both a politcal and religious athiest i see more fear mongering from the left being spewed out then the right. i go to many many different news sources and this is objectively just what i see.

  30. the right talks about clinton being a criminal and having broken the law. as the fbi is even investigating. if this is true then yes clinton should not being elected president and should go to jail. the left on the other hand call trump and out right monster and that if he is elected the US will tear itself apart. who seems to be pushing and using fear as a way to get what they want more? its pretty obvious its the left.

  31. How about reminding ourselves of the truth of Hillary Clinton's foreign policy? Trump is an inexperienced, childish mess who's rhetoric is damaging to the country's reputation, morale, and unity, but that doesn't mean Hillary Clinton should get a pass.

  32. Eat Healthy and Get enough sleep every night or you ARE going to stress out and be worn down enough for the scum sucking so called leaders of this country to install there "fear" into you. Just like the bible says, "have fear of the lord". There is no lord… Just men controlling men… Like an ant hill controlled by the Queen ant, she sends out a pheromone to keep the rest of the hive working no matter what you feel like. The very nature of humanity is slavery… Just like a worker ant on an ant hill, we are slaves to our own species… Thanks to World War 2, our leaders in America found out some pretty damn good ideas on how to run a society based on fear thanks to Hitler and his wacked out, crazy scientists. Too bad… America used to be kind of cool…

  33. You are extremely repetitive and come across to me as more of a politician with an agenda. Psychologists with a political agendas are not the most respectable or professional variety. You are clearly exploiting the very affects of repetition that you are talking about!

  34. Is this another attempt to justify political correctness? It's as if these people live in complete and total ignorance to that it is precisely this way of thinking that produces anti-authoritarianism, why we can trust neither the government nor the media.

    Conviction & critical thinking are all that you need, not just to fight off fear mongering, but anything in life really… this entire notion of controlled media is just absurd.

  35. This was an interesting video. It would have been much better, though, if she hadn't brought partisanship into it. Let's not pretend that one side of the political spectrum is immune to demagoguery.

  36. Fear-mongering is the most widespread brainwashing tactic of the right. It only works very well on specific people though. You really have to be someone who is susceptible to bullshit fear-mongering tactics in the first place i.e. trump voters or teapartiers.

    In all serious though, this is usually how it works. With Obama for example, look at what the right has done with him for his entire presidency. They put as much effort as possible into painting him as a secret commmunist, terrorist sympathizing, america hating kenyan. Yet it works, partially because of how amazingly ignorant their voter base really is.

    Communist seems to be the favorite word on the right to basically slander anyone on the left who disagree's with them. Single Payer Healthcare? Communist. Raising taxes on the rich by 2%? Communist. Public Education? Communist. Stop fighting useless wars? Communist. And why is communism bad? Oh well, you know, it only killed 100 million trillion people in the 20th century so of course its the ideology of Satan.

    There is a big difference between fear mongering on the right and fear mongering in other area. The right fear mongers about shit that isn't there, they are full of massive fucking conspiracy theorists. Just look at the entire GOP who still has plenty of people who think Obama wasn't born in this country, that he's a communist(like Ted Cruz does), or that he's planning to destroy America, or even enforce martial law in the 2016 election(like that idiot Ben Carson does).

    Fear mongering about something like Climate Change is rational though, because its based on actual fucking science. Nearly every international scientific association says its a severe problem that needs to be fixed, so im more inclined to believe them when there is such unanimous agreement.

  37. No reference to truth, just the assumption that believing lies is moral so the press should give us comfortable lies that make us smile at the people who want to hurt us. Also, there is her bizarre assumption that we all share the same values, even as she is talking about the stories told about the people who don't share her values. I trust academics less with each passing day.

  38. Not pounding back the news on social media and getting some perspective helps. For instance, everyone's freaking out about Islamic terrorism today, but people forget the carnage caused by the Basque separatists, the Red Army Faction and the IRA in the 1970s and 80s when (non-Islamic) terrorism killed way more people in Western Europe than it has so far in the 2010s.

  39. Well the first part is absolutely true, it's called mindfulness. Meditation helps so you can see your emotions, all of them, from a distance and act as you'd preferre and think is right, not how you're used to act. The part about Trump is irrelevant to me lol

  40. I dont understand how to market this to the Trump supporters it is what they need to here not what they want to here. Also, this type of this thing can seem pretentious to some people, while it hits the problem on the nose. It is so upsetting that Trump is not surrounding himself with the right people, moreso than Trump himself.

  41. Watch this Fear-Mongering and Know Something is Wrong…

    Something Strange is Happening… World-Wide Events (2017-2018)

    You've Never Seen This Fear-Mongering Before! (2016-2017)

    Evidence of End Times Prophecy!

    'Shocking Footage' of Fear-Mongering You Have to See! (2017-2018)

  42. I get sick of fear-mongering by politicians and the media. Their true intent is not to serve the public by warning people of impending threats, but only to inflate the threats to serve their own interests. This kind of manipulation has an incredibly destabilizing influence on our economy and politics.

  43. Sometimes what's most irony was, when you are not fear and the fear mongers assuming you was haha

  44. Jesus came to spread good news not bad news, and that is that all of us will be delivered from the flesh and will live in a new world for eternity

    So we have no fear, we walk with the Lord

  45. Fear is not the problem… it's a symptom of something much deeper that needs looked at. So many of us don't know who we really are and fear is one of the best ways to do so. I wish she hadn't used politics to make her point, however. To me, she further divided by choosing that example.

  46. The first moment of this video activated my fear response because the speakers title scrolled across indicating that she is highly educated by a status school and I grew up in poverty. I’ve taught myself to filter this inherent bias but I found it wonderfully ironic.

  47. Funny how, watching this more than two years after this first aired, the fear-mongering she highlights has been embraced more by the liberal left to maintain their control of power than Trump.

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