Mass Panic Is Unlikely, Even During a Pandemic

Studying the trope of the panicked populace goes back to the fearful days of the Cold War. The federal government paid for researchers to look at how people behave before, during, and after a disaster. “Their general notion was that people would fly to pieces, that people would panic, they would fight, they would loot,” says Scott Gabriel Knowles. “And that society was basically one missile warning away from total chaos. The sociologists found again and again and again and again that that was just completely wrong, that people are mostly pro-social in a disaster and they don’t panic. They help each other, they seek out information.”

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