Collective Hysteria In Society

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Collective hysteria in society


Yes, governments are obliged to protect the natural rights of their citizens, but that is just one of the many government tasks. Even our friend John Locke would have accepted that a society represented by a government is, ultimately, a social contract, agreed by all its members, with the purpose of protecting the freedoms of the voters, as well as the voters themselves. 

Without the social contract we are nothing more than intelligent animals, twisting in the state of nature. When we sign the social contract figuratively, we renounce some of our rights to government so that we can be protected, and sometimes that government must violate our other rights to protect us. Our rights are of no use if we are dead.

In many cases, invasive surveillance laws are approved in the midst of panic, often just after a terrorist attack when citizens are scared and desperate for anything that allows them to feel safe again. It was in that climate, just after the terrorist attacks of September 11, that the United States government lasted the patriotic law. In these desperate times, people join, but they are also easy to manipulate. 


In the 21st century we are all online. That means that all our personal information is also online. Even if the information is blocked beyond a supposedly safe password, it is online and available for anyone with the means to access it. The 21st century has also been the era of terrorism, and these two combined facts have given immense importance to the debate on the importance of privacy. As governments do everything possible, they can combat terrorism that have inevitably resorted to spy on their own citizens. Is national security so important that this violation of freedom and privacy is worth?

Let’s start with philosophical foundations. Limiting civil freedoms and the right to privacy in the name of the defense of a liberal democratic nation is the maximum hypocrisy. Modern Western liberal democracies exist to protect the rights of their citizens. The great John Locke, spiritual father of modern liberal democracies, believed that all people were born with the rights given by God, one of which was freedom, and that the purpose of governments was to protect those rights. If that same government is attacking our freedom and our privacy under the pretext of keeping us safe, then it is betraying its own essence.

It is in these moments of crisis that prudence is more important than ever. Hysteria caused by terrorist attacks is largely caused by a rampant cognitive bias in the human race known as heuristic availability. Availability heuristics causes people to consider something more dangerous or more imminent when they can easily remember and imagine it. 

That is why people often fear terrorist attacks more than cancer, although Americans have more than 6,500 times more likely to die of cancer. It is almost always due to this type of exaggerated risks that our governments take away our freedoms in exchange for security. But if we recognize that the risks are overcome, we realize that we renounce our rights is not worth it. It is almost always due to this type of exaggerated risks that our governments take away our freedoms in exchange for security. 

But if we recognize that the risks are overcome, we realize that we renounce our rights is not worth it. It is almost always due to this type of exaggerated risks that our governments take away our freedoms in exchange for security. But if we recognize that the risks are overcome, we realize that we renounce our rights is not worth it.

Terrorism is a very different beast from drug trafficking. Our governments generally dissuade crime through punishment. By punishing the perpetrators of a given crime, the possible criminals of committing that crime in the future are discouraged. However, in the case of terrorists, attacks are often suicidal attacks. The perpetrators of terrorist attacks are so ideologically driven that their personal well -being does not matter to them. 

This type of actions cannot be dissuaded, it can only be prevented. In addition, terrorist attacks are designed to cause as much damage as possible with as much resources as possible. The objective is destruction and terror. Although most other crimes are committed for personal benefit and the consequences normally do not extend beyond a small sphere of influence. Terrorism is a different beast and therefore requires that more advanced weapons be killed.

The TSA, to a large extent, is a classic example of what is known as security theater. The security theater is a security action that is very visible but not very effective and, therefore, gives people the illusion that they are protected but do not produce real results. With regard to the anti -terrorism policy, we are extremely susceptible to the security theater due to the aforementioned heuristics mentioned above. 

Basically, it is more important that it seems that something is being done to protect us than what is really being done to protect us. Because terrorism is an exaggerated threat and politicians know it, they can dazzle us with the security theater and gain our admiration even if nothing is really done. 

Meanwhile, this wasted money could have been spent on something useful as health or education. What is worse is that in this panic climate after September 11, they have taught us that the invasion of privacy is necessary to keep us safe, and that is why we take it by faith. The violation of our basic human rights has become a type of grotesque security theater in itself.

The security theater is a real problem and the one that the security community knows and wants to eradicate. In fact, the problem of ‘theater’ prevails in many areas of the government. Look at the dubious efficacy of standardized tests in education, for example. This problem is just proof that we must be testing different security methods and studying them to determine what works and what does not. The fact that security is not perfect is not a reason to abandon it. We do not apply that reasoning to any other aspect of knowledge, so why do we apply it here?

We are at war at this time and, therefore, it is necessary to apply different rules since peace times. As commander in chief, the president is allowed to take measures to ensure that the country and its people are safe. Compared to the recruitment of people in the Army, a certain loss of privacy is a small price to pay. Once the threats faced by America, normal privacy rights could return.

The war against terrorism is not a war like World War II. The enemy is not a state and it is not clear how victory will be achieved. This means that any loss of privacy will be open and can last many years. But even in times of war, the force of the United States is in our rights and freedoms. It is American individualism and personal freedom that our enemies often hate more. By changing our society to get less free, we are playing in your hands. It is not worth having a victory at the expense of freedoms that make our society great.    


First, the reason why there have been so few terrorist attacks in the last ten years is the direct result of measures such as Patriot Law. It is true that people tend to overvalue the possibility of a terrorist attack, but for my part I would like to keep it like this to keep vigilant. National Security is a constant project. It is more than preventing individual terrorist attacks, it is knowing what our enemies are doing at all times. And that is something that we do not value enough.

I do not listen to people who advocate large -scale surveillance to combat drug trafficking. There are legal channels in which the police can obtain an arrest warrant that allows them to use the phone of a possible terrorist or his computer. These legal channels exist for a reason, so why should our governments violate the law and spy on us?

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