Quotes: You Can Panic Now

Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word 'no.' The reason why journalists use that style of headline is that they know the story is probably bullshit, and don’t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it.
Betteridge's law of newspaper headlines

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    literature 
Has it ever occurred to you how astonishing the culture of Western society really is? Industrialized nations provide their citizens with unprecedented safety, health, and comfort. Average life spans increased fifty percent in the last century. Yet modern people live in abject fear. They are afraid of strangers, of disease, of crime, of the environment. They are afraid of the homes they live in, the food they eat, the technology that surrounds them. They are in a particular panic over things they can't even see—germs, chemicals, additives, pollutants. They are timid, nervous, fretful, and depressed.

Schoolchildren were told how to "save" themselves when the bombs fell. If in school, they were to hide under their desks. At home, parents were exhorted to build shelters in backyards or basements... 'Ninety-seven out of one hundred people can be saved,' if they would only get out those shovels, and take Civil Defense seriously. Jack knew, of course, that this was nonsense, but the White House film critic and historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. assured his master that, if nothing else, this was one way 'of making foreign policy less abstract or remote.' Arthur thought that the idea of being blown up would strengthen the fiber of the American people; he did fret that an appeal only to those with backyards might be too narrow an electoral base, since most of those who traditionally voted Democratic could not afford houses, much less backyards.
Gore Vidal on the Cold War, Palimpsest

Where FDR once told Americans that they had nothing to fear but fear itself, Ashcroft was delighted to play the part of Fear Itself, an assignment in which he let his imagination run riot.
Frank Rich on U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, The Greatest Story Ever Sold

    newspapers 
Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.
H. L. Mencken, In Defense of Women (1918)

    western animation 
It is my professional opinion that now is the time to PANIC!
Child expert, Monsters, Inc..

Kent Brockman: Hordes of panicky people seem to be evacuating the town for some unknown reason. Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it's time for our viewers to crack each other's heads open and feast on the goo inside?
Professor: (soberly) Mmm, yes I would, Kent.

Hermes: Professor, sprinkle us with wisdom from your mighty brain. How scared should we be?
Professor: Somewhere between not at all and entirely.
Zoidberg: I call entirely!
Futurama, "The Beast With a Billion Backs"

    comic strips 
Very few SCIENTISTS BELIEVE AIDS MAY or may not HAVE MUTATED INTO AN AIRBORNE VIRUS!!! HOLDing YOUR BREATH is not necessary!

    live-action tv 

Newspapers have been doing their bit to calm motorists with headlines like:

"PETROL: WE'RE RUNNING OUT!!!"

"STRIKE! SPARKS FUEL SHORTAGE FEARS!"

"WILL *pound* FUEL *pound* STOCKS *pound* RUN *pound* DRY?!"

Glenn, the Nazis are everywhere. And you're not safe! So here's what you do and take it from me, my people have been through this before: First, you've gotta find an attic. Then hide there for the next three years, and whatever you do, don't make a sound. We'll let you know when it's safe to come out.

KRYTEN: There is no need to engage your panic chip, sir. The machine can only operate on organic life. I am mineral, and therefore immune.
COMPUTER: New genetic structure accepted. Metamorphosis in ten seconds and counting.
KRYTEN: Oh. Wait a minute. No. My brain is part organic and therefore it is entirely possible for the machine to transmogrify my physical condition. Engage panic circuits. Panic circuits engaged. Bwa-ha!
Red Dwarf, "DNA"

    comic books 
EVERYTHING AWFUL: Oh God Somebody Do Something
Daily Bugle headline, Hawkeye

    video games 
The Future of America — Threatened Again! And this time we mean it.
I Say, You Say, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

    real life 
...the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.
Hermann Goering

There have been periodic episodes of this sort right through the 1980s. There's been repeated, huge propaganda efforts establishing some awesome chimera about to destroy us, and then we're miraculously rescued at the last minute. International terrorists, we bomb Lybia and we're saved; narco-traffickers, you smash up Panama and we're saved; even Grenada, y'know, a hundred thousand people were set up as a major threat to our existence.
Noam Chomsky in 1991

We bang on about Islam. Why? Because to the ordinary public out there it's the thing they can understand. It's the thing the newspaper editors sell newspapers with. If we were to attack some other ethnic group — some people say we should attack the Jews... the public would just think we were barking mad. They'd just think oh, you're attacking Jews just because you want to attack Jews. You're attacking this group of powerful Zionists just because you want to take poor Manny Cohen the tailor and shove him in a gas chamber. That's what the public would think. It wouldn't get us anywhere other than stepping backwards. It would lock us in a little box; the public would think 'extremist crank lunatics, nothing to do with me.' And we wouldn't get power.
Nick Griffin, President of the British National Party

    web original 
The story goes, Warnke led a large Satanist 'coven' in California in the late 1960s. He left Satanism (or was kicked out) after, he claims, he got too high in the 'organization' and learned too much, including his claim to have learned about a shadowy group called the 'Illuminati' at the top levels of Satanism...The Satanic Panic largely grew out of Mike Warnke's book The Satan Seller and his subsequent status as a media go-to 'expert' on Satanism. Even today, belief in a widespread Satanic underground as first claimed by Warnke persists. His book still retains a following among the more paranoid, New World Order oriented conspiracy believers...Perhaps, if Christians had a bit more guile towards Bible-thumping sociopaths, they would have realized that some of Warnke's more outlandish claims — for instance, that his watching the TV series Bewitched as a kid sucked him into witchcraft and later Satanism — were too outlandish to be true.
Rational Wiki on "Pastor" Mike Warnke

Bill O'Reilly and many other ignorant news people are the real terrorists. Honestly, what brings more anxiety and 'terror' to your day to day life? A few thousand Americans murdered by scum bag extremists? Or the people that remind you that you could be next, every day of your life...that civilization is about to end because 2 men want to get married? Or because some lame school stopped singing christmas songs. Who cares? Apparently Bill O'Reilly does.

When you apply for a job as an airport screener, you are shown a jar containing three jelly beans and asked to guess how many are inside. If you guess correctly, you are placed in a holding cell and tortured until you give up the bomb's location (nice try, Muhammad)... If you throw the jar of jelly beans into a wall safe and scream for everyone to clear the airport, you are immediately hired.

Trannies! Will! Molest! Your! Daughter! So be absolutely terrified and keep me from the tyranny from a life where I can’t write off my exorbitant gay porn bill as 'work-related expenses'!
Sadly, No! rebuts "’LGBT’: The ’T’ is for Tyranny"

I always wondered why you couldn't just do frugal policies for a year, y'know, and then sandwiches and cake immediately after you've defeated the Shoggoth...Fantasy Fox News would be on your side! They'd be saying, 'Why are the liberal papers so against monster-fighting? Do you want us all to be killed by a monster?!' And for once they'd actually be right.
Ben Croshaw on the moral complexities of Fable 3

One of the interesting things about Fox News, one of the things I hadn’t anticipated upon entering into this venture, was how little actual news the network disseminates. There is a lot of national political coverage, most of this devoted to the damage that Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are inflicting on our country. Beyond that, however, Fox stays true to its Rupert Murdochian tabloid roots. There is plenty of coverage of police chases and freak accidents, but very little else in the way of substantive stories. I think that some of my fascination with the news comes from a basic fearfulness, a neurotic belief that the world is a threatening place, but that if I know enough about what is going on, I will be able to avoid the most horrific of disasters.
John Haggerty, "My Personal Fox News Nightmare: Inside a Month of Self-Induced Torture"

Fifteen years ago, British doctor Andrew Wakefield published a case series in The Lancet in which he described gastrointestinal symptoms in 12 autistic children who were treated at the Royal Free Hospital. His conclusion was that he had identified associated gastrointestinal disease and developmental regression in a group of previously normal children that appeared to be associated with the MMR vaccine. The paper causes a sensation (a panic, actually), leading British parent to refuse to vaccinate their children with the MMR for fear that it was associated with autism. Meanwhile, with a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge,” charisma, and skill at self-promotion, Wakefield promoted the idea that the MMR vaccine causes autism. True, his Lancet paper didn’t exactly say that, whether through the enforcement of caution on its statements by the reviewers who accepted it or through plausible deniability is not clear, but Wakefield himself wasn’t so shy. Nor was the British tabloid press, with its notoriously insatiable appetite for scandal and sensationalism, which eagerly glommed onto the story and promoted it with nearly the same intensity that Wakefield did. Ultimately, MMR uptake rates plummeted and the measles, vanquished in the U.K. in the 1990s, came roaring back to endemic levels within a decade...Wakefield’s antivaccine acolytes, spreading misinformation, pseudoscience, quackery, and lies hither, thither, and yon are also his legacy. They are also the reason that I fear that dangerous pseudoscience like antivaccinationism will never quite go away.
Orac, "The Legacy of Andrew Wakefield"

Yes, you knew there was a threat far, far more dire to your precious child right now than Nancy Pelosi's terrifying agenda or Aaron Sorkin's bewildering dialogue or pagan yoga classes... "Should Christians be armed? The ultimate biblical exploration of self defense." "How the UN will be the death of Israel and the West." "Chuck Norris' column appears here!" "U.S. infrastructure for sale to foreigners." "The good news about the looming disaster ... it's easy, inexpensive and fun to get prepared!" It's a site to make Ann Coulter's nipples hard.

The author of this particular article, our boy Jim Rutz, a guy who likes his meat organic but his facts as toxic and undercooked as a high school cheeseburger, states, with absolute certainty, that soy products will make your kid gay. And why? Because soy contains "feminizing" estrogen compounds and hence when you feed soy products to your little girl she will menstruate by age 7 and if you feed it to your little boy his testicles might not fully develop until he enters college and if you feed soy milk to your baby (Heathen! Sinner!) your tot will, according to Jimbo, receive the equivalent of five birth control pills per day (italics his) and doing so could actually kill your baby, oh my God, who will save the children from the gay (plant) agenda!
Mark Morford, "Tofu Will Make You Gay"

Through their individual media empires (which cover the media of print, radio, TV, the Internet, and penis-powering vitality serum), (Alex) Jones and (Glenn) Beck alone rake in up to $10 million and $45 million a year, respectively. Hell, they should be thanking the Illuminati for that kind of revenue stream.

How do you get rich doing this sort of thing? Well, if you listen to Beck's show, you'll first hear about how unseen forces are ready to cause the utter collapse of society, and then at the commercial break you'll be informed that he's selling emergency food kits for when the nukes inevitably start landing on American soil (just $9,500 and you can keep your family alive on freeze-dried rations all through the coming war! You love your family, right?). The other big advertiser is gold sellers, because that's what you're going to be using for currency once the government collapses (just don't ask why the sellers want to unload their gold in exchange for your soon-to-be useless American dollars)... Just take David Icke, the local British curiosity famous for claiming that the moon isn't real and that the world is run by shape-shifting alien reptiles. Laugh all you want — that dude has a net worth of 10 million pounds, accumulated through book sales and expensive, sold-out live talks.

Alex Jones screeched for days that the Denver shooting was engineered in order to ensure passage of the UN gun bill. He presented this theory as unassailable fact. Well, guess what? The bill failed after the US voted against it.

Unbelievable. How does anyone believe a word that man says?
Christopher Loring Knowles, "Qui Bono? - A Dark Knight Experiment"

Let’s begin with Sen. Rand Paul, who likes to play the card that he’s a board-certified ophthalmologist whenever a healthcare issue comes up. Sen. Paul got this parade of crazy rolling when he insinuated the Ebola virus was metamorphosing into an airborne virus and that the government knew of it and was covering it up. Even when public health officials contradicted him, Paul declared that Americans shouldn’t trust government types...Freedom Outpost, a popular Tea Party news site, said that 'Obama is free to have the weaponized version released on the population centers, and he will also shut down certain parts of the power grid in these highly infected areas. This will create a pandemic fast.'

The site claimed the Obama administration’s ultimate and nefarious goal is to create martial law, a theory it shares with Naomi Wolf. The progressive author and journalist also claimed that Obama was using the disease as a convenient pretext for martial law. On her popular Facebook page, which has more than 100,000 likes, Wolf has insisted that the Ebola crisis is being engineered...This rant is nothing new for Wolf, who has insisted for nearly a decade that the country is on the verge of martial law.

A year or so ago, my mom asked by grandad, 'Would you like to be young again now?' And he said, 'No, I wouldn't! Not at all!' I said, 'Why the fuck not?' And he said, y'know, 'I don't like the way the world's gone.' And I'm sort of thinking, 'Jesus, Grandad, when you were my age, World War II had just finished and we were facing nuclear annihilation in the Cold War. And you're saying now is worse?' And that is the effect that reading the Daily Mail had on him, reading it daily. It convinced him that the world was a shit place and getting shitter. I was thinking, what would I like to say to Paul Dacre? What would I like to say to his kind in terms of the impact that they have on peoples' lives? And the answer is 'Fuck you.' And more people should say that. Y'know, fuck you for turning poor people against you. Fuck you for making elderly people afraid to leave their homes. Fuck you for persuading parents not to vaccinate their children.
Martin Robbins, "Why the Daily Mail is Evil"