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. And even more amazingly, they are convinced that the environment of the entire planet is being destroyed around them. Remarkable! Like the belief in witchcraft, it's an extraordinary delusion—a global fantasy worthy of the Middle Ages. Everything is going to hell, and we must all live in fear. Amazing.
It is my professional opinion that now is the time to panic!
— Child expert, Monsters, Inc..
Very few SCIENTISTS BELIEVE AIDS MAY or may not HAVE MUTATED INTO AN AIRBORNE VIRUS!!! HOLDing YOUR BREATH is not necessary!
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"
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
Aladdin: "Abu, this is no time to panic!"
*pulls Abu off his eyes to see them heading straight for a rock wall*
Aladdin: "Start panicking!"
"Newspapers have been doing their bit to calm motorists with headlines like 'PETROL: WE'RE RUNNING OUT!!!' 'STRIKE! SPARKS FUEL SHORTAGE FEARS!' 'WILL FUEL STOCKS RUN DRY?!'"
"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)
"...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."
"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"
"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, Palimpsest
"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
"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
"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 guess incorrectly, you are given a coupon for a free hug. If you throw the jar of jelly beans into a wall safe and scream for everyone to clear the airport, you are immediately hired."