This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Appeal to fear

In the novel Dune, author Frank Herbert has his characters repeat a mantra that has stuck with me through the years. It is called the “Litany Against Fear” and its first lines are: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.” A truer word was never spoken. Fear is an extremely powerful emotion, and while not necessarily a negative one, it almost always causes critical thought to suffer. This is why the “appeal to fear” is another popular fallacy.

Appeal to fear is used especially during war, usually in connection with threat of death, extermination, or loss of some important value. Either “the Germans want to destroy us all,” or “President Obama wants to take your guns and enslave your family,” or some other earth-shattering threat. There is no such thing as a small threat. Everything is cataclysmic.

Yet this technique is not limited to just national politics. Anyone who has been through Driver’s Ed has been exposed to it in the form of bloody videos of auto collisions caused by driver negligence, even though, logically speaking, the gore should not in itself be an argument for driver conduct.

This approach, also called ‘fear-mongering’, is even present in advertising. I once saw a pharmaceutical commercial warning viewers to “ask your doctor” about drug X, because disease Y might be upon you this very minute and you’d have no idea until your bones were crumbling beneath you. These tactics may sound a bit silly, but we may assume that they wouldn’t be used if they did not get results.

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