Chloe Humbert
Don't Wait for Everybody
Dear Public Officials: Stop falling for the myth of an irrational incompetent panicked public

Dear Public Officials: Stop falling for the myth of an irrational incompetent panicked public

Don't Wait For Everybody - Episode 002
Cross-post from Chloe Humbert
Essay and audio. icymi -

Notes, transcript, & links: 

This commentary is related to my essay: Dear Public Officials: Stop falling for the myth of an irrational panicked public. By Chloe Humbert, Aug 25 2023

And it started initially as me writing a hopped up letter to the county. And then I sent a pal a voicemail. (This is exactly what my voicemails sound like! You’re welcome!)


Commentary: Elite Panic vs. the Resilient Populace by James B. Meigs, MAY 2020  When authorities believe their own citizens will become dangerous, they begin to focus on controlling the public, rather than on addressing the disaster itself. They clamp down on information, restrict freedom of movement, and devote unnecessary energy to enforcing laws they assume are about to be broken. These strategies don’t just waste resources, one study notes; they also “undermine the public’s capacity for resilient behaviors.” In other words, nervous officials can actively impede the ordinary people trying to help themselves and their neighbors. As in war, the first casualty in disasters is often the truth. One symptom of elite panic is the belief that too much information, or the wrong kind of information, will send citizens reeling.

Toxic Sludge is Good for You 2002 In today’s corporate culture major PR firms promote crisis management as a necessary business expense. Whenever something bad happens to a corporation, often its first move is not to deal with the actual problem, but to manage the negative perception caused by that problem. 

PA Homepage - West Nile cases have risen in Lackawanna County. by: Emily Allegrucci, Posted: Aug 18, 2023 “We want them to be aware, we don’t want them to panic. It's the delicate line that we walk. We want people to know that this is in the area, and that’s why we trap. We trap to find out if it is in the area so people are aware and they could take precautions,” added Genovese.

Bodies of Covid-19 victims are still stored in refrigerated trucks in NYC - By Mirna Alsharif and Ray Sanchez, CNN - Updated 5:05 PM EDT, Fri May 7, 2021

And Voila, An Anti-Mask Twitter Rando by Chloe Humbert on Medium, Apr 7 2023 I came across a particularly aggressive anti-mask account on twitter in early 2021. He made a ridiculous capitalist fever dream argument to justify duping people into unmasking and getting sick, and maybe dying, for business interests. It seemed so blatantly ridiculous. Tweet from @reubenR80027912 dated 1019 am May 7, 2021 says Main Street is Very simple. Do 3 things PSA campaigns that you won’t die if vaxxed. Remind people kids aren’t a risk. Remove masks everywhere so people don’t constantly live in fear. Voila. Roaring economy. Spending is about freedom from fear. Quote-tweet from same account on February 22, 2021 says There’s something to the Mad Men pilot and covid. Telling people they’re more likely to die in a car accident than covid doesn’t matter. Nor do vax stats. Happiness is freedom from fear, a billboard that screams whatever you’re doing is ok @ DKThomp

Jason M - @JasonM98282978 - 11:06 AM · Aug 9, 2023 Dear Mr ******, Your fellow residents have once again drawn attention to the fact that against your strata council’s wishes and previous advice, you are continuing to wear a mask while attending common areas of the **** tower. We, along with your fellow residents, feel this creates an unnecessary atmosphere of fear within the building. The Covid 19 pandemic has been declared over by the World Health Organization, and the virus has become far less dangerous, akin to the common cold. There is no reason to continue wearing a mask. If anxiety is a motivator, we suggest speaking to a professional about this. We ask again that you refrain from wearing a mask in common areas. This includes the lobby, the garbage/recycling room, the mail room, the elevators, and anywhere else where you may encounter your neighbours. We may be forced to take further action if you fail to abide by this request. Sincerely, ** Power-tripping Strata asshole **

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - HICPAC Meeting – Aug. 22, 2023 Autotranscript: or those people who've learned it it would be unlearning something for and maybe be like well why and it would be hard to explain when we're not changing the content why we're changing the name I think it would confuse some people and that's my counterpoint thanks

Photo of a Mosquito dunk bucket deployed in Scranton Pennsylvania, in the manner described by instructions from AUDUBON SOCIETY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA - UPDATED: HOW TO SET UP A MOSQUITO LARVA TRAP - September 1, 2022
The photo is of an envelope addressed to Rocco Genovese Lackawanna County West Nile Virus Coordinator, with a printout of the article “The Only People Panicking Are the People in Charge

Foreign Policy Magazine - The Only People Panicking Are the People in Charge. The public can handle disasters better than lying leaders can. By Malka Older - September 16, 2020, 6:16 PM It’s a staple trope of movies and TV shows. But there are more than 50 years of disaster studies demonstrating that people don’t do that in real life. As early as 1954, E.L. Quarantelli, who later founded the Disaster Research Center, had enough data to suggest that panic after a disaster was “uncommon.” Studies of disasters—from hurricanes to snowstorms isolating people in highway rest stops to the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11—show that the public does not panic, does not run screaming, and typically reacts in a reasonably rational way. In fact, studies show that people tend to react in highly social ways after a catastrophe; the first assistance to victims almost invariably comes from nonprofessionals, and affected people tend to come together and organize to improve their situation. My own anecdotal experience as a disaster responder supports this conclusion.

NBC News: Pompeii family's final hours reconstructed. By Rossella Lorenzi, Dec. 11, 2008 75 to 92 percent of the residents escaped the town at the first signs of the crisis 

Teams Human - Alarm is appropriate, the volcano is erupting - CHLOE HUMBERT, JUL 6, 2022 The story of Pompeii is riveting. One may be led to think initially that the people frozen in place by the volcano were merely caught unaware. But only about 2,000 people out of around 20,000 actually stayed behind in Pompeii to get pyroclasted into a grim posterity. The vast majority were alarmists who fled the city — in abject fear of the volcano… and escaped in time and therefore lived out the rest of their lives. What led that minority to stay behind? Normalcy bias? Propaganda? I wonder if perhaps elites convinced some essential workers that they needed to stay behind and keep the economy going. Perhaps some felt they had no other good option and just hoped for the best. We will never know the exact stories. But we’re seeing ours play out. Somehow those people were convinced staying behind was okay. What we don’t ask in retrospect, notice, is why did people flee? We know why and we understand they were right to do so. We also don’t ridicule them for having been scared into leaving Pompeii - possibly with fear mongering? There are people with reasons to lie to us and to manipulate people, and they don’t care about our well-being. They simply want to keep the economic status quo, or are working on behalf of people who prioritize that. Butts in seats downtown for the economy or commercial real estate.

My previous essay on Elite Panic:

Elite Panic. Big shots have different goals than the rest of us. Politicians should be representatives, businesses shouldn’t lead, even billionaires can’t seem to buy common sense, and tech won’t save us. By CHLOE HUMBERT JUL 13, 2023

Here are a list of all the other posts I have made where I reference “elite panic” as well because it’s my big pet peeve obviously:


I’m Chloe Humbert, and I’m not waiting for everybody. And you don’t have to either. Dear Public Officials, Please stop falling for the myth of an irrational incompetent panicked public. I guess we’re here again. I have to address the issue of elite panic again. There was a good article describes the phenomenon of elite panic. So disaster researchers call this phenomenon elite panic. And this is from James B. Meigs, elite panic versus the resilient populace. Quote, when authorities believe their own citizens will become dangerous, they begin to focus on controlling the public rather than on addressing the disaster itself. In the documentary Toxic Sludge is Good for You from 2002, they say, quote, in today’s corporate culture, major PR firms promote crisis management as a necessary business expense. Whenever something bad happens to a corporation, often its first move is not to deal with the actual problem, but to manage the negative perception caused by that problem. All this sound familiar? There has been West Nile Virus found in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In the city, the heart of the city, there’s been mosquitoes found with West Nile virus. So the county official was quoted in the newspaper as saying, we don’t want to panic the public with the traps. like who’s panicking over mosquito traps who is who is panicking when they see mosquito traps nobody no nobody we’re in a pandemic okay and there’s people have been dying there’s hospitalized there were freezer truck morgues I mean that was an actual thing it could be a thing again we don’t know and nobody has gone running into the streets like it’s The Blob movie you know panicked in a frenzy that just hasn’t happened why would it suddenly happen for mosquito traps like why would that suddenly set off a panic this idea that people panic is just out of control and there was this troll online. Of course on Twitter who had posted something about masks reminding people of the danger. Recently saw somebody who was on social media saying that they got a letter from their condo associations telling them don’t wear masks in the hallway it’s striking fear and it’s like This is like saying don’t call the fire department because it might scare people. Let your house burn down. That’s ridiculous. And nobody’s panicking over mosquito traps. They’re just not. And the same thing happened in the CDC HICPAC meeting. Some of the people were actually suggesting that health care workers wouldn’t be able to figure out how to adjust to new infection control information. Seriously? Like doctors and nurses highly trained skilled professionals seriously they can’t you can’t possibly throw them a curveball because oh they won’t be able to adjust to these changes No, nobody’s, no. Some healthcare professionals are extremely well trained for all kinds of things. The idea that they can’t learn how to use a PAPR, this doesn’t make any sense. And with the mosquitoes, hello, people need to know that the mosquitoes can carry diseases. It’s not good. And people should be told so then they can go and be told about mosquito dunks. we have two mosquito dunks now to trap the larvae of mosquitoes and we got the instructions from the Audubon website we set up these traps attract the mosquitoes to go lay their eggs in the trap where they will be killed rather than actually propagating somewhere. Things can be done to control mosquito populations. Nobody’s panicking. People are just want to wear Deet. that that’s not people put on a mask. It’s not nobody’s panicking. Nobody’s running into the streets like some horror movie. And I just love like I’m going to send this to the county official because I was going to write a letter but it turned into a substack post and then it’s like no I’m just going to skip it and just print out this foreign policy magazine article and the headline is “the only people panicking are the people in charge” wow that says it all That says it all. I recommend the article. But it’s… the headline tells you everything. It’s elite panic. They’re worried. They’re more worried about people, God forbid, being autonomous and taking care of ourselves and each other. And there’s just so much evidence that actually when people start trying to control the public, they’re the ones that cause the problems. There’s nobody running around. It just doesn’t happen. That kind of thing. Yeah. Do people run Screaming out of burning buildings. Yes. Yes, and they should just like in Pompeii most people fled Mount Vesuvius like at the first sign of trouble They just fled the Pompeii and they went and lived out their lives, you know somewhere else only only a couple thousand people out of like 20,000 only a couple thousand had stayed behind heaven only knows why but we don’t ask why did the people flee We know why they fled. They fled because it was, like, the right thing to do. We don’t say, well, wow, that was alarmist. You know, they should have stayed behind and got pyroclasted into a grim posterity. No, we don’t say that. That’s ridiculous. People are not panicking because of safety protocols. That’s ridiculous. Just stop. Just stop and give us some credit. Give the people some credit. Give us some credit for understanding things and wanting to make things better.

Chloe Humbert
Don't Wait for Everybody
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