Posted in History & Literature

Ignorant Masses Policy

Democracy is a fair system that gives the people the power to run the country. This also weakens the politicians’ grip on the people. If you were a leader of a democratic nation, how could you gain more power? The obvious answer would be to become a good leader who gains the people’s trust and rules a government of the people, by the people, for the people. However, if you want to rule against the wishes of the masses yet not lose their trust, you can use the Ignorant Masses Policy.

The Ignorant Masses Policy is a type of policy that makes the people foolish to make ruling them easier. It was used by Imperial Japan to try make colonising Korea easier in the 1930’s, while also being famous as the policy of choice by Nazi Germany. The most classic example is the 3S Policy used by Japan and Korea in the 1980’s. “3S” stands for mankind’s never-ending interests: sex, screen and sports. The Policy uses these to enthuse the public and making them naturally lose interest over social issues. For example, in the 1980’s, the president of South Korea, Chun Doo-hwan (who rose to power through a coup d’état) hosted the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, while establishing pro baseball, pro football and pro ssireum (Korean wrestling). Furthermore, he installed colour television on a national level, lifted the curfew (promoting prostitution) and lessening censorship on sexually suggestive dramas and movies.

The Ignorant Masses Policy oppresses the people in the complete opposite way to the reign of terror seen in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Instead of destroying freedom, it provides even more freedom and information to drown out interest for the more important field of politics. This policy was well-represented in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. A government that oppresses its people with pleasure and distractions is far more formidable than a government that uses pain and control.

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” ~ Goethe

Posted in Psychology & Medicine

Bystander Effect

March 13, 1964 – Queens, New York. A young woman called Kitty Genovese was running from a man chasing her across the parking lot. She screamed for help as she ran from the attacker but not a single person came to her rescue. The attacker stabbed her repeatedly but the police were never alerted to the incident. The astonishing fact is that not only was there someone watching the whole attack – completely able to call the police or intervene – but there were no less than 38 bystanders.

This case sparked a question in social psychology: what prevented those 38 people from stopping a murder happening in front of them? Was it fear of attracting the assaulter’s attention? The bystanders were all watching from their apartment and calling the police would have been simple and discreet, so this was not the reason. Psychologists designed an experiment to study the natural human response as a bystander in an emergency situation.

The experiment was simple: have participants fill a survey in a room and have the helper leave the room. The helper would then stage a collapse with a yell. The participants’ response would then be observed (particularly their response time).
What they found was fascinating. When only one person was in the room, it was very likely he or she would check to see what happened. But with a group (even three would suffice), the response time would dramatically increase, if they responded at all. Simply put: the more bystanders there are, the less likely someone will step in to do something.

The reason is actually simpler than people think. It is not that people are naturally evil and wish to see others suffer; the bystander effect is a consequence of the basic human psyche.
Firstly, people constantly observe others’ responses in a social situation. This creates a paradox where everyone assumes that since no one is doing anything, they themselves do not act either.
Secondly, there is a shared sense of delusion where people think “others will do it”. This is known as “responsibility splitting” and explains why more people lead to less response.
These two factors combined with cognitive dissonance reduce the guilt and burden of the bystander as they consider it alright to not respond as long as no one else does (or if they do, good for them).

Unfortunately, this effect is so powerful that they occur in about 70% of assault cases and also other emergencies such as a person collapsing from a heart attack (i.e. no one rushes to perform CPR). The same effect is seen in cases of suicides (where the person publicly announces their intentions with no one responding) and classrooms (when the teacher asks the class a question).

This is why one of the greatest tips for emergency response is to pick a single person out and instruct them to do something. For example, “You there, in the red jacket, call the ambulance” is much more effective than “Somebody do something”.

Posted in Psychology & Medicine


Hysteria is a disease that was believed until the late 19th century to be a disease unique to women due to a pathology of the uterus (hystera is Greek for uterus). The most common symptom was mental disturbance (such as extreme moods) accompanied by shortness of breath, vaginal dryness, nervousness, insomnia, oedema, faintness and many more. The treatment back then was for a physician to massage or stimulate the patient’s vagina to induce an orgasm. By the 19th century, the treatment evolved and involved vibrators and water massage machines.

This disease was first noted by Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. Galen, another famous physician in the 2nd century, believed it to be caused by sexual deprivation. Thus, sexual intercourse was prescribed as treatment in the Middle Ages.

Modern medicine no longer recognises hysteria as a medical condition and is now referred to as sexual dysfunction (the sexual treatments described above are no longer used either). However, there is a condition called mass hysteria that indeed exists.
This is a psychological phenomenon rather than a disease, commonly occurring in closed spaces such as planes or in crowds in a state of panic. When a high tension situation arises, people easily become delusional and believe that they are suffering from a disease. The body reacts to this with actual symptoms such as a psychosomatic rash. These symptoms can be as severe as fevers, vomiting and even paralysis.

If many people are all complaining of similar symptoms and infectious disease seems unlikely, there is an easy way of diagnosing mass hysteria. Tell the patients that they have a rare disease and begin listing the symptoms they complain of. At the end, make up a false symptom (e.g. “shaking of the left hand”). If the patients all suddenly start to shake their left hands (which causes them to panic more), it is likely that their panicking brain is causing the symptoms rather than some pathogen. Symptoms subside after the patients relax.

Interestingly, mass hysteria affects women much more than men.