Covid-19 has created an unprecedented chain of events. Hindsight will no doubt show that much of them could have been avoided from the start. Two major issues revolve around fear. Fear of possible infection and fear of the economic uncertainty of what life will be like when the health crisis is over.
The current war is not just against the Covid-19 virus but also against a psychological virus - the impact on people’s thoughts, perceptions and actions But let’s back up a little bit. There is a history of chemical and biological warfare, better described as physical and “psychological warfare”. Throughout history, nations across the globe fought the wars for many different reasons, including economical, religion and enforcing dictatorships or domination over a region.
The First World War saw some of the first instances of large-scale chemical warfare. They were used to try and win the war, break stalemates but as well as create havoc, uncertainty and fear amongst soldiers and the broader civilian population.
Chemical weapons used in World War One killed 90-100 thousand soldiers and injured 1.3 million more. (Source: sciencehistory.org)
World War One ended, but the human fight for survival did not. Spanish Flu started in late 1917
spreading across the globe between 1918 and 1920. It infected a staggering quarter of the world’s population and killing between 17-50 million people. (Source: Wikipedia)
Fear was real and present, in the war and the outbreak of Spanish Influenza, however life continued after pandemic in 1918. Records show that, even then, governments lied and hid real data regarding the influenza impact, primarily to maintain the strong position on the world stage of European countries.
In those days the public was less educated and did not have access to the same level of media we do now. This meant stories about the scale of the flu’s impact where largely seen as hearsay. Following the September 11 terror attacks, another terror fear beset the American public in the form of Anthrax. Anthrax has been used by several terrorists and the Germans contaminated livestock with it in World War One. Letters containing the poison killed five people in the US and panicked thousands.
When information about Covid19 was first available to the public, few took it seriously, including the Western media. It was just news about a new virus and that the Chinese government was working on containment and suppressing the infection rate in people. The number of infections and deaths have become the subject of daily news stories. However, the psychological impact on the general population is yet to be felt.
Governments around the globe are united in stopping and eradicating this virus, however there is no timeline as to when this unprecedented response will stop. One thing is certain, with the daily bombardment of ‘news’ from legitimate and less legitimate sources, along with massive amounts of social media comment from sources with no real understanding of Covid19 are flooding the general public.
Government around the world are putting extreme measures in place to stop the virus and flatten its infection curve. The spread of the psychological virus continues, 24 hours a day, largely unchecked. This is nothing less than psychological warfare that is creating more fear and uncertainty for the general public.
Fear is contagious and the large volume of unchecked, non-validated information creates an
immense psychological impact which is equal to psychological warfare).
Large corporations as well as governments are impacted by this psychological virus. They should take reasonable steps and implement a risk management framework aimed at reducing the impact of fear amongst employees who represent general population and then learn from this experience.
Being able to understand and analyse sources of information is the first step to effectively managing the psychological impact of the virus. You then need to recognise evaluated from unevaluated information that, when coupled with exercising strategic intelligence methods, improves decision making. Carrying out these exercises at regular “war rooms” by implementing key intelligence needs will benefit governments and corporations, their employees, suppliers and stakeholders.
Being part of flattening the psychological virus curve, is as important as flattening the Covid-19
infection curve itself. It can make the difference between an individual, organisation, government or country being able to come through the current crisis strongly and one that struggles.
To find out more about how human intelligence information and analysis can help manage the
uncertainty of a crisis including the current Covid-19 period, contact corporate human and business intelligence expert, Mario Bekes.
Mario Bekes (Managing Director, Insight Intelligence Group) is an intelligence and investigative professional, with a wide range of experience spanning military and civil intelligence in Europe and Australia.
A natural leader, public speaker, published book author, relationship-builder and facilitator with
experience in investigative techniques, interrogation methods and corporate human and competitive
business intelligence, Mario is driven by providing results.
Over the past 30 years Mario has conducted numerous types of investigations within government
sectors including defence and foreign affairs departments, as well as the corporate world. Mario has applied his knowledge, expertise, academic research and training in investigative intelligence and investigative interviewing techniques across Australia and internationally.
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