Profit From Fear

A little shell painted as a target in the urinal of the ferry boat reminds me of "the nudge movement", the idea that creative uses of psychology can gently guide us to better outcomes in a way that is both more pleasant and more successful that rules and mandates. The classic example is an experiment where an image of a fly placed as a target in urinals produced dramatic reductions in pissing on the floor.

Conservative radio types caught wind of this and pass on the news that the liberal nanny state is pursuing mind control. This follows the well established business model that dominates the conservative media market: fact + fear = lies & money.

This business model was first exploited thru direct mail, so it's not a pure creature of our current information economy. But one wonders if the Internet hasn't massively expanded the profit of fearmongering.

Has it always been possible to get rich selling fear?