Opinion: The Be Afraid Playbook

In her weekly column, Nancy Churchill discusses how our most powerful emotions are triggered by headlines and news narratives.

In her weekly column, Nancy Churchill discusses how our most powerful emotions are triggered by headlines and news narratives

Nancy Churchill
Dangerous Rhetoric

There’s a famous maxim used in the network news business: “If it bleeds, it leads.” Human beings are hardwired to notice the negative in our environment. Negativity bias helped us to survive and thrive in challenging environments. Headlines and news narratives are deliberately designed to trigger our most powerful negative emotions — disgust, anger and fear. Psychologically, it’s hard for us to look away from things that trigger these emotions. And if we don’t look away, the news network can make more money, and can have more influence over society.

Nancy Churchill
Nancy Churchill

The science of manipulating entire societies has been developed and used to control political narratives and consolidate power for a long time. The chaos we see in the world today is the result of a simple manipulative playbook: “Be afraid, be very afraid.”

Once you understand you’re probably being manipulated with fear, you’re going to start seeing this playbook everywhere. The goal of the playbook is to create a world government with power consolidated in the hands of a few, who have total power over everyone else.

Let’s look at just three of the “Be Afraid” narratives that have been activated and are currently being used to manipulate you into giving up your freedom, liberty and God-given rights: overpopulation, global warming, and the Covid Crisis.

In the 1970’s, Paul Ehrlich published “The Population Bomb.” In this book, Ehrlich claimed “the battle to feed all of humanity is over.” Ehrlich’s book argued that many of the day’s most alarming events had a single, underlying cause: too many people, taking too much from the earth. Unless humanity cut down its numbers we would face “mass starvation” on “a dying planet.” The book made population control an acceptable topic of discussion for modern governments. Today’s world leaders who are pushing Agenda 21 and the New World Order still promote the idea that there are too many people.

However, mass starvation never happened. Instead, new technologies for equipment, agriculture, seeds and farming methods were developed that increased both the nutritional value of crops as well as the total yield per acre. Today’s farms are modern miracles of abundance. When the supply chains are not hindered by government interference, our stores are overflowing with fresh food from all over the world.

In 2006, former Vice President Al Gore released a documentary titled “An Inconvenient Truth.” Gore claimed “unless drastic measures to reduce greenhouse gases are taken within the next 10 years, the world will reach a point of no return.” However, Gore’s terrible predictions failed to materialize. The planet wasn’t warming, so the crisis had to be rebranded as “climate change”. Gore’s other predictions have also failed to materialize.

However, Washington Governor Jay Inslee continues to use the Be Afraid Playbook to push the climate change agenda. His proposals would not actually impact the climate, but they would funnel taxpayer funds to projects that will destroy crucial habitat for endangered birds, destroy clean green energy-producing dams, and make fuel and transportation outrageously expensive — all in the name of a disproven and discredited theory.

Finally, we have the COVID crisis. The mainstream media and government agencies have colluded to ruthlessly push the panic button all day every day for nearly two years. Using the Be Afraid Playbook, they set out to steal our freedom of movement, freedom of religion, and freedom of association.

“Two weeks to flatten the curve” has turned into “get vaxxed or lose your job.” Governor Inslee’s rigid grip on his emergency powers has transformed our state into an authoritarian dictatorship. Our state health board is pulling doctor’s licenses for using known life-saving treatments — because they need you to be afraid, very afraid — and willing to give up your medical privacy, bodily sovereignty and medical freedom of choice.

To break the spell of the Be Afraid Playbook, we need a new motto: Never Fear. Start questioning every news or political narrative. Who benefits if you are fearful? How will they benefit — financially or by concentrating political power or both? Next, check your fears against reality. If COVID-19 was really so contagious and so deadly, wouldn’t the homeless be dying in droves? How is it we have more homeless people now than when the crisis started? When reality is different than the approved narrative, you’re looking at the Be Afraid Playbook.

Notice censorship. When and why are valid scientific studies being dismissed, hidden or attacked? What are you not allowed to say? Who decides what is “true” and what is “disinformation”? Why is free speech and debate not being allowed? Who benefits from the censorship?

Finally, remember that all power lies in the people. Those using the Be Afraid Playbook don’t want you to realize YOU have the power to create change. They want the people to be disempowered slaves. Remember that what they broke and destroyed, we can repair, replace and improve. Never, ever give up: we CAN make America great again.

Nancy Churchill is the state committeewoman for the Ferry County Republican Party. She may be reached at DangerousRhetoric@pm.me. The opinions expressed in Dangerous Rhetoric are her own.


  1. Scott Hooper

    This is interesting material, but like everything published here it is terribly biased towards right-wing talking points. Things like global warming and COVID are real, though we may debate the accuracy of various claims around it.

    However, I see the “be afraid” tactic far more prevalent in right-wing politics. “War on Christmas,” “They’ll take our guns,” “Immigrants will take your jobs” (that the rich already outsourced to other countries), and so on.

    The point of the article is worth considering, but I doubt many who read this will see it as anything more useful than a way to double-down on their current beliefs, as the author did. For this information to be useful, you must figure out how “you” are impacted or made afraid, not others.

  2. Dubhstone

    I’m a psychotherapist, and I regularly talk about negativity bias with the people I help. It’s a valid concept, but the way it’s being applied here is dishonest nonsense. Get back in your lane, Nancy. You’re drunk on Kool-Aid again.


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