Here Are Some Names and Faces of The UK’s Nudge Unit
BY RHODA WILSON ON
Few may realise that the Nudge Unit has offices in the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France and Singapore. Below we focus on UK’s Nudge Unit. Firstly, some background of the role the Nudge Unit has played during the Covid era before we look at, in particular two, staff members.
Over the last two years, governments, in the United Kingdom and beyond, used subliminal methods to secretly manipulate the public, Laura Dodsworth told American Thought Leaders. In the UK, there’s a government unit dedicated to such activities. It’s colloquially described as the “Nudge Unit.”
Dodsworth is a writer, filmmaker and author of “A State of Fear: How the UK government weaponised fear during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
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The Nudge Unit, officially called the Behavioural Insights Team (“BIT”), was established in the Cabinet Office in 2010 by David Cameron’s government to apply behavioural science to public policy. Now owned partly by the Cabinet Office, by Nesta and by employees, it has operations across the world.
During her interview Dodsworth explained that in May 2020 minutes of a SPI-B meeting were published which were truly an extraordinary insight into the decision making of the government. SPI-B is the Independent Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours which provides psychological and behavioural science advice.
“In this document it said: people might not adhere to the lockdown rules because they understood the risk for their demographic and the sense of perceived threat needed to be raised. Essentially these psychologists and behavioural scientists suggested that people would need to be frightened to follow the lockdown rules. And that, really, sent me off on a journey to understand how fear was weaponised.”
“Nudge” is used as an umbrella term for all types of behavioural psychology from subtle cues to egregious forms such as: fear; shaming; and, encouraging people into collective behaviour, group think and behaving like “the herd,” Dodsworth explained.
“We’ve deviated from acceptable psychological best practice. There are psychologists who wrote to the British Psychologists Society, here in the UK, which very much brushed them off. And they’ve also written to parliament to ask for an enquiry into these behavioural scientists, I’ve done the same thing. Again, brushed off. But I do think ethical codes have been breached,” she said.
“Most of the public do not understand the behavioural psychology techniques that are used on them … We certainly haven’t signed consent forms.
“It’s absolutely wrong for us to be paying our taxation towards activities to shape our behaviour when we’re not aware that it happens. I think we need public inquiries in countries where they have behavioural science units. We need to be consulted, there needs to be a debate about this.
“We’re paying our taxes and government does stuff we know about, we have this transactional relationship, we’re investing our authority, we’re giving them permission to lay down rules because we said ‘yes, we voted for you based on what’s in the manifesto’. Now, as soon as governments start employing subliminal methods to change your behaviour the transactional relationship has changed … so there’s an informed consent angle to this but, not just that, I think it’s fundamentally anti-democratic.”