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Nudgers, nudgers everywhere - the ubiquity of behavioural science



I’m a nostalgic sort of fella. I yearn for those times when our politicians used some degree of rational argument to influence the electorate. The era where politicians appeared to hold some transparent values and principles that they would use to inform policies that were – purportedly - in the national interest; the era where politicians were obliged to listen to the views of ordinary people (or risk being displaced at the ballot box); the era where explicit policy proposals could be meaningly debated and critiqued in the run up to an election.

 

Alas, things are not what they were.


We now have a homogenous batch of political parties all broadly following the same agenda, an agenda set by global elites who operate outside of any democratic system. And behavioural scientists – commonly referred to as ‘nudgers' – play a pivotal role in levering the compliance of the masses with this top-down authoritarian mission; by means of their (often covert) deployment of psychological strategies that  weaponize fear, shame, and scapegoating, they facilitate the control of ordinary people. And to effectively perform this essential role in imposing the globalist agenda requires a huge resource of behavioural science expertise. Consequently, nudgers are everywhere.  


As part of an ongoing research initiative to explore the UK Government’s deployment of behavioural science during the Covid event, I have scrutinised official documents and made a series of Freedom of Information requests in order to glean the scale of nudge activity being routinely utilised to lever our compliance with top-down diktats. The findings are remarkable.


For ease of comprehension, I will divide the state’s behavioural science resource into five categories:

1.      Government advisory groups

2.      In-house employees embedded in government departments

3.      The Behavioural Insight Team (aka ‘Nudge Unit’)

4.      The ‘Government Communications Service’

5.      Private advertisement agencies 

 

1.      Government advisory groups

When the global elite announce that there is a world-wide ‘crisis’, governments typically respond by gathering a group of experts to advise them on relevant actions to take. Early in the Covid event, the UK relied on the recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and its subgroups. One such subgroup was the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), whose membership was mainly comprised of behavioural scientists and prominent psychologists who have expertise in the deployment of nudge techniques.


A key element of the SPI-B’s remit was to advise on, ‘Strategies for behaviour change, to support control of and recovery from the epidemic’. At the start of the Covid era, the group was asked to ‘provide advice aimed at anticipating and helping people adhere to interventions that are recommended by medical or epidemiological experts’.


High profile behavioural scientists, Professors David Halpern and Susan Michie, also participated in the full SAGE forum, as did co-chairs of the SPI-B (Professors Ann John, James Rubin and Lucy Yardley).


All-in-all, it is clear that the Government’s expert advisory groups during the Covid event were well stocked with professionals who specialised in the craft of behavioural science.

 


2.      In-house employees embedded in government departments

While the pandemic advisory groups offered a wealth of nudge expertise, a far greater behavioural science resource was embedded within government departments. The size of this permanent in-house resource has been revealed by a series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.


In 2019, the Department of Revenue & Customs had 54 employees in their ‘Behavioural Research and Insight' team, while the Department for Work & Pensions employed 16 people in its ‘Behavioural Science Team’. A more recent FOI to the Department of Transport found that, in 2022, they had the equivalent of 6 full-time behavioural scientists at a total annual cost of £299,000 per annum. And – more pertinent to the Covid event – an FOI response in November 2023 confirmed that the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) hosts a ‘Behavioural Science and Insights Unit’ that employs 29 people (24 of whom are behavioural and social scientists) with an annual budget of £958,000. Meanwhile, the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) recently acknowledged the existence of a ‘Behavioural Science Team’, as did the Office for Health Improvement & Disparities.


Professor James Rubin, an SPI-B co-chair, referred to this departmental behavioural science resource in his evidence to the current Covid-19 Inquiry. Bemoaning that his own group had insufficient influence on Government communications, Rubin stated:

We were one group within the government system looking at behavioural science of which there were many other groups … …, there were teams within UKHSA, there was the DHSC’.

 

 

3.      The Behavioural Insight Team (aka ‘Nudge Unit’)

In 2010, the ‘Behavioural Insight Team’ (BIT) was conceived in the Prime Minister’s Office of David Cameron as ‘the world’s first government institution dedicated to the application of behavioural science to policy’. According to the BIT website, their team rapidly expanded from a seven-person unit working with the UK government to a ‘social purpose company’ operating in many countries around the world. From 2014, the BIT was collectively owned by the UK Government, Nesta (an innovations charity) and the BIT’s own employees. In December 2021, the BIT was wholly acquired by Nesta for £15.4 million.


The BIT routinely receives requests from a wide range of Government departments to provide advice to communicators about how to maximise the power of their messaging. Throughout the Covid event, the BIT produced multiple advisory documents, some of which encouraged the use of fear, shame, and peer pressure as a means of enhancing the effectiveness of the Governments pandemic communications.


Strikingly, during the Covid event, the BIT was awarded two lucrative contracts with the Government. The Cabinet Office allocated up to £4 million to the BIT for a three-year contract (2019 -2022) to provide ‘Behavioural Insights Consultancy & Research Services’ so as to furnish this heart of government with ‘frictionless access to behavioural insights to match central priorities’. As for the Department of Health & Social Care, they paid BIT £1 million for a 13-months contract (1.3.20 – 31.3.21) for ‘Various work for Test, Trace, Contain and Enable agenda’.


 

4.      The ‘Government Communications Service’

As if the collective nudging might of the SPI-B, BIT, and in-house behavioural scientists was not enough, there is also the ‘Government Communications Service’ (GCS). Operating within Whitehall, this group of civil servants is led by Chief Executive Simon Baugh and boasts employing ‘over 7,000 professional communicators across the UK’.


The GCS incorporates a ‘Behavioural Science Team’ based in the Cabinet Office. In a recent document, Alex Aiken (Executive Director of Government Communication) celebrates how the GCS Behavioural Science Team has accelerated progress towards the ‘goal of embedding behavioural science expertise across the Government Communication profession’.


 

5.      Private advertisement agencies

In April 2020, the Cabinet Office approved spending of £216.8 million for ‘Advertising, Marketing & Communications’ in relation to a ‘Covid campaign 2020/21’, with the bulk (£194 million) of it dedicated to Covid-related advertising between April to December 2020. However, a FOI from March 2022 indicates that – in actuality - the Cabinet Office spent far more: over £5 million in 2019/20, and £370 million in 2020/21. A range of advertising companies have benefited from this spending, but the two major recipients of state funding have been Manning Gotlieb and Mullen Lowe. These large, government-favoured agencies employ their own behavioural scientists to determine the content of their adverts and videos – for example, the powerful (and ethically dubious) ‘Look them in the eyes’ campaign.


An advertising agency insider has confirmed the high profile of nudgers within their creative world. Julia Bainbridge – a founder member of the Freuds agency, one of several advertising companies commissioned by the UK Government – recently stated, ‘Behavioural science is now mainstream and high profile, particularly in my field, which seeks to change people’s behaviour for their own, and the social good’. In the same article, Bainbridge goes on to say, ‘Behavioural science is now being deployed, at the highest level to address “wicked” problems, from vaccine hesitancy to tobacco consumption, throughout the world’. 



 

In conclusion, behavioural scientists – these paternalistic overseers of right-think – reside in every cavity of the state’s infrastructure, nudging our thoughts and actions to align them with globalist goals (for example, digital IDs, net-zero carbon, a meatless society and less travel for the masses). Rather than rational argument and open debate, we are being furtively nudged, on an unprecedented scale, to obey the doctrines of the world’s elite. Regrettably, for ordinary people, conscious deliberation prior to decision making is rapidly becoming a rare commodity.




Photo courtesy of Peter Schulz at Unsplash

 

 

19 Comments


Maybe my defiance of restrictions is ‘nudged’ rebellion: I flatly refuse to view any as ‘elite’ and new word for a cold and re-defined word ‘pandemic’ also get instantly rejected.

As for word ‘most’ – as an individual it’s impossible for me to be ‘most’: HMRC’s mantra about using on-line is irrelevant to myself and, next retail assistant who says ‘most people’ will hear exactly what I think.

‘Manager’s Special’ – Oh really how nice of the staff to say so.

‘Last chance’ – Thanks but I don’t want it.

‘Must haves’ – OK I’ll leave those for others to have.

‘Must’ – The more they ‘must’, the worse it will be for me if I do. Anyway, it’s only…


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It's good to hear, Jane, that you are actively resistant to the onslaught of nudge & propaganda.

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December 3rd on LBC Rachel Johnson told her listeners that the government PAID news outlets to publish pro lockdown pieces, and bar dissent. She said she knows these writers.

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Throughout the Covid event, the Government became the mainstream media's biggest source of advertisement revenue.

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It's quite encouraging to reflect that despite all the millions the government spent on their psy-op, it still failed miserably with so many. We are indebted to Dr Sidley and those others who spoke out for helping alert us to these Dark Arts or it might just have succeeded. Let's not get complacent because those who would seek to nudge us for the Greater Good will be on the look-out for ways to thwart our means of resistance; I hear that things like Substack may attract the kind of attention applied to FB Google and Twitter.

I'm wondering why Oliver Dowden was warning us to stock up on candles and torches recently; is something coming down the line? The power…

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Cheers, your support is appreciated.

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Max Dunford
Max Dunford
Dec 12, 2023

6 new prisons of 1600 capacity each are being built as we speak, the nearest to me at Full Sutton is nearing completion but not visible on Google maps, unlike a similar unit at Glen Parva near Leicester which is visible. The contractors I have spoken to confirm there are a further 4 up North in build. No mention in MSM or Govt who's narrative is "prisons full". So who are they being built for?

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John Sampson
John Sampson
Dec 14, 2023
Replying to

I recently watched a film about the Strangeways riot. At that time prisoners were housed 3 to a cell meant for one, and only a bucket for sanitation. It is reasonable to suppose that new prisons are needed to house prisoners in civilised conditions. Admittedly things are very different from the Welsh revival when the police sang in choirs as they had nothing else to do.

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REPOSTING (due to typos): As always, excellent article which clearly explains the fabricated issues we face today courtesy of behavioural scientists being entrenched in every part of our society. All by design. Thank you, Gary.

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My pleasure 😊

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