… is from page 35 of Adam Smith’s profound essay “The History of Astronomy,” as this essay appears in Liberty Fund’s 1982 collection of Smith’s Essays on Philosophical Subjects  (a collection originally published by Cadell and Davies, in London, 1795):
Those panic terrors which sometimes seize armies in the field, or great cities, when an enemy is in the neighbourhood, and which deprive for a time the most determined of all deliberate judgments, are never excited but by the sudden apprehension of unexpected danger. Such violent consternations, which at once confound whole multitudes, benumb their understandings, and agitate their hearts, with all the agony of extravagant fear, can never be produced by any foreseen danger, how great soever. Fear, though naturally a very strong passion, never rises to such excesses, unless exasperated both by Wonder, from the uncertain nature of the danger, and by Surprise, from the suddenness of the apprehension.
DBx: This truth expressed centuries ago speaks to us today. The arrival on the scene, nearly two years ago, of Covid-19 has indeed worked to “deprive for a time the most determined of all deliberate judgments” and to “confound whole multitudes, benumb their understandings, and agitate their hearts.” And in this case the deprivation of reason and compromising of judgment was furthered by panic pornographers – many of whom hold government offices – and who continue to peddle their obscene and dangerous material to now-addicted audiences.