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Alarmism is excessive or exaggerated alarm about a real or imagined threat, such as the increases in deaths from an infectious disease.[1] In the news media, alarmism can be a form of yellow journalism where reports sensationalise a story to exaggerate small risks.[2]

Alarmist personality[edit]

The alarmist person is subject to the cognitive distortion of catastrophizing – of always expecting the worst of possible futures.[3]

They may also be seeking to preserve feelings of omnipotence by generating anxiety and concern in others.[4]

False accusation[edit]

The charge of alarmism can of course be used to discredit a legitimate warning, as when Churchill was widely dismissed as an alarmist in the 1930s.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ David Murray, Joel Schwartz (May 25, 2008), "Alarmism is an infectious disease", Society, 34 (4): 35, doi:10.1007/BF02912206 
  2. ^ "The Risk of Poor Coverage of Risk". Columbia Journalism Review. 
  3. ^ P. Gilbert, Overcoming Depression (1999) p. 88-90
  4. ^ T. Pitt-Aikens, Loss of the Good Authority (1989) p. 99
  5. ^ M. Makovsky, Churchill's Promised Land (2007) p. 140-1

External links[edit]