Lecture: The Emotional Curve
Author: Hubbard, L. R.
Document date: 1952, 14 January
Document title: The Emotional Curve
Document type: lecture transcript
Event: Professional Course Lectures
Location: Wichita, Kansas
Document ID: 5201C14
Description: Hubbard talks about the state of civil defense in the United States.
All right, air-raid warning. In come these old, obsolete five-hundred-mile-an-hour planes. These things come in, the air raid warning system goes up, everybody grabs their helmets, they grab their first-aid kits, they walk out into the street, the people powder their noses a second time, go out of the nightclub in an orderly fashion. They walk down the steps into the shelters, the air-raid siren is finally sounded again. And they run the trucks out and they get the ladders all fixed and they get their hoses set up and so forth. And then boom! Somebody drops a bomb and blows up an apartment building and kills a few hundred people. Boom! — another bomb. Boom-boom! — two more. People go around and clean up the debris of dead, wounded and so forth. They think they are being bombed.
And by the way, U.S. Civil Defense is using this as its sole model of operation. I have been looking over their operation lately, and they just don’t have any concept of this that I am telling you about. Maybe people didn’t know about this. Or maybe they just belong to the government or something. This civil-defense gag — something has got to be done about it, because this country can’t sit here like a sitting duck ready to be plastered into oblivion with all of its culture destroyed just because some government worker kept telling everybody, “Well, we have it all in hand. We have it all in hand. We have it all in hand,” and nothing happens. Civil defense is in a pretty bad state in this country.
You know, there are lots of disasters civil defense can be organized for. There is such a thing as an atomic bombing. Well, atomic bombing is just one type of disaster. There is general economic collapse; there is government by alteration. Alteration of government is a disaster: a sudden revolution, something of that sort; subversive groups suddenly taking over things or even gradually taking them over. Bacterial warfare — very insidious. The U.S. Department of Defense has some stuff sitting down there on bacterial warfare that wouldn’t turn your hair gray, but it would make you awful dead awfully quick. You take all types of disasters that can hit the country: there has to be a civil defense for them. You take any of those I have named (or the election of General Eisenhower!): in other words, civil defense has got to exist because almost anything can happen to this country.
Now, the village is going along just fine and the air-raid warning is heard and so on, and it does a curve and comes down, and “All clear!”
This village gets bombed and bombed and bombed, a lot of ample warning, and where do they go? A little bit further down the tone scale each time, you see, till they get to a good, solid 1.5, and they say, “The government was right. Now we have to fight that enemy to the death. We are now confirmedly behind every operation of this government to destroy this other nation. We’ll even pay the taxes! “ In other words, this is a way to make a people back up the warlike moves of its government. That is what is done by dribble-bombing.
It has happened in Madrid. You would never have gotten the Spanish revolutionaries to have held out, except the boys bombed them and bombed them and bombed them and bombed them. And finally everybody in Madrid became convinced that there was a war going on and they said, “Well, let’s get in the front lines and fight those dogs, those dirty blankety-blank blankety-blanks!” They were all set. The same thing happened in London.The incidence of psychosis goes to zero under dribble-bombing, you see? It is just this: The volume of bad news is not enough to drive the curve down fast enough to make it stick at the bottom.
You take one atom bomb, hits one town — a three-thousand-mile-an-hour missile: Here is Joe, the air-raid warden out there, and he has got his helmet on one side of his head and he is dozing along, looking around and so forth. He sees a speck of blue up there and he wonders whether or not it is a star. And all of a sudden his air-raid screen says pip-pip-pip-pip-pip-pip. “Oh,” he says, “I wonder if that is the TWA liner? No, it’s not a TWA airliner; it is probably a Continental airliner. No, it is probably off course. I guess it must be something else. Well, I had better fix the siren and sound it anyway, just to be on the safe “ Boom ! There he is gone, the town is gone, and that is that. Three thousand miles an hour, these things will come in.
There is no sense in going out and finding the helmet and the first-aid kit and telling everybody to go down into the shelter.
Anybody that is on the outskirts or hears about this, goes — this is in terms of days — way down here in apathy, and they will stay there.
Japan is still in apathy! Take MacArthur’s old organizational directives (which I have read myself; I know this type of directive): at the base of every one of them there’s an apathy. Japan, by just having two cities knocked out several days apart, went Wahoo! Let’s quit.” The damage — the aggregate damage — was not as great as the amount of damage which we had exerted against Japan with bombing planes over a long period of time. All of a sudden, one night — boom! — Hiroshima disappears. The whole center of it was gone. What happened?
Now, the Russian plan of attack (unless there are Russians that organized this plan of attack and thought of it) probably consists of twenty-one American cities (the major cities of America) with a nice, heavy atomic charge against every city, and they will probably hit all in the same minute as best as they can. That will vary about fifteen minutes either way. Crunch! Here goes America. There is no time to go rehearsing the bombing of London. Twenty-one American cities — it is bad news too fast! The country will go into a paralysis if that occurs.
Unless everything is built to be followed according to rote, to take place on the worst kind of disaster imaginable, nobody is going to be capable of doing anything. And if they have got a rote plan all figured out and drilled into them, they will actually move as automatons for a short period of time after this, and by so moving they can get up the line again.
Now, you get an idea of what bad news or impact is worth. Therefore, there is no comparison between TNT bombs and atom bombs.
The only reason I am bringing this up is partly to abreact my hostility toward what the government is not doing for this country in terms of civil defense, and just as a clear, academic demonstration that you can see graphically.
If somebody stepped in the door and told you the major cities of America were gone . . . Remember Pearl Harbor? People wandered around for two or three hours after they heard the first news of this thing and they were just kind of in a daze, asking each other, talking to each other. They weren’t being emotional about it; they were dazed — well, that is a form of apathy — for a little while, and then all of a sudden they started up the line again.
But that was Pearl Harbor, and it was clear out there twenty-four hundred miles off the mainland of the United States. Supposing it were Chicago, Denver, St. Louis, New York, Charleston, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco — you get the idea? Therefore, the emotional curve has an awful lot to do with how long a people will stay at a low position on the tone scale.
Hubbard, L. R. (1952, 14 January). The Emotional Curve. Professional Course Lectures, (5201C14). Lecture conducted from Wichita, Kansas.