How feelings took over the world

Populist turbulence, viral panics, experts under attack: instinct and emotion have overtaken facts and reason in the digital age – can feelings now propel us into a better future?

On a late Friday afternoon in November last year, police were called to London’s Oxford Circus for reasons described as “terror-related”. Oxford Circus underground station was evacuated, producing a crush of people as they made for the exits. Reports circulated of shots being fired, and photos and video appeared online of crowds fleeing the area, with heavily armed police officers heading in the opposite direction. Amid the panic, it was unclear where exactly the threat was emanating from, or whether there might be a number of attacks going on simultaneously, as had occurred in Paris two years earlier. Armed police stormed Selfridges department store, while shoppers were instructed to evacuate the building. Inside the shop at the time was the pop ...