What's the easiest way to kick-start a period of mass hysteria in the general public?
At the moment, it seems as though all it takes is for some high heid yin to say "Don't Panic".
I ambled along to the local BP garage a few minutes ago to pick up some lunch, and it seems that the world has gone mad. Despite warnings in the media that panic buying of fuel will merely hasten an avoidable crisis, cars were queuing out onto the road in the mad melee to purchase petrol.
The diesel pumps at this garage have already run dry, and it seems that the staff don't know when they will next be refilled.
I'm now wondering if this phenomenon applies only to fuel, or to other consumables? If someone somewhere announced tomorrow that there would be a shortage of milk within the next week, would people start panic-buying cow juice? Could we expect a sudden run on coffee if Colombia and Kenya announced they weren't going to ship any more?
The answer to both of those is probably yes. But what if we were instead told that the world supply of Angel Delight was starting to run short - would Asda and Tesco be stowed out with scrums of consumers fighting over packets of butterscotch and strawberry flavoured stoor?
Or if the suppliers of pickled eggs stopped pickling eggs, would there be sudden stockpiling of these precious resources in kitchen cupboards around the country?
Sounds like a good experiment to me.