Scaremongering is a close synonym of alarmism. It is the, typically unwarranted, arousal of fear about something.
I can think of three groups—you might be able to add more—that make extensive use of alarmism:
- People on the extreme right of the political spectrum,
- People on the extreme left of the political spectrum, and
- Tabloid news media.
Alarmism has some detrimental effects:
- It consumes time that could otherwise serve more productive purposes.
- It increases fear and hate in the population.
- It drives us crazy.
Alarmism also serves some “useful” purposes:
- It sells newspapers.
- It increases listenership/viewership of “news” and “current events” shows.
- It solidifies political support, mostly among people who are already supporters anyway.
- It increases political donations.
- It increases business for psychologists and psychiatrists who treat paranoia.