Disaster and calamity are extreme events that can be used to glean general lessons about how society works. I use the problem of panic to develop several ideas. Panic, we know from years of disaster research, is quite rare at least in the United States. I consider the implication of this for theories of social behavior and human nature. I also suggest the idea of "failing gracefully" as a systems-level notion that highlights the social context of behavior rather than individual panic. I reconsider findings concerning "altruistic" and "corrosive" communities. I critically evaluate the idea of "moral panic," and end with a consideration of the rhetoric functions of "panic.".