Skip to comments.A Psychologist Talks About Normalcy Bias and Situational Awareness (Why Don't People Prep?)
Posted on 09/12/2012 1:54:34 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum
Years ago when I was in junior high school, I had a shop teacher who would occasionally get exasperated with one of us and ask the question, What makes a man be that way? Its a question I find myself asking many times.
So what is it that keeps so many people from prepping? And how can it be overcome?
To talk about that on DestinySurvival Radio yesterday was clinical psychologist Dr. Steven Futrell. He was on the show a few weeks ago and you can read about that interview here. Yesterday Steven and I dissected two broad topicsnormalcy bias and situational awareness.
Normalcy bias is the idea that people believe nothing bad will happen because it hasnt happened before. Its also known as analysis paralysis, incredulity response or the ostrich effect. Of course, that last one refers to someone behaving like an ostrich who puts its head in the sand.
Many people cant get their head around the idea that things could get bad. Many simply refuse to accept the truth. It doesnt help when the media bombards us with the idea that were in economic recovery, even though they say it may be a slow one. Its easier and more comfortable to believe that kind of message.
Is there a way to move people beyond this and into prepping? Does FEMAs National Preparedness Message this month help? After all, authority carries a lot of sway with each of us. And maybe it takes a nudge from officials before people get it.
Nonetheless, even disasters like earthquakes, wildfires, Hurricane Katrina and more recently Isaac dont seem to move people. Its a real problem.
Its compounded by the fact that you and I have a credibility problem with friends and family members. Theyre prone to think were extremists or even nuts. Is there a way around this? Will asking probing questions motivate people to think? What about giving prepping related gifts?
Situational awareness is the opposite side of the coin. It means paying attention to your environment and those around you. And you dont have to be on a survival camping trek in the wilderness to put this into practice.
Its a good idea to anticipate possible problems and get mentally ready for them. Doing thought experiments can help. For example, ask yourself what youd do if you were mugged? How would you handle it if you lost your job?
But how do we determine what threats are real and which ones arent likely? Be objective. Ask yourself a few questions.
For example, how likely is it that youll be hit by a meteorite today? How relevant to your prepping are the events in todays news? Should you be frightened or persuaded by what so-called authorities are telling us?
Understand its not possible to prepare for absolutely everything. But we dont have to become overwhelmed. Focus. Prioritize. Dont try to do everything all at once. Take baby steps with your prepping endeavors.
Steven and I wrapped up our chat by talking about the typical reactions to the fight or flight response. Besides fight or flight, we may freeze up or surrender.
I raised the idea of how odd it was that no one disarmed the shooter at the Batman movie in Colorado earlier this summer. Was everyone so panicked they could only surrender in resignation? Was this a bad case of normalcy bias where such an event was incomprehensible? Wasnt that a situation when someone should have put himself at risk to save the lives of others?
Hear my entire discussion with Dr. Futrell by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for September 6, 2012.
By the way, I talked about two contests near the beginning of my show yesterday. One is the Be Sun Savvy contest, which Ill write more about here tomorrow. The second contest is one in which Im giving away my review copy of The Pulse, by Scott B. Williams. Listen to the show for details.
DestinySurvival Radio will be a best of show next week on the 13th. You can hear any show of your choice by going here.
What do you think? Have you had to overcome normalcy bias? Have you helped a friend or loved one overcome it? What worked? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Ping to read later.
Good article. Thanks for posting.
How hard it is to plan, just a little???
That's good advice. I've observed that most collisions involve someone making a left turn. It's a bad idea both practically and politically.
I think what’s going on right now is some of the worst normalcy bias I’ve witness. When you see some of the comments I have from what should be informed conservatives on prepping it bloggels the mind that they just don’t get where things are headed.
Another good article on Normalcy Bias from our own ChocChipCookie’s blog: Survival Mom
Normalcy Bias: Its All in Your Head
HA! So true.
Someone the other day described whats happening perfectly; they said its like being in a car wreck you are driving along you see a car coming at you hes not stopping for the red light theres no place for you to go you know for sure he is going to hit you and then everything slows down like a scene from some action movie the car coming seems to be crawling you can even see the surprise on the other drivers face. When he hits you the flying glass seems to hang in the air for a second and all the time there aint a damn thing you can do, but pray you survive.
Personally I we will see something much like the collapse of Argentina ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yerKMQc7-w&feature=grec_index )but on a global scale.
As far as the election either way it goes I believe we will soon see social unrest, the closer the election gets the more things will become like walking a mine field and a miss step and things can and will exploded.
Despite the CDCs tongue and cheek presentation for National Preparedness Month, there really are Zombies, just not the kind from George A. Romero films. They have been fed from the Governments stash and walked among us for years now and many have been caught on film, but it was in a movie it was for real:
These and many more like events show (Flash Mobs, OWS, etc) that we have a large entitlement minded population that is violent prone. I think that during a collapse you will see many small businesses wiped out by flash mob looting, and once started it will quickly spread to rape, robbery and murder for murder sake. You will see what I call pocket pogroms and if you aint Amish you better not be around when they come.
I am very much in agreement of the author of this article about what we can look forward to:
When The Music Stops How Americas Cities May Explode In Violence
Many of these zombies will think no more about killing you to get stuff than zombies in the lastest horror flick and do it just as gruesomely as any of the worse scenes in those same movies.
Many of you who have read my post know I often refer to this quote from Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Siege of AR-558 (#7.8) (1998)
Quark: Let me tell you something about Hew-mons, Nephew. Theyre a wonderful, friendly people, as long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts, deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers, put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time and those same friendly, intelligent, wonderful people... will become as nasty and as violent as the most bloodthirsty Klingon. You dont believe me? Look at those faces. Look in their eyes.
It has repeated been shown throughout history that this is what happens to people once placed under such stressful conditions and yet you would be surprised how many people dont realize the transformations that can take place under such conditions. And because of their ignorance many wont even live long learn.
If you want to learn what happens I suggest you read some of Selcos firsthand experiences in Bosnia:
A Survival Q & A: Living Through SHTF In The Middle Of A War Zone
Clearly theres a storm coming, as great as a hurricane and like you do when a hurricane comes your way you either prepare to weather it or you become a victim of it.
For those who are just starting or are old hands at prepping you may find my Preparedness Manual helpfull. You can download it at:
NOTE! THIS IS A FREE DOWNLOAD. I DO NOT MAKE ONE CENT OFF MY PREPAREDNESS MANUAL!
For those of you who havent started already its time to prepare almost past time maybe. You needed to be stocking up on food guns, ammo, basic household supplies like soap, papergoods, cleaning supplies, good sturdy clothes including extra socks, underwear and extra shoes and boots, a extra couple changes of oil and filters for your car, tools, things you buy everyday start buying two and put one up.
As the LDS say When the emergency is upon us the time for preparedness has past.
Or as the bible says: A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.
NIV Proverbs 22:3
There is no greater disaster than to underestimate danger.
Underestimation can be fatal.
The evil that resides in the WH will be giving the nation the business far and above any Mrs GBC could give on left hand turns. That evil is what we should be preparing for. Prepare for many more days like today between now and January. Prepare for day after day after day of this if he wins.
Your tp to food ratio seems low.
The weekly grocery ads are pages short this week and there is nothing really on sale. In fact, they’re running a whole page of “Everyday Prices” which sets off red lights that we’re looking at a huge jack up of prices any day.
You’re right. Those are Scott 20-roll (1,000 sheet/roll) packs and I only have 6 of them so far. So, unless I use the “Sheryl Crow Method” (heh), I’m way short. I’ll be picking-up another 6 20-roll packs this Sunday trip, and another 6 every week, until I fill-up the top tiers.
I plan to fill-up the top-tier shelves w/ 20-roll packs, 4 on bottom, dbl-stacked = 160 rolls per shelf top x 6 shelves. The PTs are 16-roll packs. 2 shelves of PTs, 3 16-roll packs x 2 shelves.
I have 10 more shelf units to set-up to store 360,000+ rounds of ammo, for 8 calibers, on the lower 4 of 5 shelves. More TP and PT on those shelves top tiers, too.
We also have a 40’x20’ underground “Safe Unit” w/ 3’ below deck storage, but this is the Farm’s basement “staging area”.
Visualize 2x this size’s width (scroll down for mfgr pics):
I do the same thing. There is grocery store next to where I work. Everybody tries to go in and out from the main drag. All you have to do is use either of the side streets to get in or out and you don’t have to mess with crossing traffic. It’s FASTER to turn onto one of the side streets.
You’re spot on; no coupons in the papers, but the local Giant and Weis do have many in-store/shelf 5-for, 10-for specials, so I stock-up on those, bigtime. I withdrew a lot of $ from bank today in 5s, 10s & 20s. Plus, I have 500+ rolls of nickels, dimes and quarters, in large ammo cans. SHTF is coming sooner than many realize.
I am not sure but I think that all cameras in cell phones have a dohicky that encodes location and date of the photo which can be decoded by people with the right software. Sort of like secret directions to the store.
Looks like you are fortunate to have a great storage area/space.
Heh, this is an ancient 2001 Kodak DX3900 Easy-Share 3.1-MP, w/ date-time stamp turned-off. My cellphone is an ancient 2006 Nokia 6060 clamshell w/ no camera or video. I think I’m okay as long as I use those relics.
'Cept nobody shoots at ya from the Safeway.
It’s taken a lot of work to get it to that point. It’s a 2,500 sqft area, perfectly level and dry area, so there’s plenty of storage room. Many more shelf units are coming. Those Home Depot HDX units are the strongest, easiest-to-assemble, cheapest ($35ea) I’ve ever seen.
HDX 5-Shelf 18 in. D x 36 in. W x 72 in. H Plastic Ventilated Storage Shelving Unit Model #17601099 Internet #100010588 Store SKU #625961 Store SO SKU #423623
Just read at the thread linked site in the Comments that Dollar General has seeds 90% off.
Where’s the racist peanut butter?
Jeez, I look for that, plus maximizing right hand turns when running errands and such, so you don’t have to make the left. In short, doing what a UPS routing guy would do (I have a buddy who used to do some of that). It’s mostly just common sense applied to driving around. How could anyone object to that!?
It was just staggering back during 2006/2007, the amount of folks right here on FR that were calling others warning of the banking/credit ponzi scheme coming to a crash, kooks and nuts. Even suggesting an end to it would bring huge ridicule. A year or so later when it actually happened, those people seemed to just go away. I'd wager that those who are ridiculing the 'Preppers' are those very same FReepers. Only this time, it will NOT be 'fun' or entertaining to watch them 'eat crow'. One would be best served to just ignore them, while taking quiet assurance in the fact those people ridiculing you must mean you are obviously doing something RIGHT!
2 shelves below the crackers.
All digital cameras do this. Its called metadata and the software isnt expensive.
Re your post 19, I trust that you have a substantial safe in which to put that currency.
“I have other examples of combining risk assessment with efficiencies”
Doesn’t seem nerdy to me, although my kids do roll their eyes. I’m always looking for ways of combining risk assessment with efficiencies. (That’s a concise turn of phrase, too.)
Oh yes. Perhaps I’ll upload some pics to PhotoBucket; you’ll be astounded at “The Armory”.
Darn; even the old clunkers leave fingerprint trails?
After that, I’m thinking that I won’t...
It's starting to get eerie now, I know more folks prepping than not. I used to be the one to initiate that conversation, not so anymore.
The older ones don’t have GPS. But, look online for tools to edit the metadata. You can change camera type, serial number, date, and more, including GPS tags if you get the correct software tool. Then if someone extracts metadata from your upload, it might say that it was taken August 19, 1837, in Rigolet, Canada.
btw I downloaded your pic and looked for metadata using Photoshop- nothing showed up at all, maybe Photobucket strips it out?
If we had a culture that valued looking forward, aka, “preparing for a rainy day”, prepping is what everyone would do who is not mentally ill or socially warpped in some way. We are now an instant gratification culture. The ghetto won.
Also, the survival industry has cried “Wolf!” too many times to scare up customers and elitists ridicule people who prepare in response to the chicken little survival industry. They’ve misled and made fear asses of a lot of people, ruining their reputations with family and friends. They have broken up marriages.
Be normal. Prepare for a rainy day. Ignore the fear porn industry. They ARE manipulating people’s emotions for the money.
Beats me; first time I’ve ever used PB. And first time I’ve ever heard about metadata in pics, DB. You’re light years ahead of me.
I’m still wondering if the old/ancient digital cameras were even capable of encoding pics w/ metadata? I just don’t know. If PB is stripping-out the info, I wonder what they’re doing with it? Hmmmm...
There was an article last week on yahoo about the entire retail sector trying to ween customers off of the sales addiction. The loss leader structure doesn’t work well in the modern internet world, so low prices on some items no longer drive sales up on others, which was the whole purpose of sale items in the first place. So prices won’t be going up so much as no longer temporarily dipping.
Metadata editing tools:
A bunch here. Any suggestions? I’ll have to check them out and see if I can find one for dummies, like me.
I have an old Kodak Easyshare. For metadata it encodes camera type and almost all the camera settings (shutter speed, aperture, and so on), zoom setting, and camera body serial number, plus other less obvious stuff.
Some “modern” cameras also encode GPS data, though if you are shooting in a shielded building or under heavy overcast, the last GPS reading will be used.
Not all “old” cameras use serial numbers in metadata.
http://www.amok.am/en/freeware/amok_exif_sorter/ is one program that sorts, http://www.wisegeek.com/how-can-i-view-the-exif-data-of-a-photograph.htm is a viewer online, http://support.google.com/picasa/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=19612 is another.
It’s a good idea to check what you post online in pictures! I also routinely remove license plates, clothing emblems, and the like that gives traceability to the picture. Wouldn’t do to show of my Barrett or my M60 with my license plate visible on my truck!
I find metadata useful when doing technical photography, where I might want a folder of all the shots I took at ASA400, 1/60th, and f11. I can sort pix by metadata, with a tool I got online that sorts by exif data (which is basically what metadata is).
Thanks for the warning, DB. I also have some very choice firearms, including a Barrett, and never have posted any of my personal Class III units online, either. Just mfgrs’ pics of them, glass, mags etc, but not my actuals.
The wiki article has some good freeware ones that delete exif metadata.
You lucky dawg. I wish I had enough room in my basement for that.
Thanks, DB; I’m working my way thru the links on that search. Lots to learn about metadata etc.
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