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The Normalcy Bias May Kill You!

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The normalcy bias is a mental condition individuals experience when facing a disaster. It causes people to become vulnerable to approaching danger as they underestimate both the possibility of a disaster and its potential dangerous impact. This often results in situations where people fail to prepare for a disaster and that failure can be catastrophic on a state or national scale.

It is a mental condition that convinces a person that since it has never happened before, it can’t happen. Or “it won’t happen to me.” After all, this is America. We are special; however, we are not any different from others.

The town of Pompeii, located on the Bay of Naples, was a flourishing resort for wealthy, powerful, and élite citizens of Rome in the first century A.D. The city of about 20,000 citizens was located about five miles from Mount Vesuvius and citizens, slaves, tourists, and artisans jostled through the well-paved city streets. They passed elegant villas, taverns, cafes, bathhouses, and brothels to attend the arena that could seat 20,000 people. Everyone knew about the volcano at Mount Vesuvius nearby but it had been silent for over 1700 years. Nothing to worry about, but in August of 79 A.D., the mountain blew its top sending ashes, rocks, and hot gases into the sky that could be seen for hundreds of miles.

Pliny the Younger was living with his uncle, Pliny the Elder, an admiral of the Roman fleet who died in the eruption. The younger Pliny watched the eruption from across the bay, and then wrote, “I believed I was perishing with the world.” However, there was plenty of time to flee the eruption yet about 2,000 people watched in wonder as death fell around them! The hot, heavy ash made it difficult to breathe, and then a 100-mile surge of poisonous gas rushed down the mountain killing every living thing in its path. When the mountain stopped shaking, spitting, and sputtering the next day the silent city of the dead was covered with up to 20 feet of ashes, rocks, and lava.

Highly intelligent people watched the eruption until death devoured them, an ancient example of normalcy bias.

When Hurricane Katrina slammed New Orleans Aug. 29, 2005, thousands of citizens refused to leave the city, and city officials didn’t even make an attempt to evacuate them. There were scores of parked buses that could have saved hundreds of people but the mayor refused to give the order and 1,461 people died. The National Hurricane Center warned on Aug. 28 that the area would be “uninhabitable for weeks” after “devastating damage” caused by the storm. Finally that day, Mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation yet thousands of people refused to seek safety!

The media have defended those who decided not to evacuate the area “because they were mostly poor.” Wait a minute. Are we to believe that all those people did not have automobiles, did not have friends or family with cars, or could not afford a $50.00 bus ticket out of town? However, they could have walked away from danger! They didn’t leave because “I’m different,” or “It can’t happen here,” or “It can’t be that bad,” or “God (or government) won’t let it happen to me.” Normalcy bias killed again.

The mind seems to make an attempt to protect us from traumatic events that come our way. When some things are too troublesome, traumatic, or tragic, the mind often shuts down. One survivor from the Muslim terrorist attack on September 11 in New York City reports of going blind when she saw dozens of humans hitting the ground outside the Twin Towers after falling 100 stories. The human mind is an incredible organ but obviously there are some things too terrible to comprehend.

When faced with major danger the mind goes into one of three modes: it will “suggest” flight, fight, or freeze. Many people freeze–and die.

Americans have had it too good, nice, easy, cushy, soft, and pleasant all their lives. Disaster does lie ahead so each one, especially heads of households, must prioritize, plan, and prepare. You cannot plan for every contingency but you can for some. And remember that “hope” is not a plan. And “thinking about it” is not a plan. Nor is worrying about it a plan. A plan requires a plan. If you don’t have one, then get one.

What’s in our future? It could be a total financial collapse of our economy far worse than the Great Depression. Such suggestions are no longer coming from just me and other “prophets of doom.” Highly respected economists tell us that it is only a matter of time. Not if, but when the big bubble bursts.

Jim Rogers is a famed billionaire investor co-founder of the Quantum Fund with George Soros. Jim said that we are in for a major financial meltdown that will be the most shaking financial event “we have ever seen in recorded history.” But surely not. “It just can’t happen to us.”

A study done in Britain revealed that Britain is only “nine meals from anarchy.” The Daily Mail said that it would take only “nine meals–three full days without food on supermarket shelves–before law and order started to break down, and British streets descended into chaos.” Furthermore, the food you eat for dinner tonight had to be brought an average of 1500 miles. What if the food or the trucks, or the fuel, or the drivers or the highways were not available to deliver that food? “But that could never happen here.”

A financial collapse would bankrupt state and federal governments and the feds would renege on their financial obligations. Tax payments to the IRS would plummet and our national debt would really go into the stratosphere. Already billions of dollars in the hole, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, an agency that guarantees pensions of major corporations, would go belly up. So would Social Security. Everyone would be on his own. “But our government would not permit that to happen.”

The disaster that does you in may be an epidemic that shuts down every school, church, theater, or even all public transportation. Hospitals and clinics will be overwhelmed taking only the most diseased and dying. “But that couldn’t happen here.”

It may be an attack by one of the rogue nations such as North Korea or Iran dropping an EMP device over a major heartland city knocking out all electronic devices including all electrical power, all automobiles, all cell and land phones, all elevators, televisions, radio, traffic lights, air traffic control, air travel, etc. In other words, we would be back in the 18th century. A major solar bombardment would have the same effect! But that just couldn’t happen, could it?

Naïve, confused, closed-minded Americans say, “The President would never declare martial law and incarcerate mass numbers of his critics.” No, it hasn’t happened here but it has sure happened elsewhere. Why can’t it happen here?

Tomorrow morning a dirty bomb may explode in the heart of Dallas or Washington revealing the fact that some suitcase bombs are circulating in Muslim circles. A mushroom cloud does not portend a normal life for anyone in America. But then, “It’s never happened here.” Yet!

It may only be a natural disaster that destroys your city rendering you without utilities, food, employment, etc. But that disaster might ignite your normalcy bias that ends up killing you or your family. It is better to prepare and not need it than to not prepare and need it.

Hope is not a plan. Wishful thinking is stupid thinking.

Remember, it wasn’t raining when Noah entered the Ark!



 

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