Thursday, January 6, 2011

Struggling with Normalcy Bias

Human psychology has always fascinated me. I love trying to understand why people act the way they do, especially if it makes no sense to me whatsoever. When someone is doing something crazy, it's always helpful to try and figure out which one of us is really off base. For many years, I've thought it was just me. My family background makes it totally appropriate for me to feel a need to garden, keep a pantry, prepare for the worst - be that snow, floods, or, well, economic collapse. For many years, my idea of economic collapse was losing my job or my husband needing a new transmission on the old John Deere!

So when I discovered this new term the other day, I was delighted to finally have a name for what I'd been seeing. The term is "normalcy bias". According to Wikipedia,

The normalcy bias refers to an extreme mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of the government to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred that it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.

Well, shoot! The whole danged country's got normalcy bias!!! What was I thinking! It's NOT just me!

Okay, I know you're laughing. But look at these figures. This is not to spread gloom and doom, but to help you see what I am starting to see.

 *chart from Charlie McGrath's website,  Wide Awake News
Now, with those kinds of statistics, why in the world are we super-shopping at Wal-Mart? What in the world are we thinking? And right there, in the above paragraph in the answer - we're NOT thinking. We are walking way on the other side of the room, as far as we can get from the elephant in the corner, hoping someone else will figure out how to get him outside so we don't have to do it. We, my friends, are suffering from "normalcy bias".

So,  how do we learn to face what is happening around us?

1. Come to grips with the fact that our economic future is uncertain. Really, it has always been uncertain. A sudden illness, accident, job loss or other such circumstance could throw any family who is unprepared into chaos. The state of the economy is just another potential fire to put out.

2. Face the reality of your personal situation. Maybe you don't feel that you have enough money to buy precious metals, or even stock a pantry. Assess your financial and personal situation calmly and see what you do have in terms of assets and how you can best apply them to preparing for uncertainty.  Can you buy a few extra items to put in the pantry? Can you buy an ounce or two of silver every week? Start where you are with what you have. Try not to think about what has to be done - just think about what you can do, and remember, take baby steps.

3. As much as you can, over-prepare. Normalcy bias assures us that everything will be just fine. Perhaps, but I wouldn't bet my life or that of my family on it. A couple of bottles of water and some microwavable, off the shelf soups are not enough. But again, do what you can with what you have - any preparation is better than none.

4. Don't become obsessed with this. No matter what happens, it is not likely to be the end of the world.

Think of it this way - if a crisis comes - in whatever form - you're ready. If it never happens, you're ahead in terms of investments, money saved in food and so on. The sun will eventually come out again, no matter how long it rains!
Lighten up a little, but remember these predictions!

Top 10 Predictions for 2011

1.  The Bible will still have all the answers.
2.  Prayer will still be the most powerful thing on Earth.
3.  The Holy Spirit will still move.
4.  God will still honor the praises of His people
5.  There will still be God-anointed preaching.
6.  There will still be singing of praise to God.
7.  God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
8.  There will still be room at the Cross.
9.  Jesus will still love you.
10.  Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him.  

Isn't it great to remember who is really in control, and that the Word of the Lord endures forever!

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