The Normalcy Bias

Filed Under (The HELL You Say!) by Carney Alexander on 19-05-2011

For any of you who have attended a business meeting or listened to a motivational speaker the term” thinking out-of-the-box” is one of the most recognizable suggestions given, as a method of encouragement to develop new and fresh perspectives when approaching an opportunity or a problem  (and yes I said “problem” not “challenge” ).

As catchy as that phrase is, this is not a natural reaction of the brain in dealing with new experiences. Despite its popularity, and as many times as I have heard this phrase used, no one has ever even addressed two obvious questions – first, why is it there is even a box at all? Secondly, why does it appear that our natural state is to reside in the box, continually prompting people to encourage us to think out of the box?

Until I started looking for answers to my two questions, I hadn’t realized that the science of psychology has actually ascribed a medical term to “the box” – “the normalcy bias”.

The normalcy bias is usually meant to refer to a distinct mental state that people enter when they suddenly face threat, danger, or disaster. This newly constructed mental state causes people to underestimate not only the possibility of something terrible occurring, but also its subsequent effects. And it is this tendency for underestimation that results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for, or respond to, a disaster, or emergency.

Even though we don’t realize it, there is an assumption that is made for us by our own tendency toward the normalcy bias. The assumption is that since a disaster never has occurred, then it never will occur. So the normalcy bias creates two distinct and dangerous problems; it deprives us of a natural ability to foresee a disaster, and thereby preventing us from being prepared – and then, when the disaster actually strikes, it keeps us from having any clue as to how to respond.

Biologically, it is speculated that the normalcy bias could be caused by the way the brain processes new information.  Researchers suggest that even when the brain is calm it takes 8 to 10 seconds to process new information.  Stress slows this process.  And the greater the stress, the slower the processing of information becomes.  And when the brain is so overwhelmed by stress that it can’t find an acceptable response to a situation, it fixates on a single solution that may or may not be correct… Usually “not”.

The normalcy bias has the potential to be extremely harmful – if not lethal. It causes people to radically underestimate the events of the disaster. Subsequently, they think that everything is going to be all right, even as information from the radio, television, or even neighbors, should give them good reason to believe that there is a risk.

We’ve all seen this demonstrated during certain disasters, where people refuse to believe new warnings about the disaster and its risks, and then refusing to escape the danger. A poignant example of exactly this type of behavior occurred on 9/11. There were several reports by people who had successfully escaped the twin towers, of fellow escapees stopping in the midst of their escape, and saying ” Oh!! I’ll be right back, I forgot to turn off my computer!”

A number of years ago a personal security instructor gave a large group of us this wise advice; ” Because you all are law-abiding and moral individuals, when you encounter a bad guy and he draws a weapon on you, I can guarantee that the first thought that will go through your mind consciously or subconsciously, will be ‘surely this person will realize the moral and legal ramifications of what he is about to do, and he will stop.’  People, it will be that moment of hesitation that gets you killed!”

I assert, that it is “the normalcy bias” that is the greatest enemy of, and danger to, the continued existence of this country, as we have come to know and love it. The pain resulting from what is going on in this country is getting much greater as a result of an economic crisis never before seen in this country’s history.  As the level of desperation grows, and the people desperately search for answers, they begin to ask “Why?!”

More and more I hear people asking about those in Washington – those in power;  ” Why do those people not get it?” , “Do they not understand what they’re doing? “,  “Have those people completely lost their minds?”,  “Are those guys crazy?”.
The answer to every single one of those questions can be answered in just one word; “No”. They’re not idiots, they’re not crazy, and yes, they do get it!  All one needs to do is look at what’s going on, and you can see clearly that it is not by accident, it is not by blunder – it is deliberate.

For anyone that will see, we have been unabashedly lied  to repeatedly!  Even as we have seen specific individuals caught in the act of criminal and even treasonous activity, they have been allowed to avoid prosecution.  We have seen seemingly insane favoritism, as our president  sends  $4 billion of our tax dollars to Brazil’s state owned Petrobras oil company to subsidize drilling – while at the same time shutting down America’s own exploration, and drilling business – destroying over 15,000 jobs.

We have seen with our own eyes, this presidency disrespect and ultimately abandon the only true ally in the Middle East Israel, while at the same time making acquiescent overtures to those who have stated quite openly “….we will not stop until all the vermin Jews are killed.”

We’ve heard and seen the chairman of the Federal Reserve  spend the last 2 years assuring us that all is well, and promise the Americans on  3 separate occasions that the Fed would NOT print more worthless money.  He broke those 3 promises and did it anyway – making the dollar drop in value.  When will he stop?  When the dollar is finally worthless?  Is this the “….necessary and orderly decline of the dollar….” that is being called for by George Soros?

All of this must be seen for what is it is – premeditated.  It is calculated and orchestrated. It is anything but absent-minded or accidental.  And I believe it is the normalcy bias that is preventing a great many people from admitting this cold hard fact to themselves.  Once a person escapes from “the box”, there are only two reasonable questions that remain; “why?”, and “Can we stop it?”

Only if, and when America stops deluding themselves that the United States is “too big to fail” – only when they realize that the ship has been deliberately navigated straight into an iceberg , and take action, will there ever be any hope of survival.

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