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Normalcy Bias

The normalcy bias is a mental state people enter when facing a potential disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster and the potential extent of its effects. This may result in situations where people fail to adequately prepare and, on a larger scale, the failure of governments 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, it never will occur. It can result 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.

The normalcy bias often results in unnecessary deaths in disaster situations. When the bias is held collective, the distorted thinking gains inertia. Then, it is even more dangerous.

The nuclear threat is a classic example of normalcy bias. As generation upon generation grows up with the threat of nuclear annhilation, the society becomes normalized to the danger, and unable to respond appropriately.

Humans on earth are now seriously normalized to the possible of a nuclear war. We should be terrified. Instead, we are very complacent... even to the point of talking about preparing for and surviving such a war.

What causes normalcy bias?

The normalcy bias may be caused in part by the way the brain processes new data. Research suggests that even when the brain is calm, it takes 8–10 seconds to process new information. Stress slows the process, and when the brain cannot find an acceptable response to a situation, it fixates on a single and sometimes default solution which may not be correct. An evolutionary reason for this response could be that paralysis gives an animal a better chance of surviving an attack; predators are less likely to see prey that is not moving.

How to become "unnormalized" to a serious threat, such as the possible of a nuclear war. This is one of the most important questions of our times.

Visit www.loveshift.com/normalcy-bias.html to learn more.