Published on July 2, 2013

Vermont-Motorcycle-Attorney1-300x186By Patrick Estebe
Clash Daily Guest Contributor

A good friend of mine commented on the previous post “have an exit strategy at all times”, saying that the difficulty to convince people that they may have to abandon their real estate comes from the “normalcy bias”.

Quoting Wikipedia on normalcy bias:

“Not limited to, but most notably: The Nazi genocide of millions of Jews. Even after knowing friends and family were being taken against their will, the Jewish community still stayed put, and refused to believe something was “going on.” Because of the extreme nature of the situation it is understandable why most would deny it.”

“Little Sioux Scout camp in June 2008. Despite being in the middle of “Tornado Alley,” the campground had no tornado shelter to offer protection from a strong tornado.

New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina. Inadequate government and citizen preparation and the denial that the levees could fail were an example of the normalcy bias, as were the thousands of people who refused to evacuate.

“The normalcy bias often results in unnecessary deaths in disaster situations. The lack of preparation for disasters often leads to inadequate shelter, supplies, and evacuation plans.”

As one of the characters says in the latest blockbuster:  “People don’t believe something can happen, until it already has”.  This would definitely explain why I have had so much trouble explaining why everyone should make evacuation preparations for security reasons.  There is a huge communication gap between the folks affected by the normalcy bias and those like me, who have no concept of normalcy.

Indeed like most sailors, I am quite foreign to the very concept of normalcy: boats most often reach their destination but they have been known to also do quite a few other things and sailors do not take anything for granted. In fact they also definitively have an exit strategy at all times in the form of safety boats, no matter how good the ship they are on is supposed to be. Most experienced captains will also make sure their crew can go through the emergency exits even with a full blackout. Sailors are immune to the normalcy bias.

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