Why People Don’t Run When There’s a Fire

Or why people tend to ignore every clue that there is a possibility of disaster. Eveybody wants today, to be exactly like the last 300 days. Even if it isn’t going to be. Roberta X says it’s because Everybody’s A Weeble.

Roberta is talking about the COVID-19. The folks in Italy thought it would be just another day. Some folks in New York are still saying its just another day, and they get on the subway. Not the Stalinists in our midst; they aren’t ignoring the issue. They are using it as an excuse to nullify the Constitution. But most people want to say there’s no risk, which is why everyone ignores the flu every year, even though it kills thousands of people every year.

But back to Roberta.

Normalcy bias, a cognitive leaning that is usually not a problem: we expect things to go on in the same way as before. Usually it does, but when it doesn’t– Even when things go badly wrong and the floodwaters are rising or the fires are approaching, many of us, possibly as many as seven out of every ten, want so badly for events to be unremarkable that they will come up with plausible-sounding reasons not to worry that are entirely unjustified.

It’s that statement about the fires that caught my attention. It is why so many people didn’t get out of the way of the Camp Fire. They expected it to be just like every other fire. It is why so many people refuse to prepare, even in places like hurricane country, because they want it not be an issue. And yes, there is an aspect of “magical thinking.” If I don’t think about it, then I won’t have to deal with it. It is why so many Americans don’t have a will, or a health care power of attorney document. It isn’t cost, or time, they don’t want to deal with it.

As for normalcy bias, the Authorities have it too, so you can’t listen to them. The mayor and the health commissioner of NYC told everyone that there was nothing to worry about and of course you should attend the Chinese New Year celebration and parade in Chinatown. It’s why they didn’t want people to evacuate the 2nd World Trade Tower on 9-11. It’s why the mayor of Huston discouraged people from evacuating before the onslaught of Hurricane Harvey.

And I’ve decided that you can’t talk about COVID-19, or the Wuhan-Flu or whatever you want to call it without the following chart.

Every time the Left or the Media (but I repeat myself) talks about COVID-19 they talk about the number of cases and how we have SO many more than Italy or Spain. But then we have a lot more people than Italy or Spain. Or Italy plus Spain.

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