Normalcy Bias

I’m still in this state of shock over how much of my view of the world was a lie. I just find it so incredible that I’ve unknowingly participated in and perpetuated a complete fantasy. How could we, as a society, believe that energy was an unlimited resource?

Of course, we had help in believing this fantasy. The big oil companies controlled by the Rockefeller family certainly wanted us to believe that oil was a never-ending supply of energy. But, it’s not fair to lay the blame solely at the feet of the Rockefellers.

We wanted to believe that cheap energy would always be available. We helped inflate this fantasy of unlimited energy because we wanted to believe it. And, we went on to build an incredible civilization that could only survive if unlimited energy were in fact, truth.

Unlimited energy is a shocking deception – along with unlimited copper, unlimited aluminum, unlimited growth, unlimited water… unlimited ANYTHING.

There are limits, and we’ve run into them.

But, we’ve talked about limits, and I’d rather talk about this state of shock that I’m struggling with. And, it has a lot to do with this interesting phrase that I heard a couple years ago: Normalcy Bias.

What in ingenious paring of words that captures our situation so completely. Just five syllables that pronounce doom for us all: Nor-mal-cy Bi-as.

The phrase is so new that it’s hard to find any kind of formal definition. I had to go to Wiktionary to get this one:

The phenomenon of disbelieving one’s situation when faced with grave and imminent danger and/or catastrophe. As in overfocusing on the actual phenomenon instead of taking evasive action, a state of paralysis.Wiktionary

I like Wikipedia’s entry better:

The normalcy bias, or normality bias, refers to a 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 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 then 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.Wikipedia

Yup. This is me.

Ask yourself if this isn’t you, too.