Here is a short quiz for you. Ready?
* Who is Taylor Swift's latest boyfriend?
* Who won the latest Dancing with the
* Name five celebrities with “baby
* Explain how the government policies
in Venezuela are causing the collapse
of that country’s economy.
If you answered the first three questions
but are clueless on the fourth, you aren't
the only one. Estimates are that up to half
the population in America is ignorant
about the situation in Venezuela. Oh
sure, they hear snippets on the evening
news, but since it’s far away and happening to other people, they don’t worry
These people are suffering from a
Just what is a Normalcy Bias? It’s defined
as a mental state which “causes people
to underestimate both the possibility
of a disaster occurring and its possible
effects.” A Normalcy Bias is the inability
to mentally grasp the notion that any-
thing could ever change for the worse.
It’s sometimes called the “It can’t happen
here” syndrome. The assumption is that
since a particular disaster has never oc-
curred before (or hasn’t in a long while),
it never will. Any disturbing indications
that something bad may happen are
dismissed or trivialized.
In a nutshell, it’s the ostrich effect: if you
stick your head in the sand and can’t see
what’s around you, then what’s around
you doesn’t exist because you don’t see it.
Circular argument, anyone?
Originally the Normalcy Bias referred
solely to natural disasters. The scale of
devastation and societal disruption from
Hurricane Katrina can be attributed in
part to a Normalcy Bias—the refusal of
the people of New Orleans to believe
their beloved city could ever receive a
direct hit from a major hurricane, despite
its physical vulnerabilities. I distinctly
remember seeing a live news report from
New Orleans on the evening of August
28, 2005, that showed people partying
in the street with a (then) Category 4
hurricane hours away from landfall. Di-
saster? Nah. It can’t happen here. Gimme
When we hear the mainstream media
assuring us in soothing, condescending
tones that we’re in an economic “
recovery”—despite all evidence to the contrary—we want desperately to believe it.
We don’t want anything to disrupt our
ordinary, comfortable lives. We genuinely believe if we cling to our normal way
of life and habitual methods of doing
things—despite overwhelming proof
that something dangerous is looming—
then everything will be okay. It can’t
By Patrice Lewis