Just when you think this is over…

I know, I know – enough politics already.  Trust me, I get it.  It’s emotionally exhausting.

I’ve always considered myself politically informed, but not really politically motivated, if that makes sense.  That is, until recently.  We live in a new world now; the rules have changed and the attitudes have changed.  One of my favorite phrases is “normalcy bias.”  Commonly used in the context of disaster preparedness, it also applies to politics in 2013.  In a nutshell, it’s the belief that tomorrow will be exactly like today, even in spite of evidence to the contrary.

Here’s another way to understand what I’m talking about: let’s say for a minute that I can see into the future and that I know that without a doubt, you’re going to be in a car accident tomorrow that leaves you with a broken leg.  I’ve given you the information, now it’s up to you on what you do with it.  You can either a) write me off as a complete nutjob or b) alter your behavior in some way.  A reasonable person, when given information that directly affects them, would simply choose to take a day off work, ride a bike instead, something – do something different because of the new information.  But depending on what form that alteration takes, many of us choose to ignore the input so we don’t have to change anything about our lives or our behavior.  That’s the normalcy bias.  In spite of evidence to the contrary, we’ve decided that changing our behavior is a bigger risk than the event itself – and so we reject the input or dismiss the messenger or both.

The Normalcy Bias usually manifests itself in one of 4 ways:

  1. “Oh that will never happen.”
  2. “That will never happen here.”
  3. “If it does happen, and it does happen here, it won’t be as bad as you say it will be.”  See how this is going?  We’re rationalizing the inputs away so that we can wake up tomorrow expecting everything to be exactly as it is today.
  4. “If it does happen, and it does happen here, and it is as bad as you say, I don’t want to live through it.”  This appears extreme on the surface, but I’ve heard exactly this in conversation before – and this philosophy actually is not uncommon.

So when a political figure comes out and says that they want to confiscate all guns, you now have an input: you can take action on that input, or if the “taking action” part seems uncomfortable or risky, you just hit the snooze button, roll over, and go back to sleep.

Welcome to politics in 2013.  I’ve actually talked to “gun guys” who say “oh there’s no way they’ll do that here in Colorado.”  Or “there’s no way that will pass.”  Or “if they DO get something like that passed, it won’t be that bad.”  No longer can we just hit the snooze button and expect tomorrow to be just like today.  Just ask Joseph K. how that worked out for him (for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning).  And yes, I just made a Franz Kafka reference – take that, high school English teachers everywhere.

So back to the case at hand.  On one side of the equation we have people arguing based on statistics, facts, and rule of law – with actual solutions to real problems.  Like this guy:

Then on the other side, we have this:

How nice

It really is like both sides of the gun argument are speaking different languages.  Watching the testimony last week in the Colorado Senate was like watching this over and over and over:

But in case you missed it, our rights have not been completely removed yet.  House Bills 1224 and 1229 both had amendments added last week, meaning they both have to go back to the Colorado House, which is happening soon.  So keep on your state reps – we can still win this one.

Yes, Al, even you.

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4 comments on “Just when you think this is over…

  1. Kathie says:

    It seems there should be ” just one thing” we can say that would click with people who choose to ignore reality. The normalcy bias blinders must go on first thing each morning before brushing teeth. It’s too painful for many to face facts. It’s too easy to ignore what is happening and say we are busy with life. It’s our responsibility to pay attention. Responsibility?
    Arrogant widsom, combined with emotions and buying into what feels good, liquifies the brain. Those are the ones who need background checks.

  2. […] talk about the Normalcy Bias a lot.  As far as I’m concerned, understanding what it is and how it manifests itself […]

  3. […] them right in the face, and yet they turn around and walk away.  For many of us, this is the Normalcy Bias all over again.  We’re expecting to see normal things, and even when confronted with […]

  4. […] this to be my first attempt at defining the Normalcy Bias.  This time I’ll put my back into […]

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