By Dave Hodges
In my first investigation into the health effects in the Gulf, data was sparse and the demonstrable health effects were mostly anecdotal. Today, we are beginning to see some very early trend curves with regard to health . . . and the trends are frightening. However, I am afraid that the emerging health data will fall upon deaf ears. In fact, it is more likely that non-Gulf Coast residents will readily see the dangers before the actual victims in the Gulf.
Subsequently, I am predicting that many in the Gulf who read this series on the Gulf will not be grateful that someone is willing to spend their time, without pay, to expose the omnipresent dangers in the Gulf. Rather, most in the Gulf Coast region who read any part of this series will react with strong anger and deny that there is even the hint of a problem. I predict that the comments section connected to my articles will demonstrate a volatility and hostility that will not be present in any other article that I have written. Why? This is because people from the Gulf Coast region will do so because of what psychologists call the normalcy bias.
Before I present the emerging hard data and the myriad of health effects in the Gulf, it is first important to examine the psychology of a crisis and why many in the Gulf have passively accepted their fate despite the omnipresent health effects. Recently, on my talk show, a Louisiana resident said that the crisis was not that bad despite having stated earlier in the same interview that nearly everyone they knew was sick and âstayed sickâ since the Gulf oil spill. This person was demonstrating what has become known as the normalcy bias and most people in the Gulf are afflicted with this condition.
Before the hard data is presented on the health effects in the Gulf (Part Three), this portion of the series will examine the psychology connected to the Gulf oil spill and it will become obvious why most people in the Gulf are ignoring the dangers.
Please allow me to first ask a question to every Gulf resident who has followed the Fukushima event. Do you think the people living within 50 miles of the nuclear power plant should have immediately moved following the event? Most people that I know would say yes. It is easier to answer to say yes when it is not you that has to pack up everything, try and sell the home, find new work, find a new place to live and resettle the children into a new school. If you are involved in the event, your brain begins to look for disconfirming reasons which deny the seriousness of the event so that you can continue on with your life with as little of disruption as possible.
We know Fukushima was, and is, a deadly event. Why then, did most Japanese stay? They stayed for two reasons. The government adopted the position that is a dishonorable act to question the government when the government says it is safe to remain near Fukushima. This is a cultural factor not commonly found in the United States. However, the second factor involved in why the Japanese are staying and dying is common to most people and it is due to what psychologists call theÂ normalcy bias. In short, the normalcy bias causes people to deny a danger whose effects are already in progress. Secondly, the normalcy bias also causes people to underestimate the effects of a danger once the event can no longer be denied.
The normalcy bias came into play in Japan and the normalcy bias has also come into play in the Gulf Coast region. As I publish my findings in this and subsequent parts of this series, I know that the comments section from people in the Gulf will loudly criticize my findings more than people from anywhere else in the country and this is due to the normalcy bias.
Research On Normalcy Bias
Personnel who are deeply concerned with evacuation procedures, such as first responders, architects, stadium employees and in the travel industry are keenly aware of normalcy bias and write about it in their training manuals and trade journals.
In a 1985 paper published in theÂ International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, sociologists Shunji Mikami and KenâIchi Ikeda at the University of Tokyo (Kakuko Miyata. 1985, Mass Media Reporting on a False Alarm. Journal of Mass Communication Studies. No.34, pp. 193-213. Japanese Society of Mass Communication, Tokyo. Osamu Hiroi ,Shunji Mikami & Kakuko Miyata 1985, A Study of Mass Media Reporting in Emergencies. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, No.3, pp.21-49.) identified the steps one is likely to go through in a disaster.
- Disaster victims have a tendency to first interpret the situation within the context of what one is familiar with and to greatly underestimate the severity of the danger. Unfortunately, this is the moment, when a few precious seconds count, is when normalcy bias costs lives.
- People in danger will seek information from those that they trust first and then move on to those nearby for further advice. This results in another time delay which costs lives.
- Next, there is a tendency to try to contact family members if possible in order to seek advice.
- Then and only then, one will begin to prepare to evacuate or seek shelter.
I think there is no question that when the mainstream media over-hypes events such as Y2K, swine flu, SARS, etc., which helps to fuel the normalcy bias on a global scale. With so much of the media crying wolf, it can be difficult to determine when to be alarmed, and when it really is not a drill. BP, through their incessant network television commercials and public service announcements have added to the normalcy bias in the Gulf by promoting the fiction that all is well.
Delivered by The Daily Sheeple
Contributed by Activist Post of Activist Post.