PrepperPsych 101: ‘On Top’ Doesn’t Mean ‘Most Important’

 Today the shelves are bare of bump stocks, because last week some evil S.O.B. did great evil, and one thing he used to do it was a bump stock. Bump stocks all over the news, people freaking out that they might get banned and “I might not be able to buy a bump stock!!!” so they rush out and buy one (or more, two being one and whatnot).

Last week few preppers thought they needed one — so why buy them this week?

Is panic buying of bump stocks a great use of prepping resources?  I deeply doubt it. A week ago, I bet most of those folks would have not have told you they needed even one, if you’d asked.  They bought it this week because all the media noise brought it to the top of their minds.

We did a podcast about this subject to go along with this article, you can listen to it here:

PrepperPsych 101 is a series of posts meant to highlight specific quirks of how human minds tend to work in a way that shows the relevance to preppers.  This one’s about one of the ways are brains are wired to make decisions called the Availability Bias.  Basically, the Availability Bias means we tend to pay most attention to things that are easily available to our thoughts:  Top of Mind, as they say.  Much of the time it’s a good plan (which is why we ended up wired that way):  If you live in Tornado Alley, you hear a lot about tornadoes, and you’d tend to prep for tornadoes.  Win.

However, with the massive upgrade in communication we’ve had in recent years, the Availability Bias has become somewhat suspect.  We hear a lot, for example, about there being some chance that some gadget will become unavailable, so we tend to think a lot more about getting one. We hear more about guns than sturdy walking shoes and good rain gear. We hear more about expensive prescription medications than simple lifestyle changes. We hear more about what we can buy than what we can learn. If we just let the automation of the Availability Bias run our thinking, we make bad choices.

Worse, both politicians and marketers know full well how our biases work, including this one.  They hire psychologists to help them manipulate you.  If you just go with the mental flow, you end up being somebody’s tool.  A Sheeple.  We here at BBBY want to help you be your best person, which is not a sheeple.

Politicians know how to turn our attention to what they want (and so away from what they don’t want.) . Thanks By Lailazee * for the image.

So we can’t let these biases run us.  They’re not going to go away; I’ve known about this bias for years and still fall into it; moreso if I’m not careful. We’ve got to keep an eye on the biases and decide when they’re doing us good and when they’re playing us false — and make our own best decisions.

*By Lailazee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons



  1. I get what you are saying, but KJU in DPRK scares me. Am I crazy just because he happens to be on the news constantly? My wife thinks it is foolish to even think about what he could do. I’m not willing to take a chance.

  2. Is it unreasonable to be worried about people who may not have a good grasp of reality but do have a grasp on nuclear weapons? Of course not. But Korea is definitely outside my sphere of influence. I can’t impact that any more than I could impact a Yellowstone supervolcano event, so I intentionally turn my attention away from the Tweet or Sound Byte of the Day and toward other things. Those things do include making sure I’m as set as I can be to handle the outcomes of madmen and volcanoes, of course.

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