We wouldn’t be preppers if we didn’t believe that we might meet a Black Swan.
Black swans are so uncommon that statisticians use the term to refer to very rare events. We prep for black swans … EMPs, pandemics, etc. … because we understand they can and sometimes will occur. You may feel sad about or superior to (or both) those poor suckers who fall for the Normalcy Bias: the natural human tendency to believe that things will always happen like they usually happen.
Where preppers get into trouble is when the Normalcy Bias teams up with the Availability Bias: the tendency to pay more attention to things that come easily to mind than things that don’t. Dramatic things get our attention and come easily to mind — there’s the EMPs and pandemics again. Less dramatic things, like accidents that affect only one or a few people at a time, don’t get our attention. Being common doesn’t even make those those accidents make much of an impression on us; they’re hardly even news. Until they happen to you.
How many preppers have a Get Home Bag in the car in case there’s a terrorist attack that forces them to walk home, but still check their phones while they drive? Yet distracted driving (phones being the biggest distraction) kill more people than drunk driving. Say you’re an awesome driver, and there’s less than one in a thousand chance that that second that you glance at the phone will be the one second where the kid, or the deer, or the other driver invades your lane — how many times do you suppose you glance at that phone in the course of a year or three? Each tiny risk adds up over time, making a bad outcome Sometime pretty darned likely.
That’s where the Law of Universal Precautions comes in. I learned it my first day working with potentially infectious materials: You treat every single sample as if you know for sure it’s infectious; because sooner or later you Will be right. You just don’t know when.
- Every gun is loaded. (Salty and I get laughed at for checking every gun we’re handed; but he’s done that with an ‘unloaded’ pistol and had a hot round pop out.)
- Every critical piece of equipment will break. (Which is why Two is One in Prepper-World)
- Every drive will have the guy in front of you slam on his brakes at max power for zero reason.
- Every water source is full of Cholera. (ok, I give certified potable water a pass on this one)
- The knife will slip during every cut (so don’t have body parts in its path).
- You get the picture.
Does that mean we live in fear of these potentially tragic events? Heck no! It’d be a waste of a good life to worry over so many small probabilities. The trick is to develop habits such that the black swan doesn’t get a chance to bite you in the rear. (Swans are mean, by the way.) . I didn’t get advance notice the day I needed my seat belt to not be launched full speed through the windshield — but I was wearing it. I hope you will too.
*By DickDaniels (http://carolinabirds.org/) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons