Gas, Ass, or Grass – Revisited.
Well, now that the Brexit thing has happened and things are finally starting to visibly fall apart it is time to revisit the old hitch-hiker saying of “Gas, Ass, or Grass, Nobody Rides for Free.” Why? Because of normalcy bias. What the heck is normalcy bias? The example I like to cite as most visual is the time in all the disaster flicks when there is a big noise up the street and some people come running down the street away from the big noise and all the people in the crowd watch the other people run past them then turn and stand still looking down the street toward the noise only to be engulfed, eaten, squashed, burnt – well you get the idea – when whatever caused the other people to sensibly run away gets there. It is always bad for the idiots who could not rapidly shift out of everything-is-normal mode into TSHTF mode. The original normalcy bias idea comes from the realm of disaster planning where authorities regularly have a hard time convincing people to leave their homes and evacuate when a natural disaster strikes. People do not want to believe that the disaster is real, or imminent, or as bad as the authorities say, etc., etc., etc. People regularly stubbornly refuse to change mental gears out of their idea that the world is a normal place where nothing exciting ever happens even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And, all the worse for us, this original normalcy bias is from disaster planning where the evidence is usually big, loud, clearly dangerous or lethal, and visibly coming at you. Imagine how hard it is to get the little froggie sheeple to jump out of the pot when the disaster is more subtle, like an economic collapse, or a social or political collapse scenario.
No, instead people like to go about their business acting as if everything is still perfectly normal instead of hitting the panic button even when they clearly should. The result? The result is also like the disaster flick example above. The result is that when they do finally figure out they too should also be running away from the big noise as well, it is far too late and then they all try to run away in the same direction at the same time. The end result is that if the monster, etc. does not get them the rest of the crowd will. No, instead the way to survive a disaster flick is to run away early and often. It’s a bit like the old bear in the woods joke where you and a friend run face-to-face into a bear on the trail and have to run away and the friend says he doesn’t have to be able to run faster than the bear he only has to be able to run faster than you.
So, the lesson here is that you do not want to be the one to panic late, you want to have a finely-tuned, hair-trigger panic reflex and get the heck out early and often. The people with the most highly developed and rational panic reflex of this kind have a name. They are derisively called preppers. That is because, just like in the movies, people always like to deride people who try to warn them of the big monster coming due to the aforementioned normalcy bias. It is just a modern take on the old shoot-the-messenger thing. Well, too bad for them. In fact, I think my wandering segue this week will be to talk about evolutionary psychology and the amygdala. The what? The amygdala. The amygdala is a part of the limbic system of your brain and it is buried deep inside the temporal lobes. It regulates emotional reactions and decision-making. And, it works in a very specific way. The limbic system is, in the vernacular of the triune brain model, the reptile brain. It is concerned with raw survival. The other two brains in the triune model are the mammalian brain and the specifically human prefrontal cortex of higher cognitive functions like logic.
When you do finally forget about normalcy bias and kick into fight or flight mode it is the limbic system that takes over. And if you have ever been in a situation where that happens you may have noticed your higher mental functions basically stop. You do not think, you do not remember, time may slow down, sounds may become attenuated and your strength and reaction time becomes much better. And, lucky for you, you actually act – quickly and decisively. Combat veterans often experience this, but other situations like a car accident or other emergency can trigger it as well. The thing is that the reptile brain is a cold, calculating thing that is always vigilant. Its job is to make sure you do not get eaten by the cave bear or smilodon, or bitten by the venomous snake in the grass. The way the amygdala works then is like a little switch. The hyper-vigilant reptile brain of the limbic system is always scanning the environment for potential threats running in the background under your conscious thought processes in your frontal lobes. The frontal lobes are the seat of higher consciousness and that is where modern “civilized” man lives most of the time.
The problem is that we actually think too much most of the time. In yoga we call this the monkey mind. It chatters and chatters on incessantly and endlessly. “What will I have for dinner, where did I leave my sunglasses, I have to remember to pick up milk on the way home, hey look a gummie bear Venus de Milo…” It is this chattering monkey mind that usually gets you killed because it does not react quickly enough to threats and, like a monkey with its fist in a bottle, it will not let go of its treats even when the monster is coming for you right then and there. Remember normalcy bias? It’s totally a frontal cortex thing. So, the problem for the thinking mammal is how to have higher brain functions to allow the animal to solve complex problems like finding a parking space downtown, while not getting you killed by being too slow to react when a sinkhole suddenly opens up in the street underneath you. Welcome the amygdala. It is just a switch, and it basically switches off the frontal cortex and routes the cognitive inputs to the limbic system so it can save your dumb a** for you.
Now here is the thing that made me wander over here. When the amygdala is doing its thing and deciding if it is going to make the switch, there is a processing delay between the reception of the stimulus, and the reaction of switching off the cortex or not switching off the cortex while the amygdala decides if the threat is real or not. And, during that short time, you basically freeze up. Yes, that is correct, you totally freeze up for a moment. Everyone has actually experienced this but most of us do not notice it. Here is how it works. You are out walking your dog along a path through a field and as you turn a corner you think you see something in the grass. Your hyper-vigilant limbic system thinks it sees a pattern and while the amygdala figures out what it is – threat or not – you momentarily stop walking and stop talking. Then, if instead of it being a dangerous venomous snake in the grass waiting to bite you and kill you it turns out to be nothing but a stick or a shadow, you resume talking in mid-sentence and walk on as if nothing has happened. Your cognitive system has evolved with this design for a good reason.
The reason has to do with the difference between false negatives and false positives. If you walk down a path and think you see a venomous snake in the grass and there really is one there and you do not stop and freeze until you are sure if the pattern you saw is a real snake or not, then you die. This is a false negative. The false positive is when there is no actual snake in the grass for real but you think there is one anyway and you turn around and quickly run away. You really want to avoid false negatives and in medicine they will eat a bunch of false positives to make sure there are no false negatives. This is why sometimes a test will say nasty things like “you have cancer” when you don’t (false positive). Because when a test says you don’t have cancer and you do, doctors get sued for lots of money. However, after scaring the living daylights out of someone with a false positive, you can always give them their life back later when you figure out the test was mistaken and no real harm was done and you don’t get sued. So, to avoid the much worse outcome of someone dying from cancer whom you told did not have cancer, the designers of tests accept a number of false positives to avoid having any false negatives.
Well, evolution also figured this out the same way. If you think you see a snake in the grass and run away you do not die. If there really was a snake you can be thankful that your brain is hard wired to see a pattern based on the barest amount of data – yay, you win. If there was no real snake and you run, like the false positive in the cancer diagnosis case, you were, in the grand scheme of things, mildly inconvenienced, you did not die, and you get on with living your life. Importantly, if there IS a real venomous snake in the grass and you do not recognize the pattern until it is too late (a false negative) you die. Finally, if there is no snake and you do not see a pattern and keep walking nothing happens, but, to the degree that something that looked like a snake was indeed there in the grass, you only survived based on good old fashioned dumb luck. And, evolution does not like to rely too much on good old fashioned dumb luck. That is why our nervous system is hard wired to see patterns based on the smallest amount of information and the flimsiest of evidence. And that is why it is also biased toward seeing a pattern over not seeing a pattern even if there really is no pattern there to distinguish. This state of affairs is, however, irritating to the civilized mind. But it is a really good thing for species survival – except when the monkey mind of higher consciousness starts to think it knows better and falls into the trap of normalcy bias. This situation of epidemic normalcy bias develops over time in response to the civilized person hating making a fool of themselves in front of their chattering monkey friends when they are always running away screaming because they saw a stick laying in the grass and thought it was a snake.
Why does this matter? Because the cognitive system evolved before propaganda was invented. You already can not trust your senses as we have seen from the previous discussion. But, now you can not believe anything you are told either. From the day the very first ever authority figure was created all the way down to today, authorities have been saying “don’t panic” even – especially – when you should. Even when your senses are telling you to turn around and run because we intuitively know that even though we are prone to cognitive false positives we are still really good at pattern recognition, we allow the reassuring platitudes of lying authority figures to comfort us into inaction. We do this even when we know better – over and over again. Well, when it comes to prepping, our original evolutionary decision tree still applies. If you prep and nothing happens there is no loss while if you do prep and TSHTF you are potentially a jackpot winner. Further, if you do not prep and nothing happens no loss for sure you dumb lucky galoot. But. . . if you do not prep and TSHTF you are going to get stomped on by Godzilla, or eaten by the Zombie Horde, or, more realistically, die a horrible death stuck somewhere in a city during the first three weeks after TSHTF.
So, lets factor in the lying propaganda spewing authorities and ask ourselves if there really may be a venomous snake lurking in the long grass here. One thing we can conclude for sure is that because of the total propaganda controlled information environment, we are never going to hit the pattern recognition alarm button to trigger the amygdala to hand things over to the reptile brain so it can save our sorry lives. No, you will be calmly munching on a foot-long chilli-dog when you look up in the sky and see a mushroom cloud and if you are lucky you’ll have time to think, “I guess I shoulda run. . .” No, the amygdala can not get you out of the predicament of civilization in a 24/7 propaganda environment. That means that you are going to have to rely on logic and the monkey mind of the prefrontal cortex if you want to have a chance of surviving a TSHTF scenario. So, what should you do?
Well it turns out that the authorities are actually relying on your amygdala to keep you immobilized in a response pattern of apathy when faced with all of their egregious shenanigans. And they have been relying on your apathy for a long time. One of the most basic aspects of the 24/7 full electromagnetic-spectrum dominance of the propaganda paradigm is that it does not matter what lies and crap they spew out at you as long as they spew out a continuous stream of mutually contradictory lies and disinfo. This pollutes the pattern recognition abilities of the subconscious enough to overload the amygdala so it never kicks in to prompt you to action but it never relaxes either due to a constant information overload stream of conflicting information. The predictable result is apathy. The people do nothing and the authorities are left free to continue on with their evil ways subverting democracy. In fact, this knowledge of how the authorities work leads to one of the easiest ways to tell if something is a propaganda campaign aimed at causing a behavioural change in the population. If they actually do want you to behave in a particular way – vote for Hillary for example – then the propaganda around that topic will all be aligned in the same direction with no conflicting apathy inducing confusion allowed at all. At all, regardless of the real facts of the matter – Hillary is guilty of indictable offences for example.
As Goebbels showed so long ago it does not matter how outrageous the lies are either, if they are all “on message” and aligned in the same direction the sheeple will go along and not question. So, in short the people behind Hillary are counting on your propensity toward normalcy bias to install another red puppet in the top job. But, the pattern is now getting so easy to recognize in these days of the endgame that even with 24/7 propaganda and immobilizing disinfo, many people are beginning to wake up. Now all you need to do is actually think about the larger pattern as a whole and make a conscious decision not to be just another sheeple led to the slaughter and begin prepping now. Once that decision is made, you can begin learning a new useful skill, making human connections with a mutual support network, accumulating useful items, becoming a regular at your rural retreat location etc. You do not have to radically alter your lifestyle if you do not wish to, you just need to change your attitude and stop being immobilized by evil design and normalcy bias. Yes, it turns out the sky is falling. Deal with it and get on with it.
In short, you should be the reactionary and ornery bugger you really are and refuse to be pushed around in this subtle way. You should do everything you can to deny TPTB their satisfaction of easily manipulating you. You should not just willingly go along and get on the train to the concentration camp. You should break from the herd and think for yourself. You should use that finely tuned pattern recognition machine in concert with your higher mental functions to actually think about what you are seeing and experiencing in your life today. You should examine your life and ask yourself rationally, logically, and intelligently if there is a real pattern you can make out that might indicate that there really is a TSHTF venomous snake lurking in the grass along the meandering path that is your current life.
And, if you can be honest with yourself you will realize that if you even imagine there is a ghost of a pattern that indicates that it may be true that things can not keep going on like this for much longer without hitting some kind of TSHTF scenario, then it only makes sense to base your actions on the assumption that there really is a snake in the grass. Once you have decided to act as though the snake is real, you can use the logic of false positives and false negatives to chart your course. And, that particular logic says if you even suspect there is a pattern out there then you should act as if the snake is real and start prepping. It will not kill you to prep. But if you should be prepping and you do not, then when TSHTF and you need your preps you will be much more likely to be a victim, than a survivor.
Meanwhile, the biggest hurdle people face when making this decision is taking seriously the need to prepare for collapse, it is not the details of taking any specific prepping action. All of the literature agrees that mental attitude is the single most important factor in survival situations. And, the biggest problem most people have today is normalcy bias. If you can just get past that it turns out the rest is easy. Once you convince yourself that prepping is a worthwhile, necessary even, endeavour, the battle is half over. If you can get beyond the sheeple propaganda conditioning that wants you to do nothing because they have convinced you that prepping is “crazy” and only nut-jobs do it then you have already won. Because it turns out you do not have to make any big changes in your life or head for the hills if you do not want to. You can begin prepping by just buying an extra can of beans when you go grocery shopping – it is literally that easy. It can start with an action that small. Where that action may take you and where it may end up is then up to you. But, prepping is not an all or nothing thing. Then as time passes and developments continue to develop (increasingly rapidly now), the pattern you originally consciously decided to act upon as though it were real, will begin to resolve and you may come to see it clearly enough to know for sure that there really is a snake in the grass. At that point you can easily step-up the intensity of your prepping activities. This is a win-win situation for everyone because there is no lower threshold for being prepared. Something as small as just starting to carry a pocket knife with you every day could save your life. Just look at what MacGyver could do with a simple Swiss Army knife.
Well it turns out that I had to tell you all that just to tell you this. I recommend that you think about the old saying “Gass, Ass, or Grass, nobody rides for free” in terms of its usefulness for guiding you when using only logic to arrive at a prepper mindset. Using only logic to think your way to a prepper mindset is not likely you give you very much motivation for making very many, or very big behavioural changes. Logic, without emotion aligned with it is not a great way to end up with much in the way of making a commitment. So, here is what I am advocating. Make the minimum behavioural changes right now, but try to make an attitudinal shift towards thinking like a prepper and begin hedging your bets. The sooner you do this the longer your lead time will be to build up a progressive prepping toolkit. It’s like compound interest, the sooner you begin the bigger the payoff later with minimal effort now.
The biggest single hedge I recommend is recognizing that the cities are going to become death-traps and you want to have a place outside the city already in mind that you would head for in the case of a TSHTF scenario. If you do not have the resources or the commitment to head for the hills now, you can still make plans for where you would go in a survival situation. Just having a goal in mind will help your odds of making the perilous journey out of the city successfully. But, there is an inverse law of prepping, I am afraid, that says that the longer you wait to begin preparing the worse your odds of survival become and the harder you will have to work at it when you do start. My recommendation that you start prepping now is based on that hard reality. Just because you think you can make it out of town and get to some relatively safe place does not mean that the people already there will be happy to see you. Or that they will want to let you join them.
This is why I suggest you meditate on the Gass, Ass, or Grass mantra. If you want to have a chance of being welcomed at the destination away from the city that you have identified as worth heading for, you had better make sure that if you do make it you will be seen as an asset not a liability. And, if your plan involves heading for the rural place of someone you know you should probably seriously consider letting them know now that you are thinking about making their place the destination you are going to flee to should it come to pass that you need to flee the city at some future point. That discussion alone may be the most important thing you can do right now even though it may not be easy to bring it up.
The good news is that there are many, many ways to ensure that if you do actually make it out of the city that you will be seen as an asset by any potential group you are hoping to join. You could bring resources with you or contribute some now, you could bring a specialized skill set like being a doctor or a machinist with you, or could bring important knowledge and information resources with you such as knowing the location of materials or food, etc. This is the Gass, Ass, or Grass principle. Show up with something useful to contribute to the collective survival endeavour or risk being turned away. How you make yourself useful and what you bring is as individual as you are. But, you should probably start working on it right now. I happen to think the best way to do this would be to start your own small cloister initiative right now, but what do I know? I already headed for the hills three and a half years ago, changed my entire life around, and finally started this blog as the next step in my ongoing preps. But, it looks to me like the image of the venomous snake in the grass is finally starting to get pretty clear this summer. I really hope you don’t wait too long to jump.