Letter Re: The Psychology of Denial in the Information Age

Good morning. I don’t know that I have seen any discussion on your blog on the psychology of denial–why folks aren’t more prepared. I acknowledge that it may not be the most vital topic, and that you are doing your part to get the word out, but I correspond to you on this topic in sheer frustration.
Let me be more specific. I have friends and family members who make serious money in their chosen professions, many of whom are in the finance sector. Yet, when I raise the barest reference to preparation and our fragile infrastructure, it’s like I just started speaking in five-thousand year old Greek. They have ample resources to buy peace of mind with supplies and equipment that’s a fraction of their annual income, but they don’t. The world will go on merrily. They’ll never be a TEOTWAWKI. Somehow, in their mind it’s good financial sense to spend thousands on all manner of insurance (life, car, health, business), but dare suggest that they put away even two weeks worth of food and water, and I’m labeled as “out there.” Amazingly, this culture of denial persists even after Hurricane Katrina. They watched on their televisions as the Golden Horde preyed upon itself and just died as government failed to come charging to the rescue. During that sad event, I commented to my youngest brother on the horrible tragedy. I said: “see little brother, not months, but only a few days and you’ve got Planet of the Apes, baby.” BTW – this not a slur on my part to the good folks of New Orleans. This quote was taken from Powers Booth playing a bomber captain in a 1990 made-for-television TEOTWAWKI movie titled “By Dawn’s Early Light.” (I recommend it), and he was referring to life on the ground when their plane ditched after the collapse. Perhaps seeing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on TV made it illusory, the cold reality unfolding “live and in color” simply blended into the numbing TV mythos of movie magic. Either way, to this day, I am still trying to roll the Rock of Gibraltar uphill when it comes to convincing those I care about to cover their assets. I would be grateful for any advice on other methods to penetrate this shield of denial or even references to articles discussing the phenomenon so that I can send it to these guys.
Thank you, and stay well. – Bill H.

JWR Replies: In my experience, the best way to penetrate the shell of denial is to hand someone a useful pro-preparedness third party reference. For some reason, anything that is published in hard copy seems to carry intrinsic authority, or at least hold the cachet of “a published reference.” As general survival and preparedness references, I recommend Life after Doomsday by Bruce Clayton, and Tappan on Survival by Mel Tappan. My own books Rawles on Retreats and Relocation and SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog might also be useful. On food storage and survival cookery, I highly recommend Making the Best of Basics by James Talmage Stevens (available from www.mountainbrookfoods.com), and The Encyclopedia of Country Living by the late Carla Emery. My Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course is another useful reference that primarily deals with food storage. On firearms and self defense, I recommend Boston’s Gun Bible by Boston T. Party and Survival Guns by Mel Tappan.

Don’t overlook the usefulness of survivalist fiction. Quite often, people won’t take the time to read a non-fiction book, but they will sit down and read a novel. For this, I recommend novels like Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Wolf and Iron by Gordon Dickson, No Blade of Grass by John Christopher, and Some Will Not Die by Algis Budrys. And again at the risk of sounding like shameless self-promotion, I also recommend my own novel, Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse. For those that don’t have the patience to read a book, you can at least send them a link or the URL for SurvivalBlog. Be patient and persistent. Your friends and relatives that presently seem have their heads thrust firmly in the sand may come up to see some daylight if you expose them to enough pro-preparedness references.