Guest Post: The "It Can't Happen Here" Syndrome

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Patrice Lewis of,

Here is a short quiz for you. Ready?

  • What’s the current situation with Lindsay Lohan’s rehab?
  • Who won the latest “Dancing With the Stars”?
  • Name five celebrities with “baby bumps.”
  • Explain how the Cypriot banking crisis could impact the European economy.

If you answered the first three questions but are clueless on the fourth, you’re in good company. Estimates are that up to half the population in America is ignorant about the situation in Cyprus. Oh sure, they hear snippets on the evening news, but since it’s far away and happening to other people, they don’t worry about it.

These people are suffering from a Normalcy Bias.

Just what is a Normalcy Bias? Wikipedia defines it as a mental state that “causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects.” It’s sometimes called the “It can’t happen here” syndrome. The assumption is that since a particular disaster has never occurred before, it never will. Any disturbing indications that something bad may happen are dismissed or trivialized.

Originally, the Normalcy Bias referred solely to natural disasters. The scale of devastation and societal disruption from Hurricane Katrina can be attributed in part to a Normalcy Bias – the refusal of the people of New Orleans to believe their beloved city could ever receive a direct hit from a major hurricane, despite its physical vulnerabilities. I distinctly remember seeing a live news report from New Orleans on the evening of Aug. 28, 2005, that showed people partying in the street with a (then) Category 4 hurricane hours away from landfall. Disaster? Nah. It can’t happen here. Gimme another beer.

But the Normalcy Bias has been extended to include political and social disasters as well. The most extreme example is Jews (and to an extent, some Germans) during the reign of the Nazis. Despite all the warning signs, many people remained in denial. Concentration camps? Genocide? Nah. Too crazy. It can’t happen here.

When we hear the mainstream media assuring us in soothing, condescending tones that we’re in an economic “recovery” – despite all evidence to the contrary – we want desperately to believe them. We don’t want anything to disrupt our ordinary, comfortable lives. We genuinely believe that if we cling to our normal way of life and habitual methods of doing things – despite overwhelming proof that something dangerous is looming – then everything will be OK. It can’t happen here.

But the situation in Cyprus is potentially international in scope. North Korea is doing some serious saber-rattling. America’s debt is so out of control that an economic crash is a statistical certainty. Sweeping anti-gun legislation is being enacted in various states even as we speak. As Ayn Rand so memorably put it, “You can ignore reality, but you can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.”

Right now life is still pretty good in America. Grocery stores are well-stocked, restaurants are busy, movie theaters are full. Some people know that perhaps they should think about putting some of their retirement savings into tangibles or buying up some ammo, but what’s the hurry? The government won’t seize our assets or take away the Second Amendment. It can’t happen here.

But underneath our feet there is a low-grade ominous rumbling, something perceptive people detected many years ago. All is NOT right in America and in many other places in the world. Something bad IS heading our way. People need to prepare – physically, financially and spiritually.

Canada Free Press (which is not afraid to print in-your-face stuff about America) published a fascinating article on how the U.S. government has an agenda to kill the dollar. “The ultimate objective is to implement an international currency in tandem with a system of global governance,” writes Doug Hagmann. “The problem is that most people are not thinking large enough, nor do they understand the magnitude of the lie. They are not seeing the larger picture as their focus is diverted elsewhere. For example, they focus on various tentacles of the octopus such as the gun confiscation initiative, the DHS armament acquisitions and economic woes as independent and unrelated events. They are not. … Many will die from what is coming. The level of evil behind this plan is incomprehensible to the normal human mind.”

See? Normalcy Bias. People continue to cling to the notion that our leaders are working for us, not for themselves. So people sit on their butts watching “American Idol” or reading about celebrity baby bumps. Can the U.S. economy crash? Nah. It can’t happen here.

There are many people who just can’t “see” anything wrong with our country. Any restrictions to our constitutional freedoms and liberties are justified as “necessary” to ensure domestic tranquility. When the TSA performs atrocities on children, the elderly, or the disabled, they are excused as simply being overzealous for our security. When the federal government buys billions of rounds of hollow-point ammunition or mandates another offensive policy for kindergartners or places drones in American skies, we close our eyes and pretend it’s all for the common good. And for those who claim deep dark conspiracy theories? Take off your tin foil hats. It could never happen here. Everything’s fine.

And when something big and bad does happen, these people will be surprised. What will they say if savings accounts or pensions are confiscated (Hungary, Argentina, Cyprus)? If door-to-door gun seizures occur (England, Australia)? If dissident camps aren’t rumors after all (Cambodia, China, Russia)? Where did this come from?

“Denial is an integral part of atrocity,” wrote the late Iris Chang, “and it’s a natural part after a society has committed genocide. First you kill, and then the memory of killing is killed.”

The fact is, very little happens that doesn’t give some sort of advanced warning. All it takes is vigilance and a determination not to depend wholly on the mainstream media, which tends to filter world and national events to support their agenda.

So what can be done about all these dire things? Well, the first thing to do is strip away your Normalcy Bias and acknowledge that the smoke on the horizon means a fire is coming. Awareness, as they say, is half the battle.

And then prepare yourself physically, financially and spiritually. Learn how to safeguard your home and family; learn how to safeguard your money; and learn how to safeguard your soul.

But most of you won’t. You’ll have endless excuses why it’s not necessary, at least not yet. You’ll remain in denial. You won’t do anything.

Shrug. I tried.

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Backdraft's picture

It can happen here... it will. Timing is everything!

Pladizow's picture

USA, Baaaaaaaaaah, USA, Baaaaaaaaaah, USA, Baaaaaaaaaah

JPM Hater001's picture

<----- I can answer #4

<----- I can answer #1-3

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

“Yet the individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists. The American mind simply has not come to a realization of the evil which has been introduced into our midst. It rejects even the assumption that human creatures could espouse a philosophy which must ultimately destroy all that is good and decent.” (FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, The Elks Magazine, August 1956.)

Pharming's picture

I first heard of normalcy bias here...

Great Read...  


The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life

By Ben Sherwood

johnQpublic's picture

i love only knowing the answer to the fourth question, an ugly answer, but at least i know it

stuman's picture

I only have "some" knowledge about #4 

Wouldn't have it any other way!

I think I'm in good company here ;) 

DeadFred's picture

True, true, but the guy with the dead dancer avatar has to say that Dancing With the Stars is WAY better than American Idol

Randall Cabot's picture

Then seven years later Hoover helped the conspiracy that murdered President Kennedy.

Ignatius's picture

Yes, but there's a simpler formula:

Is the system being run for the benefit of all, or for the benefit of those who run it?

This one's pretty easy, no?

BigJim's picture

 “Yet the individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists. The American mind simply has not come to a realization of the evil which has been introduced into our midst. It rejects even the assumption that human creatures could espouse a philosophy which must ultimately destroy all that is good and decent.” (FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, The Elks Magazine, August 1956.)

Hoover's famous 'monstrous conspiracy' quote in context: 

Svendblaaskaeg's picture

Seriuosly, I cant answer #1-3 (no TV, no MSM news, no shit (no shit))

whatthecurtains's picture

I have no clue what the first 3 are referring.


Does that make me a bad American?

Brit_Abroad's picture


Please report to your nearest FEMA camp for re-education

cnsteph's picture

Sadly, I'm a nerd.  I could NOT answer the first three but could only answer the fourth.  *sigh*  I'm so out of touch with other Americans.

Max Cynical's picture

Friends and family in Southern Cal can only answer 1-3...and I'm the crazy one for leaving California. 

Creepy Lurker's picture

Leaving California will almost certainly save your life.

sunnydays's picture

I can only answer number 4.  I have no clue on 1-3 and don't care about those either.  What matters is what is really important and happening in the world.  The distraction stuff is such B.S. and I am amazed that people really care about that sh**!

RafterManFMJ's picture

Nope, cannot answer those first 3. I do think Kim 'my ass is 2 axe-handles wide' Kardashian is pregnant though.

As an aside, I get physically sick when I hear people discussing things like they have a 70 IQ or are talking to children when they purportedly are talking to functioning adults. 

Shit like:

"Baby bump." I get an immediate urge to throat punch anyone who says that.

"Veggies." What the fuck are you, a fucking retard? The word is vegetables. 

"The bad guys." This isn't a cop show; articulate who you are talking about. Use the word criminals, terrorists, bankers - but not the 'bad guys.' Fuck.


Curt W's picture

can someone explain why the Kardasian is a celebrity.

Was she in a movie?

noless's picture

had to search it.

apparently she is an attention whore who got turned onto the professional opportunities of such a lifestyle by being associated with paris hilton.

also, her father defended OJ.. which is weird.


so basically everything that's wrong with america got a tv show.

jesse livermoore's picture

yes she starred in a sex tape you can find clips of it all over the internet.

CaptainObvious's picture
  • What’s the current situation with Lindsay Lohan’s rehab?

I have absolutely no freakin' clue.  I am only peripherally aware of who Lohan is.

  • Who won the latest “Dancing With the Stars”?

I've never watched an episode, which is not odd considering I don't watch TV.

  • Name five celebrities with “baby bumps.”

Heh. I'm lucky if I can name five celebrities...clueless as to who is pregnant, or why we should know or care.

  • Explain how the Cypriot banking crisis could impact the European economy.

This is easy.  The Cypriot banking crisis is eroding confidence in the Euro in general and in banks in particular, has robbed from the relatively poor to give to the rich, reckless gamblers they call bankers, and has doomed the European economy for decades to come.  They should have followed the Iceland plan.  It's too late now.

Conclusion:  It can happen here. It will happen here.  Do the math, people.


YHC-FTSE's picture

The fourth one makes almost a daily appearance here, so that's a no brainer. But the others are fiendishly difficult.  I can answer one fifth of the third: I heard that one of the Cardassians (from Star Trek?) married to someone with an improbable name of 'Can of Waste' is getting nasty tweets about her pregnancy fat and people are rallying around in support. How nice.

RockyRacoon's picture

...and in the news:

Gold drifts higher with Herbalife halt news.

Hey, it makes as much sense as anything else going on lately.

Sudden Debt's picture


Just imagine that shit to spill over...







Winston Churchill's picture

What do you mean can ?

It most certainly is happening.We have our very own Pol Pot esconced

in 1600 Pensylvania Ave.

azzhatter's picture

In the past I had liberal friends who I disagreed with. Today I refuse to even speak with them. There is nothing even remotely "disagreeable" about the direction the pig in chief is taking this country and I refuse to even acknowledge him. I have gone Galt, all cash transactions, not participating in their little game. There is a way out and doesn't necessarily mean violence. A massive civil disobedience, refusing to participate would do the trick and expose the illegitimacy of the regime. But nobody wants to sacrifice. I'll bet many on here still play the game, cable TV, going out to the restaurants, and buying new cars and keeping the Obama dream alive.

The citizens disgust me as much as the regime

akarc's picture

"A massive civil disobedience, refusing to participate would do the trick and expose the illegitimacy of the regime. But nobody wants to sacrifice. "

You know this makes you a liberal occupier don't you?

toady's picture


You have, nearly perfectly, recreated the anti-W posts from way back when! You're going galt instead of going expat, and the cash only, anti-cable TV wasn't there, but the sentiment and the rest is all there.

The king is dead, long live the king!

Snoopy the Economist's picture

Azz: Since you still use federal reserve notes you are still in the game. 

WillyGroper's picture

>>>>In the past I had liberal friends who I disagreed with. Today I refuse to even speak to them. 

So does that mean their ignorance/denial is not worthy of your friendship/love? I wholly understand where you're coming from. From the few I've been able to get thru to, it's been by planting a seed. e.g. docu's---end of marika, hot coffee, marika-freedom to fascism. They just happened to be playing when they came over. As long as they think it's their opinion/awakening, it's amazing how they start to awaken from their slumber. I still have plenty that think I'm batshit crazy, adore Krugman, Bush, Clinton, Obummer. That's ok. The conversation is only permitted on less serious subjects. 

PlausibleDenial's picture

It's important to have a vague reference point for questions 1-3.  In doing so, you may be able to gain the CONfidence of the sheeple resulting a small takeaway relative to question 4.  People always want to think that you agree with them and calling them out about not knowing question 4 is only creating a barrier.  It's not like the sheeple are stable.

Fuck, I regress.....


DaveyJones's picture

Ah Lindsay...

America's New National Icon

From Donald Duck to Dover's Deck

In one generation

jdelano's picture

HERBALIFE?!!!  TYLERZ what's the deal?  Who's about to lose their ass, Ichan or Ackman?  

Smegley Wanxalot's picture

It's funny.  Just 30 minutes ago in a meeting here at the office where we were discussing a bank (Citi) that was giving us issues accessing our money, I commented "what the hell do they think this is, Cyprus?" and of the 8 other people in the room, all of whom are supposed to be financially literate, only ONE understood the line.  The rest looks at me like "WTF are you talking about?"


If those supposedly educated people didn't know, imagine how lost the average American iPhone-humping Kardashian-assdrooling idiot is.

JPM Hater001's picture

In fairness, my iPhone has an app for humping Kim which is pretty cool.

CaptainObvious's picture

Is there a condom app available as well?  That's the only way I'd hit that through an iPhone.

Creepy Lurker's picture

Can you put a condom over your eyes?

Shevva's picture

It can't happen here the IMF says so, so there :p

'Central banks can unleash billions of pounds more quantitative easing with little threat of stoking inflation, according to analysis by the International Monetary Fund'

Keyser-Soze's picture

I thought Lindsay Lohan got put in rehab because she tried dancing with the stars while sporting a baby bumb? No?

Sudden Debt's picture

what are baby bumps?

Temporalist's picture

Those are those things in the road you drive over that are intended to slow you down but they really don't slow you down because they are too small