I’m admittedly susceptible to the normalcy bias, and have remarked upon that occasionally. A personal guideline of mine, which I periodically cite:
“When you have an option between continuity and change, as well as between dull and interesting, dull continuity tends to be the victor.”
I’m also however of the opinion that bias is an unavoidable constant. The objective must not be to discard one’s bias, as one will likely only succeed in concealing their bias. Instead, one must assess the influence their bias has on their perception, and then allow that assessment to be reflected in that perception. Sigmund Freud once said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” In judging whether or not something which appears to be a cigar is in fact a cigar, one must reflect upon the evidence indicative that the cigar is what it appears to be. One must also reflect on the evidence which contradicts that perception. An unbiased conclusion can be achieved through an objective probability assessment to include deductive reasoning. One will thus determine the actual probability that the cigar is just a cigar.
An idiom, “prepare for the worst but hope for the best.” I admit that I expect the statistically probable. As Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.” If nothing became of an event on the last occasion of its occurrence, and if nothing became of the event on the occasion prior, nor the occasion before that one, then there’s a basis for reasoning that it’s unlikely that anything will become of this instance of the situation. A pattern has been demonstrated, and one would be a fool to discard the implications.
Entropy would however suggest that no pattern will persist forever. Eventually something will become of the situation if it continues repeating itself. Perpetuity is a concept, not a law. Even the eventual destruction of the universe itself is theorized and indicated. Change is then the only constant, and the end to all patterns an eventuality. Just as one would be a fool to dispense with the implications of an established pattern, one would also be a fool to reason that because the result of a particular catalyst has been consistent, that this will always be true.
In pressing a button which is linked to nothing, and which has been pressed myriad times before, without result, one can anticipate that pressing that button again will bare no result once more. In matters of existential consequence, particularly on the combined subjects of military defense and geopolitical overtures, to assume repetition is to engage in a game of Russian Roulette. There are many chambers in this cylinder; it’s certainly no six-shooter. Is it likely that the next squeeze of the trigger will result in rather unfortunate consequences? Certainly not; the chances are slight. Never-the-less, in a thousand chamber cylinder, the odds that the bullet rests in the thousandth chamber are equal to the odds that oblivion awaits you in the first chamber.
As Cold War 2 continues to progress, with every audacious provocation undertaken, disaster threatens to come screaming forth from the muzzle of our revolvers. It’s never happened before in our history, and it will be unprecedented for us, but order does inevitably proceed into disorder. Though our strategies in matters as these are contemplated thoroughly, developed carefully and tested meticulously, uncertainty is a factor which can never be eliminated. In these decisions of existential consequence, the continuity of the order and the fate of the human species itself is gambled every time, without exception. We have been lucky so far, but if this pattern is to persist ad infinitum, it can be anticipated that luck will eventually be converted to misfortune.
Any miscalculation or unassessed variable can lead to the very most barbarous atrocity. All great empires throughout history have shared a disastrous fate. While it would be illogical to expect that America will come to know this fate tomorrow, it would be reasonable to expect that somewhere into the future there are history books which describe the fall of the American empire just as our history books today describe the fall of the Roman, British, Persian and Mongolian empires. Be it ten years from now or ten-thousand, America is likely to someday be subdued by the fate its great status has earned it. This is the nature of the gamble undertaken with each pull of the trigger. America is chancing fate with each depression.
Luckily, when you have an option between continuity and change, as well as between dull and interesting, dull continuity tends to be the victor. It’s unlikely that America will fall anytime soon, but history recalls that the fall of great empires is an inevitability. History also recalls that the approaching collapse of these great empires went unnoticed by most. The majority were also oblivious of the approach of the great wars. As Neville Chamberlain notoriously assessed, “I believe it is peace for our time.” He said that one year before Germany invaded Poland, initiating World War II.
While the normalcy bias, common to the psychology of all humanity, insists that tomorrow will be a day like any other, this is not guaranteed to be so. One is statistically likely to be right in making that assessment, on any day, but one is also likely to eventually be wrong. The axiom of our fate demands our vigilance. As the leaders of our international society repeatedly gamble our collective lives and prosperity, it is prudent that we diligently monitor these depressions of triggers, and assess the potential for fate to be only a cylinder’s spin away. It might be, but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, too. It would be wise to mind the cigar, and everything else that apparent cigar has the potential to be. Like Chamberlains, appearances are notoriously deceptive. Just as the fate of great empires is notoriously consistent.
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