Equipped To Survive Equipped To Survive® Presents
The Survival Forum
Where do you want to go on ETS?

Topic Options
#240030 - 01/25/12 12:08 AM Your brain refuses to acknowledge bad stuff.
Blast Offline
INTERCEPTOR
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3561
Loc: Spring, Texas
So, it turns out that the human brain will actively prevent itself from storing information about negative future events.
From the article:
Quote:
Basically, human optimism is a neurological bug that prevents us from remembering undesirable information about our odds of dying or being hurt. And that's why nobody ever believes the apocalypse is going to happen to them.


The only people who don't have this "glitch" are those who are clinically depressed. Hmmm, I wonder what that says about ETS members?
This also explains why it is so hard to convince non-believers to prepare. Their brains are blocking acknowledgement that bad stuff could happen.

I explain the original Nature article below. Most of the paper revolved around the statistical analysis of their results. This was done to show why they believe what the test results mean. Their statistical analysis appears sound which strongly supports their interpetation of the results.

What they found (simplified for laymen): the learning centers of the human brain will readily and actively "update" their world-view if their world-view is shown to be less optimistic than reality. However, when the brain's world-view is revealed to be more optimistic than reality, the brain shows a much lower willingness to update its world-view to the less positive view.

How they measured this (again, simplified): It was more than just asking the subjects "how likely is this event?" several months apart. The researchers tracked the Brain Oxygen Level-Dependence (BOLD) during these tests. BOLD is an MRI technique which basically shows what parts of the brain are processing data. As expected, the areas that became active during these tests were the areas generally considered to be the problem solving and memory sections, though they tracked BOLD for the full brain.

Results: When the actual "probability of threat" values were revealed to the subjects their brains responded in one of two ways:
1. If the subject had over-estimated the threat, their brain lit up with activity as it processed this information, with areas associated with analysis and memory becoming highly active.
2. If the subject had under-estimated the threat, their brains showed a much smaller increase in activitely across the board but especially in the memory-storage areas.

This reduced brain activity when assimilating negative information occured in 100% of the test subjects. However, the level of reduction was able to be directly correlated with the subject's overall level of optimism. Those subjects which had the most optimistic view of life had the lowest brain responses to negative information. The two subjects which were clinically depressed had the least amount of difference in brain activity between processing positive and negative information.

Overall, the paper does a really good job of proving (to me, at least) that the human brain does actually ignore negative information. This explains why it's so hard to convince people they should be prepared. Their brains actively suppress the true likelyhood of something bad happening.
_________________________
Blogging the Borderlands
Wild Edibles Blog
I miss OBG.

Top
#240032 - 01/25/12 12:48 AM Re: Your brain refuses to acknowledge bad stuff. [Re: Blast]
MostlyHarmless Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 982
Loc: Norway
Fascinating!

Somewhat related, at least from a preparedness perspective, is the psychological term "confirmation bias". This is the tendency to ignore whatever information that doesn't fit your world view (positive or negative) and cherish any piece of information that supports it.

Top
#240036 - 01/25/12 01:29 AM Re: Your brain refuses to acknowledge bad stuff. [Re: Blast]
Glock-A-Roo Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 1076
I refuse to believe this unfortunate information... wink

Top
#240051 - 01/25/12 06:30 AM Re: Your brain refuses to acknowledge bad stuff. [Re: Blast]
Lono Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/19/06
Posts: 1013
Loc: Pacific NW, USA
I don't mean to quibble with something I know so little about, but with something as advanced as the human brain that's all I can do: I think this is less a matter of the prefrontal cortex, we're all controlled by our amygdala. Our lizard brains kick in big time in times of stress and disaster.

To us laymen, maybe a debate between the amygdala and the frontal cortex amounts to a bar discussion of who was the better PM, Pitt the Younger or Pitt the Elder. Heavy stuff anyway.

Top
#240065 - 01/25/12 02:11 PM Re: Your brain refuses to acknowledge bad stuff. [Re: Blast]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3263
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Blast
The only people who don't have this "glitch" are those who are clinically depressed. Hmmm, I wonder what that says about ETS members?


Very interesting stuff.

It's hard to get people to understand being prepared without them getting defensive, depressed, or thinking people who do prepared are paranoid. Some of the people who go through our CERT training do seem to get depressed and drop out of training or afterwards drop out of the team because they don't want to think about it any more.

What isn't clear to me is how we can adjust our approach when educating people on the value of preparedness.

Top
#240077 - 01/25/12 05:43 PM Re: Your brain refuses to acknowledge bad stuff. [Re: Blast]
gitnready4it Offline
Stranger

Registered: 12/27/11
Posts: 22
I try not to concentrate on the things I know might happen, but instead concentrate on the satisfaction I get from being prepared for those things and knowing I can provide for my family. I guess it's all in how you look at it. It's a lot easier to ignore the problem than to prepare for it.
_________________________
The future belongs to those who prepare today!

Survival Foods

Top
#240094 - 01/25/12 07:40 PM Re: Your brain refuses to acknowledge bad stuff. [Re: chaosmagnet]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1415
Originally Posted By: chaosmagnet
It's hard to get people to understand being prepared without them getting defensive, depressed, or thinking people who do prepared are paranoid. Some of the people who go through our CERT training do seem to get depressed and drop out of training or afterwards drop out of the team because they don't want to think about it any more.


I, too, found the observation about the ability to handle negative outcome very interesting. In my personal experience, many people have far less ability in this regard than I do, and sometimes that makes it difficult for me to interact with them. Any sort of planning, to me, means accounting not just for pleasant outcomes, but for bad, worse, and worst scenarios: what's your backup plan if you don't get what you want? This doesn't make me depressed, unhappy, etc.

By contrast, many people get upset even just thinking about the possibility of things going wrong. The stress is even visible on their faces. I used to think this was some sort of ethical problem: maybe these people are not strong enough to handle challenges in life. But even before reading the article from Blast, I started thinking this is perhaps a value judgment: the detriment of getting stressed vs. the benefit of making plans for bad scenarios. For some the psychological affect is punishing enough that they have to carefully weigh the cost and benefit of putting themselves through such suffering just to have a plan.

As for spreading the wisdom of emergency preparedness, I think culture has a lot to do with it, probably more than psychology. In some hurricane/typhoon-prone third-world areas, people prepare as a matter of course. (Those of us who have to have the best knives, the best saws, the best water filtration technology, etc., can learn a lesson from how you can still get through without all this quality modern stuff.) The US, though, has this culture of plenty. You can go to a megastore at any time of the day to pick up anything you need in bulk, and this system will never fail you, right? Those who do things contrary to this culture of plenty seem weird, irrational, and stupid. Consequently the media tends to focus on the extreme cases (doomsday preppers), and for them preparation is indeed a counter-cultural, apocalyptic thing, because you have to give up so much of a normal life.

So that's why some people employ the idea of "self reliance" to counter this culture of plenty. This is a cultural move as much as a political and an ethical move. It critiques the dominant culture as irresponsible, dependent, etc. A simple, practical matter has to be defended in such a cultural manner!

But no one escapes from the culture of plenty in a way. One of the doomsday preppers from the National Geographic video stocks toilet paper for a whole year. There is nothing wrong with this, but let me point out that this is an American solution which depends very much on manufacturers making a specialized product just for number one. Our ancestors did without it for thousands of years, but now it seems so essential. So some of the doomsday preppers are still thinking within the confines of the culture of plenty.

Top
#240099 - 01/25/12 09:12 PM Re: Your brain refuses to acknowledge bad stuff. [Re: Bingley]
MostlyHarmless Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 982
Loc: Norway
Originally Posted By: Bingley

By contrast, many people get upset even just thinking about the possibility of things going wrong. The stress is even visible on their faces.


A close friend found it very stressful that any toilet visits in the great outdoors should involve ice bears precautions in ice bear countries. She preferred not to think about it, and found it hillarious that she was not scared at all when she just ignored the dangers and just went away and did her business. Bringing a gun meant relating to the ice bear problem, and THAT was stressful.

Both she and I thought this example offered great insight into how the mechanism of denial works: If I ignore it, I am happy and therefore there is no problem. If I take proactive measures, I might be very worried that those measures are not good enough - and that would make me very scared and extremely unhappy. Much easier to ignore it and be happy...


Of course, any gentleman would volunteer to stand guard for a lady in need, right? That's how we solved that dilemma.

Top



Moderator:  Alan_Romania, Blast, cliff, Hikin_Jim 
February
Su M Tu W Th F Sa
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Who's Online
2 registered (M_a_x, LCranston), 220 Guests and 10 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Newest Members
marco234, GarethDuncan, readyforthefall, Acropolis50, SimonBlack88
5302 Registered Users
Newest Posts
Revising and updating your EDC
by LCranston
Today at 02:10 PM
Heat Rescue Disaster Recovery
by Jeanette_Isabelle
Today at 01:46 PM
Coronavirus outbreak in China -- now spreading
by LCranston
Yesterday at 08:31 PM
Luck at the thrift store!
by LCranston
02/19/20 08:31 PM
Featured in a Comic Strip
by Jeanette_Isabelle
02/18/20 07:48 PM
The Youngest ETS Member Turns Thirty-Four
by Jeanette_Isabelle
02/18/20 06:22 PM
Handwarmer power banks, useful?
by teacher
02/17/20 11:03 PM
4 pages of survival information (wilderness)
by teacher
02/17/20 11:02 PM
Newest Images
Tiny knife / wrench
Handmade knives
2"x2" Glass Signal Mirror, Retroreflective Mesh
Trade School Tool Kit
My Pocket Kit
Glossary
Test

WARNING & DISCLAIMER: SELECT AND USE OUTDOORS AND SURVIVAL EQUIPMENT, SUPPLIES AND TECHNIQUES AT YOUR OWN RISK. Information posted on this forum is not reviewed for accuracy and may not be reliable, use at your own risk. Please review the full WARNING & DISCLAIMER about information on this site.