Friday, December 13, 2013

Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Read an interesting humorous article yesterday on Cracked about misconceptions that people have re: how they would hold up in the face of a catastrophe.

It caught my eye because it echoed a post I’ve made on here before about how what people actually do in a survival situation is actually the exact opposite of what they really SHOULD do in that situation. 

It also caught my eye because the article incorporated a bunch of tweets from a bunch of borderline aspies, apparently, who were tone deaf enough to Mark Walberg all over several tragedies and discuss how stupid and cowardly and sheepish the people involved in the catastrophe were, and how they would have done things differently, when in fact they have no way at all to know what they would do. 

The funny thing about this tweet is that this guy gets it right, sort of, but then veers off the rails into la-la land.  First, to write this is classless, given that some of the people he’s talking about actually died in this incident.  Second, he’s correct in that the vast majority of these mass-shooters are cowards who will kill themselves at the first sign of resistance.  However, you have to be able to put up enough of a fight to actually stop the guy, and this is where he gets it wrong. 

He’s assuming that he would have the ability to think it through and go fight the guy instead of allowing his flight response tooverwhelm him when faced with being shot in the face.  Very few people living in America today have any idea of how they’ll react in such a situation, because they’ve never been in such a situation, and that is literally the only way to know.  When faced with a mortal threat, your lizard brain takes over to a large extent – you don’t reason things out, you don’t think thing through, you just react reflexively because your brain tells you to.  It’s physiological; higher functions in the brain shut down to conserve energy for the “fight or flight” response, and your brain is going to choose one or the other without you really having much of a say in it. 

FIGHT!  I choose YOU!

Also, I find it laughable that a guy could think that he’d be able to mount enough of a resistance to actually even cause notice.  Chances are this guy doesn’t carry a gun with him when he goes to the theater, so what’s his plan?  Hit the guy with an ad hoc popcorn box club?  Go after him with a shoe and a stern look?  If you get into a fight where it is you, with a belt in one hand and your shoe in the other, vs. a guy with a rifle, you lose.  In fact, chances are the guy won’t even notice that you were trying to fight him.  He’ll just count you as another hit and move on. 

This is the part of disaster management that I want to talk about, and have talked about in the past: pre-planning. 

You have to train and condition your lizard brain to make smart choices by drilling yourself on your course of action if a survival scenario ever comes your way.  If you ever get lost in the woods, you have to stay where you are unless that is not tenable for some reason, so you have to drill yourself on that.  Stay in place.  Think about it.  Plan for it.  Plan for it before it happens, by having the supplies and materials you’ll need to deal with the situation that arises.  Know that the first thing that pops into your mind won’t be “I’ve got to get out of here!” but rather “I’ve got to stay where I’m at!”  It is for this reason that I recommend drilling yourself to start a fire first thing if you ever get lost.  It will give you something to think about; a task for you to work on while the adrenaline wears off and your higher brain functions can come back into play.  If, once your higher brain comes back, you decide that staying is a bad idea for whatever reason, you can always stop working on the fire and move on.

Or until you're all like "fuck this shit, it's really hard!"

This is also why I carry a pistol with me as often as possible, based on the risk assessment of where I’m going.  Prior planning prevents piss-poor performance – there is little chance that I’m going to be trying to fashion a popcorn tub into a shiv to defend myself against a guy with a rifle. 

Pictured: Not a weapon...

I’ve also drilled myself relentlessly on what I’m going to do if I’m ever in public and some unhinged nutjob decides to go all shooty on me.  That way, my lizard brain will have something to fall back on that makes sense rather than chasing itself in circles.  This is why training is considered so important in the military and law enforcement.  When your head shuts down, you’re going to do things on auto pilot for a few moments until it can get it’s shit together, so you train to give the autopilot something productive to do in the meantime.

And we all know, Autopilots haven't had much to do since the 1980's

You can’t take for granted that you are going to be able to reason yourself through a survival situation, at least at first.  You can’t rely on your intelligence and smarts to get you through, at least not for the first few minutes.  So instead of assuming that you are special and able to keep your shit together when everyone else around you is falling to pieces, plan for the worst case and plan to be a total idiot if a survival situation ever comes your way.  Then, you can honestly say that you’ve planned for the worst case scenario.  

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