Sunday, August 4, 2019

At first I thought...

Is this part of the show?

“At first we thought it was part of the show... People were flying 30 feet into the air like rag dolls.”

"I knew there was an issue -- well it started, there were explosions behind, but I thought it was just a normal practical joke, fireworks or something, but then I see people starting to leave the theater, smoke behind me."

"At first, I didn't think it was anything serious, I thought it was a joke or part of the show..."

“I thought it was just like loud boxes being dropped or something, until they got closer and closer,” she said. “That’s when I looked at my co-worker, and we looked at each other like shocked and scared.” 

Tom Cassidy, 60, of Calabasas saw somebody step on something, maybe a plastic bottle, and thought: Wow, that thing is loud. Others guessed it was fireworks, but there no fireworks were to be seen.

Then Cassidy saw a woman next to him. She had a hole in her face.

My thoughts today are on the "at first I thought..." phenomenon. Dr. Ivan Pupulidy describes that when people encounter something dumb, dangerous, or different, our reaction is to make sense of it. 

We base our evaluation of new experiences on past experiences. I have never stood in a super Wal-Mart while an incel lunatic began wasting human beings with a rifle. I have been surprised by boxes and other objects accidentally dropped within the same venue. Boxes are a more comfortable conclusion to arrive at than bullets, despite cardboard boxes sounding exactly nothing like supersonic indoor rifle fire. 

But there is no such thing as a spontaneous halftime show wherein actors hurl fire crackers into the audience and blow people's heads off. Never ever have any of us seen a flash mob street performance involving a truck plowing through a crowd and hurling dead bodies into the sky. It's just not a thing. Is it really reasonable for this to be the initial conclusion we reach in these situations?

This has to be another unfortunate example of our superior human intelligence making us too smart to live. Animals don't have this problem: you may simply want to pet that cute baby deer, but it's not sticking around to verify your pure intentions and neither is its mama. You are presumed a threat, and they respond accordingly. 

Similarly, we can improve our chances for survival by dispensing with the delusional bullshit. I give myself permission today to see what presents in front of me. I pledge to assume the worst and respond as such until proven otherwise. 

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