So far we have discussed the normalcy bias, the silver bullet syndrome and the dangers of conformity. These diverse discussions all fit together in forming a puzzle of psychological triggers. The big picture can come together when you have all the pieces starting to fit together.
Earl Nightingale in his classic audio series “Lead the Field” told a story that fits this best.
“One day, a man was watching a professional football game on television. His five-year old son kept bothering him. So the man tore out a page of the Sunday paper. It was a full page airline ad that showed a picture of the world – the planet Earth as seen from space. He tore up the page into a dozen pieces and gave them to his son. He said to him, “Here, put this picture together with this cellophane tape, and show Daddy how smart you are.” He then went back to watching his football game. In a surprising short time, the youngster had taped the picture back together. It wasn’t very neat, but it was a very good job, indeed, for one so young. “Hey, that’s amazing!” the father said. “How did you put the world together so quickly?” The little boy said, “There was a picture of a man on the other side. I just put man together, and then the world was all together.”
The youngster was no doubt surprised by the big, warm hug he got. “That’s right, son,” the father said. “When the man is altogether, his world is altogether, too.”
Becoming aware of how the big picture comes together is a key component in making smart decisions about money. The small pieces that are torn apart are psychological triggers that come together to form the big picture. The sense that everything will return to “normal” (normalcy bias) is tied to the overwhelming hope that everything will work out well (the silver bullet syndrome), which leads directly into the complacency of conformity. It is the end result of conformity that leads investors running like lemmings toward a cliff.
These psychological triggers are ingrained in an individual’s thinking process. Napoleon Hill discussed this in terms such as accurate thinking, critical thinking and straight thinking. Hill, spoke in terms of rarity when discussing this form of thinking. Let’s briefly look at what Hill had written about “straight thinking.”
“Two great forces are working in the minds of all men to make them what they are. One is social heredity, and the other is physical heredity.
Physical heredity is the law of nature through which the sum and substance of all characteristics, traits and physical aspects of your ancestors, through the ages, have been handed on to you. You are unavoidably a product of all your ancestors.
Social heredity consists of every influence with which you will come in contact, from the time you reach a state of consciousness until you die. Your mother’s and father’s influence, your education, the conversations you listen to, religious influences, political ideas, the newspapers you read, the shows you see – they all have and will help to make you what you are. They are your social inheritance. Very few persons have what it takes to pull away from these and do some independent, accurate thinking for themselves. A few cast off their social inheritance and dare to be different and individualistic. When this happens, the world has an Edison, a Ford, a Thomas Paine, an Ingersoll or a Jonas Salk. But the vast majority of people allow themselves to become victims of social heredity. This is why straight thinking is such a rarity.” (Source: PMA Science of Success Course. Educational Edition. 1961. Pgs. 504 & 505
Independent, accurate thinking is the absolute benchmark for making smart decisions about money. The inoculation and insulation from scams, fraud and predatory sales tactics direct require you to learn how to become independent and accurate in your thinking process. The reality of victimization is that people are unaware of the natural bias they have formed toward conformity and the lack of independence in their thinking process. A major part of this redundant vicious cycle is the normalcy bias, the silver bullet syndrome and the ease of conformity.