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View Diary: ECSTASY:  Put a dent in neo-feudalism! (45 comments)

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  •  Myth as conditioned behavior (1+ / 0-)
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    It's not just myth: also conditioned behaviors.

    Case in point: last week, the Boston metro area's water main broke.  The water supply folks acted fast, shut off water to that main & switched on several emergency reservoirs, which meant, effectively, that water in people's homes was higher quality than piped water in much of the third world: reasonably clean lake water. So the water folks issued a "boil water" order as a precaution (though as it turned out, the precaution wasn't necessary).

    Hmmm.... It's Saturday. Should you, faced with potentially unsafe water:

    a) boil water, which takes 15 minutes for 1 gallon, uses about $0.15 of piped natural gas and a fraction of a penny of piped water, and doesn't require you to leave the house;


    b) buy water, which takes an hour of driving around to find a store that's not cleaned out($2.80 for fuel) and costs about $5.00/gallon (because all that's left is Poland Spring in 1 litre bottles).

    Predictably, and depressingly, people chose option b in droves, and cleared out every bottle of water from every store in the greater Boston area within a few hours of the announcement.

    People are trained: problem? Get in your car and buy a product. Even when the sensible, rational answer would save you money, time, and hassle: get in your car and buy a product.

    The problem is the nature of the solution. If step 2 is "buy," step one is so often "get in your car," that the conditioned step one becomes "get in your car." Problem? Get in your car. Crisis? Get in your car. Opportunity? Get in your car. Get-in-your-car becomes the first step to any out-of-house solution, and all solutions become out-of-house. Wal-Mart & Sam's Club and Home Depot prop up the myth of frontier with the help of get-in-your-car.

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