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Old 01-26-2012, 07:11 PM
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Default Story Driven vs Risk Driven Preparedness



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Lately I’m not sure if it’s just me or if the type of thinking that is related to the Survivalist and Prepper community has started to get more and more rigid. It’s very seldom that we see new subjects discussed; it seems to circulate more and more around the same subjects. So I would suggest that we dare to approach the subject from new perspectives. In this article I will discuss the SHTF / TEOTWAWKI concepts and how Survivalist and Preppers could approach the subject differently.

The End Of The World As We Know It
The World as We Know it is about to come to an end. The true reason for this can vary (economical, political, terrorism, Peak Oil, EMP etc) but the imagined end is the same. The End will come fast, very fast. It’s likely that we will experience and enormous amount of civil disturbance and violence. Everything that we have become accustomed too is likely to disappear. The Question is not if this will happen. The question is When it will happen. The signs are all around us. The state of the economy, Peak Oil, Global Warming, International Tensions, Terrorism and much more. The World System is like a House of Cards, it will only take a push and it will all come crashing down.

It’s important to stockpile food, water, weapons and ammunition. Those how haven’t will try to take what they need from those how have prepared. These “Raiders” will attack everything and everyone. Therefore it’s critical to maintain what you have an absolute secret. This is often referred to as OPSEC; if no one knows what you have they can’t steal it.

This type of Storytelling that we can see within the Prepper and Survivalist is not something that is shared by everyone, but it is relatively common. This type of stories is represented in fictional literature like James Wesley Rawles book “Patriots” and William Forstchens “One Second After” but can also be found in Hollywood movies. There are some common parts; The Belief that The World As We Know It Will Come To An End, That it will take place soon and That it can’t be stopped.

Risk Oriented Preparedness
All people face different types of Risks and Threats depending on their location. This is both affected by the Geographical location that affects what type of Natural Disasters like Volcanoes, Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Hurricanes and Tornadoes that might affect the individual. But the location is also critical for other type of potential hazards related to human activities like human conflict, terrorism and failing technical systems.

A Risk Assessment is a structured tool to help you create a good understanding of Risks you face but it can also create a situation of false security. It’s important that you also understand what type of events that you don’t regard as threats and why you don’t believe that this type of events poses a threat. It’s also important to realize that everyone has Blind Spots; Potential Risks that we are unaware of. There are also events that are not anticipated by almost anyone; these types of events are often referred to as Black Swans after the concept introduced by Taleb Nassim.

Building Your Capacity To Deal With Emergencies
Having the ability to Cope with Disasters not only as possessing the right tools but also having the experience and skills required to utilize these resources. Here Knowledge, Skills and Experience and Physical Fitness and Health are variables that can be more valuable than the equipment you own. Without training and skills a First Aid Kit is of little use and the same goes for all type of equipment – it can make a difference but you must be able to utilize this resource. Other Critical Factors are also External Factors like your Family, Social Network and other type of resources like First Responders that may assist you during an Emergency.

The World is Changing
The World is not a static place, the World is constantly changing and individuals are constantly changing as well. In a Risk Oriented Preparedness it is important to adapt to the changes both in your personal life but also when it comes to the situation around you. People get older, may change their location, their family situation can change and new political, economical and environmental challenges can appear. So instead of viewing the problem as a linear problem where you first make a analysis and then take action I suggest that you approach the subject from a cyclical perspective where you will always have to adapt to the ongoing reality. The same goes for skills, in order to maintain skills repeated training is required. Focus on potential disasters for what they truly are. Instead of approaching the subject from a One Size Fits all point of view where stockpiling supplies prepares you for every possible scenario actually analyze threats and risks for their specific consequences.

Two Approaches: An Analysis
There many examples throughout history when civilizations have Collapsed. There are also many contemporary examples when States have either Collapsed or Failed or various levels; Afghanistan, Somalia, Sierra Leone, The Conflict in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda are some examples. But these examples do not necessary follow the storyline imagined in fictional novels.

Many reason that if they are prepared for the absolutely worst they are also prepared for less extensive disasters like Earthquakes or Hurricanes. The Problem here is that every disaster is specific in its origin and consequences. Have a year’s worth of food do not necessary prepare you for an Earthquake; in order to prepare for this type of scenario training in First Aid, having the right Insurance and choosing a building and location that has the proper resistance may be much more important.

Disaster Preparedness is big business today. Many companies make large profits selling everything from food to flashlights, survival kits and ready to go Bug Out Bags. For many bloggers and writers making the worst predictions is a way of getting the most attention. What I want to raise in this article is that preparedness should not simply be bases upon fictional fear driven stories. You should make efforts that make sense for your personal situation and setting.

One critical factor is that the Storytelling does not welcome the idea of working together with others in the name of OPSEC. This a personal choose for everyone must make, but I personally see it as problem if people disregard the idea of working together with others based upon a fictional idea. Another critical factor is that some individuals use the SHTF / TEOTWAWKI story as a Mental Model, taking any information that indicates a negative development and believes that it indicates that end is near.

In this article I have criticized some of Storytelling that often can be seen within the Survivalist and Prepper Movement. This does not mean that I do not recommend people to Prepare for Potential Disasters or Crisis Situations. The aim of The Free Online Survival Guide is to provide readers with resources so that they may enhance their own ability to deal with Crisis Situations and Disasters. This article is intended to move the Focus from the Fictional Stories that motivates many to a Perspective when you put Your own Situation, Your Own Needs and Your own Analysis in Focus.
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Old 01-26-2012, 07:43 PM
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You make some good points, however when assessing risk, you usually weight probability and impact together. You may assess TEOTWAWKI as low probability, but the impact would be massive. Also, given we are entering the the first global depression in history, I think some of those concerns are justified.
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Old 01-26-2012, 07:48 PM
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You make some good points, however when assessing risk, you usually weight probability and impact together. You may assess TEOTWAWKI as low probability, but the impact would be massive. Also, given we are entering the the first global depression in history, I think some of those concerns are justified.
Risk Management definitely requires weighing both probability and impact, and should be done carefully.

But to assert that we are entering the first global depression in history in inaccurate. There have been other global depressions in history, such as the Great Depression and the Long Depression
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Old 01-26-2012, 07:52 PM
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My belief is that you prepare for the most likely things to happen to you, first.
Here in KS, that means things like tornados and ice storms. Meaning supply line interuptions, power loss, bugging out, etc...
I think that many of us should also look at what we need to do to prepare for job loss or economic disruption. Is our financial house in order? Do we have a plan for alternate currency? What if there are riots/looting?
That kind of stuff. It's all situation and location dependent.

Zombies, asteroids are jokes, not worth putting effort to.
Plagues and nuclear contamination might happen (depending on location), but are pretty far fetched probability wise. At least in my location.
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Old 01-26-2012, 07:57 PM
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My belief is that you prepare for the most likely things to happen to you, first.
Here in KS, that means things like tornados and ice storms. Meaning supply line interuptions, power loss, bugging out, etc...
I think that many of us should also look at what we need to do to prepare for job loss or economic disruption. Is our financial house in order? Do we have a plan for alternate currency? What if there are riots/looting?
That kind of stuff. It's all situation and location dependent.

Zombies, asteroids are jokes, not worth putting effort to.
Plagues and nuclear contamination might happen (depending on location), but are pretty far fetched probability wise. At least in my location.
The nice thing about preparing for most probable events first is also that it helps prepare you for longer term events.

For example, food on hand helps prepare you for unemployment (a probable event at some point). It also helps to prepare you for long term regional disasters, and possibly larger events.

In this way, preparation can meet the needs of multiple event types simultaneously, or advance the goals of a longer term event preparedness plan.

Essentially, small scale prepping gets you closer to large scale prepping.
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:44 PM
George Newbill George Newbill is offline
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Tell you what, the real threats will not be the ones that you think about, they will be those out of the blue never thought that could happen here blind side you on Tuesday type things.


Prepare as best you can and stay flexible.
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Old 01-27-2012, 12:30 AM
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I liked your post. I think of it as the tomorrow people VS the eventually people.

The tomorrow people believe that something is going to happen before they have a chance to finish preparing. Most think it will be catastrophic.

The eventually people think that something will eventually happen. Most think it will be significant.

There is nothing wrong with either view but the tomorrow people probably stress themselves out.

I think the eventually people are a bit better at risk assesment.
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Old 01-27-2012, 04:09 AM
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I understand that this might be a sensitive subject but I still think it should be discussed.

I do agree that there a Collapse of Our Modern Industrialized Civilization is a possible future outcome. We have seen this take place in many countries; Afghanistan, Iraq, The Former Yugoslavia, Colombia, Congo, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Somalia to name few examples where violence has followed. All these cases are not examples of total state collapses; but they provide real life examples what can happen if a state collapses and there is much to be learned from every case. There are also many cases of failed states and shadow states where the political elite does not provide anything useful for their citizens even if the state has not collapsed.

The SHTF / TEOTWAWKI concepts do not draw its ideas from this type of cases but instead from fictional sources like Patriots, One Second After and Hollywood Movies. We also see the introduction of other ideas like conspiracy theories, FEMA camps, New World Order etc that draws the attention even further away from real life examples.

It is fully possible that the same could happen on a Global Scale; Peak Oil, The Increase of the World Population, The Depletion of Renewable and Non Renewable Resources, The Demographic Trend in many rich countries with very low birth rates and an aging population and Global Warming is just a few factors that can affect the future outcome. The Problem as I see it is that basically there is only two stories that circulate; The Idea of Unlimited Growth and that we are facing a Total Collapse. In my opinion itís much more realistic to expect a scenario that falls between these two scenarios.
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Old 01-27-2012, 04:39 AM
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It does not matter what the SHTF is, be it a complete Mega asteroid strike, or just losing your job; the preps are the same...food, water, guns, rural property and natural living skills.
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Old 01-27-2012, 06:15 AM
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It does not matter what the SHTF is, be it a complete Mega asteroid strike, or just losing your job; the preps are the same...food, water, guns, rural property and natural living skills.
Could not agree more.

Clearly folk in different areas need to prep different, an Aussie prepper will not be to focussed on heavy snow etc

As you say though, the things that life depend upon, food, water, medecine, shelter, heat, protection, skills.
Doing what we can to strengthen these goes a long way.
Old 01-27-2012, 12:36 PM
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It does not matter what the SHTF is, be it a complete Mega asteroid strike, or just losing your job; the preps are the same...food, water, guns, rural property and natural living skills.
I don’t know if you read through the article or just made a standard response. Thats actually the point I tried to make with the article; we see a one size fits all approach in many threads that totally disregards the personal aspect of preparedness. Stockpiling equipment and supplies can provide you with tools during some type of events, but for the majority of event you don’t need more than a few weeks of supplies.

The ability to actually utilize the resources you have by having the training, skills, experience, knowledge, strength, endurance and health is just as important in my opinion. Having equipment available that you cant use in an optimum way is a real waste of time and money if you ask me.

The rural approach is also an interesting subject; even in really poor countries we still see an urbanization process where poor farmers move to the cities since they presents a better life than working the earth. Reality does not match the imagined fictional scenario.
Old 01-27-2012, 01:24 PM
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<snip>
It is fully possible that the same could happen on a Global Scale; Peak Oil, The Increase of the World Population, The Depletion of Renewable and Non Renewable Resources, The Demographic Trend in many rich countries with very low birth rates and an aging population and Global Warming is just a few factors that can affect the future outcome. The Problem as I see it is that basically there is only two stories that circulate; The Idea of Unlimited Growth and that we are facing a Total Collapse. In my opinion it’s much more realistic to expect a scenario that falls between these two scenarios.
I don't necessarily agree that there are only two stories that circulate. I think the stories run the gamut.

I suspect, though, that among newbies you're much more on target. The nuance that more experienced preppers can apply is borne not only of greater knowledge of and experience with prepping, but also as a result of longer time periods in which the world did not collapse.

I believe people naturally tend to "worst case" their anticipations, and either plan for that, or give up and accept it's (in their mind) impossible. But I can remember my mother asking me to think about the biggest fears I've ever had, and how many came true in the way I feared. Answer? None of them.

Still, humans as presumably rational beings will want to define ranges and endpoints, to know how far out they must go, to think, to plan. It's natural and normal, even when the worst endpoint is very unlikely to happen.
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Old 01-27-2012, 01:27 PM
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W,

Some interesting stuff. Thank you. And I think you make some sound points in your various posts in this thread… points that I need to take to heart. Specifically; that preps can and should be made/purchased with multiple purposes in mind –and- that a bunch of fancy supplies and equipment are great, but only if you actually know how to use them.

For the former, my preps are largely driven by my worries about financial and economic troubles on the horizon. However, if I look at them, and explain them to my wife and family, as insurance against not only economic issues but things like natural disasters etc., then they are more valuable and probably more palatable to some that may otherwise scoff.

For the latter, I really need to keep this in mind when I consider purchases. It’s a very practical tip that I think is easy to lose sight of.

Thanks,

-CS
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Old 01-27-2012, 04:23 PM
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I fully agree with the idea of risk oriented preparedness.

I recently moved from hurricane country to a more northern area where tornadoes and winter storms are a much greater likely hood. That changed many things in my plan. For one I went from a week worth of warning for hurricane to minutes of warning for a tornado, or maybe a day or two for an ice storm.

I went from a couple of blankets and a tent for sleeping, to cold weather sleeping bags. From hitching the camper and bugging out from a hurricane to buying a portable propane heater. (I guess I could bug out from a winter storm, my camper is on wheels.)

But I also see two different kinds of SHTF, long term (economic collapse, EMP, Thermo Nuclear war) and short term (storms, utility outages).

As others have said, most of the long term SHTFs are prepared for in much the same way it's usually the short term one that require individual planning. You might live near a major chemical plant, where as I live near a big river that could flood.

And your answer to each may be different. You may be capable of living out of a backpack for weeks, foraging and hunting for much of your food. Others may need to plan to live in a hotel with room service.

Asses your personal risks, determine which are most likely and which are most devastating, and prepare according to your abilities.

Survivalism and prepping aren't just piling up food, or learning to live with in the woods with only the items in your hollow handled knife.
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Old 01-28-2012, 01:12 PM
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Haven't read the whole thread yet, so forgive me if this has been discussed already (if so, just consider this my "vote" for this issue), but the problem I often see with preps based on fiction (a form of "storytelling") is that people take them as reality.

A story, including fiction, has its value: entertainment, being informative and making a person think about issues. I sometimes come away from a story with something I had not thought of as a possible risk, strategy, or just thinking deeper about an issue in my preps that I had not consider before in depth but meant to. That is all well and good.

[RANT]
But what isn't good is when someone considers something a threat/risk solely because it was the main theme of the story - i.e., zombie apocalypse, complete collapse of worldwide civilization, CME, etc., and then goes off on an "OMG! I have to prepare for that!" bent. The threat of "raiders" is one of those sub-risks that keeps coming up with a reference to some PAW story in a post about someone's preps; e.g., "if SHTF happens, I am going to bug out to my BOL in the mountains and shoot anybody who comes up my road".

Worse is how some people take the story seriously as their strategy for how to prepare for SHTF. Sorry JDY/et. al., but this is all too often the theme of PAW fiction:

1) Someone winning the lottery, getting millions because their family was hit by a drunk driver, or someone who made a killing in the stock market and suddenly is hit with the "prepper bug" because of some event in their life.

2) They go out and buy a BOL - hundreds of acres of prime tillable land adjoining hundreds of acres of prime hunting wooded land. Then they spend millions on underground shelters, equipment, food and guns (for any given author, it is often the same equipment over and over again - e.g., Suburban diesel, Unimogs, etc. you know who you are ), and then sure enough SHTF hits and along comes everybody who either:

a) Wants to help and share.
b) Wants to take it all away.

Not only does this get redundant after a half dozen stories along these lines, but the value of the information wanes as the expense goes up. One of my favorite JDY PAW stories is the guy who can barely pay his rent who stores some food in a culvert outside of Reno (IIRC), drives his POS out there in a nuke event and survives - unfortunately he goes on to become rich by scavenging gold and food, but the first half was okay. Those kinds of stories hold more value for a lot of people than the kind where someone spends multi-millions beforehand (or even after) and survives a TEOTWAWKI event. Another story by another author had two families prepare the start of a BOL and after the SHTF even we get to see all the things they did wrong instead of right - that was a LOT more valuable than where everybody lives happily ever after.
[/RANT]

I appreciate the effort that authors put into their stories, but please, in the future, think about some of these issues? Is the new story you are writing just a different twist on the one you wrote before? Or is it something new, with different info?
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Old 01-28-2012, 01:48 PM
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I've always been a risk based prepper/survivalist. I have always found the phrase "The end of the world as we know it" to be rather vague and subjective. It happens all the time , everyday, to everybody. Any life changing event becomes the end of the world as you know it. The scale of the event is the only variable.Our culture is whatever Hollywood dictates it will be, and for those easily influenced individuals it becomes a virtual reality It's almost a mass psychosis. I find reality much more interesting. TP
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Old 01-30-2012, 05:24 AM
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I don't necessarily agree that there are only two stories that circulate. I think the stories run the gamut.

I suspect, though, that among newbies you're much more on target. The nuance that more experienced preppers can apply is borne not only of greater knowledge of and experience with prepping, but also as a result of longer time periods in which the world did not collapse.

I believe people naturally tend to "worst case" their anticipations, and either plan for that, or give up and accept it's (in their mind) impossible. But I can remember my mother asking me to think about the biggest fears I've ever had, and how many came true in the way I feared. Answer? None of them.

Still, humans as presumably rational beings will want to define ranges and endpoints, to know how far out they must go, to think, to plan. It's natural and normal, even when the worst endpoint is very unlikely to happen.
As a generalization I still have the feeling that we only see two stories; especially in the mainstream media. We see very few stories that imagine that standard of living the America could drop to half of what it is today. Instead we basically only see the stories that indicate that everything will be either Business as Usual, or the total Collapse. The very concepts that we see within the Survivalist and Prepper Movement; BOB, BOL. Bugg In, Raiders, OPSEC etc is concepts designed for a very extreme scenario, not for your everyday life.

As for an alternative approach I still have some work to do with my own suggested framework but as I see it all measures must be based upon the specific situation that all individuals face. The One Size Fits all concept that we often see here based on a fictional scenario is something that I donít believe is the best solution for everyone.

My point: We should start to explore alternative approaches to the subject; right now weíre just circulating around in the same tracks.
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Old 01-30-2012, 10:16 AM
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As a generalization I still have the feeling that we only see two stories; especially in the mainstream media. We see very few stories that imagine that standard of living the America could drop to half of what it is today. Instead we basically only see the stories that indicate that everything will be either Business as Usual, or the total Collapse. The very concepts that we see within the Survivalist and Prepper Movement; BOB, BOL. Bugg In, Raiders, OPSEC etc is concepts designed for a very extreme scenario, not for your everyday life.
Agreed. It is a lot easier to write something interesting if you go for the extreme cases instead of writing something interesting about how someone has a backyard garden in their suburban home - so that is the majority of what gets written.

I started to read a story yesterday that devolved into a huge list of dream preps that someone would buy if they had enough money. It may be interesting to read that list, but that isn't a story and it isn't very realistic. As I said in my rant I would rather hear how someone got caught out by surprise by a SHTF event and how they made do, including all their mistakes, instead of how someone with millions of dollars would setup just in time for TEOTWAWKI.
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Old 01-30-2012, 12:26 PM
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As a generalization I still have the feeling that we only see two stories; especially in the mainstream media. We see very few stories that imagine that standard of living the America could drop to half of what it is today. Instead we basically only see the stories that indicate that everything will be either Business as Usual, or the total Collapse. The very concepts that we see within the Survivalist and Prepper Movement; BOB, BOL. Bugg In, Raiders, OPSEC etc is concepts designed for a very extreme scenario, not for your everyday life.

As for an alternative approach I still have some work to do with my own suggested framework but as I see it all measures must be based upon the specific situation that all individuals face. The One Size Fits all concept that we often see here based on a fictional scenario is something that I donít believe is the best solution for everyone.

My point: We should start to explore alternative approaches to the subject; right now weíre just circulating around in the same tracks.
I'm still left with the same question: What would such exploration of "alternative approaches" produce for us, and what is the end game result you're looking for?

Is your goal to get the public better informed? Have a "preparedness" meme for people to understand that is less threatening than the end-of-the-world scenario?

I'm at a loss here. My standard response to many is always they should work to increase the number of scenarios they can survive, from a weekend power outage to a week-long ice storm to...whatever.

Many others do the same thing. So I'm not sure what "alternative approaches" means, nor, by necessity, what they are.
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Old 01-30-2012, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by The Heretic View Post
Agreed. It is a lot easier to write something interesting if you go for the extreme cases instead of writing something interesting about how someone has a backyard garden in their suburban home - so that is the majority of what gets written.

I started to read a story yesterday that devolved into a huge list of dream preps that someone would buy if they had enough money. It may be interesting to read that list, but that isn't a story and it isn't very realistic. As I said in my rant I would rather hear how someone got caught out by surprise by a SHTF event and how they made do, including all their mistakes, instead of how someone with millions of dollars would setup just in time for TEOTWAWKI.
I agree with you, I guess where the disagreement exists is in the belief that there are only two things people talk about.

I see people posting all the time about gardening, about how they dealt with a short-term SHTF event, about a lot of short-term things.

I don't know that it matters much whether people start out small and work toward comprehensive preparedness, or start out concerned about "the big one" and as part of the process develop preparedness for the more numerous and likely "small ones."
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