5 Worst Assumptions People Make in a Doomsday Scenario
Is it going to be some kind of nuclear holocaust? Are zombies going to start rising from the dead? Will there be a mass infection that wipes out the bulk of our species, or a spiritual rapture that leaves only a handful of us on the Earth?
These scenarios don’t seem especially likely, and they seem even less likely when you consider the sheer number of times people have predicted the end of the world that turned out to be false. Still, the curious and most prepared among us always keep the prospect of a “doomsday” in the backs of our minds, considering how we’d survive in a post-apocalyptic society. Some of us even have shelters or supplies stashed away, just in case—but there’s a problem with these doomsday preparations. They’re almost always based on a number of false assumptions.
The Dangers of False Assumptions
All forms of preparation rely on some assumptions; this is unavoidable. However, when most people picture a “doomsday,” they approach it with a set of preconceived notions that they’ve gathered from books, movies, or ideal projections of what the apocalypse might be like. If these assumptions are incorrect, you could end up preparing wrong, reducing your chances of survival and making all your efforts worthless.
The Worst Assumptions You Can Make
These are some of the worst—yet most common—mistakes you can make about the ambiguous coming “doomsday:”
- Some forms of technology will still work. We’ve come a long way in terms of being able to protect our data and protect our devices against natural elements and disasters. But on a big enough scale, it’s unlikely that any of our technologies will survive a massively destructive event. That means all forms of Internet and electricity will become unusable, and even portable, analog devices like radios might be useless. Does that mean you shouldn’t include a radio in your emergency stash? No—it might still come in handy. But you shouldn’t plan for it to work, just like you shouldn’t plan for cars, phones, or any other form of technology to work. Count on absolutely nothing surviving, and you’ll be prepared no matter what.
- You’re more likely to survive than someone else. This is an assumption most of us live with, and we can’t really help it. Imagine you’ve just learned that a new illness is going to wipe out 95 percent of the U.S. population—you’ll imagine yourself as part of the 5 percent who survive, even though this makes little logical sense. You can’t really plan on dying, though you do owe it to yourself to be more realistic about the scenario. Even if you survive the initial effects, the aftereffects (think: secondary infections, nuclear fallout, etc.) could catch up to you.
- Your supplies will be safe. When most of us prepare for a doomsday scenario, we focus on physical goods, sometimes going overboard with the amount of supplies we store. All of this is usually based on an assumption that we’ll be able to keep these supplies safe and available for our own use. In reality, having this many supplies is probably going to make you a target rather than providing a cushion for your lifestyle. In reality, it may be wiser to only store what you absolutely need for survival.
- Supplies matter more than skills. This assumption also involves our tendency to horde supplies; people generally assume that as long as they have the right materials, they’ll be able to survive. And it’s true that additional food and water can keep you alive for longer, but it’s more important in a post-apocalyptic scenario to have the skills and abilities necessary to support your own continued survival. It’s the “teach a man to fish” moral, but applied to post-doomsday survivalism. Instead of spending more money on supplies, spend money on survival training and experiences that will keep you alive.
- Short-term survival is what really matters. Most people end up planning for a few weeks of survival after a doomsday event. Some go nuts and plan for a few months. But the truth is, your body will probably be able to survive for a few weeks on its own, without much need for additional resources. If you really want to survive after a doomsday event, you need to think in longer terms. How are you going to survive in a year? In five years? In ten?
Predicting the Unpredictable
Even though this article has been centered on false assumption, it’s probably making some false assumption of its own. Why? Because by its very nature, a doomsday scenario is unpredictable. It may never come. It may come tomorrow. And if it does come, it could take any one of an infinite number of forms. It’s impossible to prepare for everything, so the best you can do is prepare for the greatest number of possible events, and prepare yourself—mentally and physically—for the most demanding situations you can.