The point I wanted to make (but was cut) on this recent BBC podcast about prepping going mainstream

It’s a nice segment that went out to their worldwide audience. About 18 mins long: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3csz799, my part’s around 3:00. Another TP community member, Julie Fredrickson, also joined.

EDIT to add: The podcast was popular, so they did a follow-up article with Julie and I https://www.bbc.com/news/business-55249590

There was a part of the interview that was cut for time. It wasn’t hugely insightful, but wanted to ramble the point here since it keeps getting cut from these interviews: 

When someone like Bill Gates says “we have major SHTF risks around disease/bioweapons and it’s important to prepare now,” we need to do a better job of listening and taking those people seriously.

In that example, Gates has spent more money on trying to solve medical problems than any other individual in history. He’s abundantly qualified to make that statement. And he’s certainly smart, known to be rational, and has a track record of being right about these kinds of problems / solutions / the future. 

Yet people will hear someone like Gates say these warnings and dismiss it with a “hmph, so you’re a crazy prepper!”

Crying wolf is a good way to lose credibility. But there’s a difference between people like Gates and someone like an actress who spouts anti-vaxxer stuff. But what’s happening is people hear one person cry wolf too many false times, then when another person cries wolf, they dismiss it and ignore who the new person is. “The last times we heard someone talk about a wolf, it wasn’t true.” Well yeah, but this is a different person, and in fact this new person crying wolf is a trusted wolf expert!

A non-prepping example of this problem where people won’t let credentials override stereotypes: When Michael Phelps was “caught” smoking marijuana, people reacted with statements like “oh thats so horrible, how could he do that!” 

… well, maybe if the greatest athlete of all time is smoking marijuana, your stereotypes about cannabis were wrong? The evidence that the stigma was wrong is right in front of you.

Dismissing the best people in society because what they say/do sounds similar to what the worst of society say/do is a recipe for disaster. 

This societal problem, a twist on the No True Scotsman problem, is one of the biggest meta reasons I’m pessimistic about the future — we can’t avoid massive problems if we keep ignoring the people best qualified to lead us away from / out of those problems! 

Another bit that was cut from the BBC interview perfectly demonstrates why people would rather put their head in the sand than face an inconvenient truth:

Me: “We’re not talking about some theoretical alien invasion. These problems like worsening natural disasters and late-stage capitalism are happening right now.”

BBC: “Here in the UK, someone is likely to say to you ‘cheer up love, it’ll be fine!’ A keep calm and carry on sort of thing.”

Me: “That’s part of the problem!”


  • Comments (8)

    • 10

      I just listened to your interview and really enjoyed it! It got me back into the prepping spirit.

    • 8

      I really enjoyed this segment, too! I love hearing people talk about the real, systemic, and institutional causes of instability/precarity of which many preppers are cognizant and to which we are responding— e.g., for a non-political example, the fact that there is less cushion/buffer in our optimized supply chains than there was in days past. 

      And yeah, agree with your point about considering the source. There is lots more that I could say about that but will refrain, in the interest of keeping my professional and prepper lives separate (to the degree possible for a woman who keeps an evacuation boat in her office).

      • 5

        Evacuation boat in your office?! 

      • 9

        To paddle across the river to my family if the “Really Big One” hits while I’m at work on the other side!

        … which is, importantly, the absolute last thing I want to do after a major earthquake. I feel like the odds of dying in that scenario are pretty solid, so it’s not Plan A, but it does give me real peace of mind to know that the boat is there (and I take it home some weekends and play with it, which is fun, too).

      • 11

        That is really cool pdxsarah!

        I’d love to see a whole future forum post about this if there so more too it. I have so many questions! Like is it an inflatable boat? How long does it take to pump it up? Do you have an accompanying get home bag with it? Did you have to ask your boss for permission to store it there? What have other co workers thought as they have seen it? How big of a river would you have to cross? 

      • 6

        Ooh, I would do a forum post on this— complete with pictures of test deployment. It’s an inflatable raft (here’s the product); you fill it with air by sort of flapping it up and down, seal it off like a dry bag, and then blow into a valve on the side to finish the job. Whole process takes ~5 minutes, though you do have to set the raft in the water and hold it there for a bit while the water cools the air inside the raft, then reinflate it.

        The raft packs down pretty small, and the paddle breaks down into four pieces, so I can easily carry it home on transit (to use it for fun on weekends, i.e.) and nobody even gives me a second look. Most of my coworkers haven’t noticed it in the office, either, but when I explain the rationale to those who do, it always goes the same way: They look concerned; I say, “You think I’m crazy, don’t you?”; and then they say something to the effect of, “No, I’m thinking about the fact that I have no idea how I’m getting across the river after the earthquake!” So maybe my little boat is doing good work in the world, just by being visible. 😀

        I also have a PFD, a get-home bag, two changes of clothes (one for hot weather, one for cold weather), some food, some water, and a warm blanket in the office. I want to be able to stay on the work side of the river for a couple of days if I have to, but my building has been retrofitted “so that we can all walk out and then never go back in again,” as one of my colleagues told me, so there will be no shelter for me at the office. Just another reason to have multiple plans for getting home.

        The river is about 500 yards across, and I’ve paddled across river of a similar width and with comparable currents in this very boat— dragging my partner along behind me as he clung to an inflatable pool toy, and with my husky mix in the boat between the paddle and my body, no less. It wasn’t pretty (think of the physical exhaustion in the last 500 yards of a marathon, and then add a dog incessantly licking your mouth), but we made it. If life ever goes back to normal, I’m going to take a sup tour of the river I would have to cross with a guide to (a) get to know what it feels like to be on the water there, and (b) talk with a professional about whether my Plan C is a full-on suicide mission or merely crazy. In the meantime, I’m working from home, so I don’t have to worry about bug out boating.

      • 8

        That is a much cooler boat than what I was thinking of. I was imagining one of those cheap <$50 ones that you would need a pump for and wait for 2 hours for it to fill up.


        I am very impressed with your work prepping setup as well! 

      • 8

        Yeah my prepper friend found the Uncharted Supply Co. boats. We both got super excited because they were sturdy and didn’t require a pump, then bought them on Black Friday sale last year. We spent a few weekends this summer taking them to smaller rivers to get comfortable with them. They are a little difficult to row from because you’re so low in the boat, and it’s wider than a kayak. So it just doesn’t feel like paddling a kayak, where you have a lot of leverage. Longer term I’m interested in an Oru Kayak, but that’s a much bigger investment (cheapest one is $900 as opposed to the $350 this cost me) and I would need to feel like the boat would get good use outside of disaster scenarios and also reduce my odds of dying in an emergency, so, more research needed.