Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Odd Psychology 

The wildfires in California with their destruction of homes are an example of odd human psychology, that PR deals with in its efforts to persuade. Southern Californians have known for decades that building houses in zones where there is native brush is an invitation to disaster. Yet, they continue to do so, and when their houses burn, they rebuild in the same spot. No amount of persuasion seems to change minds. The attitude of government is to let them proceed subject to laws, such as using non-combustible roofing material. Still, that doesn't prevent loss of structures in terrible fire years.

This odd psychology also applies to building in flood zones, which happens all over the US, or building next to eroding shorelines, another nationwide irrationality. Hurricanes in Florida and Gulf Coast states have shown time and again that such dwellings are at high risk. Yet, people build and rebuild, as if nature were not a factor. The only control appears to be high insurance rates. Local and state governments appear unable to stop it.

What kind of persuasion campaign would it take to bring people to their senses, if anything could do it? One's "right to live" anywhere one wants is as stubborn a belief as the right to smoke was 50 years ago.


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