This article in on the Scientific American website denigrates preppers then tells people to take the same steps that preppers espouse. I suspect there’s a bit of psychological distancing (so to speak) going on here; we should have been prepared like preppers but we are not like those lowlifes!
"As the new human coronavirus spreads around the world, individuals and families should prepare"
Preparation is done before the need appears: from Latin praeparare ”make ready beforehand”. _Before_hand, people.
"...some people may be holding back from preparing because of their understandable dislike of associating such preparation with doomsday or “prepper” subcultures."
"Preparing for the almost inevitable global spread of this virus, now dubbed COVID-19, is one of the most pro-social, altruistic things you can do in response to potential disruptions of this kind."
When enlightened people prep it’s altruistic. When preppers prep it’s antisocial and icky. Got it.
"We should prepare not because we are facing a doomsday scenario out of our control, but because we can alter every aspect of this risk we face as a society."
If preppers thought possible hazard scenarios were out of their control why would they prep?
The author is fixating on the current Covid-19 threat and not seeing the bigger picture. This isn’t the only threat that will ever affect the generation.
"That’s right, you should prepare because your neighbors need you to prepare— especially ... your neighbors who may not have the means or the time to prepare because of lack of resources or time."
Preparation takes interest, not resources or time. One prepper technique is to spend an extra 5 minutes and $5 per shopping trip to make your your larder is stocked appropriately. I submit that is not an undue hardship. Sleepwalkers and statists who do not take minimal, positive steps to protect themselves and their family are unintentionally voting themselves off the island, if not out of the gene pool.
"Prepper and survivalist subcultures are often associated with doomsday scenarios and extreme steps: "
…because of people like you conflating the extreme and the mainstream in articles like this. Example: the entire LDS faith group is prep-motivated – many more of those folks around than camo-wearing conspiracy mongers.
Note to onlookers: LDS groups (wards?) have regular preparedness fairs that are worth your time to attend. There is no prosyletizing, even to this heathen.
"people stocking and hoarding supplies"
Stocking supplies ahead of time doesn’t seem like such a bad idea, now does it? Just like we want to flatten the curve of hospital impact, we want to flatten the curve of supply chain impact. Prepping does exactly that.
Why should we care if someone builds a bunker?
“and preparing to go off the grid”
The grid is in shambolic state. We should be augmenting it with local generation (solar, wind, hydro) wherever possible. Covid-19 isn’t SHTF, it isn’t even close. Losing the power grid would be.
"so that they may survive some untold catastrophe"
It’s “untold” because they are preparing in advance. You OTOH are jumping rather late on one particular bandwagon after it’s already taking arrows.
"brandishing weapons to guard their compound while their less prepared neighbors perish."
The less-prepared have made their choices and will reap the consequences. This is true for all human activities. Of course, someone could donate their own resources to help them and I’m sure you will. I recommend a sign on your lawn that says: “My house is well-stocked with provisions. No TP shortage here!”
What is the difference between not posting that sign and protecting the house? I suggest that the former is a passive approach and the latter is an active approach to the same end.
"All this appears both extreme and selfish, and, to be honest, a little nutty"
Spoken like a person who has never been in a serious situation before: not surprising for an academic.
The author goes on to suggest the following:
“get a flu shot”. Fine.
“if you haven’t already, and stock up supplies at home”. i.e. prepping
“so that you can stay home for two or three weeks, going out as little as possible.” i.e. bunkering
“potable water (that’s a general just-in-case item for all emergencies), shelf-stable food (doesn’t need refrigeration, again just-in-case), your prescription medication and a few basic medical supplies (first aid/your usual over-the-counter meds). Depending on the composition of your household, things to keep you busy (books, board games, toys).” this could be straight out of a prepper forum.
“Why not rely on refrigerated food? Sure, keep your fridge full, but it isn’t the back-up you need for two weeks.“ You mean the grid might not supply power? The aforementioned LDS fairs have canning classes, which is where I learned to can meats for shelf-stable storage.
Seems to me the moral of the story is “prepare, but don’t be a prepper.”
as for me
I dislike cartoony preppers as much as everyone else. There is only so much chemtrail-and-grays conspiracy and liberal-bashing this libertarian can tolerate.
Having said that, I am currently miles away from population living off grid with my dog. The solar panels are making all the power I need and I habitually have a couple week’s food and water on hand. The life I chose requires preparedness; it kills the unprepared and inattentive.