Awareness is a Fallacy

Awareness is a Fallacy

This is a discussion on Awareness is a Fallacy within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; A great essay on a topic often discussed on this forum. From page 97, "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" by Grant Cunningham. Reprinted here with permission of ...

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    Awareness is a Fallacy

    A great essay on a topic often discussed on this forum. From page 97, "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" by Grant Cunningham. Reprinted here with permission of the author.

    "One of the doctrines that came out of the dark ages of training was the idea that some level of 'situational awareness' would keep you safe. There was a time when I too believed that, until I started to see the video evidence. It became clear that there was a serious flaw in that advice, a flaw of which even the least intellectually endowed criminal would take advantage.

    The flaw is simple: you can't be completely aware of every minute of the day because you have a life to live. No matter how much attention you pay to your surroundings, sooner or later you're going to need to read the menu or watch the movie or supervise your children or look into the eyes of your date. That's life, and those distractions happen hundreds of times a day to even the best of us. (Frankly, if they didn't I'm not sure I'd like my life all that much! Continual paranoia is not fun.)

    This isn't to completely discount the value of being aware of your surroundings, only to put it in perspective. You can't be aware of everything around you all the time. You can be aware of some of the stuff all of the time, or all of the stuff some of the time, but not all of the stuff all of the time. At some point you'll return to being human and pay attention to something else. That's just natural.

    What's also natural is that this is the point at which you are the most vulnerable and not coincidentally, the point at which the savvy attacker will often choose to initiate contact. Superb situational awareness may only delay the inevitable; an attacker who is sufficiently motivated (i.e., there is something he really wants) to attack the person displaying good situational awareness may choose to bide his time, knowing that within a short period of time something will attract the victim's attention - then he can strike.

    Criminals will often set up their own distractions. While the victim is busy dealing with the innocuous request or conversation ("hey, buddy, you got the time?") the attacker makes his move. Situational awareness can only go so far.

    (my emphasis added) A training regimen which assumes you will always have advance notice of an attack due to superlative situational awareness is fundamentally flawed. It assumes a set of conditions which are probably unlikely to be continually present even with the most conscientious person, which can be manipulated to facilitate the attack."
    GWarden, Bill MO, ccw9mm and 35 others like this.
    "Stop being dangerous, and you become edible." William Aprill

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Have never seen "situational awareness" trained as something that'll always result in anything. But, it's like anything with self-defense preparations. Every little bit helps.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: Why the Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
    NRA, SAF, GOA, OFF, ACLDN.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccw9mm View Post
    Have never seen "situational awareness" trained as something that'll always result in anything. But, it's like anything with self-defense preparations. Every little bit helps.
    We see it here all the time. A what-would-you-do scenario gets posted, and a good 75% of the responses are "I would never get in that situation in the first place because..." followed by a dissertation on SA.
    "Stop being dangerous, and you become edible." William Aprill

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    We see people misconstruing the concepts, yes. My point was simply that I've never, ever heard of it being taught that way, that the techniques of attentiveness and guarding against being surprised/cornered always work.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: Why the Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
    NRA, SAF, GOA, OFF, ACLDN.

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    Senior Member Array GWarden's Avatar
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    Good info, Mike. About says it all on SA.
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    Distinguished Member Array Bill MO's Avatar
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    Believe I'd have to say I agree with the opinions in the OP.

    No matter how good you think you are doing there is the small window where you let it all fall down and your had. At which time you'd better be prepared and able to fight back to the front from behind the 8 ball.
    It's gotta be who you are, not a hobby. reinman45

    "Is this persons bad behavior worth me having to kill them over?" Guantes

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccw9mm View Post
    We see people misconstruing the concepts, yes. My point was simply that I've never, ever heard of it being taught that way, that the techniques of attentiveness and guarding against being surprised/cornered always work.
    Based on the responses I mentioned previously, it would seem someone with many acolytes is preaching it.
    gatorbait51 likes this.
    "Stop being dangerous, and you become edible." William Aprill

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill MO View Post
    Believe I'd have to say I agree with the opinions in the OP.

    No matter how good you think you are doing there is the small window where you let it all fall down and your had. At which time you'd better be prepared and able to fight back to the front from behind the 8 ball.
    No that's not the answer. You partner up. If not your friend or mate or spouse, you enlist someone - the manager of the supermarket to help you load your car, for example. SA works if there is more than one - a team approach.

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    Distinguished Member Array hdhnict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccw9mm View Post
    Have never seen "situational awareness" trained as something that'll always result in anything. But, it's like anything with self-defense preparations. Every little bit helps.
    I don't feel comfortable speaking in absolutes, things like "always" or "never".
    I don't carry to deter crime. I carry to defend myself!

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    VIP Member Array patri0t's Avatar
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    SA cannot be effective without a modicum of 'common sense' and 'reality' based thinking.
    In LE, we are normally tested on our 'observation skills' before being hired. SA is just knowing WHEN to raise your alert status.

    If my wife is in a grocery store, her Situational Awareness (SA) is reduced in proportion to any threat potential, However, when she leaves the store and enters the parking lot, her alert lever goes up (SA). She 'knows when' SA is a higher priority in proportion to 'witnesses', 'lighting, 'low visibility areas', or any red flag circumstance..... this practice becomes HABIT with much repetition.

    The clown who wrote about 100% SA not being possible was just making a ridiculous point.
    Most know when to be alert and aware (SA) and when it is OK to relax to a reasonable degree.

    If someone has a 'personal' plan on you, they can bide their time and WILL get the first shot.
    You can't train for that situation.
    Retired Deputy- State Trooper (38 long years) 8 yrs RTO - MS Degree- Criminology
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    VIP Member Array Hoganbeg's Avatar
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    While I agree that we can't be totally aware all of the time I have to question your 75% figure. That seems awfully high to me. Regardless, I believe a systems approach is the key. Teamwork or partnering up is good, but not always practical. Training for awareness is better than not training even if you can't be at 100% 24/7. Good habits, teamwork, training, and layered defense is all a part of it.

    The truth is that while not infallible, SA is the largest factor in remaining safe.

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    I think the key here is knowing when your awareness needs to be high and when it does not. Walking at night in a crime ridden urban area
    obviously on high. Sitting on the patio in your back yard in a low crime small town not as much. As mentioned understanding that you
    may be caught unaware and find yourself behind in a confrontation and knowing what it takes to turn that around may help.
    molleur and gatorbait51 like this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by patri0t View Post
    SA cannot be effective without a modicum of 'common sense' and 'reality' based thinking.
    In LE, we are normally tested on our 'observation skills' before being hired. SA is just knowing WHEN to raise your alert status.

    If my wife is in a grocery store, her Situational Awareness (SA) is reduced in proportion to any threat potential, However, when she leaves the store and enters the parking lot, her alert lever goes up (SA). She 'knows when' SA is a higher priority in proportion to 'witnesses', 'lighting, 'low visibility areas', or any red flag circumstance..... this practice becomes HABIT with much repetition.

    The clown who wrote about 100% SA not being possible was just making a ridiculous point.
    Most know when to be alert and aware (SA) and when it is OK to relax to a reasonable degree.

    If someone has a 'personal' plan on you, they can bide their time and WILL get the first shot.
    You can't train for that situation.
    +1...This^^^
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    “Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.”
    ― Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy

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    I agree, it's impossible to have complete Situational Awareness. Your guard is gonna drop. You don't have eyes in the back of your head. There's always someone out there better than you etc. etc.

    There are things that most of us here do to keep out of harms way that I won't list off. But to think you can have 100% situational awareness is a fallacy and to do so, you'd have to live like a wild animal. Act like a bird, squirrel, chipmunk whatever, and be constantly looking here, looking there. Perking up to this sound and that sound. Running away here. Darting over there. Who wants to live like that? No one, even if you could you'd look like a psycho. And even those "aware" animals get preyed upon on a daily basis.

    I'll keep my eyes up, head on a swivel, taking in the environment and all the rest making it harder for a BG, but I also know that if someone really wants to get the drop on you, they can.

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    Mike1956

    Keep it coming. Your posts are thought provoking and informative. You've obviously had a ton of training and I appreciate your sharing that experience here.
    I know little on the subject so I'll speak at length.

    If you have an excuse for failure, you will.

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