The tyranny of the “new”, availability heuristic biases, and the importance of advocates and mobilizers

One of the problems we face in activism, advocacy, and research is the “tyranny of the urgent and the new” in publishing.

There are a lot of “ongoing” conflicts, for example: Ethiopia, Nigeria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. But many of these “fall off the radar” because they aren’t “new” – they are “same-old/same-old.” They don’t make the headlines. So people just becoming involved in mission work aren’t aware of some of these complexities, and we can be taken by surprise.

Worse, because we don’t “see” headlines from time to time, we can make the erroneous assumption that the “war” there is over, and that therefore Gospel progress is making advances. This is the “availability heuristic bias“: because we have no information that we can immediately recall, we think there is no information to be recalled.

This is one of the reasons why advocates for specific unreached places and peoples are needed – to monitor the current situation, and to remind us of the current situation. Being an advocate for a specific place – monitoring status, curating resources, raising awareness, recruiting workers – is am important link in the chain.

If everyone is going “from everywhere to everywhere” we need people to be the “from” and “to” links!

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