Cultural super volcano: a cultural history of Yellowstone's hot spot via eco-paranoia

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


People who experienced previous natural disasters later develop a characteristic of miscalculating risk in current and future natural disasters due to the emotional intensity of fear clouding their capability to estimate their true danger in such scenarios. Eco-Paranoia is termed in this thesis as a foundational reasoning for the miscalculation. The oversight of risk due to overrunning fear currently elevates anxiety towards Yellowstone National Park's anticipated super eruption. What fuels these fears and causes humans to exhibit irrational decisions during natural disasters? Outside influences such as the mass media, first-hand disaster experience, historic response to cultural shifts in ideologies, and human response to fear and insecurities generate the miscalculated risk that results in a shift in human thinking and behavior. An analysis into the experiences of Mt. St. Helens survivors is included to help interpret modern human response to volcanic eruptions into a speculation of reaction with a Yellowstone eruption. The need to understand the function of fear as it activates human thought and behavior is elaborated on to analyze its influencing impact. Culturally, the public attuned their attention to other characteristics of the park besides the massive hot spot below when the park was first established. Fear of a destructive explosion lingered far off in their minds. All of these historical factors lead to further understanding how and why the current public is attuned, anxious, and paranoid about destructive volcanic activity in Yellowstone National Park. Eco-Paranoia, as exhibited through this thesis discusses the influence of people's constructed beliefs and ideologies that ultimately cause them to be fearful and paranoid for something that does not necessarily deserve such worry; the clouding of calculating risk due to fear during natural disasters. By nature, humans succumb to their emotions of fear and ultimately are the cause of their distress in natural disaster situations.




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