Creeping normality (also called gradualism, or landscape amnesia) is a process by which a major change can be accepted as normal and acceptable if it happens slowly through small, often unnoticeable, increments of change. The change could otherwise be regarded as remarkable and objectionable if it took place in a single step or short period.
American scientist Jared Diamond used creeping normality in his 2005 book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Prior to releasing his book, Diamond explored this theory while attempting to explain why, in the course of long-term environmental degradation, Easter Island natives would, seemingly irrationally, chop down the last tree:
I suspect, though, that the disaster happened not with a bang but with a whimper. After all, there are those hundreds of abandoned statues to consider. The forest the islanders depended on for rollers and rope didn't simply disappear one day—it vanished slowly, over decades.
There are a number of metaphors related to creeping normality, including:
- Boiling frog
- Camel's nose
- "First they came ..."
- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
- Normalisation of deviance
- Overton window
- Principiis obsta (et respice finem) - 'resist the beginnings (and consider the end)'
- Salami tactics
- Shifting baseline
- Slippery slope
- Technological change as a social process
- Tyranny of small decisions
- Fogg GE, LaBolle EM (14 March 2006). "Motivation of synthesis, with an example on groundwater quality sustainability". Water Resources Research. 42 (3): W03S05. Bibcode:2006WRR....42.3S05F. doi:10.1029/2005WR004372.
- Diamond, Jared (1995-08-01). "Easter's End". Discover magazine. Retrieved 2014-08-03.