Thanks for bringing this thread up. Interesting bit about normalcy bias as I am seeing these quite a bit, even in myself.
Just a few days ago, I was temp-working at the local university and was browsing through its main library on the top floor before going in for work. It's a Final Examination week and the library was filled with students. Suddenly, there was a fire alarm going off - nobody was told that this was to be a drill, not even the employees. No one made a move or looked around for other people to leave (there were some students still glued to the computers or their iPods). The alarms were being ignored. As I walk to the stairs, I saw one student waiting for the elevator and I told him to take the stairs (I was wearing "Staff" t-shirt), so he walk over to the stairs and I followed. Some students are still on the top floor when I left the building but they later left when the employees went up there to check the floors to escort the students out.
Huh. I have a similar example (also from a library) and have been wondering a few days about it. What happened was basically that a disheveled man came in and started talking loudly - at first I thought he was phoning (in a foreign language, sounded like Russian). The public library is quite large and mostly frequented by students who sit in long rows at tables, mostly in front of computers. There is no staff in the Reading Room itself. The loud voice was extremely bothering and I must admit that my first thoughts were: "I am not going to do anything, because: 1. He will soon stop by himself 2. Staff will come 3. Somebody else will address it." For the next five minutes nothing happened. The uncanny thing was that Nobody in the Reading Room even STIRRED, like turning their heads, drawing faces, looking at each other or in the direction of the noise. Then a young man got up and went to the source of the noise (from my place I couldn't see the man) and came back. Nothing happened after that, the voice went on and on.
I finally got up myself, approached the man and saw that he was talking with himself, not phoning. I politely told him that his talking was disturbing the readers, could he please stop? He looked at me in a wild way and started a verbal attack in Russian, so I fled and went to the Staff Room. Obviously I was the first reporting this, because the librarian said that he had to inform security, he couldn't do it by himself. I went back to my seat, on the way met the young man from before and told him that I had informed staff. It took another ten minutes for security to arrive, talk to the man and escort him out.
Sorry for this long story, but it made me think for a couple of days. Nobody in the room (about 40 people of all age groups), except me and the young man, had even LOOKED UP. It was like sitting in a room with machines with blank dead stares. I am in this library quite often - several times a week for many hours) and had never encountered the man - one possible idea being that people there were used to him and knew that security would eventually come and take him out. Another idea - everyone is terribly inner considering and afraid to ask him to stop - falls to pieces, too - it would have been easy just to inform Staff....but nobody even stirred or looked into the direction of the voice.
Another thread here is called:"Honestly, have you ever seen a ghost?" I think I did see a few ... and it was scary.