August 7, 2012

"You could argue that men acted badly, but it’s hard to say how the women acted."

"We haven’t studied individual behavior. Women could have acted just as badly but didn’t succeed against stronger competition."
It may be... that it is not men’s or women’s behavior that is at issue, but human behavior. “Survivors may feel bad if we accuse them of acting selfishly,” he said, “but wanting to take care of oneself rather than others — this may be normal behavior for all human beings.”

67 comments:

Synova said...

The reason to have strong social conventions about behavior is to subvert natural tendencies.

A strong expectation of chivalry in a disaster (women and children first) isn't there because it's NATURAL.

Just like there is nothing natural about marital fidelity, as if it just sort of accidentally happens if you marry the right person and all social conventions, expectations, and view of infidelity as shameful is because some people are meanies and can be done away with without consequence.

Synova said...

Also, I wonder...

If it's historical maritime disasters being studied...

How much harder is it to swim in a skirt? I'd think women's clothing would pull a person straight to the bottom.

edutcher said...

What were the conditions at the times of the sinkings?

Hurricanes, high seas, very hot or cold weather, how long were they at at sea before being rescued(some survivors of WWII U-boat sinkings were adrift 6 weeks).

Synova said...

Also, I wonder...

If it's historical maritime disasters being studied...

How much harder is it to swim in a skirt? I'd think women's clothing would pull a person straight to the bottom


Not just the skirt, which would likely have been voluminous, but petticoats (several), corsets, and other regalia.

Men, of course, were little better off - wool garments, including 3 piece suits, long johns, etc.

traditionalguy said...

The human will is the issue and when a ship is going down a basic human fear of drowning in water hits the among the non-swimmers.

Many people are non-swimmers due to a terror instllled in the about drowning at age 1 or 2.

Courage is like gold, you find it in unlikely places.

Pogo said...

So which is it this week: humans are all selfish bastards, or humans have evolved with an altruism gene?

It's hard to keep up with evolutionary psychology.
Too many mutations.

n.n said...

Cultural difference.

Behaviors are identified and classified according to their value to a society. They are then either normalized, tolerated, or rejected. The traditional practice of prioritizing women and children's lives over men derives from a compliance with the natural order, but specifically an instinctive motivation to promote evolutionary fitness.

It is the duty of each society to promote and enforce its moral principles, whether it is compliance with the natural order, respecting individual dignity, or determining a reasonable compromise between the two causal orders in our world.

David said...

Ability to swim would not have helped much in the Titanic disaster. Or any cold water sinking. You are pretty much gone once you get wet.

Did they break down the Titanic numbers by class of passage? Position on ship? Age? Ability to understand English?

How much time was there to react in each disaster. Lusitania, not much. Could it be a measure of ability to help? Might Titanic tell you that people will help if given time to consider their actions but will not (or can not) in a panic?

What about the women children ratio? Do women put themselves ahead of their children? Was there a difference with woman who had spouses with them and those who did not?

Of course ask too many questions and you might not get published.

edutcher said...

Good points.

Many on the Titanic (or the Bismarck, for that matter) died of hypothermia, not drowning.

Also more women in steerage survived the Titanic than men in 1st class.

YoungHegelian said...

It makes perfect sense that children would have the lowest survival rate.

Not only would they have the least physical endurance, but because of their size they would be the first to die from exposure.

Unless an adult dies in the very process of handing over a child to a dry & warm ship nearby, I can't imagine a shipwreck scenario where children wouldn't die at a higher rate than adults.

wyo sis said...

I wonder if the men who survived ware judged cowardly by society? I certainly have a hard time feeling charitable about ships captains and crew who abandon their ship while there are passengers still aboard. Women and children first seems to be about preserving the next generation.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I wonder about the circumstances of the sinkings- how much time was there from when they realized they were sinking until they sank? With the Titanic, there was a long time, so people could think about what they should do and how they should behave. On a ship that is going down quickly there is no time for thought, and instincts take over.

Also, women and children first doesn't do much good unless there are lifeboats that they can be gotten to in time. If everyone is treading water, there's not much the men could do to help women and children no matter how much they wanted to.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Perhaps the Titanic passengers who went down with the ship just thought they were sure to be rescued by another ship and didn't want to bother sitting out in the lifeboats for several unnecessary hours.

traditionalguy said...

The cold water/warm water is a distinction without a difference.

The issue is drowning panic. Panic is irrational.

Otherwise intelligent adults who have managed to for a lifetime to avoid swimming lessons have an ingrained out of control panic when faced with going into water from a boat.

The life saver courses first have to teach that truth about non-swimmers in water.

If you cannot get the control over them, then punch them and kick away so they cannot climb you and cause both to drown by their wild panic.

chickelit said...

Oh how very in-teresting. I considered the same question in the same context a couple months ago. I was surprised at the connection to Ancient Greece and the theory of male disposability: link

Carnifex said...

We jusy recently had an aniversary of the sinking of the Indianapolis. The ship mentioned by Quint in Jaws. It was sunk by a Japanese u-boat after delivering the A-bomb to Tinnian(sp?). I read an account about it a few decades ago, and some of the heroism displayed is breath taking.

A CPO blinded by fire diving into the depths of the ship to lead men to safety. On his third trip he never came back. The captain holding his men in restraint so they don't panic as the sharks pick them off one by one.

There are many reasons why someone survived while others didn't. One had better cardio, one had more fat, etc. Men would last longer just by dint of being bigger than women and children. So while it might be an interesting study, I don't really think it can tell us a whole lot about human behavior.

Carnifex said...

@tradguy

If you take scuba lessons you learn those things too. Also we had to give mouth to mouth while in the water. While wearing all your gear. Doable, but not easy.

My partner was a gay man, and all the libs will be glad to hear that I did have mouth contact without losing my lunch...just don't expect it ever again! Unless, you know...the guy is cute ;-)

edutcher said...

wyo sis said...

I wonder if the men who survived ware judged cowardly by society?

Only Bruce Ismay, President of the White Star Line, who got into one of the boats early when there still was the feeling this would all work out. IIRC, titanic historians believe he got something of a raw deal.

The crew who manned the boats, which was their duty, were regarded as heroes.

traditionalguy said...

The cold water/warm water is a distinction without a difference.

The issue is drowning panic. Panic is irrational.

Otherwise intelligent adults who have managed to for a lifetime to avoid swimming lessons have an ingrained out of control panic when faced with going into water from a boat.


That only applies in a situation without life jackets, which the Titanic had.

As I say, hypothermia did in many floating in the water for the 2(?) hours or so before the Carpathia arrived.

Carnifex said...

More on the Indy...

The PT plane that finlly spotted the mass of men floating in the ocean landed against orders. The sea was too rough for the plane supposedly. The men they were pulling out of the water had been it so long that their skin was sloughing off. Men were perched on the wings, on the body, in the plane. They had to stop taking men aboard or the plane would have sunk. Those men that had to wait in the water...that is valor.

Joe said...

That's because as the men were getting in the lifeboats, the women were packing. And putting on makeup.

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Perhaps, the women got lost on the way to the lifeboats.

(Okay, I'll stop now.)

Big Mike said...

The legend of "women and children first" is strictly British, and owes its existence to the story of the HMS Birkenhead. The Birkenhead was a troopship that foundered after striking a rock off Capetown, South Africa in 1845. It was carrying seven women, thirteen children, and over 600 soldiers and sailors. Since the ship had nowhere near enough lifeboats, the troops that didn't drown in their berths immediately in the accident were mustered to attention on deck and remained at attention while the ship sank beneath them. They were ordered to stand fast, and to remain so lest they swamp the few boats that could be launched.

And they did, and they died.

Marshal said...

If the article describes the study in its entirety it isn't even close to proving the conclusion. Women and children are weaker than men, and as Synova points out likley face greater obstacles.

This is another study designed to make a name for the authors attacking PC approved targets.

Iuconnu said...

My rule would be me and my relatives first and everyone else after that. I wouldn't believe anyone who says they're any different.

To take this further, I can't fathom anyone who would volunteer to fight and die for any reason except to protect their selves or their relatives from immediate danger. So I suppose I'm outside the norm in this respect. I think more people are like me in this way than will admit it.

Considering the murder and mayhem committed by men under orders and for abstract reasons, I believe the human race would be a good deal better off if acting mindlessly under orders was foreign to our nature and risking violent death only under immediate threat was as second nature as breathing.

Rusty said...

The cold water/warm water is a distinction without a difference



No. There is a difference. The perpetually cold north Atlantic is why many Newfoundland fishermen never bother to learn to swim. Life expectancy is just a matter of a few minutes whether you can swim or not.
Wool helps retain body heat even when wet.

edutcher said...

Big Mike said...

The legend of "women and children first" is strictly British, and owes its existence to the story of the HMS Birkenhead.

The troops standing fast on the deck became known as the Birkenhead Drill, memorialized in a poem by Rudyard Kipling.

creeley23 said...

And yet three men died in the Batman massacre protecting their girlfriends. No women died protecting men.

ignatzk said...

oh ... nevermind ... i thought this was gonna be a State Journal article about the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The Drill SGT said...

David said...
Did they break down the Titanic numbers by class of passage? Position on ship? Age? Ability to understand English?


a higher % of third class women survived than 1st class men.

The distinctions between the Titanic and Lusitania are two fold.

1. The Titanic took hours to sink, the Lusitania, 18 minutes. Civilized order was never lost on the Titanic. Panic didnt set in, but on the Lusi, the ship keeled over badly very rapidly. The veneer of Anglo civilization saved the women of the Titanic.

2. The cold water made the difference, that and lifeboats. virtually all the Titanic survivors were in lifeboats, only a hand full of men who went into the water made it to wreckage. Women went into the boats in a higher proportion and thus they survived, though weaker. On the Lusi, they had 48 boats, more (post Titanic than enough for all on board. But, only 6 got launched, due to the list, It was daylight, in warmer water, and more strong men lived in the water compared to almost none on the Titanic.

Pogo said...

"Studies that prove nothing and contain no useful insights" is a large category, and this report sits atop that bland and useless pile.

"Hey look! We generated numbers and made pie charts! Watch our PowerPoint!"

Bender said...

wanting to take care of oneself rather than others — this may be normal behavior for all human beings

So, what is needed is something or Someone for people to want to rise above their "normal" selfishness.

Tell me again how morality is just as innate to atheism as it is to belief in One who said that we should put others before ourselves and that there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for another.

Dante said...

There are lies, Damn lies, and then there is the New York Times.

Relax, guys. I downloaded the PNAS database, and found it quite interesting there are STARK differences in deaths. Essentially, when the ship sinks fast, there isn't much one can do from a Chivalrous perspective. Here are some accounts:

SS Golden Gate: The ship caught fire, there were some lifeboats, and some swam to shore. Read this horrifying account: " When the ship caught fire, the five Fultons went on deck. Amy Fulton's account says, "All the other children cried and begged him to save them. He said he would if he could but he feared it was impossible.

"When the fire got very near them, his uncle said goodbye to him and his older brother, Julius, and told them if they were saved to tell about him and the others, then made them jump into the water, which they did. When they got into the water Julius said to his brother, 'George, I can't swim a bit.' George tried to show him how but he just made one or two struggles and went down by his side. When George was going toward shore he looked back and saw his uncle watching him. From all he said, it seems he got ashore alone without any assistsance -- a remarkable thing for a boy of only 7 years. "

The SS Norfleet, 3 women, 77 men survivors, only had two boats that made it into the water. ". Around 10.30 p.m. she was run down by a steamer that backed off and disappeared into the darkness. The heavily-laden Northfleet sank within half an hour, before vessels in the vicinity realised anything was amiss, and in the ensuing panic a total of 293 people were drowned. Of the women on board only the captain's wife and one emigrant survived, along with just two of the children. Only two boats managed to get clear of the sinking ship, one without any oars and the other damaged. The captain went down with his ship."

The SS Atlantic, 0 female survivors, 330 Male survivors:

All boats smashed

"At 2:00 a.m. local time on 1 April 1873, the Atlantic struck an underwater rock called Marr's Head 50 metres from Meagher's Island, Nova Scotia. Lifeboats were lowered by the crew but were all washed away or smashed as the ship quickly filled with water and flipped on its side."

Dante said...

(cont)
The SS Norge, a (male) survivors account (37 female, 123 male survivors):
The sea was full of people, two lifeboats were smashed in pieces against the side of the ship and there was another boat full of people ready to sink, only their heads above the water.

The RMS Empress of Ireland, struck by another boat that was OK:

"The Storstad did not sink, but the Empress – with severe damage to her starboard side – listed rapidly, taking on water. Most of the passengers and crew in the lower decks drowned quickly when water poured into her from the open portholes, some of which were only a few feet above the water line. However, many passengers and crew in the upper deck cabins, awakened by the collision, made it out onto the boat deck and into some of the lifeboats which were being loaded immediately. Within a few minutes of the collision, the ship listed so far on her starboard side that it became impossible to launch lifeboats (beyond the three already launched). Ten or eleven minutes after the collision, she lurched violently on her starboard side, allowing as many as 700 passengers and crew to crawl out portholes and decks onto her side. For a minute or two, she lay on her side, while it seemed to the passengers and crew that the ship had run aground. But a few minutes later, about 14 minutes after the collision, her stern rose briefly out of the water, and her hull sank out of sight, throwing the hundreds of people still on her port side into the near-freezing water"


And a rather heinous episode of the crew:

The USS Arctic was struck by another boat, kept on going assuming the other boat would sink, it didn't, and 24 passengers survived, all men, because the crew revolted and stole the lifeboats: 40 crew members survived. This is, of course, heinous. All women and children aboard died. The captain went down with the ship.

Dante said...

Ann, pardon the french, but fuck the New York Times for their "Outcomes based" evaluation.

Which is to say, "all you have to do is swim 150 ft. to shore, more men can do it, and they don't know how to swim another person."

That's what I take from this. Or perhaps the women were trying to save their children, whose lives were more important than their own.

Or a hundred other ideas. But to claim that millions of men have not died in a belief of saving their tribe, their families, etc., is such a demeaning accusation.

I suppose one could look at the number of female survivors and make the claim that women don't care about children. Of course, that's not a part of the NY Times bullshit misunderstanding of basic statistics, which is that correlation does not imply causation, unless you are the NY Times, and unless you have an agenda of demeaning human nature.

Jason said...

A great guitar performance and song - a true story - about the demise of The Arabic, a passenger liner sunk off the coast of Ireland in the First World War, from one of my favorite guitarists, John Doyle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7p1cDKURzG8

Jason said...

http://www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk/1661to1966/birkenhead/birkenhead.html

Pogo said...

Ocean Liner Sinks
All Aboard Drown
Women and Minorities Hardest Hit

John Burgess said...

@Rusty: It's not just N. Atlantic fishermen. Fishermen around the world have assorted reasons--religious, superstitious, moral, pragmatic--for not learning to swim. Even in today's US, many fishermen just refuse to learn to swim.

chickelit said...

NYT Strikes Burgh & Sinks
Strongest Swim to Nearby WSJ
Women Hardest Hit

furious_a said...

Women and Minorities Hardest Hit

Was wondering how long that was going to take.

Pogo said...

Me too, n' I couldna wait n'more!

Pogo said...

Goddamned lazy commentariat.

Does I gots to do everything hereabouts?

Wally Kalbacken said...

I have no experience being in anything that amounted to real danger, but I do remember an incident during an ice storm in Madison in 1976. I was living in the Ogg Hall dormitory on the 9th floor of the east tower (recently demolished). The electricity to a broad swath of Wisconsin was cut when the power-lines came down under the weight of ice. My dorm roommate, whom I had known since grade school, heard the sound of some people stuck in one of the elevators. He became frantic about trying to help them, and he went to the elevator lobby on the 9th floor and manically pried the elevator doors open. I tried to persuade him that it really wasn't necessary, that these folks would be alright, if slightly inconvenienced. That didn't stop him. He managed to get the doors partway open, not quite enough for him to fall into the elevator shaft, but very close. As it turns out, the elevator car was stopped between floors 1 and 2, so he would have fallen roughly 7 stories onto the top of the car, if a safety mechanism hadn't stopped him from prying the doors open any further.

I always remember this when some sort of mass disaster happens. Some may act heroically, or otherwise virtuously. Others may be cowardly, or passively await their fate. The ones you have to worry about are those who will act in an irrational fashion and actively obstruct rescue/recovery/evacuation by creating further problems. This guy trying to effectively jump down an elevator shaft in the middle of an ice storm/power outage is that guy.

Carnifex said...

Many people not from the Great Lakes Area don't know the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is based on a true story. Saw a recreation of it once on the history channel.

In the early 1600's the ship Batavia,owned by the Dutch East Indies Trading Company was running before a tropical storm. They hit a coral atoll around midnight. The wind and waves kept pushing the boat furher and further into the atoll, basically grinding it into splinters. To try to alleviate the damage to his boat the captain ordered the masts chopped down, something of a last resort. The masts fell across some of the passengers trying to scramble to safety on the atoll itself.

Barefoot, in the dark, in torrential rain, the waves literally washing over their feet with every swell. The passengers and crew would have to stay on this toll, standing because the coral was too jagged to lay down, and even if you could lay down you would be laying in seawater, for 3 days before the storm passed.

The DEIC had an odd arrangement with it's captains though. While the captain was in charge of the ship, there was a DEIC representative on board that the captain had to obey. In the immediate evacuation of the ship, the agent ordered the captain to save the ships money box, and come back for the survival supplies later.

There was no later as the ship broke up from the pounding storm.

The rest of the story can be had from the book Batavia's Graveyard. The lives people led back then were brutal in even the civilized countries. The hardship these people undergo is astounding.

Dante said...

So which is it this week: humans are all selfish bastards, or humans have evolved with an altruism gene?

It's fuck the men week. How you can be calm amazes me. There should be outrage about this outcome based analysis, and a very clear understanding of why outcome based analysis is inherently flawed.

But, you won't get that when the basic values of conservatives must be defended. Fucking NY Times.

Carnifex said...

Ships used to carry a whip called a "cat-o-nine tails" The whip obviously had 9 lashes on it. to keep the lashes untangled the whip was stored in a bag, and for convienence, the bag was hung from a pin on the mast. When a sailor needed punishment they would retrieve the whip...take it out of the bag. That tradition is remembered by the phrase "the cat is out of the bag", a reference to someone who is at risk of immediate punishment.

Carnifex said...

In ports of call, there are never enough dock area to hold all the ships. Those places on a dock for a ship were called berths. If a ship came to port, and there was no berth available, the ship would anchor in the harbor. Because only 1 anchor was used a ship would turn wildly as the breezes blew. Other ships would have to take into account the other ships swing radius when achoring. This tradition is remembered by the phrase "giving someone a wide berth" so that the ships at anchor or passing wouldn't collide. Now it is used to reference personalities colliding.

Bender said...

Many people not from the Great Lakes Area don't know the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is based on a true story.

Yes, that's right. So why do you then go on to recount the Batavia?????

Carnifex said...

Mant people don't recognize it, but Captain Bligh made one of the most remarkable sailing feats ever when after being cast adrift with loyal crew members of the Bounty, he managed to steer his small skiff through hostile waters and islands with no maps but what he had in his head, and a compass, to a friendly port. There he saidled back to England where he was placed in charge of returning the mutineers of the Bounty.

Another Captain, a whaler from Nantucket was in the sea of Japan hunting sperm whale. In the course of events, they spotted whales and launched their small whaling skiffs. These boats were average 25 feet long, held 1 small cask of water and some dried biscuits for rations, and usually carried 12-15 men each. Common practice was to leave 2 crewmen on the ship to tend it, and its reducing fire, and al the rest man he skiffs.

All three skiffs were in the water when someone noticed a bull sperm whale attack and sink the ship(this became the basis of Moby Dick).

The skiffs st off for Valparaiso, Venezuela, the closest friendly port, over 2,000 miles away. With no shade, no food to speak of, and little fresh water. The boats. never meant to be in the water that ong would swell and burst. The sailors would dive in the water and nail them back together.

36 men started that journey. 5 made it to Valpo. To de-hydrated and starved to even stand they were rescued 100 miles from their goal. Their de-hydration so bad that they couldn't talk, and never regained ease of movement. Canabilism was suspected of the survivors.

Carnifex said...

@bender

You've heard the song you know the story...have you ever heard of the Batavia before?

Bender said...

No, I've not heard of the Batavia before. But its not an uncommon story, unfortunately.

Reading now about the Edmund Fitzgerald, which went down very fast, from the last radio communications about a bad list and heavy seas over the deck, it sounds like she very likely keeled over.

Watching Deadliest Catch this year, that almost happened to the Northwestern, which, because of a faulty alarm, took on too much water in what was supposed to be an empty slack tank, making her unstable and at risk of turning over with a strong wave. And in those frigid waters, you'd be dead from the cold water long before you drowned. (The Time Bandit and Wizard had close calls too.)

But even in warm waters, even if you can swim, the danger of gulping water and drowning is high with the waves bouncing you up and down and over your head. I know that I was concerned myself when I once got dumped off a sailing catamaran into the two-foot waves of Lake Erie.

Carnifex said...

I've had a life long love of water. I tell my wife if we ever win the lottery, I'm getting a bigassed boat, and no one will ever see me again. Not even for Christmas.(She likes the mountains-hhhmmpphh) I shoulda' joined the Navy.

But I love sea stories, and boats.

The recreation I saw on the History channel opined that because the boat was so big, when her bow went under, the engines kept driving her down, until the bow hit the bottom. The engines still dry and churning. A wave broke over the bow, crushing in the bridge glass and flooding it.

The Fitzgerald I should clarify.

Harold said...

First thing I noticed was mentioned earlier- no talk in the NY Times article of time it took to sink.

That single factor would make all the difference in survival rates.

Especially considering that the majority of any crew is male, and they would know know when trouble was afoot, and when to bail- and more importantly- how to get to where to bail. If you are belowdecks when the crap hits the fan, and don't know your way around in the dark, you're not leaving.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

I share, along with only two others that aware am I, one Sen. Pat Geary and Mike Corleone, a hypocrisy.

But that's not here, nor, as I had thought, originally, there.

So, were it something like that, then how about this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Geary

James said...

???

Why should women have a stronger right to live than men? I don't get it. What happened to "equality"? Or is equality only good when women don't stand to lose preferential treatment?

Such a strong feminist Althouse is.

Revenant said...

but wanting to take care of oneself rather than others — this may be normal behavior for all human beings.

"May be"? I have to wonder what the cause for doubt would be.

Revenant said...

humans are all selfish bastards, or humans have evolved with an altruism gene?

Both. We have a natural tendancy towards altruism, at least so far as members of our group are concerned. With the exception of our children, though, it almost never cancels out self-interest.

tim in vermont said...

"Women are every bit as good as men, and they are better, because they are women." - DH Laurence, Lady Chatterly's Lover

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Carnifex said...
@bender

You've heard the song you know the story...have you ever heard of the Batavia before?


I think Bender's point is that the song isn't based on the Batavia. It's based on exactly what it says: the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in 1975. I remember being glued to the radio when I was a kid as reports came in from that search.

The Drill SGT said...

Since we're telling sea stories (pop was Bosun in WWII :), let's talk about the Solomon Browne.

The UK does not have a Coast Guard as we do. They have the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI), a charity, like a big national volunteer fire dept. Just before Christmas 1981, the MV Union star was on her maiden trip with a crew of 5 and the Captains wife and 2 step daughters, cmoing round the coast of Cornwall when it caught be a storm with hurricane force winds. Water got in the fuel tanks, they lost engines and were being driven toward the rocks when they called for help. The RNLI called out 3 boats, but ultimately only the Solomon Browne from Mousehole Conrnwall, could get free of the surf anf out to sea. Onboard were 8 local volunteers, fisherman mostly, there had been additional volunteers, but the Coxswain refused to take more than one man from each family. They got to the Union Star when it was in the surf. The lifeboats are designed to be unsinkable. They got 4 people off, it was assumed the 3 women. In the process, they were tossed up onto the sinking ship (that's right, the waves lifted them over the ship) several times. But they kept coming back for the rest of the crew.

Lt Cdr Smith USN, the pilot of the rescue helicopter later reported that:

"The greatest act of courage that I have ever seen, and am ever likely to see, was the penultimate courage and dedication shown by the Penlee [crew] when it manoeuvred back alongside the casualty in over 60 ft breakers and rescuing four people shortly after the Penlee had been bashed on top of the casualty's hatch covers. They were truly the bravest eight men I've ever seen who were also totally dedicated to upholding the highest standards of the RNLI


An 80 foot wave broke over the scene and the Solomon had vanished.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penlee_lifeboat_disaster

Our Coast Guard has two motto's BTW:

The Offical: "Always Ready!"

The Unoffical: "They say we got to go out, they don't say we got to come back"

Pogo said...

"humans are all selfish bastards, or humans have evolved with an altruism gene?

Both. We have a natural tendancy towards altruism
"

Evolutionary psychology is a modern Just So story.

Rusty said...

Survival is more a matter of will than anything else.
During WW2, When a ship was torpedoed on the St John to Murmansk run, the British government found it odd that the majority of survivors were older sailors. Almost none of the younger, fitter, sailors in their teens and twenties survived. At first the Admiralty thought foul play was involved, but after interviewing survivors the reason became apparent.
The young people just gave up. They lost their will despite the encouragement from the older sailors. The older sailors knew that in the heavily traveled sea lanes it was just a matter of a few days or a couple of weeks before another ship would come by. All they had to do was last until then. The young people didn't know what they could endure so just quit.

Doc Holliday's Hat said...

This study seems flawed. The Titanic took nearly three hours to sink, the Lusitania took 20 minutes. No wonder the survival rates were different, there wasn't time to do anything (if you're on a big ship now it could still take you ten minutes to get to the lifeboats). So, how long did it take for each ship to sink, and then what were the survival rates.

The other thing I'd like to know about is culture. The Titanic was full of the wealthy from a society (or societies, UK and USA) where men where still seen as protectors. On all the other ships where there was time before the sinking, what was the breakdown of class and country of origin?

edutcher said...

Rusty said...

Survival is more a matter of will than anything else.
During WW2, When a ship was torpedoed on the St John to Murmansk run, the British government found it odd that the majority of survivors were older sailors. Almost none of the younger, fitter, sailors in their teens and twenties survived. At first the Admiralty thought foul play was involved, but after interviewing survivors the reason became apparent.
The young people just gave up. They lost their will despite the encouragement from the older sailors. The older sailors knew that in the heavily traveled sea lanes it was just a matter of a few days or a couple of weeks before another ship would come by. All they had to do was last until then. The young people didn't know what they could endure so just quit.


This is why, after WWII, survival training became an integral part of military training in many countries.

William said...

Jack Finney in his book, Forgotten News gives the story of a 19th century shipwreck off the coast of Florida. There really was a chivalric code and some men (not all) really did behave well.....I would expect men and especially crew members to be better prepared to survive a shipwreck than women and children. If there were no women or children survivors that would be proof that there was no chivalric code.....Some men behave chivalrously. That's a fact.

Carnifex said...

@William

That's'cause their Mama taught 'em that!

Tarzan said...

The article mentions an increase in 'chivalry' when the order is given first. This rings true for me. There have been times when I acted rudely but changed on a dime when someone I respected called me out on it.

Basically, when we think no one is looking, we'll be selfish and unchivalrous in an extreme, unexpected emergency. When the higher expectations are expressed, we rise quickly to the cause.

Chivalry is not natural by itself, in a vacuum, so to speak. It *IS* natural in the context of a reasonably ordered and civilized society.

In a modern crisis, when undisciplined but otherwise conscientious crew-members receive clear and sensible orders from superiors they respect, they will for the most part cease behaving in purely self-seeking ways and become civilized and chivalrous.

This is why the Judeo-Christian religions are so successful in 'civilizing' societies that adhere to their principles. Believing that God is watching and judging your every movement and thought, along with the raw moral fodder of Proverbs and the 10 commandments, people stand a much better chance of 'doing the right thing' in a crisis.

The Drill SGT said...

Tarzan said...
Chivalry is not natural by itself, in a vacuum, so to speak. It *IS* natural in the context of a reasonably ordered and civilized society.


Chivalry is a civilized term, but "women and children first" may be hard wired into our psyche's. Stone age tribes when threatened knew instinctively that genetic survival depends on defending the breeding age females, the low resource consuming (tweens for example) children, and then the fighting age males. The Old, sick and helpless are expendable in some situations.

The tribes warriors are expendable in others.

Revenant said...

Evolutionary psychology is a modern Just So story.

That's very special, Pogo, but I didn't mention evolutionary psychology.

I simply described human nature. I offered no explanation for why we are the way we are.