Thursday, April 19, 2012

Titanic v Lusitania

This week, on NPR, there was a non-stop homage to the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  The "Edwardian" stoicism and restraint that the passengers exhibited as the ship took 2 and a half hours to sink, 'women & children first' in the life boats.  Millionaires and 3rd class paupers listening to the sound of the string quartet playing until the ship sank and they all (except for 15 who were helped into life boats) froze or drown in the icy water off Newfoundland, nearly 2 miles deep in the ocean..

Then, there was a radio story about how the Lusitania sank in just 20 minutes off the coast of Ireland in just 300 feet of water, after being torpedoed by a German submarine (U-20) in 1915 during WWI, and how everyone panicked.  The radio reporter was crediting the mayhem to how people act in their own self interest and self preservation... but what the story ignored was the fact that the Lusitania was torpedoed during war time, AND it sank just 3 years (and 2 weeks) after so many people perished on Titanic.  A Loud, Large, Nearby Explosion will cause mammals to panic.  The recent memory of nearly all the men dieing during the Titanic sinking would have accelerated the panic, even if there was no explosion. 

It's the same type of Homosapien behavior as to why there will never be another successful plane hijacking in the western world where the hijackers have only box cutters, or a light-it-yourself shoe bomb.  No cockpit will ever be successfully taken over again, in flight.  Humans will nearly always act in their own self interest, and the more severe the stimulus is, the more severe the reaction will be.  The recent mentally unstable Jetblue commercial airline pilot Flight 191, who tried to take over his flight for Jesus[TM] after coming back from the rest room was tackled and sat on by large passengers as the flight attendants used the fat-person seat-belt extenders to bind the ranting pilot. 

The passengers of the Titanic were not "better" people than the Lusitania passengers.  They were ignorant, and in a state of disbelief.  They did not have a war going on, and they were not shaken up by a violent explosion.  The passengers of Flight 191 were not better than the passengers of the 9-11 flights that plunged into the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon.  They were more informed, and reacted according to instincts.

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