Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Chivalry vs. Body fat   posted by dobeln @ 4/12/2006 07:09:00 AM

In a recent post, Steve Sailer quoted an unnamed feminist as explaining the high proportion of women surviving the Titanic disaster with:
women having more body fat. Better to float and survive in the cold with.

To establish if there is any truth to this thesis, it can be interesting to compare the Titanic to other sea disasters where circumstances made chivalry a non-factor. One such disaster is the loss of the M / S Estonia, which took place in the Baltic sea, on the 28:th of September 1994.

The Estonia was en route from Tallinn in Estonia to Stockholm in Sweden in rough weather with 989 passengers and crew. Sometime after midnight, she capsized and sank rapidly. A mayday went out at 00:22. When rescuers arrived nearly an hour later, the only signs of life were the lights from the life rafts in the water. Only 137 people survived. Many perished in the cold water waiting to be rescued, but most did not make it out of the ship.

The rapid chain of events in the case of the Estonia made chivalry moot; it was by all accounts 'every man for himself', as organized evacuation efforts broke down relatively early, when the increasing list of the ship made it ever more difficult to get out.

This gives us two situations for purposes of comparison, one with Chivalry (I.e. organized rescue following the principle of 'women and children first') and one without. Below are the facts at hand:

In short, while the proportion of women rescued was almost four times as high as the proportion of men saved on the Titanic, on the Estonia the same statistic shrinks to 0.2.This is hardly conclusive, given that one can argue about specifics, but rather illuminating nonetheless.

For those of you interested in the disaster, here is the Wikipedia page. The number of conspiracy theories surrounding it certainly rivals 9/11, fuelled by an official investigation many consider lacklustre. The official disaster report was recently heavily criticized by an official Estonian government report, and there is currently an effort in the Swedish parliament to reopen the investigation. You can read more about this (if you speak Swedish) in 'R&D' which is the Swedish equivalent of 'The Hill'.