This lengthy New York Times piece by Jon Mooallem is subtitled, "The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 surprised everyone by showing that natural disasters can bring out more kindness than selfishness." The piece is worth reading just for the stunning photos of the devastation that occurred in Anchorage on the evening of March 27, 1964 when the state was struck by "the most powerful earthquake in American history, and the second most powerful ever measured in the world."
Mooallem's piece packs a powerful punch, too. In the aftermath of the earthquake, Alaskans were sharing and cooperative, and it turns out that unselfish behavior during a disaster is the rule rather than the exception:
In the 56 years since the Great Alaska Earthquake, an entire field of sociology, disaster studies, blossomed around the Disaster Research Center, with sociologists parachuting into scores of other communities after natural disasters around the world, and it’s stunning to look back and recognize how much of the resilience, levelheadedness, kindness and cooperation those sociologists saw in Anchorage turned out to be characteristic of disasters everywhere.
The one thing that interferes with the tendency towards altruism in a disaster is something scholars call "elite panic."
Many of our ugliest assumptions about human behavior have been refuted by their observations of how actual humans behave — though we seem tragically slow to shed those old myths. (In some cases, disaster studies teaches us, those in power are so overcome with worry about mass panic and looting that they overreact and clamp down on a public that isn’t actually panicked at all. Disaster scholars refer to this phenomenon as “elite panic.”)
On May 6, 1937, LZ 129 Hindenburg burst into flames. 36 lives were lost as the horrific event was caught on camera.
On Electric Lit, Halimah Marcus, interviews speculative fiction author Ted Chiang (Exhalation, Arrival) on the current global pandemic and whether there will ever be a “normal” for us to return to. HM: What’s the relationship between disruption and doom? Would “the disruption is resolved and nothing is ever the same” qualify as a doom narrative? […]
When Yale research psyhcologist Irving Janis coined the term "groupthink" in 1972, he identified eight symptoms of the pathology: the "illusion of invulnerability"; a "belief in the inherent morality of the group"; "collective rationalization"; "out-group stereotypes"; "self-censorship"; the "illusion of unanimity"; "direct pressure on dissenters" and "self-appointed mindguards."
Nobody is happy about the current state of our COVID-ravaged education system. With a new school year fast approaching, plans for teaching students still in flux, and political in-fighting driving more fear and confusion about whether or not to re-open campuses, teachers and parents are concerned. Meanwhile, most kids are just fine with spending less […]
Creating a fantasy world for a video or role-playing game is tough enough. In addition to all the game framework and functionality that goes into a build of any size, creators invariably sweat over the most minute details of every weapon, outfit, or other distinctive objects in their game. Even if your game is set […]
We get it. You don’t have to go to the office anymore. That’s no excuse for letting your grooming go positively feral. We’re not saying you need to be GQ cover model-ready every Monday through Friday. But at least put in some effort to keep yourself relatively trimmed, clean, and on point. Even if you […]