The Titanic is sinking. Are you on a lifeboat or not?

I was inspired to start this thread after watching the movie with friends and my beloved. In discussing it afterwards, my beloved made an interesting assertion: he said that there was no doubt in his mind that if he had been there, he would have gotten his family and himself on a lifeboat.

Knowing him as I do, I completely believe him.

But I’m asking you. The ship is sinking. The call is for women and children first. Confusion reigns; some lifeboats are heading out with barely a quarter of their available seats filled.

Where are you as the ship goes down? Deck, cabin, or lifeboat?

I certainly hope so. Given that the titanic had life boat capacity for about 1/2 of the total number of humans on board (cite, cite) and that most people really take their time getting to grips with disasters (cite) and probably take too long to take advantage of any survival mechanisms - only a little over 1/3 of the people aboard the titanic actually survived (see cite 1) - you bet your ass I’m going to try to get on a life boat ASAP.

Not sure if it would work out, but even just being slightly prepared/less confused seems to give a significant advantage.

I’d probably have ended up on a lifeboat through no fault of my own, being a young lady of a relatively moneyed family.

Probably not relevant, unless you’d also got some pretty hands-on/get-to-grips-with-this-right-now family members/servants.

Here’s a test to determine how well you’d do in an emergency situation like being on a sinking ship. Watch this video and count how many times a basketball is passed. Watch carefully because the players move around and make it difficult to count every pass.

How many times did you count?[spoiler]And did you notice the guy in the gorilla suit walk through the set? If you didn’t, watch it again without counting this time.

Psychologists have found that people who notice the gorilla have the type of mind that functions well in emergencies. They don’t get so bogged down in details that they miss seeing the total picture.

The majority of us respond to an emergency by becoming passive and waiting for directions on what we should do. That’s okay as long as those directions are forthcoming and appropriate. But sometimes they’re not.[/spoiler]

Extremely parenthetical, but 14 minutes and 3 cites? My dear, you ARE the SDMB. I am impressed!

I noticed near the end, which fits with my impression of myself. It takes me a noticeable, but not large amount of time to make sense of these kinds of situations, and then I just do what needs to be done.

Really, it was more like an accident, whether you happened to get on a boat or not. But more first class men survived than third class children.

I recently bought the movie Titanic and have been watching it over and over the past few days. I would not be that concerned about getting in a lifeboat myself but I would make damned sure that my young daughters did. I have plenty of life insurance and I am a trust-fund baby so they will be Ok. What would bother me is dieing in really cold water. I hate cold water with a passion. I would rather be one of the people that was on the part of the ship that broke of and went vertical. Most of them fell to their deaths. Better than that would be to borrow a pistol from a crew member and blow my brains out before before it gets that bad. Hell, everyone dies. You might as well make it as painless and efficient as possible under those types of hopeless circumstances.

Hell yeah. Women and children, get the fuck outta my way.

Now I’m curious. Is the actual number of times the balls are passed relevant, or just whether you saw the gorilla?

To answer vix’s question:My understanding is that the number of passes is unimportant. The real purpose of the test is to focus people’s attention on one part of a situation and then determine how well they can follow peripheral details. In the same article, there was mention of another test where people were timed while counting how many photographs there were in a newspaper. Most people spend an average of around ten minutes flipping through the paper page by page. But some people completed the test in just seconds by noticing that the headline of the paper was “THERE ARE ONE HUNDRED AND SIX PHOTOGRAPHS IN THIS NEWSPAPER - YOU DON’T NEED TO COUNT THEM”.

Considering all the lifeboats with empty seats . . . I’d grab me a seat as if my life depended on it.

Yes, I’d try to get on; I don’t buy the idea that women and children are valuable and men are expendable. And as said, there was plenty of room; that policy killed people, it didn’t save them. Including women; I recently read an account of the disaster that mentioned that some women refused to get on the boats without their male loved ones.

I’ve heard that the crew held off poorer passengers at gunpoint to let the first class passengers on the lifeboats.

I’d like to think I’d be on one of those boats. But, it’s hard to say how I would act in 1912. I mean, if I was the sole provider for my family, and I knew they would suffer without me, then yeah, I’d make every effort to be on one of those lifeboats.

Why should I believe what that headline says? If that was me, and I noticed the headline, I’d still count the photographs, or at the very least do a gross error check, i.e., does it look like there are about 100 photos?

Of course I noticed him, he kept making it hard to see who had the ball!

Supposing my personality was different enough in 1912 to allow me to think that a cruise was a good idea (I have a deep distrust of open water) but I was of the same relative financial means as I am now, I wouldn’t have been in steerage, which would have increased my odds of survival significantly. 86% of women in second-class survived, and I’m pretty confident that I wouldn’t have been one of the few that didn’t. Knowing how I tend to act in a crisis, usually taking on the role to calm and direct people, I probably would have eventually been forced onto a lifeboat to get me out of the way, much as Molly Brown was.

In all of the books I have read about this disaster, the authors all mentioned that masses of people were sitting around, waiting (apparently) for instructions about what to do. The passivity surprises me-were people so cowed by authority, that they would actually wait around for someone in a uniform to tell them what to do?
Also, why didn’t these crws of those half-empty lifeboats rescue more people from the water?

It strikes me as a bit of Monday-morning quarterbacking that so many people believe they would have acted differently from how people actually acted in these circumstances. Those who didn’t scramble for those first seats on the lifeboats had every reason to expect they would be safer on board the ship. This wasn’t just because Titanic was considered a marvel of maritime engineering (the reason there weren’t enough lifeboats to begin with), but because, especially in those days, boarding a lifeboat in the cold Atlantic ocean would seem to be a pretty dangerous bet. People weren’t just being complacent and passive; they were being logical and reasonable, based on the facts available to them.

All that said, as a middle-aged white male I would most likely have perished. I used to agree with Der Trihs that men aren’t inherently less valuable, but as I get older, I tend to think we are. It only takes one male to spread his seed around many different women, after all, and the more men you have, the more violence and conflict become the norm.

They probably didn’t have much time; very cold water will kill you pretty fast as I recall.