| The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life|
By Ben Sherwood
GLENN: So tell me now about the NFL players. Did you see how this happened on this whole thing?
SHERWOOD: I did. I've been following it very closely.
GLENN: NFL players, they go out. They're -- only one survives.
GLENN: One of them two hours into it just takes off his lifejacket and just floats off to sea.
GLENN: Two hours later another one does.
GLENN: The third guy, he thinks he sees a boat and so he starts swimming for it.
GLENN: That one at least you can say, okay, well, maybe he was, you know, he was going crazy or whatever. But only one survived, and the two tough guys from the NFL that you think are ready for, you know, something really, really tough, they just give up.
SHERWOOD: So a couple of things here. First of all obviously our hearts go out to the families of the people who were missing, and it's a shocking story. I have studied these situations for the last few years: Plane crashes, people that drift on boats, group dynamics, ferry disasters and lifeboat situations, and this is a very common and predictable situation in which there's a group of people in a lifeboat or in this case with their life vests on clinging to an overturned boat. So here's kind of what happens: The will to live which Nick Schuyler, the lone survivor, people are saying that it's miraculous, that he thought of his mother, that the thoughts of his mother drove him to survive. The will to live is a very powerful thing, and I would never discount it. But helplessness and hopelessness are much more dangerous threats to your survival than we realize and that feeling of hopelessness or helplessness that comes after you've been floating in cold water in the 60s, starting to experience hypothermia, that helplessness and hopelessness can become very powerful. I am sure that those two NFL players thought of their families, their friends. I'm sure that they prayed. I'm sure they did all the right things, but helplessness and hopelessness are incredibly powerful.
I interviewed a survivor of one of the greatest maritime disasters called the Sinking of the Astonia, which was a ferry boat in the 1990s that had an about 1,000 people on it.
GLENN: I remember it.
SHERWOOD: And it went down in the Baltic and Paul Barney, this landscape architect, ended up in a lifeboat with a bunch of people, and he watched, literally watched in this lifeboat with 16 other souls being whipped by waves and wind, he literally watched the life leave people around him as they gave up hope, and he fought as hard as he could to keep -- to stay hopeful and to come up with solutions at each step to the problems that he faced. The lifeboat kept on flipping over. So he figured out a way to tie himself in so that he didn't keep on getting dunked in the Baltic and having to climb back in. And he kept on coming up with solutions, and he also refused to go to sleep because he knew that if he went to sleep in the cold of the Baltic on that terrible, terrible night when 800 people lost their lives, he knew that he wouldn't make it. So I take from this terrible story that helplessness and hopelessness overcame them and they took actions that, you know -- I can't say they're understandable but I think they're very, very sad.
The guy who swam for help, again that's another fairly common situation in lifeboats where after a prolonged period of either hypothermia or despair someone decides that they are going to go swim for help. There are plenty of stories of that happening, too.
GLENN: Ben Sherwood. The name of the book is the Survivors Club, and we will talk to you again, Ben. I appreciate it.
SHERWOOD: Thanks, Glenn.