Eleanor Learmonth Interview

18 Oct, 2013 by

Eleanor Learmonth Interview

We live in a largely civilised world, governed by what seem immutable social norms – don’t kill and eat your neighbour, for example. Experiments and experience though suggest that this civility is a very thin veneer indeed. In 1954 scientists conducted The Robber Cave experiment, in which two groups of well-adjusted boys are set loose on a holiday island and turned against each other, with violence quickly ensuing. William Golding imagined something very similar at around the same time in Lord of the Flies.

Eleanor Learmonth & Jenny Tabakoff have gone looking through history and discovered that far from outliers, the imagination of Golding and the results of Robbers Cave are very much the norm in disasters where the group involved is isolated. In No Mercy, they look at a number of historical disasters – shipwrecks, planecrashes and the like – and examine their aftermath to understand the factors that lead to the moral disintegration and heavy death tolls that often ensue, and consider what allows some groups to instead persevere and survive.

Eleanor joined Sky Kirkham to examine a few of the examples, consider what we can learn, and discuss her own brush with disaster. Originally broadcast on 17/10/2013. No Mercy is out through Text Publishing.


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