No Mercy: true stories of disasters, survival and brutality

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Anonymous's picture
No Mercy: true stories of disasters, survival and brutality


On Australian ABC, the national radio, I just listened to a 1 hour interview about human nature in an adversity. It was very disturbing but interesting.
You can download an mp3 here...

Eleanor Learmonth and Jenny Tabakoff have written a fascinating book called 'No Mercy: true stories of disasters, survival and brutality' about the physical and psychological changes that affect stranded disaster victims. When pushed to the brink, do we descend into savagery?

At the end of the interview she gives 13 do's and don'ts.
1- Toss the grog.
2- Immediately elect a Leader.
3- As soon as possible establish order and a routine.
4- Never allow the weak to die in order to save the strong.
5- Share resources and workload equally amongst survivors regardless of rank.
6- Use a rotating work schedule.
7- Communicate.
8- Stay busy even if it seems pointless.
9- Leader must be replaceable and accountable.
10- Stop the group from fragmenting, no factions.
11- Have a plan, if the plan fails make a new plan.
12- If one faction begins to dominate and victimise the rest, the remainder need to organise and defend themselves.
13- Fight the mindset of individual self preservation, we are communal creatures. We survive best in groups.

I hope you find this informative.

Anonymous's picture
oldvanman (not verified)
G'day I hit the post button


I hit the post button too early.

The Publishers page on this book...


Aaron M's picture
Aaron M
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 2373

If you're on Peak Prosperity, you should listen to this.

The issues of mindset and survival psychology in this are very well researched and presented. Whether you're a hard charging, leadership position type of individual, or a person who is new to chaos, you can learn a great deal about effective leader and followership from what Eleanor is saying in this interview.

The case studies are very interesting and meaningful.
The Story of the Medusa, in particular, shows the implacability of violence when resources are scarce, and the population is high. 15/149 people survived, over in-fighting that lasted only a week. This should be a huge red flag for PeakProsperity aficionados. 

The Robber's Cave Experiment, as well, illustrates human nature nicely. 

I learned a lot from this, and will be buying the book. 

Thanks kindly Oldvanman, this is an information Gold Mine - I am indebted to this contribution.


cmartenson's picture
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Thanks for link!

On the strong recommendation of A.M. and the excellent write-up I will be sure to listen to the link.

Just to show that there's no such thing as safe society, note the brutal riots in Switzerland after their elimination from the World cup.  Be sure to watch all 10 seconds (if you can!).


herewego's picture
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Excellent, troubling interview

How will we humans manage to manage ourselves as the kinds of resources and safety we are accustomed to erode?  This is the question that brings me closest to despair.  The interview is fearless and fascinating.  

I'd love to read the book too.


sand_puppy's picture
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Tossing the Grog?

I hate to reveal my lack of international sophistication but what does this phrase mean?

I found that grog refers to alcohol.  By tossing it does this mean the same as "tossing a few back" or tossing it out to avoid it?

I would sure agree that being intoxicated in a dangerous or high stakes situation is very unwise.  Our ability to read other people and find a creative solution is a high order cognitive process that is killed stone cold dead when when drinking.

Aaron M's picture
Aaron M
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"Tossing the grog"

Means giving up alcohol. Drinking during crisis is a poor decision.



Aaron M's picture
Aaron M
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Posts: 2373
Possible guest?


Once you have a chance to listen to the interview, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts about possibly having Mrs. Learmonth as a guest. It might be tricky to view the topic of lack of leadership during a survival situation through the lens of the 3Es, but it also might produce some stellar dialog.

Either way, there's a lot of room for discussion.

...Especially with the deeply concerning state of affairs in Switzerland.



Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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and when Canada was eliminated

That's nearly as bad as what happened when Canada was eliminated.

jgritter's picture
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Disturbing Images

Despite the disturbing images coming out of Switzerland and Canada I have to agree that the potential for things to go very wrong, very quickly, deserves clear eyed attention.  I've started reading the book, and it is sobering.  That said, the example set by Cuba also deserves attention.  After a crushing economic collapse followed by 5 years of real privation and hunger, there was no genocide, no cities burned and people are eating better now then before the collapse.

If you're looking around for a leader and don't see one, maybe it's you.

John G.

Bankers Slave's picture
Bankers Slave
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Totally unconnected....but Chris started it!

Anonymous's picture
oldvanman (not verified)
G'day I am chuffed. After



I am chuffed. After purchasing the Crash Course years ago and all the fantastic information I have received since then from this site, to be able to bring something informative to your attention very pleasing.

I work as a field service technician on bleeding edge technology. I know how fragile our modern systems are. For years I have had concerns that any disruption to the "just in time" distribution systems could result in massive social breakdown.

I live near a regional city in New South Wales which is surrounded by broadacre farming, so 90% of all food is imported from outside the region.  There is no local warehousing so the region really is only 3 days from starvation.

I have been watching the Prepper Movement and have made some preparations for me and my family. Hopefully I will never need them.

"No Mercy" has enlightened me as to potential dangers that have not been discussed in Prepper circles.




ronpoitras's picture
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Surviving a mine disaster

Read this week's New Yorker for a detail article on how 33 miners survived 69 days with little food & water 2400 feet below the surface.  A harrowing tale reinforcing many of the points raised above by Oldvanman..


phecksel's picture
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Joined: May 24 2010
Posts: 204
There was a story that popped

There was a story that popped up on the internet a few years ago from an alleged Bosnian survivor.  Many disputed the validity of his story.  He either went through it or did a fantastic job detailing his alleged experience.  It told the tale of what it would take to survive in a collapsed situation.  Most of us are not nearly ruthless enough to survive if it truly turns bad.

Another great resource is the movie "After Armageddon" and the tale of a family that struggles to survive when the systems all collapse.

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