Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Survivor's Club by Ben Sherwood ***

If this book helps to save your life at least just once, it is well worth a read, don't you think?

You'll learn the best place to sit on a plane, and what do when it crashes, because - yes - over 95% of passengers survive the impact. So get moving; you only have 90 seconds to safety.

When it pays to be optimistic (when you have some control in your outcome), and when it doesn't (when you have no control).

The odds of surviving a leap from the Golden Gate Bridge, and the best way to enter the water to increase them.

You'll discover the steps to becoming luckier and more resilient.

And last, but not least, if your luck runs out, the book will tell you the best place to have a heart attack.

Being optimistic can be hazardous to your health

When Admiral James Stockdale (a POW of the Vietnam war) was asked to explain which prisoners perished in captivity, the admiral replied 'Oh, that's easy. The optimists.' Everyone was perplexed, so he went on 'The optimists were the ones who said we're going to be out by christimas. Christmas would come and go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart. This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end - which you can never afford to lose - with discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.' p41

Catching a plane? Here are the odds of making it back...

What are your chances of dying on your next flight? 1 in 60 million. That means you could fly every day for 164,000 years before your odds would be 1 to 1... Even if you did crash, your odds of survival are 95.7%. Excluding those accidents where no one had a chance at survival, even in the most serious accidents your odds are 76.6%. Contrary to popular opinion, the most likely outcome of an accident is that most occupants will survive... But this is the danger. When people believe there's nothing they can do to save themselves, the put themselves at even greater risk. They drink on the plane, sleep with a mask, take off their shoes, etc. If the plane crashes, they figure it doesn't matter if they're drunk, barefoot and blindfolded: they're dead anyway... But 40% of fatalities in plane crashes occur in situations that are survivable. p59

Why plane crashes freak us out, even though more us will exit from disease and auto accidents

Page 1 coverage of airplane accidents was 60 times greater than HIV/AIDS, 1500 times greater than auto accidents, and 6000 times greater than cancer. p58

Don't sit and wait to be told what to do in an emergency

People don't often panic in the crazy sense, but more often they do nothing to save themselves; this is called negative panic... The current theory of behavioral inaction goes like this: as your frontal lobes process the sight of an airplane wing on fire, they seek to match the information with memories of similar situations in the past. If you have no stored information of a plane crash, your brain can't find a match and gets stuck in a loop of trying and failing to come up with the right response. Hence: immobility. The military calls this the dislocation of expectation... Researchers believe this has less to do with fear and confusion and more to do with the novelty of the situation and the lack of leadership... People do nothing. They just wait for instructions. And they often die. p63

Get younger, lose weight, and be a guy to get out quicker

According to FAA safety research, the best odds for surviving a plane crash go to young, slender men. Agility and strength make the biggest difference when you're trying to wriggle out of airplane wreckage... 31% of difference in evacuation time depends on personal characteristics... The bottom line is that older, bigger women are less nimble and strong; they have suffer the worst odds. p65

Rules for surviving a plane crash.

1. You only have 90 seconds to escape if there's a fire. The aluminum skin of the plane will melt after that.

2. The first 3 minutes and the last 8 minutes of the flight are the most dangerous (80% of all crashes occur during those times). If you're paying attention you can increase your odds.

3. Always have an action plan. Know where the nearest 2 exits are, and count the rows. In thick smoke you won't see them.

4. Decide ahead of time who will take care of the kids or elderly between you and your flight companion. Don't wait until the heat of the moment.

5. Be prepared to claw and climb your way out over other who are frozen or incapacitated. The FAA calls this 'competitive' behavior, and suggests that you compete.

6. Avoid bulkhead seats, because the seat in front of you is part of your safety system. In an accident, you ARE going to hit something.

7. Always assume the brace position. It really does help.

8. Always buckle up. The seatbelt can withstand 3000 lbs of force or 17g's.

9. Forget about your luggage or belongings.

10. Cover your skin and feet with non-synthetics. They will melt on your skin.

11. Make a big fuss to those around you about the safety card and exit plan. Influence those around you so no one freezes and blocks your way out. p73-76

The safest seat on the plane

Other factors to consider. Aisle seat survival rate is 64% vs. 58 for a window seat. Front of plane (1st class) is 49% vs. 56% for ahead of and over wing vs. 69% for rear of cabin. So the safest seats on the plane are rear aisle seats within 5 rows of 2 exits. p79

115 million people in the US visit the emergency room each year. That's 315,000 per day or 13,125 per hour. p92

Showing up the ER with a heart puncture and no vitals, you only have a 37-40% chance. A gunshot wound to the heart with no vitals lowers your chance to 4%. Worst of all is blunt trauma from smashing into something like a brick wall, your chances are less than 1%... So here's what to remember: knives are better than guns, which are better than brick walls. p93

Golden Gate Bridge: The world's most exclusive survivor's club.

You have 4 seconds before hitting the water 240 feet below at 75 mph. On impact you'll feel 15,000 lbs per square inch, ripping your organs loose... Even if you survive the impact, you're almost certain to drown. Jumpers can plunge 80 feet under... Since it opened in May 1937, 1250 people have been recorded as suicides. 98% of jumpers die. Compare that with poison - 85%, drug overdose - 88%, wrist slashing - 95%. There are only 28 known survivors... Your best odds are entering the water feet first, but at a slight angle, so you arc through the water instead of plunging straight down. p104-108

Where's the best place to suffer a heart attack?

In major cities like LA and NYC, the odd are less than 3% of surviving. In cities with the best emergency response like Seattle and Boston, it rises to 9%... But the best place in the world has a rate of 53%. It's the Las Vegas Strip, where nearly all casinos have defibrillators and trained staff. p109

USAF's rule of 3 states that you CANNOT survive without:

3 seconds without spirit and hope

3 minutes without air

3 hours without shelter in extreme conditions

3 days without water

3 weeks without food

3 months without companionship or love

Make peace with your maker, or else you're likely to meet him

Patients in religious turmoil had a 6 to 10% greater risk of dying compared to those who weren't.. Patients who felt alienated or unloved by god and attributed their illness to the devil were 19 to 28% more likely to die during a 2 year study. Why can tussling with god kill you? Well, first you have to ask what kind of God do you believe in. Does your belief in god broad enough to encompass both the good and bad in life, or do you have a sugar coated view of god, that he'll always be there for you, and he will never let anything bad happen. If the latter, when something bad does happen, you won't have any way to reconcile that with your view of god. p145

It's who you know that counts when it comes to luck

Most people know about 300 people on a 1st name basis. That means that you're only 2 introductions away from 90,000 people who could bring chance opportunities to your life. If you invited 50 people over for dinner, that means you're only 2 degrees of separation from 4.5 million potential lucky breaks. p192

Trust, not ignore, your gut

Lucky people listen to their hunches and make good decisions without really knowing why... In contrast, unlucky people often ignore their intuition and regret their decision... Lucky people persevere in the face of failure, have an uncanny knack of making their wishes come true. They expect good things to happen... Unlucky people expect bad things to happen... When given an impossible puzzle to solve, 60% of unlucky people say the puzzle is impossible, while only 30% of lucky people said the same... Life's best survivors react to disruptive change forced on them as though it is a change they desired. p192-4

5 Step Luck School

1. Sign a 'Luck Declaration' in which you pledge to incorporate these principles for 1 month

2. Identify your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to fortune. Do you maximize chance opportunities in life? Do you listen to your lucky hunches? Do you turn bad luck into good?

3. Meet new people and expand your network of luck, and practice a relaxed attitude to life, open yourself up to new experiences, paying more attention to your gut instincts.

4. Keep a luck journal, jotting down fortunate events.

5. Take your time creating a lucky life. Lucky people have developed ways of thinking that make them especially happy, successful and satisfied with their lives. p204

The average increase is 40%. One english computer company tried it and raised productivity by 20%.

Hey lefties, wanna live 9 years longer? Switch hands ASAP

The older you get, the fewer lefties you'll find. Among 10 year olds, 15% are left handed. By age 50, it shrinks to 5%. Jump to age 80, and its only 1%. And only .5% by 85... One explanation is that lefties become righties, but researchers reject this because it's too difficult and unlikely for so many people to change... After studying 2857 CA death certificates, they discovered that left handers die 9 years earlier than right handers (4 years and 10 months for women, and 10 years and 1 month for men). Lefties are 89% more likely to end up in severe accidents, and 6 times more likely to die in them. p205

Asians should take an aspirin on the 3rd of every month

On the 4th of every month there's a 13% spike in heart attacks among Asian Americans. In CA, there's a 27% jump among this group. In many asian languages the words for four and death are almost identical. Indeed in the far east, many hospitals and hotels avoid the number 4. p225

Fight on, never surrender, and skip the stiff upper lip nonsense. It's life or death.

A 1979 British study of breast cancer victims found that 75% of women with a 'fighting spirit' had a favorable outcome vs. only 30% for the helpless and stoic groups... It should be noted that 88% of the women in the study fell into the helpless or stoic groups, but they only represented 46% of the 5 year survivors.... The authors concluded after doing research that the fighting spirit won't prolong your life, but helplessness and hopelessness may actually shorten it. p236

Have something to live for

A researched studied 1333 famous people from history, and discovered a dip in deaths before their birthdays, and a peak afterward. He went to study regular people, and found that they too can postpone death for special occasions. "People postpone death in order to participate in social ceremonies. Because they are so attached to society, they die post-maturely." p249

Maybe surprise birthday parties after age 50 aren't such a good idea

Women are more likely to die in the week following their birthday than in any other week of the year. Men's deaths peaked before their birthdays... Thus a birthday is a 'deadline' for males, but a 'lifeline' for women. p250

A spoonful of sugar helps the post traumatic stress go down

Studies of soldiers who endured severe physical and mental stress during survival training revealed that ingesting carbohydrates helped the troops recover quicker physically and cognitively... In the future, medics may pump soldiers full of maltodextrin or other carbs to accelerate their recovery from stress to get them back into the fight. p270

The Resilience Prescription

1. Practice optimism. Look for the bright side. Don't be delusional or live in denial, but focus on what you can control towards a positive outcome.

2. Choose someone you know or who inspires you, and imitate their example as a resilient role model.

3. Develop a moral compass of unshakable beliefs in ideals and principles greater than yourself.

4. Practice altruism. By helping others you can help yourself feel better during tough times.

5. Develop cognitive flexibility, meaning an ability to learn and adapt your knowledge and thinking to new situations

6. Face your fears, and learn to control negative emotions

7. Build active coping skills to handle your problems

8. Establish a supportive social network to help you

9. Stay physically fit

10. Laugh as much as you can

p271 - see Dr. Dennis Charney of Mt Sinai School of Medicine NYC for more details

Killer Initials

In 1999, researchers studied 3500 men and women with good and bad initials (good included ACE, WIN, WOW & VIP; bad included RAT, BUM, SAD, & DUD), and determined if they had anything to do with how long people lived. The results were stunning. As far fetched as it may sound, they concluded that your initials can actually influence the time and cause of your death. It can add 4 years to your life, or subtract 3 years from it.... How do bad initials kill? Cumulatively over a lifetime. They build up as a little tiny source of stress or they crush your will to live in some way. The impact isn't immediate. Instead, like compound interest, it accumulates over years... Conversely seeing FOX, HUG, or GOD as your initials on your key chain or robe every day can add up to something positive over a lifetime... 2 Pomona economics professors examined the same data and concluded that initials have no effect. p275


- Spock, Star Trek