Peak Oil is You

Donate Bitcoins ;-) or Paypal :-)

Page added on July 11, 2017

Bookmark and Share

“There Is A Dark Side To Our Species” This Is What People Fear The Most In A Societal Collapse…

General Ideas

There are a lot of reasons why people prep for disasters, but there’s one reason that’s far more popular than the others. What people fear most when they think about what would happen if society collapsed, isn’t hunger, disease, or exposure. They fear what other people might do to them when the chips are down. They worry that members of their community might hurt or kill them to survive.

And though most preppers won’t admit it, I think most of us fear what we might be capable of in a bad situation. We don’t have to find out if we have enough food stocked up in our pantries.

However, it should be noted that there is an alternate view on what most people will do if society collapses. For historians who study disasters and social collapse, there is hope that people won’t automatically turn into savages if the grid goes down. A writer for Slate recently interviewed several experts on this topic, and here’s what they had to say:

Can this ray of sunshine be trusted? I’d love to believe it can be. I asked Scott Knowles, a historian of disaster, what historians and sociologists who study collapses and disasters have to say. His answer: It depends. “We help, and also we don’t,” Knowles said in an email to me.


Over the years, academic researchers have gone back and forth on the question. “This whole area of work really got going in the Cold War when defense planners wanted to model post-[nuclear] attack scenarios,” Knowles wrote. The Disaster Research Center at Ohio State University (which has since moved to the University of Delaware) “did the work over years to model community response, and they pushed back strongly on the idea of social collapse—they found instead too much of the opposite—people converge on a disaster scene!”

And there are countless examples of people being altruistic and coming together during disasters; perhaps even more so than examples of people turning on each other.

In a 1961 paper (unpublished until 1996), sociologist Charles Fritz laid out the case for this “contrary perspective” that disasters and other majorly stressful events don’t necessarily result in social breakdown and trauma.


Fritz, who had begun his observations of disasters while stationed in Britain during the Blitz, reported that during that time he saw “a nation of gloriously happy people, enjoying life to the fullest, exhibiting a sense of gaiety and love of life that was truly remarkable,” with Britons reaching beyond class distinctions, sharing supplies, and talking to people they had never spoken with before.


Marshaling sociological and historical evidence, Fritz recounts example after example of people pulling together in the middle of tragedy: black and white police and militia members uniting to maintain order during the yellow fever epidemic in Memphis in 1878; enemies forgetting old quarrels during the German bombing of Krakow in World War II; community members reporting strengthened personal relationships with neighbors after the White County, Arkansas, tornado of 1952.


In general, researchers agree that people will try to form alliances and help each other.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. If humans didn’t have an inclination towards supporting each other, then we wouldn’t have a sophisticated society to begin with.

However, I think we all know that there is a dark side to our species as well, and many of the examples provided by the author don’t reflect that. It is true that we are a social species whose members would rather work together to build a society, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t disasters which could easily bring out the worst in us.

The best example that comes to my mind, is the Siege of Leningrad during World War Two. For more than two years, the city was encircled by German forces who cut off all supplies to the city. This led to the deaths of more than a million civilians, mainly due to starvation. And during that time there were thousands of people who were arrested for murdering others for their ration cards, or killing strangers and family members before cannibalizing them. And in most cases, these people were found to have no criminal records when they were caught.

Point being, there are disasters that will drive ordinary people to commit heinous crimes, and there’s a big difference between those incidents, and the disasters that don’t lead to massive crime waves. In most cases, a destructive event only leads to temporary disruptions to the supply of food, medicine and fuel. People are happy to work together, knowing that everything will return to normal in short order.

But on the rare occasion that a disaster disrupts the flow of goods and energy for months or years at a time, a significant percentage of the population will turn on their neighbors to survive. There’s a direct relationship between how desperate people are, and how far they’re willing to abandon their morality to keep themselves and their family fed, and that’s something that preppers should never forget.

27 Comments on "“There Is A Dark Side To Our Species” This Is What People Fear The Most In A Societal Collapse…"

  1. Cloud9 on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 6:59 am 

    In 04 we lost power and water for days. The primary reason people did not turn on each other is because we could see the line crews working from day light to dark to restore power. Everyone understood that the crisis was temporary. Stalingrad is a good look at a prolonged crisis as is Berlin after the collapse of the Weimar Republic. Cannibalism in Stalingrad was facilitated by freezing cold and relentless bombing and artillery barrages. Long pork was chilling in the streets and packed like cord wood at the cemetery. The small meat paddies that were a mixture of mystery protein and sawdust sustained the troops. The collapse of the currency in Germany caused city inhabitants to spill out of the city into the countryside. Farms and small towns were pillaged. You could rent a mother and her daughter off a street corner in Berlin most evenings.

    Here in Florida we are cursed with a flat terrain that is difficult to defend. A few can hide in the swamps and scrub, but most are out in the open. Our homes are totally dependent on electricity and are not defendable. It will be a mess.

    As difficult as it may seem sex will be bartered in the best of circumstances and taken in the worst. After four weeks without food, alternate sources of protein will be considered.

    If the lights go out in the U.S. the government estimates that we will lose 90% of our population within the first year.

    People can survive up to four weeks without eating. Much of the sorting out will more than likely take place within the first ninety days. What comes next is a world envisioned in the Postman.

    Plan to get you and yours through the bottleneck. Your chances at survival will go up exponentially a year after the collapse. I won’t make it but you might.Zimbabwe had a great stock market right up and until the moment the currency became toilet paper.

    The odds are that things will continue as they always have.

  2. Hello on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 7:51 am 

    Hunger is the keyword.

    If there’s enough food to share and the crisis is temporary, people will come together and help each other.

    Take away the food and things will turn ugly quickly.

  3. Sissyfuss on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 8:56 am 

    I think we will go indigenous and tribe up and will fight any tribe that gets near our paltry resources. A game for only the most hardy.

  4. baha on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 9:13 am 

    The whole point of prepping and building community is preventing everyone from reaching savagery

  5. Cloggie on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 9:20 am 

    I think we will go indigenous and tribe up and will fight any tribe that gets near our paltry resources. A game for only the most hardy.

    But not you I hope, you, The Moral One?!

    Please do not let my world view, emm, collapse.

    You are humanity’s last hope for functioning socialism.

    You, Lonnie Johnson and his Super-Soaker!

  6. Cloggie on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 9:31 am 

    Mind you, this is in a situation of ** affluence **

    Can people behave disciplined in case of desaster? Oh yes they can.

    Study the difference between Japan/Fukushima vs New Orleans or Haiti and try to explain the difference.

  7. __ on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 9:50 am 

    The negroids are a force of nature

  8. Davy on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 10:03 am 

    IOW, We are near a finacial shift.

    “Deutsche: “Once The Carnage From Higher Rates Hits, Then We Move To Helicopter Money”

    “in a world with 327% debt/GDP…… higher interest rates are simply unsustainable, the endgame is one: “at some point a government spends big and yields start to rise faster. This could still be many quarters ahead but if and when it does happen central banks might have to intervene and cap nominal yields to avoid carnage in a heavily indebted world. Then we move towards helicopter money…”For now goldilocks remains, at least until one or more risk-parity fund gets whacked, and the momentum-chasing, vol-selling deleveraging begins.”

    “we think 2016 will likely be seen as the inflection point and the end of the 35 year bull market for bonds. It won’t be a straight line reversal and perhaps the issue will eventually be more for future real returns over nominal returns. The reason for picking out 2016 was that this was the year that 1) voters in the bottom half of the income scale effectively won two landmark national votes and 2) endless extreme monetary policy for the first time started to impact the plumbing of the financial system. The impact of the first point is that it likely means politicians now have to steer policy specifically to this poorer income group to ensure that their electoral chances are enhanced. This likely means more fiscal policy and less austerity. The recent UK election reinforces this theme here and we think the theme will slowly spread.”

    “With regards to the second point, 2016 was the year that negative rates cascaded like wildfire along the government bond curve in Europe. The problem being that the correlation between falling yields and poor EU bank equity performance is very strong and the correlation between bank equity and bank lending suggests that had the trends of 2016 continued much further then the real economy could have actually suffered by the negative yields actually aimed to support growth. However the fact that the BoJ and ECB pulled back from full-on QE in the last 4 months of last year suggested they appreciated that monetary policy had perhaps gone too far for now and was having some negative consequences. As such a slow reversal of the ultra low yield environment should have and should continue to follow. The risk being that at some point a government spends big and yields start to rise faster. This could still be many quarters ahead but if and when it does happen central banks might have to intervene and cap nominal yields to avoid carnage in a heavily indebted world. Then we move towards helicopter money – a story for another day.”

  9. Southwest_PA on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 10:34 am is back, peddling their freeze dried foods!

  10. Apneaman on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 10:54 am 

    This is what will do the humans in.

    China in the grip of sweltering heatwave with temperatures hitting 50 deg C [122 on the primitive scale]

    Grain crops have heat tolerances that are approaching quickly. A number of yields are down this year because of the increased heat. Reduced yields are the beginning, the end is complete loss from protein denature. It’s right around the corner.

    Drought forces prices up, yields down

  11. tahoe1780 on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 11:28 am 

    Civility is an artifact of abundance.

  12. Sissyfuss on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 11:57 am 

    Cloggedsynapse, when the collapse occurs the tribe will rid itself of the most smarmy know it all control freaks first. Probably in a nice flambeau. Bone up your teet.

  13. q on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 12:04 pm 

    “And there are countless examples of people being altruistic and coming together during disasters” It depends on how big disaster is. For example – during floods people from not flooded areas often help to those affected. But what happens if everything goes under water and only few people survive on boat without enough food for everybody?

  14. MASTERMIND on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 12:56 pm 

    Man is a bloodthirsty carnivore, not a genital gardener.

  15. Jeff on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 3:23 pm 

    The best example so far coming to my mind is the Titanic.
    Things went pretty ugly quickly and people walk on each other to get places on the few safeboats available…
    When a disaster becomes a matter of life or death, you just throw away your civilised education and shift back to your reptilian brain. It is not dark or light, it’s the way we survived form the old ages until now.
    Don’t expect anything civilised when our civilisation will collapse but Mad Max.

  16. Sissyfuss on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 3:46 pm 

    Wow Mysterymind, a genital gardener. That takes balls.

  17. ALCIADA-MOLE on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 8:25 pm 

    @sis dear, mast is tarding.

  18. sidzepp on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 10:06 pm 

    One thing is certain is that the denizens of this site will probably be the first to go for they will have no place to vent their anger and frustration when the web collapses.

    Enjoy the show!

  19. Bloomer on Tue, 11th Jul 2017 10:55 pm 

    Screw the prepping. When the first nukes are launched, I want to be the first casualty in the first city that is annihilated. Self preservation is not mandatory.

  20. Cloud9 on Wed, 12th Jul 2017 7:11 am 

    Bloomer, I am not encouraging this by any means but the only way to pick when and how you die is for you to off yourself.

  21. DerHundistlos on Wed, 12th Jul 2017 7:51 pm 

    Obviously, some of you have not been paying attention in class so for the benefit of slow learners I will repeat THE prediction of future events. This example IS what will transpire. Ignore everything else. Now, this time PAY ATTENTION:

    If you want to predict the future for human life on Earth, study the history of Easter Island. Understand WHY Easter Island is today a desolate and parched landscape bereft of flora, fauna, and a reliable source of clean drinking water.

    Before the arrival of man, Easter Island was Nirvana. Rich volcanic soils, moderate temperatures, abundant rainfall, forests teeming with unique flora and fauna combined to create a paradise. Among Easter Island’s species found nowhere else was the world’s largest palm tree. The tree grew to a height of 100 feet and had a girth of six feet.

    Then the Destroyer of Worlds arrived in the form of seafaring Polynesians. For a time, the land produced such bounty that sufficient leisure time existed for the human inhabitants to create the toppled over ghostly stone statues that still dot the island. Human population numbers grew far out of proportion to what was sustainable- poor farming practices eroded fertile soil, animal and plant species found nowhere else were driven extinct. Incredibly, the very last tree on the island was cut down. What kind of stupidity would allow this to happen (sound familiar)? Following this, no timber existed to build the canoes necessary to harvest the only remaining source of protein.

    The result: When Captain James Cook discovered the island, he was shocked to find a parasite infested human population engaged in cannibalistic internecine tribal warfare.

    And don’t forget Tuesday is Soylent Green.

  22. DerHundistlos on Thu, 13th Jul 2017 1:19 am 

    More German civilians and, ironically Allied POWs, were incinerated in the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, then died in the “Blitz” multiplied six times over. But, if the author cited this inconvenient fact that would soil the fairy tale of the good guys vs the bad guys.

  23. Cloggie on Thu, 13th Jul 2017 4:40 am 

    More German civilians and, ironically Allied POWs, were incinerated in the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, then died in the “Blitz” multiplied six times over. But, if the author cited this inconvenient fact that would soil the fairy tale of the good guys vs the bad guys.

    Hear, hear. The bombing campaign against civilians was entirely the work of Winston Churchill (WC)… in the pay of the “Apneaman’s” of this world.

    The first day in office as PM, WC used to order the first bombing of civilians in Germany. The Germans, who didn’t want this war at all (and merely intervened in Poland to come to the aid of the Germans forced to live in Versailles Poland and threatened by Polish genocide)…

    … waited full three months with retalliating against Britain.

    In the end the Anglos dropped 20 times as many bombs on Germany as the Germans did on Britain:

    Now with Brexit the moment of revenge against these island dwellers with a Muslim capital has finally arrived.

    Lets give them Brexit, long and hard, with maximum damage for Gibralter, the City, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    Europe + Heartland USA (Missisipi bassin) + Russia… that’s the winning formulae for our kind in the 21st century.

  24. Phillips 66 on Thu, 13th Jul 2017 4:53 am 

    DerHundistlos, your numbers are wrong.
    The Blitz killed 43,000 people in Great Britain from September of 1940 to May of 1941. The bombing of Dresden killed 22,000 people in February of 1945. The Axis powers were the bad guys in World War II. Look up the Holocaust.

    As for Easter Island, although deforestation played a part in the collapse it was probably climate change and the introduction of rats that really destroyed the island’s ecosystem.

    Cannibalism among the inhabitants of Easter Island is a theory put for by Jared Diamond in his book collapse, but scientists have found no evidence of any widespread cannibalism on Easter Island and the residents of Easter Island have insisted that their ancestors were never cannibals.

  25. Cloggie on Thu, 13th Jul 2017 11:44 am 

    The bombing of Dresden killed 22,000 people in February of 1945.

    The Blitz killed 43,000 people in Great Britain from September of 1940 to May of 1941.

    So what, you started the bombing campaign against civilians.

    Around 600,000 German civilians died during the allies’ wartime raids on Germany, including 76,000 German children, Friedrich says. In July 1943, during a single night in Hamburg, 45,000 people perished in a vast firestorm.

    Look up the Holocaust.

    Victors trials don’t count, period.

    Name me one with proof, only one, who was gassed.

    Even the filthy liar of that Nuremberg scam “justice” Jackson knew the Germans were innocent, he implicitly said so himself:

    “MR. JUSTICE JACKSON. I really think that this trial, if it should get into an argument over the political and economic causes of this war, could do infinite harm, both in Europe, which I don’t know well, and in America, which I know fairly well. If we should have a prolonged controversy over whether Germany invaded Norway a few jumps ahead of a British invasion of Norway, or whether France in declaring war was the real aggressor, this trial can do infinite harm for those countries with the people of the United States. And the same is true of our Russian relationships. The Germans will certainly accuse all three of our European allies of adopting policies which forced them to war. The reason I Say that is that captured documents which we have always made that claim-that Germany would be forced into war. They admit they were planning war, but the captured documents of the Foreign Office that I have examined all come down to the claim, “We have no way out; we must fight; we are encircled; we are being strangled to death.””

    Translation, Jackson, who had access to all Germans archives, had to admit that he could not find a single proof that the Germans were plotting for a war of agression, but he ensured that they were convicted for this anyway.

    The real ones who were plotting for war was the US and its kosher deep state, in power since 1933 and couldn’t wait to get their “American Century” started.
    (published half a year before they managed the Japanese to deal the first blow, a total provocation).

    Chamberlain refused to meet Roosevelt despite several invitations, because he knew what Roosevelt was up to:

    Everything about WW2 is a lie, that will be exposed at the end of the US empire, somewhere between now and 2025.

  26. DerHundistlos on Fri, 14th Jul 2017 12:04 am 

    Phillips Know it All-

    Germans the bad guys? There’s nothing worse then a self-satisfied, self-righteous puritan whose fanciful visions of superiority create a thoroughly repugnant and obnoxious scoundrel. You have the temerity to pass judgement on others when the USA holds the greatest genocide ever top honor. Around 9.8 million Native Americans were butchered, entire tribes rendered extinct, lands stolen, and the tattered few that remained were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands and sent off to the world’s first concentration camps euphemistically termed, Indian reservations.

    But you know who are the good and bad people. Revolting.

    Dresden 22.000. Bullshit. You picked this number from a source that supports your opinion. Your asshole plucked number is pathetic. Further, the Blitz lasted over a period of time while Dresden was a single event.

    Regarding Easter Island, that’s your snarky opinion, which is not any different than your smelly ass. I could care less what you believe.

    My family paid dearly and in ways I care not to discuss. I have never said this before, but you have angered and annoyed me unlike anyone else. Going forward, I do not want you to communicate with me. I want nothing to do with you whatsoever.

  27. Phillips 66 on Fri, 14th Jul 2017 3:57 am 

    Never said I was superior, and I’m certainly not a puritan.

    “Around 9.8 million Native Americans were butchered”

    Granted the native Americans of North America were mistreated horribly by the governments of Canada and the U.S. (Cherokee Trail of Tears, Sand Creek massacre, Wounded Knee massacre etc.) the number of 9.8 million is way too high, most of the native Americans died from disease. Canada and the U.S. did try to inoculate the indigenous peoples but they didn’t have enough resources to vaccinate everyone at the time. The native Americans committed atrocities against both settlers and other tribes too.

    More on this topic:

    “Dresden 22,000. Bullshit.”

    The books Firestorm: Allied Airpower and the Destruction of Dresden by Marshall De Bruhl and Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945 by Frederick Taylor give numbers of 18,000-25,000 dead and say that Dresden was a manufacturing center for military equipment.
    Dr Joseph Goebbels inflated the numbers for propaganda purposes.

    “But you know who are the good and bad people. Revolting”

    So you think that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were good?

    Most scientists think climate change and the introduction of rats played a part in Easter Island’s collapse.

    I’m done with this topic. I came here to discuss peak oil. If you can’t take criticism there is no point talking to you I guess.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *