On 15 April 1912, the ‘Titanic’, the largest ship afloat at the time it entered service, sank in the North Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage. The large and unnecessary death toll – more than 1,500 passengers and crew – was the result of many factors.
Understanding the psychology that underpins these factors teaches us why so many people died in the ‘Titanic’ disaster. This, in turn, gives us insight into how we might be able to improve our chances of averting the sinking of the Good Ship ‘Earth’ and losing most of its passengers in the years now immediately ahead.
Two key factors in the sinking of the ‘Titanic’ were the ship’s design, including the limited number of watertight compartments in the hull, and the ship’s speed at the time of the incident despite the risk of hitting an iceberg (which could only be detected visually, rather than technologically, in 1912).
Separately from this, other factors in the huge death toll were the inadequate number of lifeboats and the failures in telegraph communications – see ‘The ITU and the Internet’s “Titanic” Moment’http://journals.law.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/stanford-technology-law-review-stlr/online/ryan-theituandtheinternetstitanicmoment.pdf – which meant that the ‘Californian’, just five to ten miles away, did not respond to the distress signals, although the ‘Carpathia’ travelled considerably further to arrive less than two hours after the ‘Titanic’ foundered, thus saving over 700 lives.