(not) Killing in the name of....
I caught the end of a really interesting documentary on channel 4 last night about killing.
It turns out that, unlike you might expect, humans seem to have a natural built in desire NOT to kill each other.
They looked into things like battles and kill ratios and came up with a few really interesing facts.
There was a study where a napoleonic company had a 90% hit rate in training, and when in battle they fired 3 volleys into a mass of enemy troops at half the range they should have killed 500 of them. they infact killed 3.
Apparently when they recovered weapons from the civil war battlefields most were still loaded, many had 2 or three shots in them... one had 23 shots loaded. SO someone stood there, UNDER FIRE, and loaded and pretended to shoot his musket 23 times but never actually pulled the trigger.
It also seems that d-day landing shouldn't really have been possible if a lot of the germans were actually trying to kill people.
It seems that people want to kill and fight for their country, but when it actually comes down to it they cant. Its not that they are cowards, they don't run away or refuse to fight, they just miss.
Apparently close combat almost all kills in WW2 were made by a very small percentage of troops... most of the others busied themselves supporting those troops by bringing them amunition, helping wounded, spotting, firing randomly at positions and so on.
Researchers reckoned 98% of soldiers didn't really take part in fighting. Of the 2% that did most of the killing 1% were mildly physcopathic (ie, felt no emotion about killing) and 1% were the rare breed of human who could manage to put aside their feelings to do what they had to do.
So a lot of "war heroes" were actually psychopaths. (although not in a serial killer kind of way).
Cooincidentaly, about 98% of soldiers suffer from some form of ill effects after combat (depression, gulf war syndrome, etc..)
Of course, this only applies when you are actually facing your victim... which is why in WW2 large numbers of the dead were due to long distance attacks such as artillery and bombing.
The final comment (for next week) was that recently our armies have managed to overcome this 2% barrier and get up to 80% of their soldiers to kill (although they still suffer from the feelings afterwards) by training their bodies to almost bypass their mind.
It has always struck me as odd how in recent wars (gulf, etc..) there tend to be firefights with incredibly mismatched casualy figures (2 Us, 200 iraqi etc..). I always thought this couldn't just be down to the Us troops having better aim or weapons... seems it might be down to the fact that only 2% of the untrained troops would be trying to kill, but 80% of the trained troops might.
Playing: Link to the Past, Astroboy, Kario Kart, Mario World (Micro) KOTOR 2: Sith Lords (Xbox) Morrowind (PC)