Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Walking wounded

Fascinating stuff from David The Wire Simon's Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, which I've been blazing through recently like the bookhound I once was (Wolf Hall, you tore apart my averages and gobbled up my confidence):

The distortion of television and popular culture is nowhere more apparent than in the intimate relationship of bullets and bodies. Hollywood tells us that a Saturday Night Special can put a man on the pavement, yet ballistics experts know that no bullet short of an artillery shell is capable of knocking a human being off his feet...

Although the popular belief that many people fall down upon being shot is generally accurate, experts have determined that this occurs not for physiological reasons, but as a learned response. People who have been shot believe they are supposed to fall immediately to the ground, so they do. Proof of the phenomenon is evident in its opposite: There are countless cases in which people - often people whose mental processes are impaired by drugs or alcohol - are shot repeatedly, sustaining lethal wounds; yet despite the severity of their injuries, they continue to flee or resist for long periods of time.

(Don't worry, mum, I'm not about to go and shoot up the high school.)

3 comments:

Huw said...

I have just finished this book myself the other week.

This passage puts me in mind of my friend who was pursued and stabbed in Madrid, but thought he had only been slapped on the back by his attacker, and kept running until his lung filled with so much blood he could barely breath.

Happy thoughts!

Will said...

Sorry to hear about that. On the plus side, at least there's still someone reading this blog.

Red said...

I'm reading Homicide now! I'm only about 30 pages in, and there have already been three murders and one possibly self-inflicted GSW. Looks like there's never a dull moment on the streets of Baltimore...