Werner Herzog is amazing


OK, it’s been a long day — why did someone have to send me this depressing (but most excellent) video about the tragedy of texting and driving?

Now I think I’ll just curl up and cry. Next person who wants to share something with me, make it cheerful?

Comments

  1. carlie says

    THE NEW PERCY JACKSON BOOK IS OUT.

    Caine told me.

    That’s what’s making me happy today.

  2. says

    Don’t know if you’ve seen this, or if you find this happy or not, but I get happy from watching people see for the first time, hear for the first time, getting healed by medical science. Here is a clip of an old man who doesn’t look people in the eyes anymore, his brain ridden with dementia and he basically doesn’t answer people at all. But when people play his favourite music for him… Just watch:

  3. ChasCPeterson says

    aw shit I just watched the Herzog video.
    I forwarded it through tears to my daughter and nephews.
    Then I read the comments.

    May I offer the gentle suggestion that this thread is maybe not the place to do your cheerful sharing with PZ?
    No disrespect.
    Watch the vid.

  4. dustbunny says

    Yeah, kinda with ChasCPeterson on this one. Please watch the video.

    I saw this a while back and I have since not sent or read one single text while driving. The ‘Our sister Debbie’ story made me cry, that’s when I decided to never do it again. I could not live with the guilt of doing that to another human being.

  5. says

    You may have seen the story about how a man brandishing a gun on a train in SF was not noticed by people as they had their faces glued to their devices, until after a few minutes of this he randomly shot and killed a college student.

    If you’ve lifted your face from your own device long enough to watch other pedestrians, you may have seen, like I’ve seen regularly, people texting and walking into light poles, mailboxes, other people.

    These same people (my sister included) insist that they can handle texting and driving.

    We need to stop finding new ways to feed the need for constant validation. People need to learn how to live with themselves and just themselves for at least 10-15 minutes at a time.

  6. kelecable says

    This is one of my favorite Herzog moments which I find really funny. It’s from the documentary Burden of Dreams which is about Herzog making the movie Fitzcarraldo, as he and many others are struggling to move a large ship up a mountain. This clip is his rant about how horrible a place the jungle is. He sums up the “nature red in tooth and claw” theme quite well.

    Warning: There’s a dead macaw getting cut up during parts of the clip, so don’t watch it if that bothers you.

  7. grumpyoldfart says

    Drunks will never stop driving.
    Speedsters will never stop speeding.
    Texters will never stop texting.

    Each generation breeds a new crop of drivers who are positive it will never happen to them.

    Each generation breeds a new crop of judges who hand out extremely light sentences to those who kill and maim.

    Some things never change.

  8. says

    In Australia, road deaths by texting have overtaken those by drunk driving, US is similar. Handsfree btw does not make a difference. Walking through a shopping mall these days is like a stroll through Zombieland, everyone is walking around blindly with their eyes fixed on their smartphone screen, people are completely unaware of their surroundings.

    Texting bans for drivers need to be enforced much stronger. I’m actually all for banning under-25s from driving altogether, for their own, and everyone else’s, safety.

  9. left0ver1under says

    Are most here familiar with the various “Worst Driver” TV series? In season 5 of “Canada’s Worst Driver”, a huge wake up call came to the person who texted (and smoked) while driving. A series that is normally made in a humourous way ended an episode very seriously.

    Season 5 episode 5 (jump ahead to 38:00 if you want to see the key moment):

  10. alt3 says

    I actually gave up driving a while ago after I ran a red while browsing the internet (I don’t really text anyone. I mean, it’s my preferred form of communication but the only person I really communicate with on a regular basis is my mother, and her text are so infuriatingly unreadable it becomes easier to just call her). After that particular goof up I realized I would have to either give up driving or give up my phone, and I would sooner give up my legs than give up my phone, so I parked my truck and really only drive myself when I absolutely must. Otherwise I just ride the bus. It’s actually turned out to be quite eye-opening, I never really realized how much I hated driving until I didn’t have to do it anymore, besides, I get a little exercise and save a bunch on gas. I also don’t really buy as much frivolous shit anymore, since doing so would mean a minimum one hour round trip and ultimately my laziness usually wins out over my gluttony or consumerism.

  11. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    I watched this video a while ago. Cried through most of it.

  12. Muz says

    It’s a great little film. I’m always impressed how Herzog gets such interesting moments out of people.

    The circumstances in the film are kind of mindblowing though. How do you text message and miss a stop sign? Or a buggy filled with Amish people? It amazes me. People must really shut down when they do this stuff and not even notice (I barely use a phone, so I don’t get how it isn’t obvious).
    People do get funny ideas when driving though. I had one person spiritedly assert to me that there shouldn’t be speed limit changes when going through small towns because they have to take their eyes off the road for a split second to read the sign.
    Some people drive in a state of barely concealed panic (you can see some in that Canadian show up there). They’re nearly as bad as the people that treat it casually enough to spend time with their face in their phone.

  13. says

    Drunks will never stop driving.
    Speedsters will never stop speeding.
    Texters will never stop texting.

    Alcoholism is a disease. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions.

    Speeding is not a disease.
    Considering the reading of the message “yeah! ha! lol! Me too!” as being more important than watching the road is not a disease.

    Example 1 is of someone compromised by illness. Not blameless, but still ill and that is part of the cause.
    Examples 2 and 3 are just people who are ignorant and selfish.
    People cutting in line must be unavoidable then. Not being considerate enough to pick up your neighbors trash you accidentally backed into is something that just can’t be “cured” I guess.
    \
    If we’re going to consider “texting” selfishly, which didn’t even exist a short while ago, as being in the same class as alcoholism, an illness, then fuck it – I give up. “It will always happen?” Then there’s no hope. This species is useless and fatally flawed.

    Then again I’ve been coming to that conclusion anyway.

  14. Moggie says

    Texting while driving? I don’t understand why anyone would willingly put themselves and others in danger like that. “Don’t text and drive” occupies the same space as “don’t juggle hand grenades in a kindergarten”: good advice, perhaps, but anyone who needs to be told that is probably beyond the reach of such advice.

    Driving needs focus. Do people really not understand that?

  15. The Beautiful Void says

    I used to date a girl who would IRC whilst driving for an hour each morning. No amount of horrified pleading from any of us could persuade her that it was a bad idea; she was that convinced of her own superior driving ability.

    Mind you, she was a Tea Party supporter, so maybe there’s some overlap on the “poor judgement” front.

  16. sundiver says

    @ 17. Could be the selfish asshole syndrome so many teaturds seem to have, which might be the root cause of their poor judgement. I tried texting on a very deserted stretch of highway and the result was I never text nor answer the phone while driving. Whatever it is, it aint that goddamned important

  17. sundiver says

    @16. They really don’t understand that. IDR if you’re a USAnian or not; keep in mind ALL USAnians think they’re AJ Foyt or Jackie Stewart behind the wheel. And I’ve encountered a few I wouldn’t trust on a tricycle.

  18. The Beautiful Void says

    @19: I’m glad you survived and I’m glad you’re not doing it again.

    In general, this thread has summed up for me why I try to avoid cars whenever I can: Something that heavy and that fast, guided by a fallible human, is just not something I can ever feel safe around; and is especially not something I want to be responsible for.

  19. says

    grumpyoldfart

    Drunks will never stop driving.
    Speedsters will never stop speeding.
    Texters will never stop texting.

    That’s absolute bullshit. Following a massive shift in education and culture, accidents by drunk drivers have been drastically reduced. Speed limits work. I’ve driven in quite a lot of different countries and I noticed the differences in driving cultures. Swiss people are not remarkably different from Germans yet I prefer driving there.
    We need a shift in culture, we need to make people aware that using a mobile while driving is at least as dangerous as having 0.8/00 alcohol. And we need to sanction it accordingly.

  20. carlie says

    Sorry – I took the last line to be “and cheer me up now”.

    I’m not going to watch the video, though. I’ve been too close to the aftereffects of distracted driving enough times; I don’t need my awareness of how sad it is raised or to relive anything I’ve already been through.

    Who I wish I could send it too, though, is the asshole I used to know who was a Baptist youth minister and who continually texted while driving a church van full of kids.

  21. Moggie says

    sundiver @16:

    They really don’t understand that. IDR if you’re a USAnian or not; keep in mind ALL USAnians think they’re AJ Foyt or Jackie Stewart behind the wheel. And I’ve encountered a few I wouldn’t trust on a tricycle.

    That’s not uniquely American, though there are cultural differences. See the wikipedia page on “illusory superiority” for a study on self-perception of driving skill in both the US and Sweden: both countries have many drivers over-estimating their ability, but more so in the US (Swedish Jantelagen at work, I suppose). I couldn’t give you figures for my home, the UK, but while our roads are safer than America’s, we’re not short of over-confident jerks. This is the home of Top Gear, after all.

  22. Socio-gen, something something... says

    A month after I got my driver’s license, my right front tire blew out while I was driving 65 in a 55. The results probably could have been avoided if I hadn’t been rooting for a cassette tape in the pile on my passenger seat. Because I was distracted, the steering wheel was ripped out of my hand, the car went off the shoulder, took out a row of mailboxes and the 4×4 posts they were attached to, hit the beginning of the guardrail just right and rode the guardrail for about 30 feet before my car flipped over. I was, thankfully, wearing a seatbelt and uninjured but for bruises and some lacerations from flying cassettes and broken glass.

    That was bad enough to make me realize distractions are deadly, but what made me the most attentive driver on the planet is that I narrowly missed hitting two small kids playing in their front yard near that mailbox. Since then, I drive as if, at any moment, I will need to brake quickly and/or take evasive maneuvers. I still drive over the speed limit at times (but not much), but never in town or on narrow two-lane roads.

    What I taught my kids when they were learning to drive was: sudden, unexpected events can happen any time when you’re behind the wheel — a car pulling out in front of you, a child running into the roadway, a tire blowing out, a texting driver crossing the center line. But if you’re distracted while trying to control a 1000-lb death machine, you’re unable to respond appropriately (or at all) to those events. If you’re lucky, it will kill only you. If not, you will have to live with the aftermath for the rest of your life.

    I wish more states would pass “hands-free” laws, rather than “no texting and driving.” Hands-free isn’t great (you’re still distracted) but at least your eyes are not moving between road and that little screen while you fiddle with Pandora or read Twitter or whatever app is so much more important than driving safely.

  23. sundiver says

    @ 25: Hey, don’t cloud the issue with facts and shit when I have a perfectly good, dataless, derogatory presupposition to make. It’s true not ALL drivers in the US are arrogant assholes; in fact, I’ve encountered a good number of courteous drivers. It’s just the stupid shit I see tends to stick out, confirmation bias at its very best. One thing I see though that really pisses me off is what I call “The Cheesehead Pass”. It’s when, on the Interstate especially, one passes a semi on the right with a velocity differential of about 1 centimeter per fortnight. Truckers just love some fuckwit getting into their blind spot and staying there for several minutes. I’ve seen it a lot since moving to this sub-arctic Alabama and wonder why.

  24. sundiver says

    Oh, for you non-Americans, a semi is a tractor-trailer lorry. You probably know that but it’s a bit presumptuous expect all the netizens to know US slang.

  25. scienceavenger says

    The problem is the high-severity, low-probability nature of the risk. The dismissal of the problem of texting while driving (at speed anyway, its a lifesaver in stop-n-go rush hour parking lots, but that hardly constitutes “driving”) is similar to why we don’t have sufficient protection from cataclismic floods, earthquakes or asteroid strike. I think for many people, once the probability of occurrence dips below some arbitrarily low number, it rounds to zero, and they behave like “it won’t happen to them”. It’s like a lottery in reverse, it likely won’t happen to YOU, but it will happen to someone, and when it does, people die.

    I’ve often wondered why proponents of mass transit don’t use the potential drunk-driving, texting-while-driving reduction as a major point in its favor. Mass Transit – the ultimate designated driver.

  26. carlie says

    Socio-gen at 26: I’m so glad you came out of that accident with no people damage. When I was in high school, a friend of mine’s brother had a similar “look down to pick up a cassette tape” experience, but went over a median and it ended with him, the woman he hit, and her two kids in the car all dead.

    I’m not a proponent of hands-free laws – the studies I’ve seen indicate that it doesn’t really help with the attention problem. Apparently there’s something about our brains that make us require more concentration when just listening to a voice than when listening to a passenger, even though we’re not consciously looking at the passenger the whole time they’re talking.

    Older summary

    In 2001, University of Utah researchers reported that students using cell phones — hand-held or hands-free — had slower reaction times than they did when not using the devices. The researchers found that drivers using either kind of cell phone missed twice as many signals as they did when not using the phones. They later estimated that talking on a hands-free phone while driving reduces the amount of visual information that can be processed by 50 percent.

    University of Kansas psychology professor Paul Atchley, has also studied hands free technology. “Hands free devices are probably only safer under very limited circumstances. My own work uses hands-free devices, and we see reductions in attention in 20 year-old drivers that reduces their attention to the level we might see in an 85 year-old driver,” he says.

    More recent study

  27. eveningchaos says

    Werner Herzog has the ability to penetrate into his subject matter with such eloquence and style. Everything I have seen by him has elicited very emotional responses from me and my partner. We just love his emphatic narration in his lovely German accent, and I will on occasion be asked to do an impersonation of his unmistakable delivery. I especially love Cave of Forgotten Dreams. What a masterpiece!

  28. Rob Grigjanis says

    One of the reasons I gave up bicycle commuting. The odds that I would end up dead, maimed, or jailed for road-rage-related offenses were getting a bit too high.

  29. says

    Mister is back to work today, so I just emailed him a link and told him to watch the video. I insist that if he must answer his phone while driving, that he pulls over, because he seems incapable of ignoring it. I rarely even know where my cell is, and I don’t take it with me when I leave the house.

  30. says

    Caine

    Mister is back to work today, so I just emailed him a link and told him to watch the video. I insist that if he must answer his phone while driving, that he pulls over, because he seems incapable of ignoring it. I rarely even know where my cell is, and I don’t take it with me when I leave the house.

    Back in the days when my political activism was a bit more, uhm, active, Mr. would call me on the mobile and often another guy would pick up, the guy would be whoever was on the passenger seat next to me.
    People I really want to stuff their mobile into their nose: People who leave a carpark while speaking/texting.
    You’re in a fucking place that’s made for you to park, there’s no excuse for you to drive there.

  31. A. Noyd says

    People texting as they walk around the grocery store are super fucking annoying. They’re uncoordinated, inattentive and take up way more room than necessary to compensate for their tendency to bump into shit. So the idea that people would be okay texting while driving a car is just beyond ridiculous.

  32. says

    Until cell phones became common, I had no idea that so many people seem to be incapable of doing the smallest fucking thing without being glued to one. How in the hell did these people manage when everyone had a land line?

  33. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Caine @37:

    Until cell phones became common, I had no idea that so many people seem to be incapable of doing the smallest fucking thing without being glued to one. How in the hell did these people manage when everyone had a land line?

    In my experience of observing people who are like that with their cells and were old enough to have land-line habits, they were the sort of people who would call a friend to chat daily and chat for hours.

  34. says

    Esteleth:

    In my experience of observing people who are like that with their cells and were old enough to have land-line habits, they were the sort of people who would call a friend to chat daily and chat for hours.

    Yes, I get that. With landlines though, you had to be away from them to get stuff done, so obviously, said people must have been capable of getting shit done without being glued to a phone.

    I find the whole thing personally annoying, with what seems like half the world convinced that their every random thought must be texted or phoned. Oh well.

  35. A. Noyd says

    Daz (#39)

    This might gladden your heart a little.

    Oh, yes. People are terrible to shop clerks even when not on the phone, but talking or texting when they should be interacting with someone in front of them just makes them all the more dismissive. Nice to see a shop refuse to stand for that.

  36. pascale68 says

    What a powerful video. I always put my phone away when driving but I am constantly amazed at people who think they are such amazing drivers that they can text/talk while driving. I’m passing this on in the hopes it will get a few people to be more response. Thank you for sharing this.

  37. sambarge says

    PZ – I hope this makes you happy:

    I watched this video before I left for work today. It was shocking and I thought “thank goodness I don’t ever text and drive.”

    Fast forward to this afternoon and I’m driving between appointments. The text alarm on my phone starts going off and I know it’s work trying to reach me (a special sounding alarm so I know who is texting me). We’re in the middle of something at work that I won’t get into but I was sure this was news of the latest developments. I almost reached for my purse to pull out the phone as I drove. But I remembered the video, stopped myself and waited until I could pull into a parking lot and check the texts.

    There WAS an emergency at work but at least there wasn’t another on the road and, frankly, the 2 minutes it took for me to pull over, park and read & answer safely didn’t make a difference in the settlement of the workplace emergency.

    It’s easy to make this mistake and I’ve decided, from now on, the phone not only stays in my purse but the phone gets turned off while I’m driving. I can check messages when I stop. Obviously, I can’t be trusted so I have to put in my own safeguards.

    So, thanks PZ for raising my awareness and improving me today.

  38. AtheistPilgrim says

    Rorschach (10)
    In Australia, road deaths by texting have overtaken those by drunk driving, US is similar.

    The recent report on ABC Radio (1233 ABC Newcastle’s Mornings program 12 September, 2013) quoted Dr Alan Davidson, electronic law expert at the University of Queensland, as saying: ” … texting has replaced drink driving as the leading cause of accidents and deaths among American teenagers. Mobile phone use causes 3000 deaths and 330,000 injuries in the US each year, Alan says.”

    While I do not wish to diminish the absolute stupidity and culpability of texting drivers and the like, I can find no reference to this being the case in Australia, but it might well be and if it is, authorities need to do something productive about it quickly.