Fascinating animation from NPR about our apparent inability to walk (drive, swim, ski, crawl…) in a straight line.
There is apparently a profound inability in humans to stick to a straight line when blind folded… or, when there is no fixed point. No sun, no moon, no mountain top to guide them.
How this could play out in the backcountry is pretty obvious, and highlights why you really should carry a compass/map or a GPS with you at all times.
I am fond of saying something along the lines of, “How on earth can you get lost in the Adirondacks? All you have to do is walk in one direction for a few hours and you will run into a trail or a road”
Well, under certain circumstances – like on a cloudy night, or during a foggy or stormy day – it sounds like walking in one direction is just about impossible for us.
The kicker? While experiment upon experiment can validate this, scientists have no idea why it happens.
My money is on it being a survival instinct – something that was naturally selected for long ago when staying close to your camp, your tribe, your family was a matter of life and death. For example, it is not hard to imagine how this would help keep our primitive ancestors close to home… and thus safety… while out wandering for food.
The real question I have is, does this explain why I suck so bad on the slackline? Probably not, since I am not attempting that blind folded… yet!
You can read the full article here: A Mystery: Why Can’t We Walk Straight?