A recent episode of mythbusters I enjoyed recently gave me some pause for thought. Jamie and Adam applied their special treatment to the idea that people are unable to walk in a straight line while blindfolded. Being a scientifically minded man it’s difficult for me to agree they “proved” anything with a sample size of two however they did conduct compelling demonstrations in one’s ability to walk a straight line blind folded is quite limited.
Seemed quite obvious to me that this information be important in my daily life in the future. Knowing that the human vestibular system is much more limited than I had in the past assumed is very much of value to me. When I met the great outdoors find myself arriving at a place I didn’t quite intend it isn’t lack of experience that got me there, nor is it stupidity. I’ve now seen with my own eyes the traveling in a straight line without obvious visual reference absolutely requires a well thought out technique, there just isn’t any way around it.
This is of particular interest to me in the field of diving. Those who do not dive may be surprised by how much less one knows about where one is, how one got there, and how to get back, when one is traveling underwater. To complicate matters, discussing the subject of underwater navigation with seasoned divers is liable to raise the same attitudes one might counter discussing becoming lost in the woods with Northern fur trappers.
Of course the major dive training agencies do provide training in underwater navigation however the techniques that are put forth always struck me as somewhat inadequate. I’ve studied orienteering in the past and although the underwater navigation techniques are an adaptation of the same tactics they seem to fall far short of achieving the same goals.
The mythbusters recent testing would seem to support my previous opinion that the current state-of-the-art in underwater navigation is more of an art than the science your local PADI dive instructor would have you believe.