Holistic Survival
Welcome! If this is your first time visiting Jason Hartman's website, please read this page to learn more about what we do here. You may also be interested in receiving updates from our podcast via RSS or via email if you prefer. If you have any questions about financial survival feel free to contact us anytime! Thanks!

We really do walk in circles when lost.

Bookmark and Share

It turns out that it’s not all a figment of Hollywood’s imagination. Humans really do tend to walk in big circles when we’re lost, and eventually cross our own tracks and double back on ourselves.

Why do we care about this at HolisticSurvival.com?

What if you’re lost in the woods or displaced by national emergency into unfamiliar territory? The evidence suggests that unless you have a fixed point of reference like the sun, moon, or a tower or mountain in the distance, you’re probably going to wander around in a generally circular pattern. This tends to inhibit progress. The human brain needs an absolute reference point.

A previous explanation for this observed trait was that one leg was slightly shorter than the other and that caused the circular walking. Several recent studies conducted by German scientists seem to disprove this idea. During one, researchers took several subjects into the Bienwald Forest and asked them to walk as straight a line as possible while a GPS device monitored and mapped their progress. Four walked on a cloudy day and two during sunshine.

The four volunteers walking under cloud cover all ended up moving in circles. The sunshine volunteers were able to walk a generally straight line except during 15 minutes of cloud cover when they, you guessed it, reverted to circle walking. Can the success of the straight walkers be tied to the mostly absolute reference of the sun? Maybe. More research is taking place right now.

The lesson we can take from this as modern survivalists is to use a small pocket compass to stay on track if you anticipate being in unfamiliar territory, perhaps of a slightly higher quality than one found in a Cracker Jack’s box. Don’t rely on your brain to keep you walking in a straight line.

The Holistic Survival Team