Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 11, 1976 · Page 71
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July 11, 1976

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 71

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 11, 1976
Page 71
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Page 71 article text (OCR)

Many persons fear lightning, but hot weather and dry winds cause more human damage. You and the Weather By Irwin Ross There are times when weather is the stimulus that makes you perform at a superior level that you'd never dreamed you could achieve. At other times weather bogs you down; instead of thinking clearly and logically, you plod along vaguely, too confused to follow even a simple line of reasoning. As far as temperature is concerned. You do your best mental work when the weather is cool and invigorating. ·At an Eastern university, a physiology professor decided to try a personal experiment to see how he and his fellow-workers would take to tropical heat. He picked a week during the middle of winter when work at the laboratory was going on at an energetic rate. With two of his best assistants for company, he shut himself up in the "tropics"--a room where the temperature was maintained at 90 degrees during the day and 88 at night. The men kept records that have proved valuable to other researchers in the field. They regularly checked their body temperature, blood pressure, blood volume, and so forth. Naturally the heat affected them physically, but the effect on their minds was the most startling. For the .first two days they, were sleepy, they could hardly, Stati'Ma.nfisin:-}ul\-li.'MTK .., .. all, and one man, a competent and, experienced scientist, began to make simple arithmetic errors. He didn't catch the mistakes at the time; he thought he was working at his usual level of speed and accuracy. But later, when he checked over his results, he realized what he had done. During.Viet Nam many studies were made of troops stationed in the tropics. Men who were trained to perform highly skilled and vital jobs, such as wireless telegraphy or radar watchkeeping, became dangerously inefficient as soon as they hit tropical battle areas. Nothing could be done at the time expept rotate the men fairly frequently, making certain that no one group remained long enough to deteriorate completely. One of the strangest things, investigators noted, was that even though the men admitted feeling miserable they did not realize.that they were also becoming progressively more incompetent. The psychological effects of heat closely resembled those of fatigue: a man would recognize that he didn't feel well, but he thought he was working well anyhow. The men lost their ability to think clearly and to judge their work objectively--a serious loss when lives hang in the balance. ..Seasonally, you do your best mental work in late winer, early spring, and fall, and your worst in the summer. The grades of students at colleges all over the country, show that students get their lowest marks when they take tests in the summer. If you plan to take a Civil Service exam, try to hold off until the spring or the fall; you'll have a better chance of passing then. Constant, unrelieved heat not only saps physical vitality and cripples mental ability; but also it breaks down moral judgment too. When it is very hot, we all seem to have trouble inhibiting our feelings. Apparently, we lose our normal ability to check sudden impulses, censor unconventional actions. You may feel only mildly irritable, or you may find yourself actually compelled to tell the bus driver off, shout at your neighbor, even walk out on the boss and your job. Some people lose control to such an extent that they end up in jail. Studies all over the world have shown that year after year crime rates soar upward in the spring and reach their peak in the summer. More murders are committed in the hot months of July and August than at any other time of year. There are also more acts of violence, more crimes of passion. Several years ago, an American researcher, Edwin Dexter, studied 40,000 cases of assault and battery in New York City. He found that every year for eight years the incidence of this crime increased from the coldest months, January, to the hottest month, July. In fact, the monthly crime curve and the monthly temperature curve were practically identical. There is no doubt, of course, that warm weather is more accommodating in many ways. Extreme cold is a physical obstacle to all kinds of activities, legal as well as illegal. It is one thing to incite a group of people to the point where they are ready to riot. It is quite another thing to get them actually to shoulder guns and begin marching. Rain, snow, biting cold--these are natural barriers against which man is still unwilling, and, to a great extent, unable to fight. It is possible therefore that rebel leaders have wisely chosen warm months to begin their campaigns simply because heat, unless it is extremely severe, is not so confining, so formidable, or so relentless as cold. Aside from this, it is logical to presume that revolts flourish in the hot months for the same reason that crime flourishes. People find that their resentment against oppression can no longer be hidden within themselves. They may be able to repress their hatred and anger for many months, but when summer comes their feelings literally "boil over." What was secret and suppressed becomes open and active--and so the guns go off in June or July. There is another weather tactor that acts on men's minds: the wind. Strong, cyclonic winds have been regarded with awe and terror for centuries, and it is not merely superstition that has made this so. Research done in the United States shows that generally it is a warm dry wind that stirs up trouble. Coloradoans complain that high winds are the worst weather feature of the area. They have good reason to complain. It was found that when the total daily wind movement was between 200 and 400 miles the police department was kept busy. There was a tremendous upsurge of crime, disorderliness, drunkenness, rowdyism. At the highest point, there was also an incredible increase of 400 per cent in murders. But in New York winds of the same speed do not have the same effect. New Yorkers barely notice them and if they react at all it is a purely personal matter, for there is certainly no overall sign of change in the mood and behavior of people. The difference between eastern and western winds is a matter of humidity. Eastern winds are fiercer but they are damp and moist, western winds are dry. Everyone is tense, irritable, and uneasy when dry winds blow. CHARLESTON.

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