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Two days in an underwater cave running out of oxygen (bbc.com)
501 points by Luc on July 17, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 299 comments



When you're learning to cave dive, one of the first things that you learn is that you may very well die in there.

Most of the training focuses on systems, skills repetition, and understanding and using redundant systems - folks getting into cave diving typically are already extremely experienced divers who if anything need only some minor skill tweaks - most cave instructors will not take on students who don't already have significant open water technical diving experience (multiple tanks, mixed gas, rebreathers, decompression, wreck, etc).

A running joke is that the lost line drill (where you're placed intentionally off of the guide line and have to find it without a mask/light/visibility) is the most punctual cave task you'll ever do - you have the rest of your life to get it right.

Here's a few good books on it (non-affiliate links):

Caverns Measureless to Man by Sheck Exley (the father of cave diving): https://www.amazon.com/Caverns-Measureless-Man-Sheck-Exley/d...

The Darkness Beckons by Martyn Farr: https://www.amazon.com/Darkness-Beckons-History-Development-...

Beyond the Deep by Bill Stone (the Tony Stark of cave diving): https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Deep-Deadly-Descent-Treacherou...

The Cenotes of the Riviera Maya by Steve Gerrard (patron saint / mapper of Yucatan caves): https://www.amazon.com/Cenotes-Riviera-Maya-2016/dp/16821340... This is more of a map and explanatory notes but gives great insight into the complexity of it. Currently there are 2 systems that almost all cenotes are part of in the Yucatan, and there's some really interesting work going on trying to link the two. Current work is going on at about 180m depth through a number of rooms at the back of "The Pit", and there are multi-day expeditions going on trying to find the linkage.


I would recommend this well written article: https://www.outsideonline.com/1922711/raising-dead

It's the story about the diver David Shaw and his attempt to recover the body of diver Deon Dreyer in one of the deepest sweetwater caves on earth. A bit of a read but well worth it.


This is not cave diving, though. It's a very deep sinkhole, but with a clear path to the surface. The risks in these dives are related to extreme depth, not to the overhead environment.

That said, it's a terrific article.


This American Life had an episode on this called No Man Left Behind :

https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/515/...


I'll add one tiny point to your very well documented answer: another skill you learn for cave diving is to control your kick to avoid raising stilt.

This is particularly relevant since the stilt obscuring the cave is precisely what led to the incident described in this article. It's not clear it happened because the divers were careless or despite them, but I thought it would be worth pointing out to non divers that one of the many things you learn while studying for cave diving is how to occupy a lot less space while swimming than you're used to.


The article says that the stilt raised as they found each other abruptly, losing the guide as well.


I'd also like to add "The Last Dive" by Bernie Chowdury - https://www.amazon.com/Last-Dive-Father-Descent-Oceans/dp/00...



I have a bad book hoarding habit yet these one will probably never reach my house. :)


Cave diving is one of those things that I am happy to only experience vicariously through the stories of others.


Or you can watch Youtube vids like this :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtlwoX1YEmg

This has got to be the scariest video on Youtube in which no harm comes to anyone.


> This has got to be the scariest video on Youtube in which no harm comes to anyone.

Off topic, but here is a viable contender: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFMHjDqHL_Y

There are videos of higher towers, but I believe that this video is the most thoroughly annotated one.


That's a real classic! A not as high, but way more reckless version is this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFUcxnvAeMc Guaranteed to induce acrophobia.


I really hope that guy practiced repressing the instinct to lunge at a bad throw when juggling. Extremely rare occurrence with such a simple pattern, but ooph!

I feel like any of Alex Honnold's ropeless climbs deserves a link too, for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Phl82D57P58


> A not as high, but way more reckless version

I expected to see these guys:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY2-l3aWCTA


Wow... they must really have to time these service trips with the weather... You'd be so exposed...

Also surprising is the apparent lack of safety... the carabiners / clips just loosely hang around the occasional rung and are often completely unattached... I wouldn't trust that if he fell the clip would hold him.


That video gives me physical discomfort in my balls. I wonder what the evolutionary explanation for that symptom is?!


To anyone who suffers from claustrophobia:

skip this one :)


Why would anyone do that?!


Adrenaline is a powerful endogenous drug...


They enjoy it.


Not claustrophobic safe.


If I got an urge to map caves as a hobby ... I'd rather design robots to do it. At least that way failures aren't fatal.


That's Bill Stone's entire reason for existing these days - check these out:

http://stoneaerospace.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DEPTHX

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENDURANCE


I couldn't make it very far into the article. I enjoy open-water diving but cave diving induces way too much claustrophobia.


Did a sensory deprivation tank for the first time a few weeks ago. An hour was tough. Hard to imagine 60, with the added doubt of "you may never get out of here."


I find "sensory deprivation tanks" (aka "floatation tanks") to be rather relaxing, and would have no problem spending many hours inside.

Now, being in a cold cave with a dangerous CO2/O2 ratio, exhausted, suffering from hypothermia and fearing for my life.. that doesn't sound like so much fun.


> He realised the water at the surface of the lake was drinkable

Can someone explain this phenomena? How can the water in a sea-cave become potable?


I'm not familiar with Mallorca's hydrogeology, but I've done some cenote (cavern) diving in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. The caves are inland, but sea water infiltrates through the porous and channel-filled rock. The water nearer the surface is rainwater.

The narrow region where freshwater and seawater intermingle is called the halocline, it creates a cool optical distortion which reminds me of the "oil paint" filter in photoshop.


This probably is a stupid question, but wouldn't the salty seawater be lighter than the rain water, and thus be at the surface ?


Salty water is quite literally more dense than fresh water. Average seawater is 1025 kg/m^3, pure water is nominally 1000 kg/m^3.

Somewhat related video: dense brine that doesn't freeze in Arctic sea ice sinks rapidly through liquid seawater below

https://youtu.be/WyWn1XJ9kTE


Oh geez, you're absolutely right, I don't know what I was thinking. I probably needed my morning coffee.


It's OK, stingrays like you aren't expected to know about polar regions and super cold water.


Water can stratify if the layers have different temperature, salinity, or change in density from other causes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halocline

If there is no convection or wave-action to mix the saltwater with the fresh, they can coexist in the same vessel, with very slow diffusion of salt into the fresh layer. If the fresh layer is refreshed by rainfall or fresh outflows of groundwater, the top may always be drinkable, even as the bottom is not.


Fresh water is less dense than salt water, so perhaps fresh water seeped through rocks from above and didn't mix with the sea water.


pretty sure it was inland cave, so not sure why the water should not be drinkable and how is it surprising

they mention the caves where flooded 60000 years ago, which is long time ago to replace all the original sea water with fresh water from other sources

or maybe it's condensated water from walls of cave creating layer on top, though not sure how would that work


I'm quite surprised at the detail that the rescuers attempted to drill into the cave from above in order to provide supplies .. is anyone familiar with the depth of the cave pocket? This seems like a surprising choice to make given the logistics - but I guess a safer one, in the end .. assuming one has a drill system available and the depth is not too great.


to follow up on depth (not just from a difficulty point of view), if care isn't taken - i'd assume that once there's a pathway to the surface, the water pressure would push the air out and drown him.

I also assume they're experts who know what they're doing, but at the same time, I guess there'd be too many unknown unless there was some established air-tight drilling technique specifically for this type of scenario?


The description is of an inland site, above sea level. It's a natural air pocket, so already has a connection to air at ground level (although with limited air-exchange). Drilling through wouldn't significantly change the air-pressure differential, just increase the capacity to exchange exhausted air for fresh air.


To be honest, its a fascinating scenario which leaves many questions. I'm going to have to ask my geology friends if there is such a thing as an air-tight drilling technique that would not have resulted in the scenario you describe - google-fu doesn't seem to produce results - but I imagine there might be some sort of air-tight sleeve that can be used at the head of the shaft, which may as well be rather thin diameter for this scenario, after all ..

What I'm curious about is whether these cave-divers used this procedure, because they were prepared for it in some capacity. I mean, they managed to start - and then abandon - the idea, in a few hours.


A lot of us cave divers work in other areas as well - I'm an engineer in Oil & Gas - a lot of other folks I know are either scientists or engineers. This sort of activity appeals to us for some reason.

You described a blowout preventer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blowout_preventer) by the way :)

Many cave systems are quite shallow, and while I don't know the details on the one there in Mallorca, by the size of what's described it was probably above the water table even though there likely wasn't a free-air connection to the surface.


Thanks for the BOP reference. :)

Terrific balls, you cave-divers! Definitely not for me .. though the stories do delight, and sometimes .. terrify.


Does anyone know any more detail about their plan to drill down to him - and is similar rescues have been preformed this way? I'd be interested if the air he was breathing was 'trapped' and if drilling down would release it, and drown him, or if the air had a slow route in and out of the pocket he was in. Fascinating stuff.


I might be speaking out of line, but taking on these kinds of risks with young children at home seems kind of selfish. The fact that he went back into the same cave that nearly killed him only a month later...almost as if to say:

"I would rather my kids grow up without a Dad than live without my adrenaline fix"

I am neither a father or a cave diver though, so I might be missing a piece of the puzzle. Would either groups of people care to comment?


Or maybe what he's saying is, "I would rather my kids learn that they should explore and enjoy the world, rather than never take any big risks."

There are a lot of parents in the world. Once you start judging them (for actions other than abuse and neglect), you very quickly realize how limiting that is. Do we need to look down upon astronauts who have children? What about pilots? People who travel for work for days or weeks at a time? Someone who commutes an hour to work each way in a car that has a poor safety rating?

The good news is that once you become a father, you'll get to decide (possibly with a partner) what the acceptable level of risk is for you and your family.


Given the choice of having a father at home or have one dead in cave but famous for exploring cool places I don't think it's hard to guess what most children would pick.

> The good news is that once you become a father, you'll get to decide (possibly with a partner) what the acceptable level of risk is for you and your family.

That's a obvious. What I think is being questioned is if they made a good decision. In other I can freely decide not to strap my kid in a car seat but that doesn't mean I won't get a ticket or my child won't be seriously injured or worse in a car accident.


> Given the choice of having a father at home or have one dead in cave but famous for exploring cool places I don't think it's hard to guess what most children would pick.

In all seriousness, I do have a hard time guessing which one most children would pick. I can see reasonable arguments made on either side. Personally, I think it would be far more inspiring to have a father who died pursuing his passion, then one who gave it up to stay at home.


My father died when I was 8 and I know a number of others who lost a parent as a child and, while I know this is anecdotal, every single one would rather have their parent. Every single one would rather have a dead-beat (but not abusive, I imagine that would change the equation) dad over no dad.

Also, from the article: "My children don't like it much but they don't tell me not to do it"


> Every single one would rather have a dead-beat (but not abusive, I imagine that would change the equation) dad over no dad.

This is demonstrably untrue in my social network. Just in my own friend group I know a handful of folks who would much rather their father simply didn't exist, rather than having this effectively random person they now owe some supposed family obligation to. Basically they got all the responsibilities of having a father, and none of the benefit.


> This is demonstrably untrue in my social network.

I don't know what problems your network face, so I'm not judging, but in my own experience, people who haven't lost a parent sometimes think that maybe they'd be better off. I'm sure there are plenty of cases where this is actually true and I can see why having someone who you're meant to care about but who is essentially a stranger isn't a particularly nice thing, but at the same time, having grown up without a father, I and those I know who lost a parent, would rather have someone than not have someone. Maybe its a "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" kind of thing (or maybe those people in your network really do have shitty family).


If you just asked them, in all their ignorance, you're undoubtedly right. If you asked the children who chose the adventurous dad after he had died pursuing his passion, nearly 100% would trade the world to reverse that choice.


The 'choice' isn't between "dull and alive" and "adventurous and dead", but between "dull, 99.9% chance of living to an old age" and "adventurous, 95% chance of living to an old age" (actual percentages for illustration only)

I think many kids, especially those with an adventurous mom/dad, would think "my mom/dad is strong and knows what he is doing, so (s)he won't be in that 5%"


The top-GP didn't say "adventurous", they said chasing "adrenaline fix". You can be adventurous without exposing yourself to fatal danger (and you can be an adrenaline fix chaser and be a really, really dull person to be around).

> I think many kids, especially those with an adventurous mom/dad, would think "my mom/dad is strong and knows what he is doing, so (s)he won't be in that 5%"

Not this guy's:

> "My children don't like it much but they don't tell me not to do it," he says.


Most adults don't really understand how likely 5% is. You're ascribing a level of mathematical sophistication and risk assessment to children that they simply don't possess -- not even close.


Your hypothetical survey method has a literal survivorship bias (and a statistical one...you're not asking the children of parents that took risks and didn't die). Looking at risk the way you're looking at it is a recipe for wasting your life. The better way to think of it is like the way that poker players look at their decision making...don't be outcome oriented. There's a logical, statistical way to do this and it's called the micromort. 1 micromort equates to a 1 in 1 million chance of death. Each activity that has been engaged in widely enough to be measured will have a micromort value and, while the math is a bit more complicated, they mostly just add up. Just because he engages in an exotic activity that carries some risk, doesn't mean he's being reckless.

Put another way, would you say a father that chooses to drive a 2 hour commute (each way) per day is being reckless? No doubt you can find countless children who lost a parent in an auto accident who would tell you they would have wanted their father to have a shorter commute and still be with them. But since driving is a familiar activity, no one questions the risk that someone is incurring with that kind of decision. And yet that 2-hours to work and 2-hours back drive is, based on the stats that I've been able to find, around 1 micromort. Over the course of a year, that adds up to around 200 micromorts, or roughly 1/5000 chance of dying. I can't find the data on cave diving, which is no doubt higher than recreational diving, but SCUBA has a value of 5 micromorts per dive, so it's roughly equivalent to driving 1250 miles on a highway. Someone doing 40 dives per year is taking on roughly the same risk as that 50,000 mi/year driver.

Humans are really bad about estimating risk. We do it by equating risk to the ease in which we can imagine something happening. It's why so many people are afraid of statistically safe activities like air travel while underestimating much more serious dangers. We need a framework, like micromorts, for thinking about risk logically to better determine what amount of risk to take on and then "spend" that risk budget in whatever way helps us get the most out of life. Parents can say, "I'd like a 90% chance of being alive when my kids turn 10, a 75% chance of being alive when they turn 18 and a 50% chance of being alive when they turn 30." Once you've decided on a risk threshold, you can work backwards to determine how many micromorts you're allowed to take on each year.

Otherwise, you're just living your life based on irrational fears.


This reads like the most sophistic argument to the point he was trying to make. The diver was a cave diver, not a regular scuba diver. It's very different and notoriously risky. He almost died in the same cave previously. His point was well taken.

It doesn't mean that being risk averse is the right way to live. It's a fair point and a good thing to consider when you are a parent. That's all.


>He almost died in the same cave previously.

While I get the emotional impact of this, it really shouldn't be an argument either way once you begin using some framework to judge decisions.

Think of it this way, if I nearly died in a car wreck on the way to work, would it be fine for me to never get in a car again? I almost died doing that once!

It would make more sense to determine the risk. That he already nearly died doesn't really change the risk profile. Cave diving is extremely risky. That should be the important factor. Having nearly died should not.


I agree. In USA you are looking at 34,000 deaths a year on the roads. I'm a diver (not caves though) but my closest shaves have been while commuting! Cycling to work is probably more dangerous than cave diving.


> Put another way, would you say a father that chooses to drive a 2 hour commute (each way) per day is being reckless?

This question appears rhetorical (with an intended answer of "no"), but I absolutely think such a risk should be considered, whether or not you're a parent. The higher-order bits here are probably the time you're wasting with 100% probability, perhaps the increased life satisfaction of a great job, etc, but the p% additional chance you die in a car crash, as you said, is non-trivial, and even though I know very people incorporate such thinking into their decision making, I think they should.


> micromort

Today I learned this.


That's an inherently biased question, because they've already suffered the loss, and so would've chosen not to suffer it given the chance.

The same thing (but reverse) with asking children whose fathers didn't go on an adventure and see if they would've preferred a more adventurous father!


I'm sorry, but this is a kind of clever sophistry that is absurd in the face of lived experience...

> The same thing (but reverse) with asking children whose fathers didn't go on an adventure and see if they would've preferred a more adventurous father!

Yes, each child only knows one half of the story, as it were. But the knowledge imbalance is not symmetrical. The child whose father has died understands boredom and dissatisfaction in other ways... perhaps his mother is boring, or sometimes nags him, and even his adventurous (now dead) father surely disappointed him sometimes, and so on.

The child who has not experienced death really has no idea what that suffering is like. It's just utterly callow to think his opinion has equal weight.


While, as a father, I instinctively hate your answer, it is a very good point that helped me see beyond my previous horizon, thanks for that!


Personally I would feel very selfish if I asked my dad to give up his passion in life just so I know there would be a slightly greater chance of him being safe. Especially if two years later he died of cancer or something. We all die.


Depends on the kid, their age and their relationship with their father. I don't think there is any right generalized answer.

With my kids I know they would rather have me around, but they are young so I'm already "superman" to them. Who knows how our relationship will change as they grow older.


As they go through their teenage years you will get stupider and lamer in their eyes. Then sometime after they move out they will realize that you are actually quite intelligent and will, at some point, apologize for being an ass and tell you that they are proud of you. At least that was my experience with my parents and has been my experience with my kids so far.


“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” - Mark Twain


Again, that is a generalization. Being a father doesn't automatically make a person intelligent or good.


Whenever we ask children what they want from their families they always say they want to spend more time with their parents.


> always

Except for those who hate their guts. Or those who distrust them. Or those who are bored by their lifestyle, possibly relevant to this topic.


> Given the choice of having a father at home or have one dead in cave but famous for exploring cool places I don't think it's hard to guess what most children would pick.

Not that it necessarily changes the argument, but the "choice" is probabilistic. That is, it isn't father at home vs. dead, but "probably boring dad but most likely alive" vs. "maybe famous dad but some chance of death".


That doesn't sound right. How many cave-going dads are there that you could make the claim? And do a majority of kids believe their fathers are boring? I just don't buy it. And is taking a risk like this the best way to be "not boring?" Definitely don't buy it.

You can have fun and be adventurous without taking heavy risks. It's fair to say that someone who continues to put himself at harm is foolish in one capacity or another.


I think the grandfather post is mainly saying that not thinking this through a lense of risk and reward, that can end up giving kids some good outcome is an error (and for sure having a happy father IS better than a depressive one, so if the cave diving risk is sufficiently low, then it makes sense to do it). This line of thought is also probably similar to what that guy thought (to think it is worth the risk to live like that). In that case, you have a slope of risk that starts reasonably and ends up unacceptable, but where you can't easily pinpoint where to draw the line.

Whether you "buy" the simple causal graph that he used as an example is a minor point.


I don't think it is possible in the literal sense to have adventure without risk.


Maybe it depends on your definition of adventure or risk. I went to an escape room recently for the first time. I considered that to be an adventure for me. But I never felt like I was taking a risk.


The risk may be: waste of time, inconvenience, being stuck in an awkward social situation. Not always death.

I'd say taking a sabatical, walking the country asking strangers personal or "deep" questions is an adventure and a risky one, yet you don't risk your life more than by just commuting to work.

I guess risks depend on the country, but are comparable.


You are assuming he is a good father. Capacity to reproduce in no way whatsoever guarantees that one is any good with kids.


It turns out there's lots of ways of exploring the world that don't put you in imminent danger.


There's also the mundane question of money. Unless you're already rich, raising a child alone is hard in many counts already; having your income halved does not help.


That is why many people have life insurance. It's probably not common in large parts of the world, and requires a certain income level to pay for, but it can make a situation where a parent dies a lot easier to cope with, at least the financial worries go away, or at least are delayed.

In my country (New Zealand) we have a government run, compulsory, insurance scheme for accidents and death. If you die by accident then your family gets a payout based on a percentage of your (former) income.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accident_Compensation_Corporat...

We don't have the right to sue for accidents, relying on ACC for compensation.


When does the risk increase to a point where it becomes suicide and the insurance doesn't pay out?


Most life insurance policies in the US do pay out for suicide, typically after 12-24 months.


Why should it matter whether it was suicide or not?

"Heh, I'm going to kill myself so I don't have to work to support my family and they can have insurance money instead" is not a thought many people would have.


I think the better way to word this is likely "having your primary support halved does not help". It's likely to forestall the obvious insurance rebuttal by not specifically tying itself to financial concerns, as emotional and educational support are at least as important, if not more so, in my opinion.


> having your primary support halved

That's assuming a two parent income. What if one parent stays home with the children instead of working? Yes, you can get insurance. No, it doesn't replace a lost parent.


> That's assuming a two parent income.

No, it's specifically worded to not be just about income. That was the point of rewording it as "support".


It's kind of the same in reverse - does a parent encourage their children to embrace a risky sport/activity (karting, skiing, diving etc.) or keep them in the safety of home for fear of accident or death? We wouldn't have F1 or IndyCar drivers, ski jumpers, etc. if all parents were too protective. It's difficult to find the right balance and to give a perfect recipe and it would be impossible to eliminate all risk.


> Once you start judging them (for actions other than abuse and neglect), you very quickly realize how limiting that is.

"Judging" is a bit of an overloaded term. I don't think it's OK to call someone human trash for having a risky hobby.

I do think people can say, "You're better than this. Make better choices."

One version is dehumanizing someone for their behavior. The other is (when phrased well) constructive criticism.


Yep. Good or bad, profitable life lessons or not, this is indeed the definition of selfishness.


I think the complaint was that the parent had a young child, not merely a child.

Without actually taking a stance on the topic, it seems quite a reasonable argument that, while you have a young child, you shouldn't actively go around risking your life -- they're your dependents, i.e. it's not just your life you're messing around with. When they stop being your dependents, do whatever you want, it's just your life now (and I guess your spouse's, who is presumably fine with what you do).


My brother did a fair amount of mountain climbing in his 20s, but stopped around the time he had kids. He specifically said "I don't want to go again until they're old enough to remember me." Done properly, the risks are limited, but they do exist no matter how careful you are.

Now he's hit about that right time and I don't know if he even still has the desire. Age changes a lot of that. Still, it does seem like he made the responsible choice to me.


"It's amazing how much mature wisdom resembles being too tired." --Lazarus Long (i.e. Heinlein, though it's arguable if everything LL says is Heinlein speaking)

I'm not certain if this is an argument for or against, given how much I'm in the same "too tired" boat.


Call my a cynic, but it seems like some people try to pass off their tiredness as wisdom in itself.


Since I had kids, I haven't gone climbing natural rock. I still go to climbing gyms (mostly to boulder these days, for unrelated reasons), but not outside.

I've discovered that I now get too fearful while climbing, too scared something bad might happen and I'd leave my children without me in the world.

It breaks my concentration, makes my actions erratic, and most crucially, makes me not enjoy it.

Who knows how I'll feel once they're older, but I suspect it won't ever change back. And that's OK.


> it seems quite a reasonable argument that, while you have a young child, you shouldn't actively go around risking your life -- they're your dependents

That's an argument for having life insurance; it's not necessarily an argument for not taking risks.


Money is not the only thing a father needs to be around to provide to his kids, at least not in a desirable case.

And yes, I know many cases are a lot less than desirable.

(When did people start to think money is a good substitute for everything?)


> Money is not the only thing a father needs to be around to provide to his kids

I didn't say it was. See my response to wfunction.


There is no argument for taking risk but for necessity and reward.


There are a lot of people that would disagree with that. You could say the same thing about a lot of things that enrich your life.


>> it seems quite a reasonable argument that, while you have a young child, you shouldn't actively go around risking your life -- they're your dependents

> That's an argument for having life insurance; it's not necessarily an argument for not taking risks.

Yeah, because fathers can be replaced with money and children wouldn't feel a thing.


That's a bit out of order.

You clearly have a belief system which is risk adverse and that's fine but i find it a little judgemental on other people's family lives to be saying what's reasonable and not reasonable to do as a father.


> You clearly have a belief system which is risk adverse and that's fine but i find it a little judgemental on other people's family lives to be saying what's reasonable and not reasonable to do as a father.

Well, I'm not the one who said what the father did was unreasonable, so you might have meant to reply to someone else. I merely said I thought the argument provided for that stance was reasonable. Happy to say the same about an argument for the opposite stance as well when I see it too. The fact that I might find an argument reasonable that doesn't mean I find it convincing and necessarily agree with the conclusion.


"You clearly have a belief system which is risk adverse"

No, the poster you're responding to does not 'clearly' have that. That's your opinion, and nothing more.


> because fathers can be replaced with money and children wouldn't feel a thing.

That's not what I said. What I said was that it's not necessarily an argument for not taking risks. You have to balance the risk against the potential cost. That is perfectly compatible with there being a cost that can't be made good with money. And it's also perfectly compatible with minimizing the cost--yes, you can't replace a father with money, but you can make the impact as bearable as possible by ensuring that money is not a problem.


> That's not what I said.

Says the guy who translated "actively go around risking your life" into "taking risks"?


What's the difference?


Your life being the thing on the line.


Since I talked about life insurance, obviously I'm talking about cases where your life is on the line. So does that mean you should never do anything that might get you killed if you have children? Even if you have life insurance?


>So does that mean you should never do anything that might get you killed if you have children?

You should probably avoid things that cause life insurance rates to jump up. That's a good barometer for excessive risk.

>Even if you have life insurance?

Parents and money are not substitute goods. Life insurance is helpful for financial security, but it doesn't account for the detriment to being raised by a single parent.


> You should probably avoid things that cause life insurance rates to jump up. That's a good barometer for excessive risk.

That's at least a reasonable criterion. I would be interested to see data on the impact of cave diving on life insurance rates.

> Parents and money are not substitute goods.

I already agreed with that upthread.


That's more valuably left as an exercise for the reader.


In other words, you're unwilling to back up what you say.


Yeah, because I realized it's useless. Thankfully others seem to be doing it anyway. Or perhaps I should say sadly, knowing they're just feeding a troll.


Dying at your hobby is #1 form of neglect, partly mitigated only if you've set up quite an insurance payout.


> rather than never take any big risks

With kids at home? specifically?!

There are ways to enjoy life, or take "risks", that do not involve mortal danger.

> Do we need to look down upon astronauts who have children? What about pilots? .. Someone who commutes .. in a car that has a poor safety rating?

Are those as dangerous? If so, then yes, I think so.

> People who travel for work for days or weeks at a time?

People agonise about this all the time. But seeing the kids not very often is very different from dying and never seeing them again.

> The good news is that once you become a father, you'll get to decide (possibly with a partner) what the acceptable level of risk is for you and your family.

Oh, great. Does that mean we should also stop judging people about abuse and neglect too? I mean, fuck other peoples kids, right?


> There are ways to enjoy life, or take "risks", that do not involve mortal danger.

Depends on how you look at it.

We are fragile creatures and the world is a fairly dangerous place. People die every day driving cars, riding bikes, going for walks—doing things far more mundane than cave-diving.


I meant taking a risk on a new vacation, or relationship.. But when it comes to mortality, it depends.

If taking a walk is as dangerous as cave diving - then yes, I'd consider moving.

If you want to reduce the risks in riding a motorcycle, you can drive slower, in dry conditions during the day. I'm not sure exploring uncharted underwater caves is the slow lane..


Yeah, except it's kinda hard to find jobs/stores/daily-places-that-you-need-to-go that don't require transportation on the road, but it's kind of easy to find jobs/stores that don't require going into underwater caves or jumping off cliffs/airplanes or the like. If only one out of thousands of people ever needed to drive on the road, we'd probably criticize them too. The entire argument is so ridiculous that I can't even believe I have to lay it out like this.


Order groceries delivered to your home, and work remotely?


Are you serious?


Just pointing out that it's feasible if you want to minimize transport related risk. Minimizing risk leads to a restricted life.


what are the actual measured chances of dying at these various activities?


Taken to the extreme, your suggestion would be to never drive a car (or indeed go anywhere near a public road), as that is one of the most dangerous things we do every day. Travelling for a holiday would be a definite no-no, as it's likely more dangerous than staying at home. And so on and so forth.


> Taken to the extreme

True, so let's not take to the extreme. Risk-adversion is a quantitative, not qualitative, practise.

I'm not saying minimising risk is the only goal in life, but avoiding very high risks is - do you think cave diving is no riskier than driving a car on the motorway?


In that case, we have to define "very high risks" - is it literally just anything more dangerous than driving? if so, why do we stop at driving, why couldn't we be safer? - and then compare "number of cave divers" vs "number of deaths", and then figure out the subcategories of cave divers who're most likely to die and figure out whether this theoretical person falls into them, and so on and so forth.

Taking a specific incident and combining it with "that sounds dangerous" is not likely to come up with anything meaningful.


Well, that was an example, not a proposal to an official risk limit.

But maybe - you'd need a proper analysis of the relative risk. Isn't that done with cars/driving? All sorts of vehicle legislation may be driven (npi) by driving incident data / risk analysis.

> Taking a specific incident and combining it with "that sounds dangerous"

I'm not. I think it sounds dangerous before this specific incident. But you are right - a meaningful, proper analysis would be appropriate. I'm not saying my suggestion is enough, I am saying, maybe something formal would be appropriate.


> a meaningful, proper analysis would be appropriate

Maybe you should just base it on what a given repetitive activity does to your life insurance premiums.


http://www.insuranceclarity.com/life/life-insurance-extreme-...

OP is between "extra premium" and "cannot get coverage"


This is a pet peeve as a climber. The article lists "free climbing" as something that an insurer might refuse to cover. This is most likely incorrect, as the immediately preceding section suggests it would cost you an extra $1500 a year if you engage in rock climbing.

The bit that's incorrect here is that "free climbing" encompasses many forms of rock climbing. "Free" in the context of "free climbing" means that vertical progress is made solely by climbing the rock itself.

This is as compared to "aid climbing", wherein vertical progress may be made by affixing some form of gear to the rock, and climbing said gear, or something attached to it.

The article most likely means that if you free solo, you're uninsurable. Solo in this case meaning, without a partner to catch your falls.

E.T.A. Note also the existence of "aid soloing", and "rope soloing", both of which are done without a partner, but with varying degrees of gear in place to catch you should you fall.

Also note that absent the qualification of "soloing", rock climbing is generally understood among climbers to mean the kind that is done with a partner and a rope. Among climbers, bouldering is understood to include climbing routes of low height ("problems") without the protection of a rope, but generally with the protection of a crash pad (big foam thing to land on).


Anything taken to the extreme is stupid. What's the point exactly ?


The point is mostly to show that we consider a lot of things "safe" that are actually really dangerous. We then do those things with absolutely no regard to the people around us. But as soon as someone does something different that's dangerous to pretty much any degree, people start to care. It makes no sense.


Not driving a car is good advice for other reasons.


I lost my father at 15 to his work. He had a relatively dangerous job, made a mistake, and it killed him.

This was 4 years after I lost my mother doing something she was passionate about.

I can tell you in no uncertain terms that losing both parents before you turn 16 is no walk in the park. But I managed, I survived, and now work in a field that often touches both of the things that killed my parents and I have a bit of a desire to 'conquer' the things that took them.

I wish they both were here today, but I do not wish they hadn't done the things they had done. Even as a kid I held no ill will toward either of them. I'm glad my mother got to do what she wanted, and I wouldn't be where I am now if it weren't for my father's line of work.

I am not a biological father and I have gone cavern diving. While it's not okay to be reckless and disregard all safety, as a child of parents who passed doing unnecessarily dangerous things, I can say that I have never wished that they had not done those things that they wanted or felt necessary to do. I only wish that I had made better use of my time with them.


Sorry to hear about that though I'm glad you're doing ok, may I ask if it's not intruding what their professions were?


"I would rather my kids grow up without a Dad than live without my adrenaline fix"

I am neither a father or a cave diver though, so I might be missing a piece of the puzzle. Would either groups of people care to comment?

It is easy to assume that this is the entire picture, but this likely is not true. Perhaps if he were not a cave diver, he would be an alcoholic or a drug addict or beat his kids. We don't know and even if the author does, he likely would not share such information. The world would absolutely not be more supportive of his choices if he tried to justify them with "It's either this or (something far worse)."

If he is actually an adrenaline junkie, this is a matter of brain wiring. It is not a choice. When you are born with something like that, the best you can do is try to channel it as constructively as possible instead of letting it lead to trouble.

There are plenty of people in the world who are criminals, alcoholics, addicts, shit-stirrers of some sort and various other bad things. Adrenaline junkies are sometimes firefighters, EMTs, or soldiers. Those who can't be those things have hobbies like this.

I am a parent. In fact, I was a homemaker and full time mom for a lot of years. I have special needs kids who still live with me, even though they are both adults. I am generally interpreted by the world as a very devoted mother, which is generally accurate.

But I learned long ago that I need to make sure to get my own needs met. I can't live for my kids alone. Doing that goes bad places. I can't be a good parent if I don't first deal with what the woman in the mirror needs to get through the damn day without going ballistic.

I don't need an adrenaline fix and I am not a cave diver. But we all need different things and that metric generalizes. I have seen lots of parents do terrible things because they failed to "put their own oxygen mask on first."


I really liked this: 'I have seen lots of parents do terrible things because they failed to "put their own oxygen mask on first."'

Thanks for writing that!


To take this tangent even further afield...

Here's an actual real life demonstration of why you should put your oxygen mask on first: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUfF2MTnqAw


This is one of my favorite Youtube videos and I'm not entirely sure why. Worth a watch, especially if the topic interests you.


i think its a nice feature to pass out unconsiously during a high alt plane emergergency where u are about to die.


With the proper training and experience, this is an academically rewarding sport / hobby, and is quite safe - still less so than normal open water diving but not the death trap that it seems. The NSS-CDS (http://nsscds.org) keeps accident analysis articles on hand (only seems like older ones are available on the website right now, dead tree is still the boss in this arena) covering these.

Similarly though, there's a trough in the safety numbers where folks between about 100 and 1000 hours seem to be involved in most accidents.

I'm not sure if I'll keep this up if/when I have children, but that's something I'll have to wrestle with when it comes. I have a number of friends who've retired from caving until their kids are teenagers or permanently now that they are fathers & mothers.


A similar trough exists in general aviation—accident rates are markedly higher for somewhat experienced pilots than for beginners. The consensus among pilots seems to be that you are most dangerous between the time you think you know what you're doing, and the time you survive your first big scare.

There's probably a good lesson here for computer programmers...


> There's probably a good lesson here for computer programmers...

That sounds like a great Ask HN topic[1].

1. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14792764


I seem to remember hearing the same about drivers. Might have been for my country (Germany) specifically, where the minimum age for a license 18. If you get your license at 16, you're still in the upwards swing on risk-taking behaviour, which might drown out all other statistical signals.


Yes, the most dangerous drivers tend not to be the ones who just got their license, as they usually still adapt and don't drive too fast. It becomes dangerous after a few months or 1-2 years when a driver feels confident enough even though he still has very little experience.


I disagree here. You're dangerous until you know you know what you're doing. Having a bad scare might make you not repeat that situation, but you're still just as dumb after it as you were before (well, at least that's been true for me).


You can disagree, but I'm talking about an objective phenomenon.

https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Zone-Second-How-Pilots/dp/007...


> when they leave their instructors behind and fly as pilot in command for the first time

This is very different. If an instructor is present the danger is clearly lower. The book deals with the phase where pilots first fly alone without external help.


Read the book and you'll see that the spike comes after the first few dozen flights without an instructor present (from 100 to 350 hours of flight time). I believe you're quoting the blurb, which doesn't reflect what's actually in the book.


There are also a number of facebook groups for accident discussion, analysis, and learning that are kept pretty civil and are usually good resources. There's some pretty interesting chatter about this incident in them right now.

Turns out a large boulder shifted and cut their guide line (and significantly obstructed the route out) which led to this - there's no amount of planning that would've prevented that.


It is not really that risky. It was just an unfortunate accident. It is probably way riskier to practice road cycling or breathing air in a big city(because of diesel particles pollution).

This man has been doing this for 24 years, if something diving today with him is safer because of the experience he got.

There are extremely risky sports like B.A.S.E, jumpsuit skydiving or freestyle motorbike stunt. This is not that risky.

I have seen a lot of people die in their 50s of cancer after smoking 3 packs a day. You don't see people around telling smokers: You have children, you should not take risks like this.

Even working too much could be riskier than diving caves. A fried of mine is quadriplegic because he felt sleep in the car for working too much.


> You don't see people around telling smokers: You have children, you should not take risks like this.

Not exactly true.

If you are in the US in a big city in a blue state, politicians and police say that, but for a slightly different reason.


> politicians and police say that, but for a slightly different reason

So, they don't say that?


> You don't see people around telling smokers: You have children, you should not take risks like this.

I absolutely do see that, although it's more often about not exposing your kids to smoke than specifically about saving the parent's life. (Which makes sense if the concern is child welfare, since smoking deaths typically come at an age where most people's kids are full-grown.)


But I would guess that the difficulty and risk is an essential part of the attraction. Trying to rationalise that risk away seems to be intellectually dishonest. A small percentage will experience the small risk and cause suffering to family. But for all the rest it was an amazing experience that was worth it. Those two things are not contradictory.


I wrote a longer answer, but I'll shorten it to: it's not about the adrenaline fix. At some point, your hobbies/passions (hopefully) become an integral part of who you are. Especially ones like this with expertise and life-long pursuits. The rest is balancing act that you hope to get right.


> become an integral part of who you are

You can say that about anything. Smoking, alcohol, racism, leftism ( jk :-D )

But is identity investment in something life-risking really compatible with reasonable parenting? that's the question.


That's the balancing part, no? Nothing is risk-free, and the implied dichotomy is misleading. You can be a wreckless fool without the dangerous hobbies.

Also implied is that we can even agree what "reasonable parenting" means.


> Nothing is risk-free, and the implied dichotomy is misleading

Ironic, since by using the term "risk free", you are the one implying a dichotomy: either something has risk or it doesn't.

It's technically true but that's unhelpful, since risk is not a binary value: it's a spectrum. Certain hobbies and jobs are demonstrably more risky than others.


> Nothing is risk-free

You can determine a threshold though?

> can even agree what "reasonable parenting" means.

So much as we can agree what reasonable <anything> means - which we can, as there are all sorts of laws regulating various aspects of life. We can, to some degree, legislate "reasonable driving", or "reasonable flying".


The threshold is whatever one feels is responsible. We are the only ones that know ourselves. I know when I feel like I'm pushing my boundaries. I really don't know what other people's boundaries are, and that's why I defer to their personal judgement.

I don't think there is a standard here unless we want to draw the line at the painfully obvious. But the danger doesn't lie in the painfully obvious, it lies in the gray area where we all differ.

And "reasonable" only ever seems obvious in retrospect.


But that's a principle that comes from personal choice. When you have kids, there's a third party involved.

> I don't think there is a standard here

Has such a proposal been investigated?

> And "reasonable" only ever seems obvious in retrospect.

I disagree.


Give me what a reasonable parent does in a car. Do they turn around and talk to their kids? Do they pass a bottle back there for the baby? Do they change the radio station?

After than, I have questions about reasonable parenting when hiking in the foothills. How much water should I be required to bring? I could go on and on regarding the gray areas of life. You have the answers?!? Please share.


> You have the answers?!? Please share.

Did I claim to? Anyone that dares suggests standards of safety should exist, must be omniscient first?

And yes,I think those things should be regulated too. To extent that they practically can, they are - you can be cautioned for not driving with due care and attention.


You originally asked me if "identity investment in something life-risking really compatible with reasonable parenting?"

I've tried to show that's not a fair question since we don't agree what is reasonable parenting or what is risk. But yes, it is compatible because it is the only way.

Consider this, until recently, conception through birth was quite likely to kill you. It didn't get much riskier than having kids, yet people still chose to have them. Over and over. So yes, risk is what life is made of.


We don't agree, but what does that matter? Nothing stops coming up with a proper standard - such a thing already exists to some extent.

The example of childbirth has more factors to it - other than it being required to further the human race, there is a biological imperative to do it. Plus, in the past, women didn't always have as much choice.


A standard for what? You keep saying standard. You expect a "risk standard" to emerge? An "activity standard"? Hobby Standards? I honestly am not following you. Risk is as diverse as anything.


Di insurance companies insure different activities? There must be internal standards for determining risk - they don't just roll a dice.

So yes, activity.


> You can determine a threshold though?

If we were at all responsible at evaluating risk to leaving children, there is no way we'd travel in cars as a family unit.


> But is identity investment in something life-risking really compatible with reasonable parenting?

Every human activity is life-risking (as is inactivity.)


In what sense? In that some, possibly trivial, risk is involved?


You can decide that having children doesn't mean you have to sacrifice everything for them.

If you greatest joy in life is this, you may choose to take the risk. Children are not an all or nothing proposal.


I'm not sure I agree. Children don't ask to be born, and they don't get to agree to that trade-off. Parents are responsible for the children they bring into the world.

That said, parents don't always get a choice. Sometimes pregnancy is unplanned or even unwanted. I'm not sure how much moral responsibility parents bear in this case, but this scenario illustrates that the issue of responsibility isn't always black and white.


> That said, parents don't always get a choice.

The extension to this is the significant likelihood of other accidents. Car accident, blood clot, stroke, embolism, drowning, falling off of a ladder, heart attack from a stressful event.

A significant number of parents die all of the time, with or without dangerous hobbies. Number your days.


The degree of engagement is always your choice. You can deem the choice less moral according to your values, but that's the limit of it.


As long as abortion is legal, parents certainly do always have a choice; pregnancy is not equal to having a child.


Indeed. Well, I really hate to get technical here - and don't want to debate identity politics - but the male half of the equation really doesn't have that option. In the vast majority of cases, that choice is solely the mother's prerogative.

Edit: Let me be very clear here: I am not advocating for any position or change of position on this matter in any way. I am simply stating an observation of how the world currently operates to clarify original poster's statement.


pre-conception birth control is still a male's choice.


Yes, that's true but then that's really not the topic here, is it.


Fair point.


> If you greatest joy life is this

How about not having children, then? Or at least until/unless you have stopped diving?

> doesn't mean you have to sacrifice everything for them

There are a lot of small things you don't need to, but the big things you should. Your life, their father, is a big thing. If it means more to you to dive, do that instead.


Look, I love diving, and I love my kids. But I can't rent kids for just a few years [ok, excepting foster parenting]. Having a child introduces complexity, and "drop everything for 15 years" is only one possible answer.


I'm not really sure what you are saying. "drop everything" is hyperbole - just drop the things with a higher chance of killing you.


To follow this advice, most parents in America would do well to stop driving and exercise more, including me.


[flagged]


Nah, it needs more people using these little arrows which are there for a reason. You may also want to flag if somebody is a real nuisance, moderators can limit such user's posting rate and I think they monitor posts getting lots of flags.


Why? Because you don't like my opinion? Then why not contribute constructively rather than fling mud?


It's irrelevant whether I like your opinion or not. My issue is that your point has been heard. ...And heard, and heard, and heard.

Time to clear out of the theater to make room for other people who want to partake. Basic etiquette.


> My issue is that your point has been heard. ...And heard, and heard, and heard.

What does that mean? My posts aren't dupes. If my responses are similar, it's because similar posts existed in the first place.

> make room for other people who want to partake

This is a digital forum, there are no such restrictions, "theater etiquette" doesn't apply.

A good quality post is a good quality post, why would it matter who posts it?


"Children are not an all or nothing proposal."

I'm not sure I understand this mentality. Why force a life into this existence if you don't do everything in your power to make it as accommodating as you can? Modern life in it of itself will be working against it.


You just give a greater value to this life than somebody else does. And you give yourself a greater responsability about. Those are all moral choices, there is no good answer. Only the way you see the world.


Your attitude is a very recent one in human history.

The person you are responding to is espousing an atittude that is far older and more widespread throughout the world.


Should we strive for an equal society? As such, shouldn't all children be born with equally (or minimally) committed parents?


What? This comment reads to me that you want a homogenous society... The people who do great things take big risks. Shit happens. This is a thread for startups, where many people eschew the "safe" corporate jobs in order to create or do something that many people don't think are possible.

You're reading about an accident, and then assuming the amount of risk involved without knowing anything about the sport. Accidents happen all the time, in all sorts of ways. It's very possible to do something like this and have a large safety margin, as has been shown by his 24yr history of doing it. Someone who is this experienced at what they do, in a dangerous seeming sport, will be very well aware of possible mistakes, and how to mitigate them. I personally think teaching your child to be "safe" and not take "risks" is kind of stupid. I'd much rather teach my child to learn how to push the limits intelligently, and see what in this world is possible.


> you want a homogenous society

Can you tell me what that means?

> people who do great things take big risks

Parents? With their lives? Can you describe such a scenario?

> This is a thread for startups

Is the risk involved in startups of the same impact to their children as their deaths?

> then assuming the amount of risk involved

Am I? Is this considered a safe pastime then?

> and have a large safety margin, as has been shown by his 24yr history of doing it

Now who's assuming? 24 years of not telling anyone he's going on a dive?

> I personally think teaching your child to be "safe" and not take "risks" is kind of stupid

You're playing semantics. mortal/life-threatening risk/safety is clearly different from other forms of usages of the same word(s).

You absolutely should teach your children to avoid those kinds of risks, or at least, in the context of having dependants.


> Should we strive for an equal society? As such, shouldn't all children be born with equally (or minimally) committed parents?

I wasn't sure what you meant by "equal society," everyones different, the only way to get "equal" where all children have "equally" committed parents, would be quite homogenous.

The main point I think I'll reiterate, is that yes, you are assuming the amount of risk this person took. The amount of risk involved goes down the more you know about something. This person definitely knows more than you about the sport of cave diving, and can better judge the amount of risk involved. I think that's all I'm trying to say. You can do something that seems dangerous to outsiders, quite safely.

And I also think that lessons from one sport, or activity, apply to other areas of life.


I'm still not sure, but yes - a child shouldn't be exposed to unusual, or high levels of risk due to the "attitude of the parent".

This person knows more than I do about diving, but not necessarily about risk; A doctor who studies lung cancer might know more about the risks of smoking than a life-long smoker.


I am a father and I agree 100%

IMO maaaaybe you could be married with no kids and do this ethically. But with kids? You're rolling the dice on a very important promise.

I do struggle with what that line of thinking means for soldiers though.


For a soldier, it's their duty. For the diver in the story, it was his hobby.

He'd been doing it for 24 years, so his tolerance for risk wrt cave diving is different than what you and I perceive--thus I don't blame him at all.


> For a soldier, it's their duty

They accept that duty though, so it's the same thing - instead of "is it ok for a soldier to go to war" it's "is it ok to become a soldier".

> his tolerance for risk wrt cave diving is different than what you and I perceive

What does this mean?


Not GP but I believe he is saying that unless we've been in an underwater cave the diver's perspective may be difficult for us to really appreciate.

To us, continuing to dive seems like an unacceptable risk. To the diver, it seemingly is not.

Along the same vein I believe GP then goes on to say that he does not feel that the diver's perspective is less valid just because he (the GP) doesn't understand it.


But what's the difference?

Either it's risky, or it isn't? If the diver has good reason to think that it isn't, fair enough. But is that the case?


risk is easy to calculate. reward is not.


No, they don't merely accept that duty. They receive a paycheck, societal honors, and if they die in the line of duty, their family gets taken care of. They also tend to go into battle under the pretense of carrying out a function of necessity.


> What does this mean?

As someone who's never done cave diving, the perception of risk is going to be higher than the actual risk. 1 time in 24 years is pretty low.


Maybe, unless he got sloppier as time went on.

There are a few flags pointed out in these threads - like not telling anyone that he dived..


On the other hand, in that case he's likely to be "scared straight" now and much more careful, at least for a good while.


Hopefully..


> They accept that duty though, so it's the same thing - instead of "is it ok for a soldier to go to war" it's "is it ok to become a soldier".

But if it's not ok to become a soldier if you have kids, that severely limits who can be a soldier. (For example, many soldiers get married and start families during their careers as soldiers. Should they instantly get discharged if that happens? Taken off all possibly dangerous duties?) That doesn't seem like a good idea for society as a whole, since it makes being a soldier a much less attractive career, and any society needs soldiers to defend it.

The argument with cave diving is at least somewhat stronger, since I don't see any pressing need for society as a whole to have a particular number of cave divers, or for cave diving to be an attractive career.


> that severely limits who can be a soldier

But that's an economic problem, isn't it? Maybe if children stopped working, we couldn't make enough matches? But unless we recognise the morally undesirable, why would we care to change anything?

You can recognise something as morally undesirable, yet for some other reason unavoidable. There are many things that fall into that category.

It's also a slippery slope - if something is needed does that justify all means in getting it? And to what extent does America really need (a certain amount) of soldiers? It's one thing to defend its borders, but is every military action of necessity - as opposed to national will?


> that's an economic problem, isn't it?

Only if you think the need of any society to be able to defend itself is an economic problem.

> to what extent does America really need (a certain amount) of soldiers?

That depends on what threats we expect to have to deal with.

Also, if you argue that people with children should not be soldiers, you are taking out of the decision loop people who are likely to have a more restrained view of when violence should be used.


the people who die in war aren't the people who decide to get into a war.


They are the people who decide to pledge themselves knowing war is very much a possibility.

Plus, soldiers will see action/danger even when the country is not explicitly at war.


The way soldiers rationalize it is presumably that they'd argue they're protecting their children by "serving their country". This line of reasoning works a lot better in countries like the US or UK than e.g. Germany (although the sole purpose of the German army by law is to defend the country) but it's easy to guess why Germans don't like putting soldiers on pedestals.

The line of reasoning for firefighters and police officers is likely similar (though IMO the risks in these professions are far more manageable because you're not literally surrounding yourself with people who try to kill you).

In the end I think it's a good thing we talk about these decisions at all and I hope it has not only to do with women (and thus mothers) entering these professions.


At least in theory, soldiers risk their lives to make all their country's children safer. I think that's a worthwhile trade, in aggregate.

It depends on whether your country likes to get involved in wars that don't actually protect their populace, of course.


> I do struggle with what that line of thinking means for soldiers though.

It means exactly the same, but with millennia of cultural resistance to overcome before you can accept it.


> IMO maaaaybe you could be married with no kids and do this ethically.

I've never heard any vows include anything about cave diving.


the common marriage vows explicitly state death as the one justification for exiting vows, so married with no kids is definitively in the clear.


As a father, I agree completely, and think you shouldn't have been down voted, so here's an upvote.


Asking people to debate what is likely to be a quasi-religious opinion is asking for a flame war. The problem with parenting and the implications of the responsibility thereof is that everyone who has to parent has to have an opinion and has to believe theirs is correct. There really isn't the societal barrier we have regarding discussions about religion and politics keeping most of us, who otherwise wouldn't contribute because of the radioactivity, silent. Of course, this can only result in a thread which spirals into arrogant "you don't have children, so your opinion is null and void" territory and other such nonsense. It's very unlikely to be a thread of any illustrative value other than the value of illustrating how closed minded and dismissive people can be. I'd rather not deal with that on HN.


As long as he has a partner and/or other family that could take care of the children, and a good life insurance policy, I don't see much of a problem.

Children are quite resilient, emotionally. And I wouldn't underestimate the positive effects it can have if your parents live interesting lives.

And then, there's the bicycle helmet paradox: disparaging him for his decisions may just keep people like him from having children altogether. Considering such risk-takers tend to be well-educated, and provide an intellectually stimulating environment for their children, it may be better for society to just let him be.

(the bicycle helmet analogy is that making helmets mandatory keeps enough people from riding bikes altogether, resulting in a net loss of life expectancy even when factoring in the reduction in deaths from accidents)


I race motorcycles and also ride on the street most days, so this is a familiar topic of discussion with my wife, especially considering that we have a two-year-old son. What I can say on the subject is that there's a big difference between taking every precaution to minimize risk and being careless or reckless. What stood out to me when reading this article was "why the fuck would you use a guideline that could break so easily?" and also "why wouldn't you give yourself more margin with regards to your air supply?" That's just stupid, in my opinion.


There's probably an order of magnitude or two difference in risk between cave diving and motorcycle racing. Cave diving is really dangerous.


> What I can say on the subject is that there's a big difference between taking every precaution to minimize risk and being careless or reckless.

I've heard people who work in the ER refer to motorcycles as "donorcycles", apparently they are a great source of donor organs. It's probably not because they are very safe.


Cave line doesn't break easily. Having a boulder fall on it isn't a normal or expected event.


The day you flip out on your bike and land on your head, god forbid, the same questions will be asked of you.


That's not entirely fair. There's a wide range of motorcycle gear available. Buying the best stuff, the equivalent of high-strength line, does dramatically reduce your risk of injury or death relative to cheap or no gear. Asking if the line was the appropriate type is a valid question.

A huge part of riding a motorcycle is preparing for the unexpected. Always having an escape path, knowing your limits and the limits of your gear and riding within them. I'm sure there are similar concepts for divers, it's entirely fair to ask if this diver took all the necessary precautions or if there are additional precautions that are possible.


> I might be speaking out of line, but taking on these kinds of risks with young children at home seems kind of selfish.

People die. A key responsibility of being a parent is to make sure arrangements are made for you children should you die.

I suppose whether this risk is warranted involves some complex calculus taking, among it's many inputs, the quality of arrangements that the parent has made, the actual mathematical degree of risk, and personal factors including those about the ages, personalities, etc., of the children involved. And that's true of basically every activity involving risk, but I don't think the key parameters on the boundaries here are unambiguous even if the input values were clearly knowable and computation tractable.

In general, I don't think outside parties ever have the information to have much of an meaningful discussion on specific cases, and it mostly ends up being empty posturing.


> A key responsibility of being a parent

... is to be there for your children.


At what cost? Should parents ride bicycles? Run marathons? Swim? Go outside? Where do you draw the line?


>A key responsibility of being a parent is to make sure arrangements are made for you children should you die.

Could you even get life insurance if you engage in high-risk activities?


> Could you even get life insurance if you engage in high-risk activities?

Probably, though you may need a specialized carrier and policy to have those activities covered.


Lockheed does have special arrangements for life insurance for their test pilots, as getting regular life insurance would be difficult.

In the last 30 years, Lockheed has lost only two test pilots in crashes. One in 1993 and another in 2009.


Agreed. Wife and I were both skydivers. We have not jumped since my daughter was born. To be honest, it is not because it is unsafe (there is a risk just driving to the drop zone) but because of the life insurance that we now carry. That being said, even if I still jumped I would not do some of the other items around it like is used to (BASE jumping for example).


I'm curious -- what effect does the life insurance policy have?

Is the risk that you die during an event which is not covered or is there some other contingency (like simply taking unnecessary risks while alive can be used to justify voiding of the policy postmortem)?


One of the ironies is that test pilots have trouble getting life insurance, yet its extremely rare that a test pilot for a major aerospace company has a serious accident. I can think of two crashes involving test pilots in recent years that resulted in fatalities (or serious injuries)

[0] https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=20110402-...

[1] https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=188544


Virgin also lost Spaceship Two with one fatality in 2014 and Swearingen lost an SJ30 prototype in 2003. (The second is arguably is or is not in recent years.)

Military and E-AB (Experimental-Amateur Built) aircraft also have a higher than normal flight ops fatality rate, which speaks to the test pilot insurance rate, not directly to "routine testing of new civilian aircraft" level of safety.


Surely employers must cover life insurance then?


Your life insurance policy is what it is because diving is unsafe


Some people just do what they need to, I'm saying this from Jeb Corlis, famous wingsuit diver, who said he just cannot avoid jumping even though it's more than risky, deadly AND that he crashed once (one of the luckiest comeback I ever got to see). His family isn't happy, but he cannot live otherwise so it's either depression or adrenaline.


and if you can't judge him for being addicted to taking risks, you can't judge people for being addicted to having feelings about it.


let's be all accepting :)


These guys know what they are doing. The guide rope coming undone may lead to safety improvements for other divers. The divers found themselves in a quite difficult situation, and through skill, resourcefulness and chance managed to find a way for both to come home alive and well.

A child of such a parent surely learns a thing or two about how to manage risk. Since life cannot be lived without risk, I would argue that such knowledge may better the child's chances in life.

Therefore, I argue this may be a better father than one that shies away from "unnecessary" risk.


You leave your house, walking towards the railway station to catch a train to work. You reach a traffic-crossing near your home, and see the crossing-light flashing orange. You dash across as you're in a rush, and as you dash out, a car hits you.

It wasn't entirely your fault, but you did dash out without looking, and did dash out whilst the lights were flashing orange.

Do you never take that crossing (or maybe even any crossing) ever again?

The majority of cave-diving accidents stem from ignorance or disregard of cave-diving safety protocols. In this article, the diver seems to be very knowledgeable and aware of the protocols, but there were a few that weren't followed.

The diver's had a very close call, and no doubt recognises some of the issues that caused the accident, and I'm sure is determined to never make those mistakes again.


When I was SCUBA training, my instructor made a point of telling everyone in the class :

"There are OLD divers and there are BOLD divers, but there are very few OLD, BOLD divers."

Every single time I had an issue under water, it was when I was trying something BOLD and it brought back the instructors words.

Martyn Farr's book [mentioned in other comments] is littered with examples of BOLD divers but when you look up to see what they're doing now, many of them are dead. Normally related to a cave incident.


Those exact same words (with rider replacing diver) were the first ones uttered to me by my Motorcycle Safety Instructor when I first took the course back in the the 90's. He was an ex-CHP officer with ~1 million miles under his belt, and had a lot of stories, gruesome and glorious.

It was a great class, and he was a wonderful teacher. Scared the foolhardy, sobered the romantics, and conveyed a career's worth of lessons on riding safe. I've been accident-free since starting in '94, and I genuinely do think a large part of it was his initial, excellent instruction.


Well, where do you draw the line? It is safer to stay inside than outside. A padded room is safer than a normal roof.

Should all parents stay in a padded room?

I think everyone has a different place for the line.


I can think of a couple of angles into rationalizing this sort of thing, but then again, they say that even simply giving in to the motivation to rationalize something in any way might be a bit selfish, and (maybe) part of a personality disorder.

What does it mean to be alive at all?


Larry Smith gave a powerful talk on Parenthood + Living the "Safe" Life...

this moment i picked out.. was the heaviest for me :

https://youtu.be/iKHTawgyKWQ?t=10m41s


According to http://www.besthealthdegrees.com/health-risks

The odds of dying of a car accident are +- 5 times higher than scuba diving.


Think of the children!


So can you give a list of hobbies or activities that are or aren't allowed with children at home?


Same goes for firemen or policemen, they choose to be near / around danger.


That comment (without context) is 100% selfish and stupid (coming from a father).


As a father I concur. I'm not a cave diver although I have ambitions of extreme mountain climbing. It would be reckless and irresponsible of me to do that until my kids are grown however.


When you start to look at thrillseekers as addicts, it starts to make a lot more sense. It's just that to get high, they take risks instead of using drugs, but the personality and the lack of concern for others in the face of that addiction is more than just similar I believe.


So now we're comparing explorers to drug addicts.

Are fucking serious?


Yes, very much, and there's research to back up my point. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3604176/

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166432815...

It's the same circuitry involved in taking drugs or gambling, or jumping out of airplanes.


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