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Would You Kill The Big Guy?

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AB Editor | 16:06 Thu 20th May 2010 | Society & Culture
40 Answers

A train is hurtling down a railway line. It's out of control and the brakes have failed. Ahead, five people are tied to the track and apparently face certain death. You, however, are standing by the rails and have a chance to save them.

This Poll is inspired by the following BBC World Service Documentary:


This poll is closed.

Situation 1: There is a junction on the line in front of you leading down a branch line. If you pull a lever you can divert the train from the main line and instead onto this branch line where there is only one man. If you take this branch line this man will die. Do you pull the lever?

  • Pull The Lever - 33 votes
  • 75%
  • Don't Pull The Lever - 11 votes
  • 25%

Situation 2: Same train and workers. This time you are on a bridge over the line. The train could be stopped by a heavy object thrown in front of it. Beside you there is a Fat Man - if you pushed him over the bridge and into the line his body would stop the train. Would you push the Fat Man to his death to save the five works?

  • Don't Push The Fat Man - 31 votes
  • 66%
  • Push The Fat Man - 16 votes
  • 34%

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yes but i think if you did find your son / daughter under something it is said that you do find the strength don't know how much of a old wives tale that is and i hope i never have to find out ..........
lol @ jj

you stay away from trains ....i am away to get skinny now :(
Oh golly ... yes ... I forgot "big eater"

... oops, sorry, I mean "big boned"
I'm not sure about the options.............which would delay my train by the least amount of time?
cherry ... it's true ...

Adrenalin can make the body do unbelievable things !
Don't pull the lever, don't push the fat man. What's it to do with the single man, the fat man, or me if some pillocks are in a situation where they are tied to train lines?

This answer is serious, I wouldn't do either for that reason. To intervene would be murder, not to intervene would be manslaughter at most.
The fat man would stop a train?!?!?!?!

my gawd, just how fat is this bloke!
Question Author
He's Train-Stopping-Fat Chuck. Not sure what BMI that is.

Usually when people are confronted with this choice they pull the lever and don't push the fat man.

One reason cited is that in once instance you're using a tool and the other you're using your muscles. The latter makes it more "real" apparently.

Spare Ed
Truth is I'd like to think I could jump in front of the train myself...The fat man may have a family... I don't
Rowan ... neither do I, but ... sod that !!
i pulled the lever which would kill one person, but to push someone to there death is a lot harder

if this was real , by the time i had worked out what to do the train would have gone past
I'm a pretty efficient person and like to have contingency plans so I'd pull the lever and push the fat guy just to be on the safe side.

And then kill the muppets who got tied to the lines so they don't delay my trains in future, inconsiderate sods.
It's true billym with murder you would probably not be prosecuted considering the circumstances so you get off 'free'. Not doing anything implicates one in manslaughter as you knew death would result and chose not to do anything.

This is interesting from both a legal and humanitarian perspective. One doesn't combine with the other? Legally you would be better off saving the majority against the minority and in the circumstances be excused for the result.

However from the humane perspective and as I said earlier what if that one person be it the single guy or the fat man (carry on spying - 'the fat man!') what if he was a scientist on the verge of curing a disease, which the discovery off is now prolonged thus resulting in many deaths? Or one of the 5 saved goes on in the future to murder your family, would you regret saving them?

I still can't answer it as I wouldn't want anyone's blood on my hands. It is different if we were the train driver as there would be no chose and one would choose the greater number of lives than the lesser few. I think I would have to suffer the punishment of manslaughter for being present during this terrible circumstance.

Interesting answers though to an interesting scenario.
I'm small and can't go very fast. I'd suffer more damage if the fat man hit me.

I've got feelings as well, you know!
Situation 1; Only pull the lever halfway so the train will get stuck in the junction.

Situation 2; If you were to exchange the fat man for a mother-in-law I could answer without hesitation.
Normally I would not do anything in either case . . . however . . . if I found out one of these blokes was responsible for framing these scenarios, all bets are off . . .
The problem is, you can believe that pulling a lever will work. Nobody's gonna believe that a fat man on the line can stop a train!
I'd rather buy a lottery ticket then wager on that Rojash. If you look hard enough you'll find someone who will believe almost anything . . .
It IS a cop out if you don't pull the lever. I would rather have the guilt of killing one than allowing 5 to die by being a coward and doing nothing.

Also, I doubt a fat man would stop a train... he would more likely go splash over the windscreen giving the driver a heart attack and killing him AND the train still going over the 5 on the tracks lol

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