Troy and Josh’s Excellent Adventure

I boggled the other day when I read in the LA Times about 15-year-old Troy Driscoll and 17-year-old Josh Long’s six days adrift in a 15-foot sailboat off the coast of South Carolina. At first I thought these two kids were just incredibly stupid (though also incredibly lucky). After reading more about their story, though, I’ve begun to suspect that they’ve just been really horribly educated at the private Christian school they attend. I confess I’ve let my snooty blue-state side run away with me, imagining the Medievel educational system that prepared them for their ordeal by giving them a thorough grounding in hymns, prayer, creationism, and doing what you’re told, but overlooked teaching them anything about biology or geography, and failed to foster the slightest degree of common sense, critical judgement, or initiative.

Of course I don’t really know Troy and Josh, don’t know the forces that have shaped their lives. And at least in the Darwinian sense, their abundant good luck appears to have entirely made up for their educational shortcomings. Their DNA is still very much in contention for being passed on to future generations, as frightening as that is. But in the same way that right-wing webloggers feel free to construct grand morality plays about news items that illustrate, to their minds, the failures of secularism and tolerance, I see this as a frightening parable about the dangers of religious conservatives’ attempts to overhaul the education system.

Here are a bevy of links, in hopes one or more of them will continue to work as the news sites rotate their content into the great bit bucket:

Some favorite snippets:

LA Times:

Troy couldn’t stop asking questions. Dude, he asked Josh, what will you do with me if I die? If I die, will you eat me? Do you think that’s Africa in the distance? If we land in Africa, should we become missionaries?

Note that when the boys were picked up, they were drifting about seven miles off Cape Fear. They had covered about 100 miles during the six and a half days they drifted, trending mostly north by northeast, parallelling the coast. Which they never bothered trying to reach, apparently, being content merely to drift, sing hymns, and pray for divine intervention.

Supposedly they started out with a single paddle. Assuming they didn’t throw it overboard as “useless” (which they did with their fishing gear on day two, at least according to one account, though most of the articles generously refer to the fishing gear only as having been “lost”), they should have been able to make a knot or two of headway, taking turns paddling. Assuming they were bright enough to figure out the general direction of land (doubtful, I realize, given their apparent degree of navigational clue), they would have been able to reach shore on day one, or day two at the latest.

Of course, then there’d have been no “miracle.”

ABC News 4 Charleston:

Troy Driscol was the last to leave the hospital. He was picked up Tuesday afternoon in a limo and then stopped at Cathedral of Praise Private School. Troy saw his classmates for the first time in almost two weeks. Later, his fellow castaway Josh Long joined him at his mother’s home. The two told their story again to friends and family crammed inside.

“I’ve had boating classes, I’ve been around it my whole life. It was just an accident. It happened. It wasn’t like we were trying to go out in the ocean. We were just trying to get in between the sandbar and beach”, says Josh Long.

Um, no. I’ve had boating classes, Josh. I’ve been around the ocean my whole life. You, on the other hand, are a poster child for nautical ignorance.

ABC News 4 Charleston (continued):

As a joke, a friend gave the two the book “Sailing for Dummies”.

Photographers from the Post and Courier took the families’ picture for People Magazine. The boys have been contacted by the Oprah Winfrey Show, Montell Williams, Time Magazine, and many others. The boys say they’re interested in writing a book.

Oh, no doubt. I’m sure congregations from one end of Red America to the other will snap that book up, eager to learn how faith can bring about miracles in these doubting times.

Sigh.

Washington Post:

“What they did was incredibly stupid,” said L.J. Wallace, who hosts a radio marine show in Charleston, S.C.

Amen to that.

22 Responses to “Troy and Josh’s Excellent Adventure”

  1. cj Says:

    Are you up to a challenge?

  2. leftbehind Says:

    “If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow would be lost…”

    And you are, too.

  3. ethan-p Says:

    The idea that prayer helped keep them alive reminds me of the old saying: “Why don’t you wish in one hand and shit in the other…see which one fills up first.”

    My favorite is that while others try to report the news with headlines like “Adrift at sea for 6 days, boys kept hope afloat”, “Troy Driscoll returns home”, and “Rescued teens say final day at sea felt different” — Fox news has a different take on it. I guess that their readers need news (and headlines) that affirm their worldview — “Prayer helped keep drifting teens alive”.

    Another thing, when the fishermen found those kids, the first question that they had when they were rescued was “are you a Christian?” Would they have asked to be left adrift until a proper Christian rescuer came by? Maybe prayer would have kept them alive for another few days…or maybe not.

    In any case, I’m nearly at a loss for words as to the vast display of stupidity across the board.

  4. Louis Says:

    Wow…
    You know, it’s people like this that I hate to see in the spotlight because they give a bad name to Christians, similar to the lady with the WWJD bumper sticker who hangs out her car window screaming a barrage of swear words at the car in front of her. The only difference is that more people see these stupid kids and form an opinion based on them. I went to a Christian school when I was younger. Obviously I can’t speak for the school these kids went to but the education at the Christian school I went to was much better than the public school. This can happen to any group though, not just Christians. You get a few stupid people out on a boat for six days and they tell people that they were saved by wishing on stars and luck they will appear pretty stupid.

  5. Craig Says:

    Stupid is as stupid does. Ignorance is an equal opportunity human affliction, affecting all races, nationalities, genders, sexual orientations, ages and religious beliefs (or lack thereof). However, John cannot seemingly be bothered with that truism, as he is on a roll with his “blue-red” stereotyped judgments of the wicked and stupid Christian rabble.

    That’s some “holier than thou” that even a “red-stater” can admire!

  6. jbc Says:

    Yeah, I was at least somewhat mindful of that criticism, Craig, as you can tell by my second paragraph. But in thinking about it more, I think the criticism of the boys’ education is apt.

    It’s not that they’re stupid. If you read the quotes attributed to them, they sound like they’re at least of average intelligence. They’re just profoundly ignorant, and give evidence of having been systematically conditioned to be passive, incurious, and compliant with authority. I don’t think it’s an accident that these are precisely the virtues that their particular brand of religion strives to instill.

    There are real differences between people like Troy and Josh on the one hand, and people like me and you on the other. Although you and I hold divergent views on a lot of subjects, we share a belief in the power of our own brains to figure things out, and a willingness to use those brains for that purpose. Maybe one or the other (or both) of us gets things wrong when we try to do that, due to our pre-existing biases or our unwillingness to honestly examine the evidence or whatever, but we at least make the effort.

    Josh and Troy don’t even try. More than that, they seem completely unware that such an attempt might even be made. Presented with a life-threatening crisis, they can come up with nothing better than to lie down, pray for God to save them, and quietly, humbly, meekly wait to find out if He does so.

    Now, I’m sure we could find people like Josh and Troy in every state of the Union. I’m sure we could find them among the supporters of both John Kerry and George Bush. But still, in their particular manifestation of this problem, they provide a powerful symbol of the precise danger I see in the current cultural ascendence of “red-state values.”

    The state school board of Kansas is currently conducting hearings designed to provide a forum in which “intelligent design theory” can be evaluated alongside the theory of evolution by natural selection for the purpose of deciding what will be taught in the state’s public school science classes. I don’t doubt for a second that the parents who are spending a significant amount of money to send Josh and Troy to their private Christian school approve of those efforts, and applaud them. And in so doing, they are helping to further the same phenomenon that left their children so profoundly ill-educated and ill-equipped to survive in the world that only a massive amount of good luck (or, if you prefer, of divine providence) prevented them from suffering an excruciating and needless death as a result of their own horrifically bad decisions and actions.

    I’m not saying Josh and Troy should be criticized because they live in a red state, or because they attend a private Christian school. I’m saying that Josh and Troy should be criticized because they behaved like absolute jackasses. Which they did. And to the extent we can figure out how they became such jackasses, and try to avoid creating more jackasses like them in the future, our country will be very much better off.

  7. d Says:

    I attend the same school as josh. Troy goes to the christian school. At school word is that josh will recieve a lifetime supply of mountain dew and that they will be producing a movie. The family even has an agent. The way i think of this is, if you do something stupid then you get heavily rewarded, and that is the case with josh and troy. What they did was plain dumb. I am glad that they are alive and that it was their faith that kept them alive but this whole situation has gotten out of hand and has become more than that. Heck if i could be in a movie and get free soda for life i would do something just as dumb.

  8. fsgtae Says:

    On the scale of villainy, two teens who were lost at sea for two days are pretty bad. It’s good that the geniuses here are criticizing them, their education, and their beliefs. That shows a fine sense of perspective and fair play.

    Just a few corrections.

    The teens were criticized for not paddling back to shore. The could not, as the wave were too high. They tried. Had they kept trying, they would probably have died of dehydration.

    They were also criticized for comments they made on being rescued, such as that they though they might have reached Africa. At that time they had had no food or water for six days, had been buffeted at sea, and were severely sunburned and exhausted. They were also delirious – most people would be dead after all that. It is not rational to infer that their education was sub-par based on comments they made in that state. I have no doubt that the superhuman characters so keep to mock religious people here would have been fully lucid after such an ordeal, but nevertheless, that they weren’t has to do with their physical state.

    They were also criticized for throwing out their fishing gear. They did this because they lost their tackle. The gear was useless without tackle.

    They were criticized for praying and for calling their rescue miraculous. Considering the Coast Guard and all other organized rescue agencies had given them up for dead days before their rescue, the rescue was rather miraculous.

    Even if you do want to make fun of the boys for praying, and even if you do not believe in a higher power, there was not much else they could do. They could have spent their time making fun of other people, but that would not have helped them.

  9. jbc Says:

    Either you’ve seen a lot more detail on the boys’ adventure than I’ve been able to come up with, or you’re going out of your way to give them every possible break of interpretation. If you _do_ have more detail about what happened to the boys, please post the URLs. I’d be interested in reading it.

    Correcting your corrections, they were lost at sea for six and a half days, not two. I have some experience with boats similar to the one they were in, and it’s pretty much unsinkable. It’s not clear to me how they could have been prevented from making progress, even by big waves. What waves there were would not have been coming from the direction of shore (at least not if they were big waves, since big waves require a longer fetch, and at least at the beginning and end of their ordeal, and presumably for much of the middle of it, they were too close to shore to have much fetch to the west of them). Given that, they should have been able to make a knot, or a knot and a half of progress, by paddling.

    I’m convinced they could have reached shore on day one, or day two at the latest, if they’d tried. Yes, it’s true that paddling would have dehydrated them faster, and given that they _did_ survive by drifting passively, I could see someone arguing that in hindsight, they did the right thing. I think that’s reaching, though.

    The “Dude. Do you think that’s Africa?” comment was described by the article in which I saw it mentioned as having been delivered by Troy somewhere during the ordeal, rather than at the delerious end of it. Yeah, if Troy and Josh hadn’t given abundant evidence of being Grade A doofuses by their actions throughout the event, I’d be willing to attribute the apparent geographical ignorance to the effect of exposure and dehydration. As it is, though, I think it’s fair to attribute it to their being Grade A doofuses.

    On the fishing gear/fishing tackle question, I’ve been assuming that the two terms are synonymous. Given fishing gear’s potential usefulness, and given the fact that they possessed very little else that might conceivably be of use to them, losing their fishing gear overboard doesn’t look all that much better on their survival resume than throwing it away intentionally. And even once they’d lost some of it, to throw any part of what remained away, thereby precluding them from improvising a replacement for whatever portions they’d lost, was stupid.

    The rescue was miraculous, at least in the sense that it was extraordinarily unlikely, given how hard the boys had worked to get themselves killed. Again, I’m not criticizing or making fun of them for praying or for believing in a higher power. I’m criticizing them for being so willling to immediately abandon themselves to the mercies of that higher power, rather than using the mental and physical resources that power gave them to try to rescue themselves. I’m criticizing them for being so passive and God-fearing that, once they’d made the initial series of horrendously poor decisions that led to their being swept out to sea, they simply stopped trying to do _anything_ to get themselves out of trouble.

    It almost certainly is not just their schools, or the religious teachings they’ve been subjected to, that have turned them into the kind of people that would act that way. I’d be willing to bet that television has played a big part in it, too. I’ve noticed, just in the span of my own life, that the cliched old-person’s lament that “kids these days are getting stupider and stupider every year” really does seem to be true. And Troy and Josh are the most extreme example of it I’ve seen so far.

    God help the human race. The earth is our 15-foot dinghy, Troy and Josh are our shipmates, and with human-created problems like nuclear proliferation and global climate change facing us, we are very much drifting out to sea. And in our case, I’m pretty sure that no extraterrestrial “fishing boat” is going to happen along and save us from ourselves.

    If we’re going to get out of this alive, we’re going to have to put our heads together and figure out how to do so on our own. And the kind of upbringing that produces teenagers like Troy and Josh isn’t very helpful.

  10. d Says:

    I totally agree with jbc, he/she is not making fun, just using this event as an example of how stupid people are. And besides, even if they had no sense of direction, don’t they know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Jbc, i just want to let you know that you’re definetly not the only one who questions their common sense. Plenty of people at my school(the same as josh’s) do. Thank you.

  11. bcm22 Says:

    Those of you who are talking about how ignorant these boys are should closely examine your own lives. How many people go through their daily lives without perhaps an error in judgement of some sort? NONE OF US! These boys never intended to be in the ocean – they were only going from the shore to a sandbar easily in view and only a few yards away. The weather conditions of the day caused them to drift out to sea quickly and without any way to paddle back to shore. HOWEVER, once out to sea, the ONLY thing that kept them alive was their faith in God and the knowledge that there are no accidents in this life – God is in complete control of all we do. Those boys being out there for 6 days was a test for them, for their families, and for all Christians. I know they all passed with flying colors and they all are closer to God because of this experience. It is sad that such simple minded people (or are you aetheists) can’t see the bigger picture.

  12. d Says:

    To bcm22, i agree that we all make little mistakes in our lives, but that’s the thing, their little. Josh and Troy made a BIG mistake. Though it was mostly the weather that carried them out, they also ignored the warnings that had been given out for small vessels. I remember that day because i live i charleston and it was very cold and windy. Trust me, only an idiot would go out on the ocean on a day like that, no matter how far they where going, escpecially with a boat of their size. And no i am not an aitheist, in fact i go to the same church as josh and troy. This incidince has given them attention they don’t deserve. The way i put it, they survived and it was a miracle. But don’t people survive cancer and other diseases. Those people don’t get free soda for life or free limo rides or a spot on the jay leno show. These kids and their families have gotten completely carried away with this miracle that god has brought upon them.

  13. d Says:

    Oh i forgot bcm22, they did intend to be in the ocean in the first place.

  14. willylumps Says:

    I agree with fsgtae. Sorry jbc, but I think you just ran to a conclusion. What are you bored? Try poker. Maybe you could bluff your way through some games because you’re apparently full of shit. Why are you criticizing these kids? You ever did something you weren’t supposed to? You ever challenged the forewarning? Have you ever been on a boat without sustenance for any period of time? The problem is that you can say what if on both sides all you want until you get the real story…So who cares? Have a little patience and find out for yourself…Don’t speculate at the expense of two brave little kids. I mean you could say that because they had faith in a God, they wasted their time and energy…And that its an example of human stupidity…But unless you have real faith that there isn’t a god; you can never stop fearing the possibility of a divine existence yourself. Fear still doesn’t constitute your article. Pussy.

    Will Mitchell

  15. bcm22 Says:

    You need to get your facts straight. I ALSO live in Charleston and know both these boys! They DID NOT intend to be in the open ocean – as I stated, they were going to a sandbar a few yards away – not in the open ocean. They DID NOT listen to the weather advisory – what kids do?? I am an adult and do not listen to every weather station I can before taking my own 21 foot boat out. Should they have gone on a cold, blustery day like that – probably not! Have you not ever made an error in judgement? How about teenagers who drink and drive thinking they are sober enough to get home, but end up killing an innocent person?? I totally agree that they had a lapse in judgement, what I don’t agree with is people like you who are obviously jealous of them and their publicity! Grow up and get off their case! They could have died out there, but God spared them for them to go out and spread His word.If you truly attend COP, then you would know that their lapse in judgement was all part of God’s grand plan! LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE!!

  16. d Says:

    First of all, i don’t think anyone at my school has ever been drunk and killed a person while driving. Besides that was the worst example to give anyways. Josh and Troy’s judgement was different than everyday judgement. I mean is it every day that I decide to shark fishing on an extremly small boat when it is windy and cold. I didn’t think so. Even if i did i would know to use a larger boat and when it is not windy and cold. And you must very smart to know that i am jealous, and so what, i’m sure you’ve been jealous before. I just think that it’s gone too far. I mean come on, Jay Leno? And I know they could have died, but as i stated, god works miracles on cancer patients too, and they don’t get attention. I know god has a plan for all of us, and if that is the case i don’t understand why there are murderers in god’s plan to cut short the lives of people.Did god also plan their spot on Jay Leno? And yes i will get over this when it quits coming on the news so i can forget about it.

  17. bEaChbl0nde5468 Says:

    hEy i tHink tHat y0o guYs sh0ulDnt judGe people likE b0ok c0vers!! they’re kids! y0o all were aT 0nE timE- did you seriously CHECK a weather station to see how the weather is going to be?? i d0nT! pErsonallY i dont think thAt alL 0f y0o guyS sh0uld bE sayinG anythinG 0THER than thank-goodness they’re home!! These boys obviouslly didn’t have any intintion of being lost for 6 days!! i mean put urself in their shoes!! If i were one of them than i would just be lucky that i’m alive! y0o guys sh0uldnt g0 0n dissing them like this!!Think of yourself as being 17 year old kid! u just do stupid stuff sometimes! but thats why people forgive other people!

    ~courtious and proud of it~

  18. carolina girl Says:

    I live in Charleston, SC and know Josh Long. It makes me sick to hear everyone praising the boys for being heros. THEY AREN’T HEROS! They are lucky. If Josh was such a good boater he would be able to know that the winds were to strong that day. I remember the day they got lost…it was extremely windy. I want to confirm that the boys were on the Jay Leno show, an all expense paid limo ride with family and friends to LA. Hear say says they received a boat. They have done local comercials for a restaurant and have released the rights to a televesion network. First check being $30,000. It’s ridiculous that these boys are called heros. They did something stupid and they are lucky to be alive. I don’t know anything about boating, but i know not to push off at a beach that is known for their rip currents. Not to mention they put out where a bunch of teenagers got lost at see like 50 yrs ago or something. That area is very dangerous. Had they known the waters they wouldn’t of been there.

    Not only were the ridiculous. They came back praising GOD. Troy yes maybe a true Christian, but Josh? HA!! Ya he attended church every now and then. But he he doesn’t lead a Christian life. Put it this way…Mr. Christian lost his virginity to his 15 yr. old girlfriend (now 18). They constantly sleep together at his mom’s and her mom’s house. They dated for 3 years and when he was found, almost a month later he dumps her. She stayed by his side and was at the house waiting the entire week he was gone. Josh is arrogant and has no respect for anyone. You would think that someone in his position would have a new train of thought. No not him. You know what he did when he got back…dropped out of high school, to work on a farm, began to have a horrible relationship with his parents and moved out of his home. Josh is the same if not worse person as he was before he got lost. An arrogant jerk.

  19. Ashley Ostrom Says:

    I think ya’ll are a bunch of idiots. Ya’ll do not have anything else to do except criticize two boys. You all are acting as if you have never made a mistake before. NOt only were they lucky but it was a miracle that they got back. They were praised because they made it back alive and they were a sample that GOD is real. GET A LIFE! By the way it is not your place to say if someone is a Christian or not. Only God knows that. Yeah there was a small craft advisory the day they went out but they were not going in the ocean they were going in a canal between the beach and a sandbar. They made it back alive and everyone is happy. You are ignorant for making most all of the statements above. Life is a precious thing and noone should be punished for a mistake. Do me one favor and please just GET A LIFE! By the way this is not Ashley, but her b/f so if you have a problem and know Ashley you will be able to find me, and then you may just have a bigger problem.

  20. Ashley Ostrom Says:

    first of all, this is joshs girlfriend, the one he was with when he got lost. I just want to say to carolina girl that it is ridiculous that you would write shit like that. you have no right to say anything about our relationship. if you know us then you need to say something to us and not post shit on the internet. it’s childish. get some guts and say something.

  21. Ashley Ostrom Says:

    This is absolutely ridiculous! All the people on this stupid website that do not believe that what happened to these two very lucky boys are extremly messed up in the head. Oh and by the way i know josh and troy personally too. Josh is like a big brother to me and i really do not appreciate ya’ll criticizing him like that. Most of you that are saying ignorant stuff have no clue who these boys are and what they’ve been through. Their story has brought so many people closer to christ. You people are sick in the head and obviously have nothing better to do. They did NOT go looking for the fame, it came to them due to the fact that ordinary people do not survive incidents like this one. People survive cancer and other diseases like that every day. This was truely a miracle from God. It was his plan for all of it to happen due to the fact that he knew he could turn to josh and troy to tell his story and spread the gospel.

    -Ashley

  22. iamwinstonsmith Says:

    It’s amusing to read someone who presents themselves as “educated”, yet builds an argument based almost completely on conjecture.

    The only mention of “faith” in the Troy and Josh story was with regards to what kept them motivated to endure the ordeal. Nowhere did I read that their religion was the reason why they went out fishing in a boat with one oar – only to get caught in a riptide.

    I suppose only “crazy Christians who believe in Creationism” get caught in riptides, eh?

    Was this a case of two stupid kids almost dying? Yes.

    To attempt to turn this incident into anything more is the real failure of judgment.

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