A recent trans-Atlantic crossing, in convoy and under war conditions, afforded a valuable opportunity to study certain phases of group behavior in a situation of common danger. Of particular interest, as one manifestation of mass reaction, was the "scuttle butt."
This term is of ancient and honorable naval usage. Thus, Melville,1 in "White Jacket" (1843), wrote of the scuttle butt on the U.S.S. United States as follows:
The scuttle butt is a goodly, round painted cask, standing on end, and with its upper head removed, showing a narrow circular shelf within, where rest a number of tin cups for the accommodation of drinkers. Central within the scuttle butt itself stands an iron pump, which, connecting with the immense water tanks in the hold, furnished an unfailing supply of the much admired Pale Ale.
This butt was also a "cask with a square hole cut in it, kept on deck
ROOS AJ. THE SCUTTLE BUTT AFLOAT: A STUDY IN GROUP PSYCHOLOGY. Arch NeurPsych. 1943;50(4):472–474. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1943.02290220102009
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