It’s standing in the River Cam outside Cambridge, near the village of Fen Ditton. Could it get out if it wanted to? It didn’t seem concerned, and there were other cows in the small herd eating on the bank. So all in all, I decided that by its demeanour it was OK.
Thinking about it now, I recall that the local Council was not sure at one point whether they could afford the insurance they needed to cover the cows that are let loose on Midsummer Common. The insurance included the cost of getting someone out to rescue cows that fall in the river. That’s at Midsummer Common where the banks are sheer. Still, maybe I should have hung on a bit longer yesterday and watched that the cow made dry land. But when, how long?
I wasn’t the only person there, And I imputed to ‘someone’ in the bystanders and walkers, the knowledge of whether the cow was really in trouble.
When Kitty Genovese was murdered in 1965 in Queens in New York City in full sight of neighbours looking down from their apartment windows, the newspapers said that people were apparently uncaring or didn’t want to get involved.
Robert Cialdini wrote later that when psychologists delved deeper into the mindset of the neighbours, the main reason no one called the police was that everyone assumed that someone else had.
Cialdini gives a tip if someone falls, is hit by a car, whatever. If you are tending them and a small crowd gathers and everyone is looking, who is calling an ambulance?
Cialdini says the thing to do is to single out one person in the crowd and say ‘You with the grey jacket and the briefcase, call an ambulance.’
I just looked at the local Cambridge news, and no mention of cows in the river.