In this keynote address in June 2016, "Enchanting the Earth's Data with Meaning: Information and Emotion Channeled through Environmental Literature and Art," Scott Slovic shares some of the key concepts from Numbers and Nerves.
A famous saying goes, “One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”
Due to psychic numbing, our sympathy for suffering and loss declines precipitously when we are presented with increasing numbers of victims.
Research has shown that compassion fade can begin to occur when a threat to a single person expands to as few as two people.
Saving one life is of utmost importance, but saving 1 + 1 lives feels less important than saving two lives and sometimes less important than saving one.
Confronting this peculiar “arithmetic of compassion” in our daily lives and our national policy decisions is of critical importance in a world facing catastrophic threats from violence, disease, poverty, and natural disasters.
We believe that by raising awareness of these phenomena we can lessen the impact they have on our humanitarian decision making. We provide suggestions for how you can take action to combat these cognitive biases and tackle problems like mass atrocities, famine, climate change, and other critical issues.
Click on the links above to learn about the three related cognitive biases or visit our Take Action page to learn how you can combat these obstacles to compassion. Blog posts below connect these concepts to current events.