Statistics are numbing

Why are we deeply moved by the death of one individual, and yet, won’t blink an eye for thousands in mass genocide?

In a fascinating paper, Paul Solvic asks this very question.

While there remain many factors including things like media exposure, Albert Szent Gyorgi sums it up best:

“I am deeply moved if I see one man suffering and would risk my life for him. Then I talk impersonally about the possible pulverization of our big cities, with a hundred million dead. I am unable to multiply one man’s suffering by a hundred million.”

Emotions move us to act. When we see one person who needs our help and we know how, then, we are more likely to do so.

On the other hand, when people are overcome with numbers, it’s not that we don’t care, it’s just that don’t know where to start.