Friday, September 07, 2007

One Death a Tragedy...One Million a Statistic...

I had an immediate visceral reaction to "little Mary" a 12-year-old Ugandan girl whose lips were cut off by rebel fighters, and no visceral reaction to the 4 million killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Of course, I know that killing 4 million people is so heinous, it's beyond words but apparently it's beyond feeling as well, at least in my case.

Psychological research, reported by Professor Paul Slovic in the March edition of Foreign Policy, suggests we respond most to just one example of suffering. Big numbers don't move us and in fact, the higher the number of people involved in a crisis, the less likely we are to "feel" for each additional death.

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