“One man’s death is a tragedy…

Posted by on Apr 10, 2007 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Stalinh7 pic courtesy Hugo S Cunningham

…a million is a statistic” (Stalin)

Good piece in New Scientist (sorry, subscription) by Paul Slovic about a range of studies which demonstrate Stalin’s old adage: that our compassionate responses to individual suffering seem to be much greater than they are to both large and modest numbers of victims’ pain.

It seems that “quite quickly individuals blur” (i.e. lose their humanity and power to generate compassionate responses).

Slovic muses on the need for international legal frameworks to prevent genocide in the future which is interesting (but without an underlying psychological mechanism to exploit might prove hard work).

I’m stuck thinking about how important other people – not stats, not bodies – but people (!) seem to be to how we behave. And how we behave differently once that ‘local’ and ‘human’ influence is abstracted…and how easily government and business forget this.