Thursday, March 15, 2007

Foreign Policy: Numbed by Numbers

Foreign Policy: Numbed by Numbers:
"If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” This statement uttered by Mother Teresa captures a powerful and deeply unsettling insight into human nature: Most people are caring and will exert great effort to rescue “the one” whose plight comes to their attention. But these same people often become numbly indifferent to the plight of “the one” who is “one of many” in a much greater problem. It’s happening right now in regards to Darfur, where over 200,000 innocent civilians have been killed in the past four years and at least another 2.5 million have been driven from their homes. Why aren’t these horrific statistics sparking us to action? Why do good people ignore mass murder and genocide?"
Apparently, we're wired that way. Even when the numbers are smaller as the experiments mentioned in the article point out.

That darn human nature.

Now that we (or at least the readers of this article) are made aware of yet another bit of wiring that appears to be a little, um, awry, will this awareness alone change our behavior? One can hope, of course. And one can somehow re -jig our marketing to better fit the psyche. But actually changing that nature? Hmm ...

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