The psychological distance that kills

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posted on Sep, 26 2011 @ 05:46 AM
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A couple of weeks ago we saw news about George Bush stating that the most nervous moment of his career was when throwing the ceremonial first pitch at the 2001 World Series.

Washington Post article: George W. Bush says ‘most nervous moment’ of presidency is when he threw a ball

How can throwing a ball be more stressing than signing the document that leads your country into war? Maybe because standing in the stadium, the event is more vivid and personally close. His success or failure will be known in one throw and he has to receive the reactions of the audience there and then. But in reality the ramifications of going into war is mind-blowingly more serious than throwing a ball. By the stroke of a pen, he decides that thousands of civilians will die, many of his best men, and those of the enemy. The cultural, political and economical effects are still developing. My guess is that the physical distance of the victims matter, as well as the distance in time.

After the Vietnam War, helicopter gunners have reported that they showed little stress over shooting at villagers from the air. “It was like firing at ants on the ground” Today we see in leaked videos that soldiers cheer when bombarding individuals that are not even properly identified as the enemy. We see snipers that compete for kill-shots.

The trauma after killing in war increases as the distance between killer and victim decreases. (On Killing, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman). The psychological buffer decreases as mid-range killers inspect their victims at close. Helicopter pilots will not do that however, thus less stress and trauma is induced. Then as the distance increase, the threshold for taking further lives diminishes.

There is a story about two generals discussing how to strengthen the security when it comes to launching nuclear missiles. One of them presents an idea that they could surgically operate the launch code inside a man. The general wanting to launch the missile then would have to take a knife and kill the man to get the codes. The other general then cringes, explaining that he finds it too grotesque to have to kill a man just to get the codes. This story, true or not, serves as a metaphor to one of the most dangerous logical fallacies in the human mind.

This is why most of us are not that bothered by starving children in Africa as we should be. We feel sad, we want to help, and somewhere inside there is a feeling that we should do more. However they are too far away, so most of us, including me, sends a little money and quickly forgets the event.

I would also like to mention cultural differences as a form distance between people. It is the classical we vs. them. We are biologically refined through evolution to live in groups. However, many of the group mechanisms that helped groups survive millennia ago, create dangerous situations today. Include politics, economics, religion and diminishing resources and the chaos is complete.

We should try to decrease some of the distances between each other. We were once all the same. No different colors, cultures or nations. We have however, wandered all across the globe, slowly adapting to the environment around us. We changed; Earth gave us challenges that shaped us. Thus we became different, not recognizing ourselves when we finally circled the globe, ending up where we once started.

As Carl Sagan said:



Human history can be viewed as a slowly dawning awareness that we are members of a larger group. Initially our loyalties were to ourselves and our immediate family, next, to bands of wandering hunter-gatherers, then to tribes, small settlements, city-states, nations. We have broadened the circle of those we love. We have now organized what are modestly described as super-powers, which include groups of people from divergent ethnic and cultural backgrounds working in some sense together — surely a humanizing and character building experience. If we are to survive, our loyalties must be broadened further, to include the whole human community, the entire planet Earth


Frostmore




posted on Sep, 26 2011 @ 06:30 AM
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reply to post by Frostmore
 


'now watch this drive'
anyone remember that?
that story was obviously a ploy, im pretty sure dubya was on drugs 99% of the time so he wouldnt of cared about anything he did lol..

anyway people dont give 2 sheets about what doesnt effect them directly, or what isnt obvious (in most cases directly in front of them)
its shared by most humans not all, logical thinkers genreally feel differently because they can think of the implication of actions
edit on 26-9-2011 by UniverSoul because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 26 2011 @ 06:51 AM
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reply to post by UniverSoul
 


I understand that, but it is still sad. Close events are more likely to hurt or affect you. Still, even the media can't seem to bring events closer. Media researchers talk about the media desensitising people, and getting images from events on other continents does not affect people as much as local news.

I live in Norway, and my two kroner is that most Norwegians find the tragic event on Utøya more traumatic than the news of 9/11 did. For most Americans today however, 9/11 is still one of the most dramatic events that have taken place. I do in no ways mean to compare these events, but rather the effects these events had on different people.



posted on Sep, 26 2011 @ 07:08 AM
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Originally posted by Frostmore
reply to post by UniverSoul
 


I understand that, but it is still sad. Close events are more likely to hurt or affect you. Still, even the media can't seem to bring events closer. Media researchers talk about the media desensitising people, and getting images from events on other continents does not affect people as much as local news.

I live in Norway, and my two kroner is that most Norwegians find the tragic event on Utøya more traumatic than the news of 9/11 did. For most Americans today however, 9/11 is still one of the most dramatic events that have taken place. I do in no ways mean to compare these events, but rather the effects these events had on different people.

yeah it is sad. they dont need to bring them closer they just wont let you forget, get you on edge and provoke the trauma or grief
media definetley does desensitise, but yeah its all about being familiar with it, when something seems personal its going to affect your emotions a lot more. because emotions are a survival mechanism and if we feel imediate danger its only natural to get upset or whatever else

of course your going to find it more traumatic. look at the ameicans they think 911 was the worst day in the history of man but look at the deaths theyve been responsible for.
humans are a weird species.



posted on Sep, 26 2011 @ 08:20 AM
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Originally posted by UniverSoul

humans are a weird species.


Amen to that


I understand why people react that way, but I also see that it's not always for the best.
edit on 26-9-2011 by Frostmore because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 26 2011 @ 09:10 AM
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reply to post by Frostmore
 

A lot of what you say is true, but I think it matters just as much that the molecules in our body can be traced to stars and gas clouds in the cosmos. I think it matters so much that everyone should care. Everyone should get up in the morning and be grateful for this awesome life they've been granted by our cosmos. Additionally, I think everyone should know at least physics 101. We could do tests every few years to ensure that people are doing what's necessary. An understanding of fundamental physics concepts is integral to a successful nation. It's important.

(people should probably know MTH 111 too; many that DO exploit the people that don't)

I also think everyone should pay 25% of income to taxes, with no cap on the amount taxed. No person is god. No person deserves to own a billion dollars. People are too flawed to have that kind of power. They're too corrupt and self-centered. I mean, did you watch Lord of the Rings? Did you see the One Ring? Well, that One Ring represents wealth just as much as it represents power. Men are so messed up inside their soul that they think they can wear the One Ring. They're fools. Furthermore, I think incomes should be capped at $20,000,000 to spread out the income share. So I want to force this on the country because this is what I think is best.

Are you with me or against me? PEOPLE SHOULD CARE!!!
edit on 26-9-2011 by jonnywhite because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 26 2011 @ 10:54 AM
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reply to post by jonnywhite
 


Yeah, I don't see what having too much money lends itself to. What is the need for ten sport cars that you rarely use? I respect people that give much of their wealth, but can't quite understand those that give nothing.

Wealth is to some extent a catalyst for people to strive towards producing and creating. But too much wealth won't get you anywhere at a certain point. Research show that the happiness money contribute to peaks at a level where you have enough for food and good shelter.

I went to India this year and it really makes you think. For example there is a family of six living in a 27 story building in the midst of the Mumbai slum. The building cost over a billion dollars to make, it has 168 car parking spaces and the electrical bill alone could feed the surrounding population. Now this demands a psychological distance to those who live in that building.

Indians I spoke to told me that I had to become cynical to survive. I could not feel sorry for the beggars etc. So the inhabitants to some degree have to detach themselves from the poor and the situation they are in. This are done to create a psychological buffer. The rich that still got conscience, like Bill Gates starts to donate their wealth. This might also be seen as a buffer. To easy your conscience so to speak.






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