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Human Compassion Surprisingly Limited

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posted on Feb, 17 2007 @ 08:15 PM

While a person's accidental death reported on the evening news can bring viewers to tears, mass killings reported as statistics fail to tickle human emotions, a new study finds.

The Internet and other modern communications bring atrocities such as killings in Darfur, Sudan into homes and office cubicles.
But knowledge of these events fails to motivate most to take action, said Paul Slovic, a University of Oregon researcher.

People typically react very strongly to one death but their emotions fade as the number of victims increase, Slovic reported here yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Slovic previously studied this phenomenon by presenting photographs to a group of subjects. In the first photograph eight children needed $300,000 to receive medical attention in order to save their lives.
In the next photograph, one child needed $300,000 for medical bills.
Most subjects were willing to donate to the one and not the group of children.

In his latest research, Slovic and colleagues showed three photos to participants: a starving African girl, a starving African boy and a photo of both of them together.
Participants felt equivalent amounts of sympathy for each child when viewed separately, but compassion levels declined when the children were viewed together.

"The studies ... suggest a disturbing psychological tendency," Slovic said. "Our capacity to feel is limited. Even at two, people start to lose it.”


It wouls seem that Marx was right when he said;
"The loss of a single life is a tragedy, the loss of thousands is a statistic."

I am bot surprised and not surprised at this.
Honestly though, above all I am truly disgusted.

I have seen how a person can be moved to tears after hearing the story
of a single person dieing, but when they hear about a bus with 100 people
exploding, they onyl feel bad a little bit.
However, I had never thought that that started happening when the
amount increses by only two.

Of course this study does not reflect everyone, as I'm sure there is ac-
tually a significant (perhaps as high as 40%) amount of people who this is
not true for, I myself can attest for this, as I feel compassion for all life,
and feel equally bad when I hear about a single person dieing as I do
when I read about the genocide in Darfur.

However, all that said we do need to find a position that does not go to far
to the extreme, we should consider all life precious, and should try to
protect all life unless that infringes on freedom IE abortion or suicide.

Comments, Opinions?

[edit on 2/17/2007 by iori_komei]

posted on Feb, 17 2007 @ 08:28 PM
True story.
I went into a convience store at noon. As I've done, for over a year, now.
Saw this guy walking with jerky movements. Figured, he has a prob, no worries.
After getting my Coke, walking to the counter, this guy is in front of me, still twitching, but with a large Three Musketeers bar in his hand.
He keeps jerking, and neatly inserts the candy bar in his back pocket.

He waves me to the counter, so I can pay and leave.
After I pay, I walk a couple of steps, turn around and tell the clerk that he has a candy bar in his back pocket.

Odd moment. He hesitated, then offered a lame excuse as to why he had it there.

Clerk thanked me, later.

Why did I do this ?
That guy steals. It's wrong.
I try to do the right thing.


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