If you only read one thing this week…

The psychology of stopping genocide – how ‘never again’ turned into ‘again and again’ by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
April 30, 2007, 4:52 pm
Filed under: If you only have 15 mins

Paul Slovic writes a fascinating article for the blog ‘The Situationalist” on the phenomenon that people are more likely to act to assist an individual than a group. “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.” Entitled ‘Too Many to Care’, you can read the rest here.

While you’re at it though, you might want to take a look at some more of Paul’s work – he’s a pretty interesting guy, running something called ‘Decision Research’ out of the psychology department at University of Oregon. The science of how we make decision, and how we can make better ones, has come a long way in the past few years – I’d suggest you start with:


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Interesting to see the Mother Teresa quote “If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” I always preferred Stalin’s “One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic”. There’s hands on management for you…

Comment by Jim Jarvie

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