We have Professor Paul Slovic from University of Oregon on the show to talk about “Statistical Numbing.” Professor Slovic is a renowned expert on the effect of numbers and statistics on empathy (or lack thereof). His fascinating, if not depressing, experiments have consistently shown how hard it is for statistics to elicit any sense of scale in human tragedies and how numbers can often even be detrimental if the goal is to elicit compassion and generous actions from an audience.
On the show, we talk about “Statistical Numbing” and it psychological underpinnings. Professor Slovic also describes his experiments and their implications. And we address one of the most important questions: Is there hope? Is there something we, as practitioners, can do to counteract these negative effects?
Enjoy this deeply scientific episode and let us know what you think!
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- Prof. Paul Slovic’s homepage
- Prof. Slovic’s Latest Book: “Numbers and Nerves”
- Paper: “If I look at the mass I will never act”: Psychic numbing and genocide
- NYT Article: “The Arithmetic of Compassion”
- Wikipedia Page on Psychic Numbing
- Psychology Today: “Statistical Numbing: Why Millions Can Die and We Don’t Care”
- Daniel Kahnemann’s Book: “Thinking, Fast and Slow”
- Weber’s Law
- James Andreoni’s Warm-Glow Giving
- xkcd: “A Timeline of Earth’s Average Temperature”