February 24, 2007
How Do We Stop Genocide When We Begin To Lose Interest After The First Victim?
From Science Daily:
Follow your intuition and act? When it comes to genocide, forget it. It doesn't work, says a University of Oregon psychologist. The large numbers of reported deaths represent dry statistics that fail to spark emotion and feeling and thus fail to motivate actions. Even going from one to two victims, feeling and meaning begin to fade, he said.
In a session Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science devoted to "Numbers and Nerves," Paul Slovic, a UO professor and president of Decision Research, a non-profit research institute in Eugene, Ore., urged a review and overhaul of the 1948 Genocide Convention, mandated by much of the world after the Holocaust in World War II. "It has obviously failed, because it has never been invoked to intervene in genocide," Slovic said.
Slovic is studying the issue from a psychological perspective, trying to determine how people can utilize both the moral intuition that genocide is wrong and moral reasoning to reach not only genocide
an outcry but also demand intervention. "We have to understand what it is in our makeup -- psychologically, socially, politically and institutionally -- that has allowed genocide to go unabated for a century," he said. "If we don't answer that question and use the answer to change things, we will see another century of horrible atrocities around the world."
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