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The More Who Die the Less We Care: Confronting Genocide and the Deadly Arithmetic of Compassion

  • Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education 724 Northwest Davis Street Portland, OR, 97209 United States (map)

Most people are caring and will make an effort to assist individuals in need. These same good people, however, often become numbly indifferent when the victims are part of a large group seeking help. Why does this occur? The answer to this question will help us answer a related question that is the topic of this talk with Professor Paul Slovic: Why have good people and their governments repeatedly ignored mass murder and genocide and how can insights from psychological research provide useful guidance to address this problem.

Paul Slovic is a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and a founder and President of Decision Research. He holds a B.A. from Stanford University (1959) and an M.A (1962) and Ph.D. (1964) from the University of Michigan. He studies human judgment, decision making, and the psychology of risk. With colleagues worldwide, he has developed methods to describe risk perceptions and measure their impacts on individuals and society. His most recent work examines "psychic numbing" and the failure to respond to mass human tragedies.

He is a past President of the Society for Risk Analysis and in 1991 received its Distinguished Contribution Award. In 1993 he received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association. In 1995 he received the Outstanding Contribution to Science Award from the Oregon Academy of Science. He has received honorary doctorates from the Stockholm School of Economics (1996) and the University of East Anglia (2005). He was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015 and to the National Academy of Sciences in 2016.