Wednesday 10 August 2011

Statistical Numbing

Statistical numbing plays a huge role in what the news media covers, and what it doesn’t, since the media are in the business of bringing us information we are likely to pay attention to, and our attention is less drawn to numbers than stories about individual people (which explains the success of the narrative device of weaving stories about big issues around a personal example). Less coverage means less concern, because we certainly can’t be moved by these tragedies if we don’t know much about them. And public concern drives government policy, so statistical numbing helps explain why nations so often fail to expend their resources to save people elsewhere who are starving, or dying of disease, or being raped and murdered, in the tens and hundreds of thousands. 
Big Think: Statistical Numbing: Why Millions Can Die, and We Don't Care, August 9, 2011

No comments: