Understanding Terrorism’s Toll | WBEZ
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Morning Shift

Processing tragedy on a massive scale

One way to measure the magnitude of a catastrophic event like the attacks in Nigeria or Paris is to mention the human death toll. For example, more than 32,000 people were killed by terrorism last year alone, with most of those deaths happening in Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria. But despite the staggering number of lives claimed by global terrorism, most attacks go unmentioned by mainstream media and garner little empathy in the United States and beyond. Paul Slovic, a psycholoy professor at the University of Oregon, studies why it’s hard for us to digest the statistics behind various crises. He recently published a book called “Numbers and Nerves: Information, Emotion and Meaning in a World of Data.” He’s in town for the annual meeting of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, where his 56 years of psychological research will be honored. He joins us to share the psychological factors that cause differing reactions to tragedy.

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