[ Question ]

Putting People First in a Culture of Dehumanization

by jhealy1 min read22nd Jul 20203 comments

16

Whether it’s the current famine and death of thousands of Yemenis or the future threats of run away AI, I am constantly struck by our societal inability to empathize with current and future lives. This inability to empathize with populations greater than one is a phenomenon documented in behavioral psychology and is a product of our brain’s evolution and the high cognitive capacity it takes to imagine the individuals behind the statistics.

I am specifically concerned with climate change—along with other problems on the near horizon like AI—that will affect many current and future lives. In my professional and scientific capacities I have come to see our societal inability to imagine the human suffering of climate change as our biggest barrier to creating a sense of global urgency to create political pressure to stem planetary warming.

I personally believe in the power of storytelling and feel that there is a great dearth of story telling—of individual suffering and stories of hope—around climate change which is what’s inspiring me to start a personal narrative initiative in the US.

Very aware that the EA community spend so much time contemplating future catastrophes and ways to prevent such disasters, I am wondering if individuals on this forum can point me to any books/podcasts/articles/forums about methods for getting people to see the human impact of an issue and tackling our mental and societal pitfalls of dehumanization .

Thanks so much,

jhealy

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I recommend Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

I can fully agree with you on climate change. It occurred to me that people today think less about it than they did before, which, in my opinion, is strange. I hope people will understand how helpful working from home is in dealing with climate change. By simply installing some of the monitoring tools, people can stay at home as they work. This helps to leave less carbon footprint. Every small act can be crucial to saving the planet.