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The Singularity Effect illustration: a line graph shows how the value of and compassion for saving a life quickly diminishes as the number of lives at risk increases.

The singularity effect

The singularity effect is the name for how we care disproportionately about an individual as compared to a group. Think Saving Private Ryan, where an enormous effort is launched to save a single soldier in the Second World War. It turns out that even as you add a second person, there’s some justification for something known as compassion fade. The addition of more people doesn’t increase our willingness to help proportionally — our compassion fades as more people are involved.

See the work of Paul Slovic.

Also see: psychic numbing

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