Psychic Numbing And Why 500,000 COVID-19 Deaths May Not Feel Any Different : Short Wave Why is it so hard to feel the difference between 400,000 and 500,000 COVID-19 deaths—and how might that impact our decision making during the pandemic? Psychologist Paul Slovic explains the concept of psychic numbing and how humans can often use emotion, rather than statistics to make decisions about risk.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
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Why 500,000 COVID-19 Deaths May Not Feel Any Different

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Why 500,000 COVID-19 Deaths May Not Feel Any Different

Why 500,000 COVID-19 Deaths May Not Feel Any Different

Why 500,000 COVID-19 Deaths May Not Feel Any Different

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/959597459/965522178" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Dwane Day throws flowers onto the casket of the pastor of the Shining Star Freewill Baptist church, Bishop James N. Flowers Jr., at the Harmony Cemetery in Seat Pleasant, Maryland on April 13, 2020. Bishop Flowers passed away after contracting the coronavirus. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

Dwane Day throws flowers onto the casket of the pastor of the Shining Star Freewill Baptist church, Bishop James N. Flowers Jr., at the Harmony Cemetery in Seat Pleasant, Maryland on April 13, 2020. Bishop Flowers passed away after contracting the coronavirus.

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

Why is it so hard to feel the difference between 400,000 and 500,000 COVID-19 deaths—and how might that impact our decision making during the pandemic? Psychologist Paul Slovic explains the concept of psychic numbing and how humans can often use emotion, rather than statistics to make decisions about risk.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

This episode was edited by Viet Le and fact-checked by Rasha Aridi.