Processing The Pandemic Death Toll And 'Psychic Numbing' : Consider This from NPR 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?

In this bonus episode from NPR's daily science podcast Short Wave, psychologist Paul Slovic explains the concept of psychic numbing and how humans can often use emotion, rather than statistics to make decisions about risk.

To hear more about new discoveries, everyday mysteries, and the science behind the headlines, listen to Short Wave via Apple or Spotify.
NPR logo

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

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/969516801/969535487" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
BONUS: Why 500,000 COVID-19 Deaths May Not Feel Any Different

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

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

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/969516801/969535487" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Dwane Day throws flowers onto the casket of Bishop James N. Flowers Jr., the pastor of the Shining Star Freewill Baptist church, on April 13, 2020. Bishop Flowers passed away after contracting COVID-19. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Dwane Day throws flowers onto the casket of Bishop James N. Flowers Jr., the pastor of the Shining Star Freewill Baptist church, on April 13, 2020. Bishop Flowers passed away after contracting COVID-19.

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?

In this bonus episode from NPR's daily science podcast Short Wave, psychologist Paul Slovic explains the concept of psychic numbing and how humans can often use emotion, rather than statistics to make decisions about risk.

To hear more about new discoveries, everyday mysteries and the science behind the headlines, listen to Short Wave via Apple or Spotify.