John Allen Paulos in his excellent Who’s Counting column at ABC News:
At the annual meeting last month of the American Association for Advancement of Science, Paul Slovic, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon, recommended a review and overhaul of the 1948 Genocide Convention. He offered two related reasons. The first is that it has been completely ineffective, and the second is that it doesn’t accord well with our human tendency to be moved by dramatic individual tragedies and unmoved by mass killings.
The sentiment is not new. Stalin famously noted, “One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.”
What is new are a couple of experiments that elucidate this unfortunate tendency. Slovic remarks, “We have to understand what it is in our makeup — psychologically, socially, politically and institutionally — that has allowed genocide to go unabated for a century. If we don’t answer that question and use the answer to change things, we will see another century of horrible atrocities around the world.”