January 5

Extreme Biology

Saturday’s Big Idea

Today's Big Idea: Collective Catharsis

Because of the inescapable reach of media, mass killings affect virtually everyone. While the victims and the ones who loved them suffer terribly, the rest of us may feel a combination of many emotions: grief (through empathy), fear, disbelief, curiosity, fascination, and even a thrill at seeing the commotion caused by what happened. Each horrific event puts us on a new emotional binge.

This collective catharsis, Daniel Altman points out, satisfies "some visceral need for morbid stimulation," which can even be seen as beneficial to society. And yet, our need for this catharsis, Altman argues counterintuitively, is what prevents us from insuring that such horrific acts will never happen again. 

  1. 1 Why We Won’t Stop Mass Killings: ...
  2. 2 Why the Newtown Shooting Made Me ...
  3. 3 Substituting Prices for Principle...
  4. 4 On Not Making Sense of Senseless ...
   
  1. Why We Won’t Stop Mass Killings: We Like Them Too Much

    Why We Won’t Stop Mass Killings: We Like Them Too Much

    Perhaps when mass killings really start to hurt the majority of the population, then we’ll take stronger action against them. But for now, we like them too much.

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  2. Why the Newtown Shooting Made Me Think of This Painting

    Why the Newtown Shooting Made Me Think of This Painting

    Without blaming the victims, Sargent finds a way to speak about the loss of vision on every level.

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  3. Substituting Prices for Principles in the Gun Debate

    Substituting Prices for Principles in the Gun Debate

    How much would you pay to prevent the death of a child, or anyone else, from gun violence?

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  4. On Not Making Sense of Senseless Tragedies

    On Not Making Sense of Senseless Tragedies

    There is no way to understand tragedies like these in an ontological framework of the cosmos. 

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