From Hiroshima’s Devastation, a Wrenching Account of the Human Toll

The Four Percent


What does it take to get people to care about a disaster that they haven’t experienced directly? Our apparent inability to see and feel the human toll behind mass-casualty statistics suggests that we are hard-wired for indifference. “When headlines say a hundred thousand people are killed, whether in battle, by earthquake, flood, or atom bomb, the human mind refuses to react to mathematics,” wrote Lewis Gannett of the New York Herald Tribune in 1946, describing Americans’ failure to comprehend mass death tolls throughout World War II. People “swallowed statistics, gasped in awe,” he added, “and, turning away to discuss…


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