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Statistics and Empathy

An Image of an Unknown Text

A former student of mine here at Messiah College was tagged in this image by a friend of his. This led to an interesting comments area discussion of the portion of the text that is clear enough to read. Here it is in print, in case you can’t make it out:

The researchers theorized that thinking about statistics shifts people into a more analytical frame of mind. When people think analytically, they’re less likely to think emotionally. And the researchers believed it was people’s emotional response to Rokia’s plight that led them to act.

I have no idea what the source for this text is. I have no idea who Rokia is. The issue that this brings up, for me, is twofold. One: what evidence does the author have to support this claim? I wonder if that is in the rest of this quote, or a footnote somewhere in the text. (none is apparent in the discernible portion of the video) Two: is the claimed effect temporary while contemplating or shortly after, or is the effect more long-term? It isn’t clear whether they mean to imply that if you are thinking about statistics (or maybe any type of analytical thought) when something happens, you are less likely to think emotionally. Or perhaps they mean to imply that people who regularly think analytically are less likely to think emotionally at any time.

Are any of my readers familiar with this passage or have any leads as to its source? I’d love to see what the author is really trying to say!

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