68. Bystander effect

Previously mentioned, the bystander effect refers to the fact that people are less likely to do anything if they think others will do it. A man lying on the ground in a sorry state is less likely to be helped by a crowd than if someone came upon him while walking through the woods. We have a tendency to avoid personal responsibility for events if possible, and if we are not specifically called out, will avoid contributing. This condition arises subconsciously, as simply as a reflex. Global risks conjure up the ultimate bystander effect, as they effect the whole planet, but so few do anything about them. Nick Bostrom points out that there are more academic research papers published on Star Trek or the reproductive habits of dung beetles than there are on global catastrophic risks.