Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The dark side of empathy (2)

In general, empathy is considered a virtue rather than a vice. Nevertheless, recent research indicates that empathy has a dark side (eg, 2019 book by Fritz Breithaupt, MediumNPR). A Psychology Today article, however, claims that only people have a dark side; not empathy.

In my view, the global corona viral disease, including its related debate, shows the existence of a dark side of empathy, and even on a worldwide scale. Also see part 1 of this blog. How else can you explain our willingness to ruin the economy, including the lives of 99,9% of the people?

For governing politicians, it’s slightly different. Their current empathy is rooted in guilt & shame (my blogs) and regret & remorse (my blogs) for their initial lack of empathy towards elderly citizens in care & retirement homes. These fatalities account for some 40+% of all corona fatalities. See my recent blog: Covid-19: guilt & shame + regret & remorse = lockdown

In absolute terms, corona contaminations are indeed high. However, only a limited number of contaminated people shows symptoms (c.20% symptomatic carriers). Most people don’t get sick and don’t transfer the virus (c.80% is asymptomatic). A small number (some 2%) of the population gets admitted to the hospital, and an even smaller number dies (< 0.1% annually). 

Nevertheless, about 75% of people feel unconditional empathy towards corona patients. These people are willing to sacrifice the economy and the lives of 99,9% of the people, including their own lives. Latter is a bit overstated as Western governments usually offer welfare solutions. 

Is the above a collective example of the dark side of empathy? I’m inclined to answer: “Yes”.

Many people claim that vaccines will offer relief. This issue is more complicated than you would think. It should offer relief to the vaccinated person. It will not offer relief to the transmission rate by vaccinated people. The reason is intriguing: the vaccine is administered into a muscle, while transmissions take place through mouth and nose. (Haaretz)

Currently, our empathy is with the persons who are willing to be vaccinated. The common belief is that those people should get more freedom and less corona restrictions. What happens to our empathy once people realise that vaccinated people are still contagious?

Empathy (2015) by Alicks

artist, no lyrics, video, no Wiki

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.


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