The Town with 300 Millionaires ~ and no Room for Refugees – Micropost

While ‘researching’ for an essay today, I stumbled across this article from The Atlantic.

It tells the story of the extremely wealthy Swiss town of Oberwil-Lieli, just outside Zurich. When the town was told to house 10 refugees (equivalent to 0.04% of the town’s population) as part of the Swiss resettlement program,  the town instead voted to accept legal action against them in the form of a fine. One resident even went as far as to say the following:

“We do not want them here, it is as simple as that. We have worked hard all our lives and have a lovely village that we do not want spoiled… they would not fit in here.”

While this would be disappointing in any instance, the thing that makes this even worse is the fact that Oberwil-Lieli is home to 300 millionaires.

The Question needs to be asked – is a little more comfort worth the futures of others?

The Scope of the Issue (A Comment on Insensitivity) – Brain Repair Services #1

The Scope of the Issue (A Comment on Insensitivity) – Brain Repair Services #1

This post is about refugees, but I’ll start this narrative with the slightly overused story of a mildly famous experimental survey.

There were once three survey questions, each presented to three different groups.

Group 1: What would you pay to save two thousand birds from drowning in an oil slick?

Group 2: What would you pay to save twenty thousand birds from drowning in an oil slick?

Group 3: What would you pay to save two hundred thousand birds from drowning in an oil slick?

Presented with all three questions, no doubt, you’d answer each one with increasingly large sums of money, yet still, it is unlikely that you would pay 100 times as much to save 100 times as many birds.

The subjects without any knowledge of the other questions, however, responded in a seemingly shocking manner.

Group 1 (to save 2,000 birds): $80 each (average)

Group 2 (to save 20,000 birds): $78 each (average)

Group 3 (to save 200,000 birds): $88 each (average)

Essentially no difference between two thousand and two hundred thousand.

It is theorised that this is because, when presented with such individual questions, we conjure up a mental image of one, poor, helpless, oil-soaked bird. Based on this, we decide on an arbitrary number of cash we’d pay to save this poor, helpless animal – just enough to give us a warm, fuzzy  feeling inside. This is called Scope Insensitivity (or Scaling Bias), and, as the name suggests, we do it because we are simply unable to scale. We are unable to truly imagine as many as two thousand birds, let alone one hundred times that.

While the death of migratory birds is something to lose sleep over, it pales in comparison to the deaths of migratory people. The UNHCR says that 2,500 refugees had drowned on their way to Europe this year before the month of June had even begun. This is clearly tragic, but if it had been, say, 250,000 people who had drowned. Would we take any more notice of a quarter million?

Being unable to scale is interesting cocktail chat when you’re talking about birds, but people? Despite the catastrophe, many of our governments are doing very little. Here in the ‘developed’ world we have abundance, yet 86% of Syrian refugees are living in the developing world.

With 32,000 fleeing through Syria’s borders each day, can we really afford our Scope Insensitivity?

See Also:

Melissa Fleming TED Talk

Scope Insensitivity

Further Reading – Economic Preferences or Attitude Expressions?: An Analysis of Dollar Responses to Public Issues

Refugee Intake by Country


The ANZ Republic – A little Unrelated Alternate History

The ANZ Republic – A little Unrelated Alternate History

Since the federation of Australia in 1901, the nations separated by the Tasman have had close ties. But what if, after they had fought alongside each other as the ANZAC corps in WWI, the brotherhood had become closer?


The Flag of the ANZU


See Also:

New Zealand as a Proposed State



Greetings, Internets, this is Samuel of The Confirmation Bias. I’ve decided to start this blog to get out some stuff that I otherwise wouldn’t, and keep all of my (millions of) fans updated.

This may be an odd decision, considering that the YouTube channel currently has a grand total of Zero videos, but…

Okay, I have no defence. It’s an odd decision, I’m running with it. Over the next few days, aside from working on what will hopefully be my first, cringeworthily low-quality video, I’ll work on getting out a blog post about some topic or another, possibly voting systems?

I’ll hopefully get a decent sized post out at least every fortnight.