UO program hosts talk on the mind and information

Paul Slovic

The mind’s power to process information is vast and complex, but even with its impressive capabilities the mind still can’t process everything.

That’s what UO psychology professor Paul Slovic and University of Idaho English professor Scott Slovic will be discussing their “Numbers and Nerves” talk at 7 p.m. April 19 in Room 106 Knight Library.

The father-and-son duo recently wrote a book about how the mind processes information, “Numbers and Nerves: Information, Emotion, and Meaning in a World of Data.” The book and the panel will discuss how psychological tendencies such as psychic numbing and pseudo-inefficacy limit the mind’s ability to accurately understand global climate, genocide and other abstract information.

“We live in a world of data. We’re constantly bombarded with facts, statistics, models and projections,” said Ashleigh Landau, the administrative director for Global Justice Program. The Global Justice Program is hosting the panel, which will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

“Whether we are reading an article on the global refugee crisis or reviewing the latest statistics on sea level rise, it’s crucial that we understand how our human mind is processing this abstract information.”

The panel will cover material from the Slovics’ book, but they will also be using information from other fields of study such as literature, journalism and art to discuss how processing information affects all aspects of life.

By Craig Garcia, University Communications intern