"The problem is that empathy – the attempt to feel or think how someone else is feeling or thinking – isn’t a reliable way of doing good. For one thing, we find it easier to empathise with better-looking people, and with those of the same race, so the more we rely on empathy as a guide to action, the more we’re vulnerable to such biases."
"We also get entangled in the ‘identifiable victim effect’: empathy makes us care more about, say, the single missing child than the thousands who might be harmed by a government policy, never mind the as-yet-unborn victims of future global warming.”
"It’s hard to accept that we might sometimes get a clearer picture of the world by resisting the urge to step into someone else’s shoes. Yet depersonalising things is often the best way to make decisions."
"That’s why job interviews can be more meritocratic – and less prone to sexism or racism – when they don’t include a free-wheeling ‘getting to know you’ section, relying instead on structured tests. Tyler Cowen, the blogger and economist, recommends soliciting feedback not by asking ‘what do you think?’ – the personalised version – but ‘what do most people think?’”
"Instead of empathy, Bloom concludes, we need compassion: a cooler, more rational, ‘more distanced love, kindness and concern for others’. A relative of his undergoing cancer treatment doesn’t like medical staff who overflow with empathy: ‘He gets the most from doctors who are calm when he is anxious, confident when he is uncertain.’"