When Crowd-sourcing May Get You Killed

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On March 13, 1964, Kitty Genovese was returning to her apartment in Queens, New York City when she was murdered in a random and vicious attack by a total stranger. Even though badly wounded, she screamed numerous time for help.

When the police investigated the murder, they found 38 neighbors who said they either witnessed or heard the cries for help. But, none of them lifted a finger. Newspaper accounts of the tragedy so outraged the public that a series of articles, books, songs and even a play The Screams of Kitty Genovese were written. The consensus at the time was that Kittys neighbors and perhaps the American public were becoming numbingly apathetic.

But two New York psychologists, Bibb Latane and John Darley, were unconvinced that we were losing our moral compass so they set up a series of experiments to find out why people take action or inaction when faced with uncommon circumstances. Several of these experiments included smoke filling a doctors waiting room, an epileptic seizure on a busy street and money dropped in an elevator.

In each case, a definitive conclusion was reached: the more people who witness the incident, the less likely that anyone will help. On the other hand, when only one person or two people witness an unusual incident, they will get involved. Counter-intuitive?

Latane and Darley found that when crowds of people see something unusual, two things happen: 1. They look at the group and see what everyone else is doing and 2. They think that someone else will take action. However, when the numbers are much smaller, we tend to take direct action because no one else is around and we feel responsible.

The psychologists reasoned that if you need help in a crowd, target a single individual if you want a response.

With this important slice of advice in the realm of our continued economic troubles for many of us, were sending this email to our friends and supporters in hopes that youll forward this message to one other person who could use the training we offer in entrepreneurship and self-sustainability.

Given the over-subscribed first session in January, were running a second semester of Urban FIRE I to reach out to anyone who wants to learn to become an effective entrepreneur whether starting a company or working as a self-directed employee. We believe our curriculum is world class with 40 years of entrepreneurial experience behind it and research developed at Harvard, Carnegie-Mellon, Stanford and UC Berkeley. Each hour of training we offer required over 40 hours of development. One national magazine called us one of the seven solutions to the economic crisis. Urban FIRE also received the National Merit Award for working effectively in the inner cities.

And unlike how we perceive learning, we use the power of our own desire to succeed and do so with a great deal of visual presentations and dialogue. Please check out the attached flyer for all the information.

Signups will begin this Friday, March 16th at our website only: Maximum signups is 25 but note that when a crowd of 25 is in our classrooms, we use a simple method that individualizes the learning so that 90 percent of what we teach will be retained.

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