People who treated thousands of deaths like an ordinary occurrence, reducing all the pain and suffering into a military data bank to study.
Now, in the face of the biggest mass casualty event in American history, COVID-19 stalks the streets yet many people ignore the virulent virus and try to go on like nothing is happening.
Despite warnings from the CDC, people are still making holiday plans, ignoring face masks, or debating how seriously to take the virus, or whether it's all a hoax.
How to explain this?
I just don't get it.
Psychologists who have studied genocides and mass disasters claim something happens to the brain when fatalities reach high numbers.
What happens, according to experts, is that the deaths have been hidden from sight, even from family and friends.
The causalities become a mountain of corpses and people find it hard to focus on individual bodies.
As we track the virus's progress in daily bar graphs people begin to dehumanize the victims in apparent apathy.
Another explanation for ignoring the Grim Reaper; instead of a single discrete event - like the twin towers collapsing on Sept. 11, 2001, the pandemic has unfolded as an invisible, slow creeping, chronic hazard.
Over time, our brains gradually tune out the danger.
This is a time when empathy is crucial to helping others cope with the challenges from COVID-19 and a crippled economy.
All Americans have a duty to recognize science if they want to save our society, our friends, and family. Let's not pave the way for the Grim Reaper any longer.