Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id CAA20532 (8.6.9/5.3[ref email@example.com] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from firstname.lastname@example.org); Tue, 21 May 2002 02:25:29 +0100 Message-ID: <email@example.com> From: "Philip Jonkers" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: <email@example.com> References: <B90F2D12.3A5firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: Boom! and you go to Heaven Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 18:11:26 -0700 Organization: Prodigy Internet Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit X-Priority: 3 X-MSMail-Priority: Normal X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2600.0000 X-Mimeole: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2600.0000 Sender: email@example.com Precedence: bulk Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> My original question was that Evo Psych does not explain suicide bombers
> etc. So what is powerful enough to make young men and women commit suicide
> for a cause?
Hi Steve the following is the larger part of reply posted earlier on the
list (sept. 21 2001
to be precise).
Steven Pinker, one of the leading authorities
in evolutionary psychology, argues in `How the Mind Works'
that warring parties are able to round up soldiers to work out their
armed conflicts by exploiting the human characteristic that
people are willing to fight and die in a war provided they don't
know if or when they are going to die. If death is imminent
and unavoidable, Pinker argues, people strongly tend to withdraw
from scenes of battle.
Although this argument may account well for the typical kind
of warfare it falls terribly short of explaining suicide commandos.
The argument simply ignores the existence of kamikaze pilots,
Shiite terrorists, and the recent plane-as-bomb bombers.
Surely these kind of soldiers know perfectly well that they
are going to die. Evolutionary psychology fails to give a reason.
This is where memetics provides some answers. By using memetic tools,
suppose an authoritative person is able to brainwash people in
such a way that they are made into believing that if they die
they go on living forever in some sort of perfect blissful paradise
invisible to mortals. For people fearing death as the ultimate end,
this is a welcome change of play as it denies death as the ultimate end.
It doesn't matter too much if the basis of the persuasive arguments
are anything but sound, since the following applies to the average Joe:
`People are not rational but instead they rationalize'
(I forgot who originally said that). Being able to be rational is an
art brought about after mastery of a lot of rational/logical memes
that typically requires years of rigorous training and practice.
The ability to rationalize fades in comparison for you learn to do this
already at an early age as a means to verbally defend yourself to others and
explain your actions towards peers and relatives if they are affected.
So suppose then that people are relatively easy lured into believing
all kind of crazy stuff, as long as the promises are great enough
to rationalize away any doubts regarding its truth content.
This is precisely the vulnerable and sorry human trait that terrorist
organizations eagerly tap into. By laying down their lives,
in order to defend the values and interests of the religion
of some group or simply to try to preserve its safety, suicide
bombers (plus family and friends) are promised eternal heaven.
Young naive studs eagerly line up as volunteers.
This is a free translation of Dawkins argument.
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue May 21 2002 - 02:37:17 BST