Re: Boom! and you go to Heaven

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Tue May 21 2002 - 21:45:58 BST

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    Subject: Re: Boom! and you go to Heaven
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    > Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 18:11:26 -0700
    > From: "Philip Jonkers" <>
    > Subject: Re: Boom! and you go to Heaven
    > Steve:
    >> 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.

    Not having read it it is difficult to comment, so I will anyway :-) Isn't
    there also the problem that in many cases, people refuse to accept that THEY
    will be the one to die?
    > 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.

    My point exactly
    > 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.
    > Phil.

    Indeed. Like I say I think sociology and social psychology could prove
    useful tools for the study of memetics. It is also the same trait that
    religion of any kind latches onto?



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