Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id VAA22202 (8.6.9/5.3[ref email@example.com] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from firstname.lastname@example.org); Tue, 21 May 2002 21:54:50 +0100 User-Agent: Microsoft-Entourage/9.0.2509 Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 21:45:58 +0100 Subject: Re: Boom! and you go to Heaven From: Steve Drew <email@example.com> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Message-ID: <B9107096.3C2email@example.com> In-Reply-To: <200205211158.MAA21284@alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk> Content-type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII" Content-transfer-encoding: 7bit Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Precedence: bulk Reply-To: email@example.com
> Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 18:11:26 -0700
> From: "Philip Jonkers" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Re: Boom! and you go to Heaven
>> 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.
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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