A paper on thought contagions in mass conflict

From: AaronLynch@aol.com
Date: Mon 25 Nov 2002 - 18:56:56 GMT

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    On September 6 of 2002, I presented a paper at the Swedish Defence Research Agency in Stockholm. The paper, titled “Thought Contagion in the Dynamics of Mass Conflict,” is online at http://www.thoughtcontagion.com/conflict.htm.

    Abstract: The evolutionary contagion of self-spreading ideas, or thought contagions, is introduced and applied to major topics in conflict dynamics. Beliefs are found to self-propagate by some surprising means, such as inducing evangelism, by manipulating imitation rates, by intimidating adherents of alternative ideas into silence, by refutation resistance, and by deterring dropouts. Even fairly subtle differences in the transmissivity, receptivity, and longevity of ideas may compound into large and intense ideological movements. Examples are found in religious warfare, Nazism, terrorism, US unilateralism, and the ideologies behind the September 11, 2001 event. The effect of thought contagions on the proliferation and possible use of nuclear weapons is also discussed. The paper concludes that thought contagion analysis offers important new insights into the dynamics of mass conflict, as well as potential strategies in reducing mass conflict.

    Section Headings: Introduction Imitation, Intimidation, and Inculcation The Nazi Thought Contagion Religious Extremism The Arab Israeli Conflict The 11th September Event Nuclear Weapons Proliferation Notes References Acknowledgement

    From _Thought Contagion News_ of October 14, 2002:
    "Replicating Fundamentalist Christian beliefs in the “End Times” affect United States policy toward the United Nations and Israel. Contagious ideas of afterlife glory for Islamic “martyrs” contribute to horrific attacks around the world. Multiplying concepts of a divinely promised land in Israel contribute to violence against Arabs. Epidemics of anti-Semitic ideas cause vast atrocities. An evolutionary arms race of female sexual repression leads to severe genital mutilation and male desperation. An evolutionary arms race in weapons of war begets nuclear proliferation. The evolutionary contagion of ideas affects world security in profound ways. With interest raised by previous analyses of Nazism and other violent movements, the Swedish Defence Research Agency invited me to conduct a seminar on thought contagion analysis at their headquarters in Stockholm on September 5 and 6 of 2002. The two-day event included a lecture and paper titled “Thought Contagion in the Dynamics of Mass Conflict,” which is now online at http://www.thoughtcontagion.com/conflict.htm."

    --Aaron Lynch

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