[ExI] beheadings etc.

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Thu Feb 26 14:50:48 UTC 2015

William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com> , 25/2/2015 6:14 PM:

​Lots of good reason above.  Fact it, though, that those are reasons that appeal to the hormone-fueled teenage mind​ 
​and also the mind of the religious extremist who is just mad at the world because things are not going their way.  If they have no real hopes of taking over, and rationally they surely don't (irrationally of course anything goes), then they are just like teens trashing their rooms to spite their parents.

The US defence planning community got a nasty surprise when they realized that some of their post-911 adversaries were "non-Clausewitzian". They had always relied on the idea that the enemy used rational means in order to achieve their goals, but now encountered enemies who might do an act that had zero probability of "winning" in an objective sense, yet made sense as a symbolic action. This is not just angry lashing out, but performing sacred acts in order to fulfil prophecy. However, one can channel lashing out and desperation into this sacred mode. 

(After all, looking at the GSS in the US, it is clear that fundamentalism is more popular among the worst off, likely to provide a modicum of meaning and comfort: http://www.aleph.se/andart/archives/2007/01/criminal_because_of_god_or_godly_because_of_crime.html )

I don't see the Nazi reference.  The Nazis were very intelligent, patient (until later), organized​, smart (until they invaded Russia - think about it; they may still be in charge over there if they had left England and Russia alone and not started the 'final solution').  Some of the best minds in the world were in the upper Nazi hierarchy.  Not all by any means were psychopaths.  I can't see Boko Haram in that light.

Don't read too much into the comparison, I was mostly talking about the memetic impact of the culture it is embedded in: IS is making Islam embarrassing internally. 

You make a mistake in ascribing Boko Haram to sociopathy: sociopaths are rare, you cannot build a large organisation from them (and they make lousy members). Most Boko Haram members are just like you and me. That is of course the real horror and lesson of BM, IS or the Nazis: most members were totally ordinary people swept into a pathological culture.

Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20150226/2bed3611/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list