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October 11th, 2007, 20:15
Dan Dennett: Ants, terrorism, and the awesome power of memes
About ideas people are willing to die for.
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October 11th, 2007, 20:45
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
…but the idea of sacrifice in a political cause, to change the world and protest against your place in it with your death, is probably closer to what's going on with the terrorist mentality. And while the Buddhist religion is non-violent, radical Islam doesn't share that same perspective, so killing others on your way can and is frequently religiously justified by extremists.
It's not that murder is the only point; it's that murder is the point whenever innocent people are killed. That's the lesson of The Holocaust, and it shouldn't be forgotten. That's where to start.

The idea that murder becomes something else when it's inspired by devotion to a cause or belief is how the Nazis looked at it and said so during their post-war trials. That's very dangerous thinking. It's wrong, and every major religion in the world denounces it.

From a Buddhist perspective the perceived value of self sacrifice is at polar opposites with the perceived effects of murdering innocent people. Combining them makes no sense at all.

Radical Islam isn't genuine Islam any more than the KKK's brand of Christianity is genuine Christianity. Just ask real Muslims and real Christians. The first thing they'll point out is the killings and how they have nothing to do with their beliefs.

The irony about all this is that the terrorists might have had their opinions heard and their views considered if they'd gone about it differently. But like Cho, they committed murder instead; and when you do that you've simply gone too far — way too far.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
Last edited by Squeek; October 11th, 2007 at 21:13. Reason: cleaned up typos
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October 11th, 2007, 21:57
Another, more important (IMO) lesson learnt (well, we can argue about that ) from the holocaust is that lumping pepole together (jews, communists etc) and generalizeing about them (all jews are greedy etc) is dangerous. It eventually leads you to believe that you are worth more than those groups of pepole, and therefore that you have a right to go ahead of them, exploit them etc and in the end, to kill them so that they won't burden society anymore.

Useing the same line of thinking (generalization is dangerous) we can learn that we should respect other pepole, especially pepole from other cultures since we're more prone to mistake their actions for bad actions (since their minds might work different (not better nor worse, just different) from ours, we might mistake ourself on their motivations). Because if we don't, we might end up with another holocaust (and as Squeek pointed out, holocausts are murder, allways).

And that goes for those suicidebombers too .

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October 12th, 2007, 01:10
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
It's not that murder is the only point; it's that murder is the point whenever innocent people are killed. That's the lesson of The Holocaust, and it shouldn't be forgotten. That's where to start.

The idea that murder becomes something else when it's inspired by devotion to a cause or belief is how the Nazis looked at it and said so during their post-war trials. That's very dangerous thinking. It's wrong, and every major religion in the world denounces it.
So that's why war is wrong, correct? Their war, our war, now or then—innocent people are murdered every day in all wars no matter if you call it terrorism or Cortes 'converting' the Aztecs or Blitzkreig or Operation Desert Storm.

Wars are fought for profit and power, and rationalized with emotion. IMO it all needs to stop, and until people understand what makes it start, it won't. I'm not disputing your points, Squeek—terrorism is just one face of war, and is a terrible evil and not a viable solution to anything. Hopefully we can agree on that.

Let me close my soapbox presentation with the words of a very great American:

" If you want to end war and stuff, ya gotta sing loud"
Arlo Guthre, Alice's Restaurant.parts 1 and 2

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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October 12th, 2007, 01:56
I doubt we'll ever end war; history teaches/illustrates that. However, in the past war was usually conducted following certain rules (not always obviously ). It didn't make war any better, but it did help limit the killing of innocents. Now those rules/safeguards have been thrown out. I think once, soldiers had respect for their enemy; it wasn't personal. Now, there is no respect for anyone, and it has become very personal!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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October 12th, 2007, 03:05
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
So that's why war is wrong, correct?
Yes. It's absolutely wrong, and there seems to be no end to it. About the only thing worse is terrorism. I honestly don't have any trouble seeing the difference. Here's one reason why:

My wife and I own a home in Orange County, right? We're not far from Disneyland, so we bought season passes and go there whenever we want. You see, we don't have any kids or grandkids, and we like to go there to be with the children. There's thousands of them there; and they're always so happy, so excited to be there with their families, just like we were when we were kids.

You may remember that, shortly after September 11, intelligence experts discovered and announced Osama bin Laden's list of prime targets. Disneyland was right there near the top. He intends to kill them — and if we happen to be there that day — my wife and me as well. In fact, it's a priority of his.

I'm a peaceful man, but I know what I would do if I ran into old Osama in a dark alley, somewhere. None of it makes much sense. But that's how it is, anyway.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
Last edited by Squeek; October 12th, 2007 at 03:28. Reason: clarification
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October 12th, 2007, 03:27
actually disney is on the top of my prime target list too, along with walmart and others that i'd wouldn't mind their collapse. of course i'm not refering to anyone being hurt mearly the demise of the companies. but as far as my actions they are limited to boycott, and oratory digustment when they come up in a conversation. my fiance's mother loves disneyland and makes a pilgrimage more than once a year and why i would hate to take her love away from her i would love to see disney changed into a wildlife (not a zoo) park. ain't going to happen anytime soon though to the golden mouse. i have many reasons for not liking disney but the most emotional is seeing the movie "David" as a kid where a boy is burned to near death by his father, and all the kid wanted to do was go see disneyland. so coupled with the "corporate" disney who grooms young women into being shiny empty husks and producing pornographic films, i certainly won't be taking my unborn children to that "happiest place on earth"
too much information, i hope so
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October 12th, 2007, 06:13
to me war and terrorism are one in the same. sure they have their differences but so do to tires on the same bicycle. generally the only difference is that wars are comminited by governments, usually with some "authority", where as terrorist acts are commited by hidden groups or often indviduals. but all of that really boils down to strategy. a terrorist attack could destroy the world tommorrow and it still would have claimed far less innocent lives than all wars through history. i try not to live in fear at all, but its not the flash of terrorist acts i think that needs the attention but slow and grinding tyranny that only governments are capable of unleashing. i think its much more realistic to try and solve peaceful relations with other nations than trying to weed out every terrorist in the world, which isn't possible. even in a happy society there's always someone who will feel gyped and there's nothing that can provent an attack from them. getting people with blood on their mind together though is much more preventable when they live in a society with plenty of options. that's one of the great things and really the cornerstone of the united states promise. many countries lack this and in many cases our efforts are counter productive, even if unintentional. still the warhuggers will always find something worth fighting for and justifying if they have their way, and terrorism is just the flavor of the _____.
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October 12th, 2007, 10:27
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
I doubt we'll ever end war; history teaches/illustrates that. However, in the past war was usually conducted following certain rules (not always obviously ). It didn't make war any better, but it did help limit the killing of innocents. Now those rules/safeguards have been thrown out. I think once, soldiers had respect for their enemy; it wasn't personal. Now, there is no respect for anyone, and it has become very personal!!
I think we will be able to stop wars eventually but not in this generation.
History shows positive signs. Violence is naturally human, but like all unwanted behavior it can be trained away or sublimed. It should be no surprise to you that most of Europe is extremely critical to war, this is because condemning war is now a part of our culture. When both schools and media condemns war, the people do not want war. Our history is indoctrinated to us from childhood up. When children are indoctrinated to respect eachother the few that dont are treated as deviants.
Democracy is the way to go, but free communication, getting the economy up and exchanging goods and services is important as well. When you understand that another country is like your country you are less willing to attack that country. Most of the western world consider ourselves to be a band of brothers today and it's not uncommon that youngsters travel around, study at universities and work around the globe. The world is getting smaller and therefore less scary and we feel less eager to attack when we feel safe and secure.
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October 12th, 2007, 17:54
Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
Dan Dennett: Ants, terrorism, and the awesome power of memes
About ideas people are willing to die for.
Just had time to listen to that JemyM—very interesting and thought provoking presentation, and the comparison between the 'germs' that were spread by the first European visitors to the New world and their effect on the native population and the spread of the cultural touchstones of current western nations to other parts of the world and their impact was very effective. Thanks for the link.

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October 12th, 2007, 18:14
Originally Posted by curiously undead View Post
to me war and terrorism are one in the same.
Because dead is dead? Because innocents dying by accident when a bomb is dropped is to me quite different than kids in a school being rounded up and shot in the face in front of their parents.

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October 12th, 2007, 21:25
And it's just as bad for the kids—NBC Nightly News had a story about some ungodly high number of Iraqi children who'd seen their parents blown up in front of them, or siblings, teachers, classmates, etc..you can only imagine what kind of trauma they are dealing with, and the story was told by the one Iraqi child psychologist in Baghdad who was treating them. One. He said something like "I'm afraid this will be a bad generation."

Sometimes surviving is the hardest part of war.

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October 12th, 2007, 23:16
yes because dead is dead mike. life is a vaulable thing, and there is obvious different levels of suffering for how someone kind die, or not die in some cases, but torture is a whole different topic.

every one of the 24 members of the iraqi soccer (football) team has lost at least one relative in the iraq war.

interesting clip JemyM, definately some good thoughts in there. read a couple of dawkings books (including the selfish gene) a few years back, during my 5 year stint with biology/entomology though mainly beetles not ants. i'm down with the whole meme thing and think its fascinating but i disagree with his and many peoples thoughts on sacrafice. to me there are very few true unbiased sacrafices. suicide is a tricky subject because post humously you could even turn around jesus's suicide as just another suicide because so few people have failed to follow his examples. but i suppose if anyone else has or does benefit from a suicide than it can be seen as a noble sacrafice and not just a woe as me i can't hack it any more i'll kurt cobain myself. to me i find it useful to figure out polarities in life to help tune my grey lenses. i've always found the dichotomy of murder versus martyr two interesting roles. both roles/actions are strongly based but one solves the problem through sacrafice and the other through destruction. terrorists acts though involving sacrafice are still all the way to the edge of the murder scale, while the same could be said of the murder of war that does require a little sacrafice. niether of those actions admirable, but quite the norm, as long as society fails to teach sacrafice, and does its best to crush those who display it. some people may believe there are "bad men" sitting in guantanemo, but why would a murderer go on a self-inflicted hunger strike when he could give in, and sufferless, much like someone gives into the bloodlust or murder? islam has many faults, just like any other religion, but the lessons of sacrafice that are taught and followed by muslims i believe are far more "righteous" than their jewish and christian neighbors who don't place quite as high importance on sacrafice. this could be an unfair comparrison and example but if you look at yom kippur, lent, and ramadan i think its obvious which one is a difficult lesson in sacrafice. note i'm not saying that makes islam better, just that it is a better teacher of what sacrafice means, which doesn't mean a whole lot necessarily because a ritual doesn't necessarily breed understanding.
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October 13th, 2007, 08:49
Are you refering to the Daniel Dennet clip or the 3-part seminar on violence and suicides?
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October 13th, 2007, 10:13
the first. i didn't watch the 2nd 'til now, of which i find little to value in though i still have 5 or so minutes left. i'm not a big fan of theorys and ideas that are based mainly on statistics which can usually be presented to usually support anything. he doesn't seem to regard natives to highly which makes the hatchet man unhappy. regardless of whether "civilized" people are killing less. the fact that matters to me is that classes haven't changed much at all and those on top have and will never have to violent kill anyone when they can control others to do it.

it ended slightly better, i guess i'm just not used to seeing discussion so bent towards the optimism that we are doing things right, since there's so much to be fixed, but if its a matter of "ok we've come this far, good job, now lets get back to it" then i can see its value.
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October 13th, 2007, 12:15
Personally I have respect for secular muslims, even if I do not share the belief in a power higher than human compassion, I can even look up to some of their beliefs and their moral tradition. Helping the poor is an even stronger tradition within Islam than it ever was in Christianity. In Christianity you can MAYBE interpret that Jesus is nice to poor but Jesus is not vocal when it comes to actually helping them out. The Quaran is very direct about helping the less fortunate. Also the muslim rules against drugs and alcohol is missing from the new testament that simply floods with wine. An alcoholic muslim is a rare thing indeed.

What both seminars say to me is that humans have natural instincs that can be triggered if you feed them specific ideas and then push them long enough. Religions and some secular ideologies offers an almost complete world-view and the more you read it, the more you can become convinced it's the real deal.

Regardless of ideology, there's a strong distinction between living in a free country and a country controlled exclusively by an ideology. When everyone in your country are indoctrinated to only see one point of view, society will start to take thoose ideas for granted. When I grew up, two ideologies was spoonfed to me: Christianity and Socialism. I was told that certain things were evil, and I was taught many things that made sense to me then because I knew nothing else. When I started to learn more about the world, I started to see the holes in both, and now when I question them my own family and some of my past friends tell me the same hollow arguments I was taught when I was young. Everybody knows them and some of them are wrong.

But here's the deal: I live in a free country. I am allowed to express my ideas in public and if I do not want to join the march on 1st of may like this one I wont have to. Neither do I have to go to church and im even allowed to question the bible.

A christian or muslim who lives in Sweden blends the ideas of their religion with the values of the country. Things that are far removed from the values of the country (burning witches or treating non-musslims like cattle) are completely ignored, instead values like compassion to the less fortunate is taught by both religions. Meantime, even them who consider themselves "faithful" have normal lives with normal jobs, living in peace with neighbours from all religions and without religion. Even if they drill themselves with ideas, they pick just the good ones, not the bad ones.

Now think about Iran or Saudi-Arabia, countries controlled by religion. The rules is that everyone have to follow the religion, they are expected by everyone to pray five times per day and the Quaran should be read from cover to cover several times per year. You really have two choices; 1 is to shut up and do what you are told, no freedom to question it. 2 is to believe and get your brain drilled with every line of the holy book, no matter how outdated it is. I have been in Turkey, and it's not bad for a tourist. You are free to believe what ever you like and run little risk if you express your feelings, even if there are mosques everywhere.

There are one more thing. There's a great difference between Shia, Sunni and Sufist muslims. Shia Islam is sometimes refered to as the "religion of sorrow". Most of, if not all of the suicide bombers are shia muslims. Selfbeating and martyrdom is important. If you live up within a society where such values is expected by everyone, there's no surprise that someone can be convinced that they can kill themselves for "good" values.
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October 13th, 2007, 19:21
yes but often times their are 3 forces in these muslim countries as in others. one based on theology, one power of the government, and one power of the people. i heard an interesting discussion yesterday about egypt yesterday. the pro democracy people there are actually being hindered by efforts from the us which support the goverment of egypt, who is also allied with many other middle east countries, and since they also have control of most of the media sources there as well. then there's the churches who have access to their views through nearly everyone who goes to the mosques. the pro democracy people though have little power, money, resources then to have their voices and opinons heard. many countries have this kind of setup up though, where outside "help" from other countries nearly always is funneled into the hands of the government who's priorities aren't usually those of the people, at least those who believe in democracy. but in the case of the us, progressive thoughts rarely get the support of our own goverment, so its unlikely that the first priority of helping other countries especially in tactical areas is ever going to be with helping the people achieve democracy but rather back who ever has the most ability to control the area, and hope we don't choose wrong and have them turn out to be not such "good guys". the religious (not extremists necessarily) portion of the country then ramps up their mantra once their is an outside influence country which against the now beefed up government can lead to violence, and the few voices of democracy can either be caught in the crossfire or squashed as dissendents for speaking unfavorabley about they government. women in nearly all these cases as well are the biggest losers.
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October 14th, 2007, 16:05
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
So that's why war is wrong, correct? Their war, our war, now or then—innocent people are murdered every day in all wars no matter if you call it terrorism or Cortes 'converting' the Aztecs or Blitzkreig or Operation Desert Storm.
I always find it curious when people try to draw moral distinctions between war and terrorism. Suppose, instead of employing suicide bombers, Bin Laden had been elected president of a country with interballistic missile capabilities and ordered strikes on the Pentagon and the WTC. Now it would be called an act of war rather than terrorism. Does that change the moral aspect of the deed?
Differentiating between war and terrorism implies that political leaders and military officers, purely by virtue of the positions they hold, aren't capable of behaving like terrorists (specifically targeting civilians). We know that this isn't the case. War and terrorism may not be the same by definition, but war is every bit the moral equivalent of terrorism - albeit on a much larger scale.
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October 14th, 2007, 16:29
Originally Posted by Geist View Post
I always find it curious when people try to draw moral distinctions between war and terrorism.
That is a large scale example and is harder to fit - I consider the Pentagon a very valid military target and everyone would think of NYC as a primary bombing site.

The distinction is the use of innocents not as 'collateral damage' but as delivery techniques.
- Armies and bombs would drop bombs on NYC and the Pentagon, terrorists use innocent people to cause the destruction.
- Armies and bombs would maim and kill babies accidentally as part of a campaign. Terrorists would leave a crying baby in a carriage filled with explosives to kill as many people as possible.
- Armies and bombs would kill school children by accident in bombings or shootouts. Terrorists use children as bullet shields and take over schools and film themselves beheading children and blowing their heads off and release them to spread fear.

So while I think that war is brutal and the absolute wrong thing to do, I don't see that I need to 'try' to draw the distinction - the terrorists do it just fine themselves.

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