Maxims, rules of thumb and other observations on human cognition and sociocultural affectations

This will be added to on an irregular basis...
  • What is said to humans directly is received with skepticism and considered with dubiousness while that which is heard in passing, especially that which most conforms to their mentality or prejudices, is readily believed.
  • Humans have a certain cognitive latency between exposure to new information or experiences and the ability to think dispassionately and intellectually about it.
  • Humans have a certain cognitive spectrum starting with the moment of exposure to new information or experiences and ending with some point at which the thing is effectively "in the past" for them.
  • This cognitive spectrum is linked to the emotional process often referred to as shock, anger, denial and acceptance.
  • The more and faster information or experiences are presented to people and the closer the quarters and the lesser the distance between people, the more their early reactions in the passionate emotional stage are reflected back to them in the manner of responses to those reactions from others in light of those responses.
  • The more outrages which are suffered without sufficient time to allow emotional bleed-off, the farther the bar for subsequent reaction and outrage are pushed, and the more further events must progress before reaction and outrage.
  • It is possible for serious detriments to eventually sit below this threshold for long enough for their damaging effects to build and multiply until their entire society undergoes some reactive convulsion.
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Monday, December 29, 2008

Obsession - Radical Islam's War Against The West

SEE THIS MOVIE, NOW SHOWING ON SHALOM TV UNTIL JANUARY 3, 2009. (Praise to G-d for Cox seeing the light to carry Jewish programming FINALLY...)

Obsession - Radical Islam's War Against The West

In short, it portrays a Muslim world of controlled information dissemination, propagandizing, demonization, and limiting of cultural experience transfer. Societies whether Arab, Persian, or Turkish which provide a very limited controlled view of the outside world, designed to first reinforce the political line of the rulers, second to make the society as xenophobic as possible, and third to create enemies for the rulers and society to struggle against and blame for their problems perpetually.

It is dead accurate. The average Muslim in the street in the cities in which we see the gatherings of clerics giving fiery anti-western speeches do not know anything about our way of life but what they've been told, what has been given to them since they could first understand their native language, and will be given to their children and grandchildren unless something changes: that constant message that cultures other than theirs, especially the Christians and Jews, are out to get them, working actively to oppose them at a personal spiritual level, and working to undermine their culture and their way of life.

Really, it isn't a different point of view from the Orthodox Jewish view of the charedi that the modern secular world is responsible for every ill befalling Judaism, EXCEPT that no one sane in those circles seriously believes the secular world is causing any of those problems on purpose and deliberately. They ills perceived are the after effect of the clash between the secular way of life, and the religious way of life which if you take them to extremes, necessarily overlap each other and tend to be opposed in terms of restrictions and allowances to action (the Catholic no meat on Friday, the Jewish no work after sundown Saturday, or the secular do whatever you want).

Most people know very well instinctively that they have the secular freedom to do anything within certain bounds of civility and security and safety as their baseline and religious requirements are simply fences or marks on the ground they choose to observe. When society and religion align, presenting an open society with few restrictions is intimidating and threatening, most especially to those who have, wish to have, and/or wish to maintain power over the masses of the first more restrictive religious culture.

In the Islamic world, the clash is considered purposeful. A purpose driven by Satan, by America, by Jews, by Israel, by Zionists, by whoever opposes them even if only by default. When people believe that they are under attack, they engage in defensive behaviors. When people believe they are being victimized, they engage in the usual angry, hurt, and upset behaviors of victims. When people believe they are righteous, they engage in the controlling, intimidating, and manipulative behaviors of self-righteousness. Combine those things, and you get the crowd listening to the clerics.

This is of course (and here is your obligatory "I have friends who are black" style statement of disclaimer) not to say that the people are themselves inherently flawed but that they carry a set of memes intellectually from generation to generation that are self-reinforcing from a psychological synergy standpoint (that is they reinforce natural human tendencies against introspection, self-analysis, and guilt and so forth) and extremely seductive. Who doesn't want to think that the reason everyone disagrees with them is that everyone else is not only wrong, but out to get them? It makes one seem important because one must be if one merits such an overarching and all encompassing conspiracy against them.

This is what the west is up against.

Lastly, the west needs to understand that although the majority of Jews are not charedi, the uber-Orthodox world is nevertheless the archetype of what it means to be for lack of a simpler phrase, truly Jewish among those same non-charedi Jews. Similarly, although most Muslims are not extremists, the extremists are the archetype among those non-extremist Muslims for what being truly Muslim means. They are the "hardcore" of their world and right now, they are not peaceful, nice, or happy towards the west and non-Muslim world. Thankfully, the uber-Orthodox are, the idiot street clowns of RMS and such places notwithstanding.

In the same way that the majority of Jews are only secular in the sense that they choose to not be as strictly observant as the archetype, the majority of Muslims are only peaceful in that they are not as strictly observant of what they nevertheless hold to be absolute true observance of Islam, which in the end is violent.

You can say what you want about the Koran being peaceful, and much of it is, and what violence there is seems as ancient and angry as anything in the Torah, but where the Torah comes with side works starting with the Talmud and then the many other commentaries and famous seferim, the Koran comes with the Hadith and many other writings which took a decidedly less peaceful and more warlike outlook on human relations.

In the end, no religion is inherently peaceful or warlike as no matter what the ritualized writings say, they are still merely an external framework people use to share the experience of faith. Violence is in their own mind and heart. Religious embrace of one or the other in "official" practice or intellectual agreement merely opposes or facilitates the mindset of the individual.

To stop this, Islam needs a new movement of peace and benevolence for all born of a true heartsick exhaustion with the violence and anger, the people of the lands currently held by Islam need to be able to separate their religious lives from their purely secular national and ethnic lives, and the ideologues who continuously encourage the hate need to be undermined and subverted constantly and consistently and by their own would-be audience themselves. It cannot happen from outside, the outside can merely facilitate those inside wishing to put a stop to the blackness eating up the hearts of the hate mongering anger preaching talking heads who've parted company with Allah and decided their mercy should be inversely proportional to G-d's in the name of the rush they get from the adoration of the crowds they whip up.

There is much in the world that every religious person of whatever stripe might find unworthy or outright objectionable. The test of a religious person's faith is whether they can resist stealing G-d's power for themselves, judging the worthiness of His creation and acting as executioner of that judgment. G-d has warned us repeatedly against this in every religion, Islam included, and every religion has scores of examples of the folly of forgetting that injunction.

One day, may we all worship as we see fit in peace without anger and hate.