I was recently listening to a (Swedish) documentary about the 9/11 events, and one of the interviews in that program, with a fundamentalist Alegerian muslim, made me think about the role of religion and blind faith when it comes to intelligence and rationality:
In particular, the person interviewed stated that his faith had demanded of him to join the Mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 80s, as part of his personal Jihad , to fight the Russian occupation.
The guy did not have any education, he admitted that he didn’t even know where Afghanistan was, what Sovjet Union was, even less what the struggles were all about… yet, he felt compelled to travel to for him unknown country, to fight for a cause he didn’t understand, only because his religion compelled him to do so, to fight with his (unknown!) Muslim brothers!
While listening to the interview, it struck me that this guy’s reasoning is a great example of the lack of capability for abstraction, classification, logical deduction and hypothetical resoning that James Flynn points out in his recent TED video as absolutely necessary for intelligence and intelligent behavior:
unless you are capable of these cognitive capabilities, you are forced to think exclusively in concrete and absolute terms, and then you will become easy prey for any kind of brainwashing, such as that perfected by the religious extremist leaders (or for that matter, various corporate or government Empty Suits).
So, my point is that extremism, regardless of kind, is made possible when people are lacking the cognitive skills necessary for critical thought, the ability to reason in abstractions asop to the concrete, to see the relativeness asop to the absoluteness, to conduct “what-if” scenarios instead of determinism, and to apply logical reasoning.
As stated in the graphic above, the fundamental problem with religion is that is shifts away personal responsibility for actions and outcomes from the person to an unknown deity, free will gets replaced with destiny.
(As a sidenote: although I explicitly mention this Muslim guy, there are fundamentalists in other religions as well, such as Christian or Judaism, so no need to scream “racist”..! 🙂
( a side note #2: now, having posted a few very likely trigger words, such as Mujahedin and Jihad, I’m sure that this blog will get flagged by NSA – hi guys, how about getting together over a beer or three to discuss hacking, crypto & codebreaking ?- I’m a great fan of Alan Turing (don’t worry, he’s not an Internet Terrorist, (although he was gay if that might count negatively in your book..?) and he happens to be dead since 60 years, but that guy once saved your ass, as well as mine and everybody else’s in the free world… )
So by posting these lines I’m sure that I’m going to get an “interesting” reception when I travel to US next time, but since I have nothing to hide, I shouldn’t have anything to fear should I, I mean, I’ve even helped you to get a trigger on this post by highlighting all interesting words… right, TSA/NSA/CIA/FBI & the rest of the alphabet soup gang…? 🙂
So, no waterboarding, electric chords, doggy style walks, etc, not even detainment next time we meet please, agreed, guys…? 🙂