On Moderation and Cognitive Warfare: More from Stuart Green

Chapter 8 from Stuart Green’s thesis. Previous postings available here.

He prefaces it with the following remarks:

Richard, this is chapter eight. I hope it’s not too long, but I sense there are some conceptual problems with it that I can’t quite put my finger on. I’d love to get feedback from your readers and pick their brains. Also, some of your readers were asking about the difference between cognitive warfare and, say political warfare as waged by the Soviets and Chinese. As I continue to read more about political warfare, I do see a great deal of overlap. There are still differences, however. My theory is quite broad, perhaps too broad, as it stretches down to the basic building blocks of the idea, up through culture, ideology, and the pointy parts of PSYOP. I also need to note the importance of psychology itself.

CHAPTER 8

THE MODERATE MEME OFFENSIVE, COGNITIVE PARALYSIS, AND DHIMMITUDE

The last chapter focused a great deal on deception in the Arab-Israeli conflict, but with particular emphasis on its operational applications. Delving a little more into deception, the first half of this chapter moves away from the blunt operational manifestations and toward some of the slight-of-hand, soft rhetoric used by related jihadist groups in other parts of the West, namely the U.S. and Europe. It seeks to demonstrate that jihadists have successfully targeted American and European politicians, academics, and journalists with deceptively moderate memes designed to infiltrate and disarm the Western discourse. They have managed to hide agendas that are not only pernicious to Israel, but to secular Western society as a whole. The second half of this chapter addresses the Western intelligentsia’s reaction to evidence of the uncomfortable truth: cognitive dissonance and paralysis. In the end, it argues that the failure to confront these realities as they become progressively clearer constitutes a form of modern dhimmitude. That is, the failure to confront violence, violent rhetoric, and violent ideology represents unwitting submission to an Arab-Muslim agenda.

USE OF MODERATE MEMES

In times of particularly intense conflict the accepted discourses have naturally shifted toward the extreme. During the World Wars entire enemy populations became associated with rapacious destruction and evil, as were “the Hun” during WWI and the Japanese during WWII for Americans. In the current context, however, only the Arab-Muslim society maintains that it is now (and always has been) at war with Western society. Western society, for its part, continues to think of war in confined, sporadic terms—certainly, war is not perceived as a millennial imperative. Today the accepted Western discourse, with some exceptions, does not allow for the suggestion that it is in a civilizational war—such talk is generally denounced as racist or Islamophobic. Thenceforth, “extreme” rhetoric is permitted within the mainstream, Arab-Muslim discourse, while the Western discourse remains relatively unradicalized.

Professor Anna Geifman of Boston University observes the frequent appearance of a particular question after terrorist attacks: “What did we do to make them hate us?”[1] The emergence of this question demonstrates not only that the Western discourse remains comparatively unmoved by even the violent manifestation of the war—there is little “mobilization” in the Western discourse when compared to WWI, WWII, or the current Arab-Muslim discourse—but also that it is decidedly vulnerable to hostile ideologists and their “moderate” supporters who indulge in answering the question.

Few ask the more relevant question Landes suggests, which holds particular value for our own cognitive warriors: “What are they telling themselves that makes them hate us?” The accepted pattern is to point out a variety of Western policies as the genesis of Arab-Muslim anger and conflict. This kind of thinking—not completely without value—stems from guilt-culture and maintains that we can find out “why they hate us” by opening a “dialogue,” and possibly even improve relations by admitting culpability. For this to be theoretically possible, the Western elite must find a moderate Arab-Muslim cadre to sit across the table, and because universalist memeplexes insist that there is such a cadre, cognitive warriors happily provide them.

Stephen Coughlin suggests that the moderates of respective societies interact with each other to feed temperate, sometimes “soft,” impressions of the other culture back into their own society’s discourse (see chapter 2). There are also influential individuals and groups wholly aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas who use taqiyya to make themselves appear moderate by Western standards, that is, they pass themselves off as the best chance for “mutual understanding” and inter-societal progress. By appropriately aligning their memes for infiltration and infection, these groups and individuals soften Western policy-makers, academics, and journalists, most of whom are neither familiar with taqiyya nor the depth and extremity of the opposing ideology. These deceptively moderate elements are on the front lines of the cognitive war and arguably present the most dangerous, most capable threat to the West.

The Campus

Schleifer demonstrates that their activities represent one of the more “mastered” elements of cognitive warfare. During the first intifada, Palestinian leaders broke down their PSYOP target audiences into several subcategories. Western democratic audiences, for instance, were divided between Arab-American/Europeans, opinion makers, Muslim groups, Jewish liberals, and the general public.[2] Walid Shoebat’s anecdote above gives some clue as to the extent of Fatah’s message tailoring in the U.S., but Schleifer notes that Palestinians also study in Israeli universities. “One notable example is Ibrahim Karaeen, a leading Fatah member who in 1978 opened the Palestinian Press Service in East Jerusalem,” to translate publications and give foreign correspondents a new, Palestinian perspective. [3]

Steven Emerson highlights some of the activities of the more infamous jihadists in the U.S., including Sami al Arian, a University of South Florida professor with strong ties to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and who has been taped shouting “death to Israel” in Arabic. Arian established two organizations dedicated “exclusively for educational and academic research and analysis, and promotion of international peace and understanding,” which could easily have attracted the interest of unsuspecting students and academics.[4]

There is a multitude of organizations on Western campuses dedicated to boycotting Israeli products and Israeli academics. Their prevalence and several recent events have demonstrated the extent to which the Palestinian narrative has penetrated some campuses.[5] Palestinian “trade unionists,” representing a wide variety of professional, often leftist, associations in the territories, agitate internationally for Palestinian causes (they may do so on behalf of the PA, although this requires additional investigation), most commonly calling for intellectual and commercial boycotts of Israel on humanitarian civil rights grounds.

Recently, they received a significant moral boost when at least two British unions—the British University and College Union (UCU), claiming to speak for 120,000 British educators, and “UNISON,” a union claiming to represent 1.3 million public sector workers—passed similar resolutions calling for anti-Israel intellectual and military boycotts. They pledged support for the Palestinian “people’s right to self-determination and to establish a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with its capital in Jerusalem.”[6] Unions and activists such as these do not generally intend to support the violent activities of Palestinian ideologists, but from the ideologist’s perspective, that type of support is a tertiary concern. By way of international pressure, cognitive warriors seek only to trigger Israel’s self-imposed military restraint, which subsequently allows jihadists more freedom for their own military operations.

Lest the substantive connection between militants and apparently moderate organs like the trade unions mentioned above be doubted, it is important to remember the previous sections of this thesis which established the level of militant control over the Palestinian discourse. Even for genuinely independent groups with specialized causes, only memes that are in line with or beneficial to “radical” ideology may be permitted. Moreover, many jihadist groups have used deception to establish new groups that appear independent and moderate, but remain connected to and work for the benefit of their parent organization.

The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood?

The Muslim American Society (MAS) is one such example. Formed in 1993, its “leadership was instructed to deny their affiliation with the [Muslim] Brotherhood, their strategy was to operate under a different name but promote the same ideological goals: the reformation of society through the spread of Islam, with the ultimate goal of establishing Islamic rule in America.”[7] Like several other organizations claiming to serve as conduits for dialogue with American Muslims, the MAS was in fact established by the global Muslim Brotherhood movement, which, according to an internal memorandum made public at the Holy Land Foundation trial in Texas, wages

a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”[8]

Perhaps the best known Brotherhood scion and arguably the most influential American Muslim organization is the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Established in 1994, this organization descended from yet another influential offshoot, the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). According to another internal memorandum, the IAP “absorbed most of the [Muslim Brotherhood’s] Palestinian energy at the leadership and grassroots levels in addition to some of the brothers from other countries,” and it developed the Palestine Committee and Hamas, often described as a sister organization by the IAP’s leaders.[9]

Given CAIR’s family history, it comes as no surprise that the Council is also active in Palestinian causes in its mission as interlocutor, but unlike other jihadist groups based in the U.S., its influence dramatically expanded after 9/11. A quick perusal of CAIR Pennsylvania’s website indicates that the organization has successfully bent the ear of over 50 senators, representatives, state governors, and city council members, all of whom “applaud CAIR’s mission to enhance understanding and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.” Even President Bush stated that it was his “honor to be meeting with leaders who feel just the same way I do… They love America just as much as I do.”[10]

This kind of adulation is common and poignantly shows the group’s success in penetrating the American discourse. Even the Muslim Brotherhood itself, the progenitor of virtually every significant, modern, violent, Sunni jihadist group, is frequently portrayed as a moderate organization committed to democratic ideals and peaceful transformation of society. One Foreign Affairs article written in this vein presents it as a viable alternative in “the anxious and often fruitless search for Muslim moderates,” and suggests that “policymakers should recognize that the Muslim Brotherhood presents a notable opportunity.”[11] This article, in fact, warrants a slightly closer look as it demonstrates that even those who have carefully studied a jihadist organization can fall prey to its claims of moderation.

An honest academic attempt to dissect the ideological war, Robert Leiken’s and Steven Brooke’s “The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood” is not a purely apologetic look at the group. The fourteen page article suggests some interesting divides that might be exploited under the massive umbrella organization, traces an interesting history that presumably led the Brotherhood to reject violent jihad and embrace democratic means for acquiring power, and points to some of its leaders who refrained from inciting their constituents and even (outwardly) worked to control them in times of heightened tension. The authors even acknowledge that “many analysts… sensibly question whether the Brotherhood’s adherence to democracy is merely tactical and transitory—an opportunistic commitment to, in the historian Bernard Lewis’ words, ‘one man, one vote, one time.’”[12] Like so many others who make similar attempts, however, Leiken and Brooke’s work suffers from at least two key flaws.

First, they make only passing and indirect reference to the phenomenon described at length in this thesis, taqiyya. They write, “A recent article in the journal Current Trends in Islamist Ideology found worrying discrepancies between the English and Arabic versions of certain articles on the official Muslim Brotherhood Web site,” making it apparent that they, like other Westerners, began their analysis with little suspicion of systematic deception and merely stumbled across some apparently minor problems. Although the authors at least acknowledge that “Islamists have been accused” of a double discourse, the manner in which they diminish the claim shows they do not understand that taqiyya necessarily brings into question all the Brotherhood’s externally targeted statements. Had Leiken and Brooke read the transcript for this meeting of the IAP’s senior leaders, they might have given more credence to the claim.

I swear by your God that war is deception. War is deception. We are fighting our enemy with a kind heart and we never thought of deceiving it. War is deception. Deceive, camouflage, pretend that you’re leaving while you’re walking that way…. Deceive your enemy. [Another states:] This is like one who plays basketball; he makes a player believe that he is doing this while he does something else…. I agree with you. Like they say; politics is a completion of war.[13]

Second, they are either unaware of or conspicuously fail to address several key documents and key leader quotes which—despite their best and arguably successful efforts at deception—should destroy any semblance of the Brotherhood’s moderation. The finest example, mentioned above, describes the group’s pernicious effort to “destroy Western civilization,” a goal that remains in place despite the outward rejection of violence. But there are numerous quotes from the Brotherhood’s and CAIR’s key leaders which less-than-subtly suggest their underlying discourse is vitriolic and destructive. In a “Meeting Agenda for the Palestine Committee” in 1994, for instance, the Brotherhood flatly rejects the Oslo Peace Accords of 1993, equates normalization of Arab-Israeli relations with “surrender,” ironically suggests that Jewish attempts to establish dialogue are meant to break the Muslim psychological barrier, and proposes a plan to obstruct the peace process.

The Islamic and Arabic World is being overrun by a vigorous campaign to normalize the relations between the Muslims and the Arabs from one side, and the Zionist entity from another side…. Dr. Edward Sa’id, one of the participants in these dialogues, says that the Zionist organizations were planning this type of dialogues in order to break the psychological barrier that the Arabs and Palestinians have so that they accept the Jews and their country…. [The counter-strategy is thus:] The activation of the role of (MAS) to educate the brothers in all work centers, mosques and organizations on the necessity of stopping any contacts with the Zionist organizations and the rejection of any future contacts…. An internal Brotherhood committee to fight the normalization of relations and monitor the brotherhood organizations and others, and giving advice to them in the best ways…. [The] attempt to stop the normalization that is happening under any umbrella. Activating the role of the Association [IAP] and its publications to take up its media role in this area.[14]

In 2004 Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the international Brotherhood’s leader, made repeated statements calling for Israel’s destruction, lauded Iraqi and Palestinian suicide bombers, and claimed that there is no evidence pointing to al Qaida’s responsibility for 9/11.[15]

Between statements assuring the American public of their peaceful intentions and desire for dialogue, CAIR’s own top leaders have betrayed an underlying perspective that defies moderation. According to a well-sourced article by Emerson, CAIR’s chairmen, directors, and other key leaders have:

· Supported Saudi financial assistance to families of “martyrs.”

· Used the term “zionazi” to describe Jews.

· Defended Holocaust denial and asserted that Jews control the media

· Invited neo-Nazis to speak at several conferences

· Repeatedly defended Yusuf al Qaradawi, who believes that “there should be no dialogue with [Israelis] except through swords,” and has said, “these are not suicide operations… these are heroic martyrdom operations.”

· Supports the concept of “blasphemy laws” which would “broaden the scope of anti-hate laws” to prohibit blasphemy directed at religious symbols, including cartoons depicting Mohammad.

· Claimed that violent resistance to Israel is necessary. In October 2000, Nihad Awad, a CAIR co-founder, attended a rally during which protesters shouted “Khaibar, Khaibar, Ya Yahud, Jaysh Muhammad Safayood” (Khaibar, Khaibar, O Jews, Muhammad’s Army is coming for you).[16]

Leiken and Brooke are by no means the only authors to miss these statements or fail to dig into jihadist’s underlying motives, but I have used it as an example of jihadist success in penetrating, indeed, helping to form the Western discourse.[17] One may conclude that these authors are victims of taqiyya and their willingness to unquestionably embrace the organization’s potential for engagement is the intended product of their deceptive practices. It essentially demonstrates that these individuals’ willingness, indeed their need to believe in the moderation of the Brotherhood for memetic salvation—dovetailed with the group’s efforts to appear moderate.

Dissection of a Hamas Editorial

A recent editorial in the Washington Post by Mahmoud al Zahar, one of Hamas’ co-founders, demonstrated the remarkable skill with which even genocidal Palestinians may frame their objectives in Western narratives. When Western icons like former President Carter subscribe wholeheartedly to the Palestinian narrative, and then pile on with words like “apartheid,” much of Hamas’ work is done, or at least done for it. As words like this become part of the Western narrative and are reinforced by unwitting agents like Carter, Hamas appears less extreme when its members use similar or even more extreme terminology. In short order, Hamas’ true objectives—none of which have softened—are quickly forgotten as al Zahar’s plea to sit at the “peace” table is contrasted with Israel’s seemingly unreasonable refusal to have them.

In the editorial al Zahar states negotiations cannot succeed if there are preconditions to sitting at the table—a reasonable statement on the face of it. But Hamas has its own preconditions that would effectively eliminate the Jewish state legally and demographically before negotiations begin in earnest.

A “peace process” with Palestinians cannot take even its first tiny step until Israel first withdraws to the borders of 1967; dismantles all settlements; removes all soldiers from Gaza and the West Bank; repudiates its illegal annexation of Jerusalem; releases all prisoners; and ends its blockade of our international borders, our coastline and our airspace permanently. This would provide the starting point for just negotiations and would lay the groundwork for the return of millions of refugees.[18] [emphasis added]

These demands, lest they appear extreme to western eyes, are placed much deeper in the letter and sandwiched between two softer, more palatable statements. The opening bracket is designed to demonstrate that Hamas is not in fact an anti-Semitic organization: “Judaism—which gave so much to human culture in the contributions of its ancient lawgivers and modern proponents of tikkun olam…” while the closing bracket appeals to our humanity: “I am eternally proud of my sons and miss them every day. I think of them as fathers everywhere, even in Israel, think of their sons—as innocent boys, as curious students, as young men with limitless potential—not as “gunmen” or “militants.”

It is difficult to know how the editorial was received by Western eyes, but one may reasonably count this salvo as a well-aimed one. Al Zahar managed to couch extreme objectives in a memetic configuration that the West is predisposed to accept. An observant reader will notice that nowhere in the letter is there any suggestion of Palestinian responsibility for the Palestinian plight, nowhere in the letter is there any indication that Hamas intends to compromise on any issue. In fact, if one is familiar with the long term, uncompromising quality of Palestinian strategies, the last line waxes particularly ominous, “As for the Israeli state and its Spartan culture of permanent war, it is all too vulnerable to time, fatigue and demographics: In the end, it is always a question of our children and those who come after us.” To Westerners, this statement may seem innocuous. By design the inferred meaning is, “Israel cannot maintain its intransigence forever. We may fail, but our children will successfully reach a settlement.” For the Palestinian audience, the meaning is entirely different. It is that “Israel cannot hold out forever. We will outbreed them if we cannot first pick them apart with negotiation.”

COGNITIVE PARALYSIS: MEMETIC REACTION TO UNFORESEEN DHIMMITUDE

Litmus Tests for Western Minds

The surest sign of a cognitive campaign’s success is the enemy’s willing assistance. Geifman suggests the pliant behavior of Western journalists, among other members of the intelligentsia, constitutes a type of Stockholm Syndrome. She notes that questions such as the one noted above (“What did we do to make them hate us?”) bring home the responsibility for terrorism and avoid the uncomfortable exploration of the true underlying causes for jihadist ideologies. Her thinking parallels that of Bat Ye’or, who claims the political left, although meaning well, has essentially subjugated Western culture to the status of historical dhimmi by taking redress of Western colonial practices to an extreme. This is in excess of the tendency to assume that groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and CAIR are moderate.

This is, in fact, a kind of suicidal, intellectual paralysis that occurs when incontrovertible evidence of pernicious motives surfaces. As an extreme form of cognitive dissonance, it is the stubborn tenacity of old, discredited memeplexes to charge on in a self-destructive direction. It is the hope that those using the West’s own “miserable hands” to destroy it will become enlightened before the destruction is completed. It is, in essence, a strange, semi-conscious submission to dicrocoelium dendriticum, the parasite that drives ants to suicidal behavior. In a critical time, the discourse has excused practices and behavior that would not be tolerated from non-Muslim American/European or Israeli quarters (Amnesty International has effectively acknowledged this). As in the historical context of dhimmitude, the “subjects” dare not speak ill of Islam lest there be violent consequences—or accusations of racism or Islamophobia—and they make political and economic concessions without reciprocation.

The row over publication of the Danish cartoons depicting Mohammad and the subsequent apologies is probably the best-known illustration of this. In another example, then French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy appeared reluctant to acknowledge the ethnic identity of many anti-Semitic attackers in 2003, stating, “Anyone who explains the resurgence of anti-Semitism by the Middle East conflict is saying something wrong. Anti-Semitism existed before the existence of Israel.”[19] It is important to note that, at the time, the al Aqsa intifada raged and many of the anti-Semitic attacks in France were perpetrated with specific reference to it. Moreover, it was clear French Muslims constituted a disproportionate share of the attackers (see below). Sarkozy, known as a hard line conservative on immigration issues, shied away from acknowledging this and instead chose to refocus attention on Europe’s pre-Muslim tradition of anti-Semitism. Whether for fear of treading on Muslim sensitivities, fear of being labeled Islamophobic, or fear of sparking wider violence, Sarkozy’s comments can be construed as a form of dhimmitude.

Other examples of contemporary dhimmitude include: the France 2 evening news program’s failure to report the Muslim identity of most attackers in the 2005 riots, instead calling them “les jeunes” (the youths); the dietary provisions for Muslim students in a secular school system; non-Muslims fearfully moving out of neighborhoods due to intimidation; non-Muslims abstaining from wearing Christian or Jewish paraphernalia for fear of being attacked; Jews switching to friendlier schools with fewer radical students; and non-Muslims feeling compelled to use “non-Muslim bathrooms” to avoid retribution. Although it eventually happened, there was initially a lack of French institutional will to completely shut down al Manar, Lebanese Hezbollah’s television station dedicated to disseminating anti-Semitic vitriol, propaganda about the eventual destruction of Israel, and videos glorifying gore and martyrdom.[20]

Some argue that the general coolness of the European discourse and policies toward Israel and US initiatives constitute a form of dhimmitude as well. The Madrid bombings of 2004 led to Prime Minister José María Aznar’s electoral defeat and the subsequent Spanish withdrawal from Iraq. Although it is popularly maintained that the election upset and withdrawal were indirect consequences of the Spaniards’ distrust for their government, jihadists quickly picked up on the violence=results equation, a lesson that falls squarely in the dhimmitude construct.[21] French policies in the Middle East today trace their roots to decisions made by Charles de Gaulle after World War II, who desired that France remain an influential nation beholden to no superpower.[22]

In Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis Bat Ye’or argues that Europe, led by France, willfully and deliberately conceded the political and academic discourse about Israel to Arabs. The concession was demanded as part of the price for increased economic and political ties that the French desired to counterweigh U.S. global influence and re-secure their prominence. The Euro-Arab Dialogue (EAD), a concept floated by the French shortly before the 1973 war in Israel, gained true significance when Europe sought to escape—through dialogue and concession—the oil embargo resulting from that War. Arab partners in the EAD and other dialogue bodies made no secret of the fact that cooperation was contingent chiefly on European anti-Israel rhetoric and policies, but there were other important concessions as well.[23]

European intellectuals, who may not have fully understood the hegemonic nature of jihad, supported not only the establishment of large Muslim-Arab communities on European soil, but the development of education centers espousing jihad. Ye’or writes:

The educational and cultural programs of the European Islamic Centers, which were introduced by the EAD into European schools, seem to reflect the concept of the Jihad (Holy War) Fund [envisioned by Mohammed Hasan Mohammed al Tohami, who sought to help Muslims resist “alien thought and foreign ideology”]. These programs were wholeheartedly embraced, applied and monitored by European leaders, intellectuals, and activists.[24]

With the Arab-Muslim presence in Europe now firmly established and the accepted discourse arguably anti-Israel, at least half of the joint vision may have been achieved. Ye’or would probably argue that Europe failed to use the Arab world to counter U.S. influence, but the Arab world nonetheless achieved disproportionate influence in European circles. There often appears to be a level of respect for Arab-Muslim sensitivities that would not be afforded to Jews or other non-Muslims. It is not uncommon to hear suggestions that fears of a violent Arab “street” at least in part drive European, particularly French, political decisions. Even if Europeans do not see it as such, the subordination of Europe’s political and cultural discourses to Arab-Muslim demands—sometimes for fear of violent retribution—constitutes a form of dhimmitude from the classical Arab-Muslim perspective.

But it does not stand alone as a meme. As explained in chapter three, otherwise independent ideas can increase their fitness by becoming associated with other strong concepts, thus forming memeplexes that are less easily broken apart. In this case, the meme for dhimmitude often goes hand in hand with memes for anti-Semitism, even from the unlikely quarters of other potential dhimmi: Christians. There are numerous authors who effectively argue that the old form of anti-Semitism has not disappeared, rather it has evolved. Particularly in Europe, anti-Semitism of the “traditional” Nazi variety, which is not part of the accepted discourse, has given way to a “new” anti-Semitism. It is no less virulent or dangerous, but because it is led by the Arab-Muslim world (including the world of Muslim immigrants), it is tacitly approved of or excused by Western intellectual elites who are intellectually paralyzed by memes prohibiting criticism of minorities.

Rather than discussing the cultural and religious roots of Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism and how it blends with the traditional home-grown variety, the accepted discourse now downplays the seriousness of Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism by characterizing it as a natural consequence of Israeli injustices. When vitriolic statements or actions, considered unacceptable within Western circles come from Arab-Muslim sources, they are often permitted or dismissed as insignificant. This is classic cognitive dissonance, and it appears to have immobilized the Western intelligentsia.

This phenomenon appears at first glance to be more pro-Arab apologia than anti-Semitic prejudice, but the attitude typically extends toward a categorical condemnation of Israel and often circles back to burden European Jews, who are assumed responsible for perceived Israeli transgressions. Anecdotally, when Israeli security forces allegedly shot Muhammad al Dura, French Jews were commonly asked, “Why did you kill that boy?” Apparently, the epithet “sale Juif” (dirty Jew) is still lobbed with ease, and discussants defending Israel in public risk being “accused” of being Jewish or a Mossad agent.[25]

Incidents like these stem from a permissive environment, one that reportedly led my NATO colleague, a French lieutenant colonel, to publicly let loose a string of toxic accusations about the “satanic” character of Israel, which “deserved everything it got.” It is apparent that the meme for anti-Semitism did not die at the end of World War II, and it can be considered a virile one that augments and thrives among dhimmi. From an ideological perspective, Christian anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist discourse may be an indicator of dhimmi-like submission—as would be mainstream silence over Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism—and some success.

Litmus Test for Arab-Muslim Minds

Within the memeplexes forming the Western discourse, it is assumed that all victims of inequality wish ultimately to achieve equality. This is not necessarily the case, however. The presence of anti-Semitism in minority communities illustrates that equality is a normative ideal not necessarily shared by all. In this case, anti-Semitism in Europe can serve as a Litmus test for global Muslim attitudes towards other minority groups, demonstrating either concurrence with or the success of Jihadists’ efforts. Traditionally carried out by right-wing, white groups such as the neo-Nazis, skinheads, or particularly fervent followers of France’s late Jean-Marie le Pen, anti-Semitism has been common in Europe since World War II, even if openly shunned by the mainstream culture. The recent advent of increased Muslim immigration in Europe, however, has ushered in a new wave of attacks and a different group of anti-Semitic perpetrators.

A State Department describes the changing nature and increasing prevalence of anti-Semitic attacks:

The increasing frequency and severity of anti-Semitic incidents since the start of the 21st century, particularly in Europe, has compelled the international community to focus on anti-Semitism with renewed vigor. Attacks on individual Jews and on Jewish properties occurred in the immediate post World War II period, but decreased over time and were primarily linked to vandalism and criminal activity. In recent years, incidents have been more targeted in nature with perpetrators appearing to have the specific intent to attack Jews and Judaism. These attacks have disrupted the sense of safety and well being of Jewish communities.[26]

Mentioned briefly above, the French Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l’Homme (National Consultative Commission for the Rights of Man, or CNCDH), states anti-Semitic attacks remain continually elevated near record levels and, despite Jews representing less than 1 percent of the French population, constitute 62 percent of all racist attacks in the country. [27] There are clear indications that European Muslims are conducting disproportionately large numbers of anti-Semitic attacks. According to the same organization, French police estimate Muslims conduct 26.8 percent of the attacks, although Muslims only constitute about 8 percent of the population. These figures are somewhat unreliable due to prohibitions on the collection of ethnic or religious data, however.[28] It was mentioned in chapter two that one poll, whose reliability has not been determined, indicates 37 percent of British Muslims believe British Jews are “legitimate targets as part of the ongoing struggle for justice in the Middle East.”[29] Additionally, 2006 turned out to be a record year for anti-Semitic attacks in the UK, linked partially to the August Israeli-Hezbollah war.[30] According to one report, 76 out of 205 victims claimed they were attacked by individuals of ethnicities commonly associated with Muslims.[31]

Anti-Semitic thought and practice appears to be far more prevalent in Muslim communities than among native Europeans. The carelessness with which young and older Muslim students sling Judeophobic epithets appeared to shock Education Minister Jean-Pierre Obin (see chapter four), and it indicates the hatred stems from far more than political disagreements over situations in the Middle East. Owing at least in part to the growing influence of radical imams, or “big brothers,” young Muslims increasingly believe that Jews deserve the lowest of positions in society, and they can clearly draw on well-established sources to legitimize that position. It is important to note that Christians and Jews effectively occupied the same social stratum beneath Muslims in classic times. There is a possibility that, in the long view, anti-Semitic attackers are also latent anti-Christian attackers, but the current dominance of Christian/secular culture in Europe prevents overt manifestations beyond riots and protests. European Jews, however, are an extreme minority and ill equipped to stop anti-Semitism. The prevalence of Arab-on-Jew attacks, therefore, may be another indicator of ideologists’ success in radicalizing their constituents.

CONCLUSION

Jihadist efforts to transform the accepted Western discourse have achieved at least some success by attracting and enlisting the support of moderates, and expertly employing taqiyya against unsuspecting targets. In the previous chapter we saw that cognitive warriors have created new realities with propaganda channeled through individuals bridging the cultural gap. That included, among others, advocate journalists and NGO members. In this chapter we see that organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood and CAIR take the memetic offensive to the confines of Western society by advertising themselves as moderate interlocutors, ostensibly representing reasonable Islamists who seek “dialogue and understanding.” Many of these movements appear credible because they seem to originate within Western society and are believed to be distinct from “extreme” points of view. Others, like the Palestinian trade unions, at least present a front that is memetically acceptable to Western intellectuals.

The cognitive dissonance arises when evidence comes to light that is not consistent with the prevailing memetic paradigms, i.e. that jihadists are waging more than a defensive war and that seemingly moderate groups and the masses following them are not behaving in moderate ways. The western mind is paralyzed because the inconsistencies cannot be accounted for and, more importantly, they are incompatible with the prevailing universalist paradigm. It would be a shocking and perhaps painful experience for universalists to admit that not all humans are driven by the same motivations, or that humans do not all fundamentally think alike. Rather than memetically adapting, however, advocates of the accepted discourse retrench themselves and ignore the contravening evidence presented to them or diminish its significance.

Because that mentality leads to Western apology for behavior and thought considered unacceptable by Western standards, it can easily be considered an unwitting, though a willing, form of submission to jihadist goals. Bat Ye’or, therefore, is correct to call it a form of Dhimmitude. In one sense, this is the endstate militant ideologists seek to achieve, although it is nothing close to the desired magnitude. In another sense, this is the precise point at which identity entrepreneurs begin reinvesting their energy, starting the cycle anew. Success, so goes the saying, breeds more success. If European and American elites bend to the will jihadists, those jihadists will be able to advertise their successes to their own populations, thus feeding the ideological engine. Perhaps this is why the Obin report remarked that the French school system saw positive results when it refused to make concessions to the Islamists.

Footnotes

[1] Anna Geifman, “Stockholm Syndrome in the Media,” briefing presented through the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Herzliya, Israel, 17 December 2006.

[2] Schleifer, Psychological Warfare in the Intifada: Israeli and Palestinian Media Politics and Military Strategies (Sussex Academic Press, 2006), p. 130.

[3] Schleifer, 68.

[4] Steven Emerson, American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us (New York: The Free Press, 2002), 111.

[5] Boycott Israel, URL: , accessed 28 June 2007. See also, “Palestinian Academics Call for the International Academic Boycott of Israel,” Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, 7 July 2004, URL: , accessed 28 June 2007.

[6] “Slamming Israel, Giving Palestinians a Free Pass,” The Economist.com, 14 June 2007, URL: , accessed 28 June 2007. See also, “UNISON Pledges Support for Palestine,” UNISON, 20 June 2007, URL: , accessed 2 July 2007. See also Barry Grey, “British university teachers’ union votes for boycott of Israeli academics,” World Socialist Website, 21 June 2007, URL: , accessed 2 July 2007.

[7] “Muslim American Society: Dossier,” The Investigative Project on Terrorism, URL: , accessed 4 June 2008.

[8] U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation, “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America,” 22 May 1991, Government Exhibit 003-0003 3:04-CR-240-G.

[9] Transcript of FBI wire tap recording, presented at U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation, Government Exhibit 016-0069 3:04-CR-240-G. See also U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation, “Shura Council Report on the future of the Group: Work paper #1: A historical outline and the main issues,” 9 November 1991, Government Exhibit 003-0003 3:04-CR-240-G.

[10] “What they say about CAIR,” CAIR Pennsylvania, undated, URL: , accessed 4 June 2004.

[11] Robert Leiken and Steven Brooke, “The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2007, Vol. 86 No. 2, 108.

[12] Ibid, 111.

[13] Transcript of FBI wire tap recording, presented at U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation, Government Exhibit 016-0069 3:04-CR-240-G.

[14] U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation, “Meeting Agenda for the Palestine Committee,” 30 July 1994, Government Exhibit 003-0078 3:04-CR-240-G.

[15] Noreen Ahmed-Ullah, Same Roe and Lauri Cohen, “A rare look at secretive Brotherhood in America,” Chicagotribune.com, 19 September 2004, URL: , accessed 4 June 2008.

[16] Steve Emerson, “Leaders Illustrate CAIR’s Extremism, Anti-Semitism,” IPT News, 3 April 2008, URL: , accessed 5 June 2008.

[17] For another example, albeit a less academic one, see Susan Taylor Martin, “With CAIR, compromise complicated,” tampabay.com, 23 September 2007, URL: , accessed 5 June 2008.

[18] Mahmoud al-Zahar, “No Peace Without Hamas,” The Washington Post, online ed., 17 April 2008, URL: , accessed 20 June 2008.

[19] James Graff, “What’s Causing the Anti-Semitic Attacks?” Time in Partnership with CNN, 24 November 2003, URL: , accessed 13 February 2007.

[20] Department of State, Report on Global Anti-Semitism, 5 January 2006, URL: , accessed 20 June 2008.

[21] Paul Mitchell, “The Madrid bomb inquiry: Aznar continues his lies,” World Socialist Website, 4 December 2004, URL: , accessed 13 February 2007.

[22] Bat Ye’or, “Symposium: The Death of Multiculturalism?” FrontPageMagazine.com, 8 September 2006, URL: , accessed 11 February 2007.

[23] Bat Ye’or, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, (Cranbury: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005), 73-74.

[24] Ibid., 76-77.

[25] Richard Landes, Boston University Professor, interview by the author, December 2006. Anecdotally, a French air force captain—who ironically believed in Meyssan’s 9/11 conspiracy—confirmed for me that one does not typically side with Israel in public without derision. See also, Richard Landes, “Falling Asleep in the Skid: Reflections on France Part VI,” The Augean Stables, 29 March 2006, URL: , accessed 20 June 2008.

[26] Department of State, Report on Global Anti-Semitism, 5 January 2006, URL: , accessed 20 June 2008. The current French Jewish population rests just below 500,000, but it has been dropping by thousands each year because of the rise in discrimination. According to the Jewish Agency, roughly 2,500 Jews opted to depart France both in 2005 and 2006. As a point of comparison, approximately 2,300 Jews left the United States for Israel during each year of the same period, but the U.S. Jewish population totals nearly 5.6 million. The current trends in French Jewish emigration are nearly double those of the 1990s, and according to one poll, approximately one quarter of remaining French Jews were considering leaving the country as of 2003. Stuart A. Green, Lieutenant, USN, “(Student) National Intelligence Estimate,” unpublished research paper funded by JMIC, 30 January 2007.

[27] Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l’Homme (National Advisory Commission for the Rights of Man), La Lutte Contre le Racisme et la Xénophobie, (The Fight Against Racism and Xenophobia), 2004, 9-10. Translation is mine.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Populus, “Muslim Poll: December 2005,” December 2005, URL: , accessed 30 January 2007.

[30] Jeevan Vasagar, “Anti-Semitic Attacks Hit Record High Following Lebanon War,” Guardian Unlimited, 2 February 2007, URL: , accessed 11 February 2007.

[31] Jonny Paul, “UK: Anti-Semitic Attacks Up 31%,” Jerusalem Post, online ed., 1 February 2007, URL: , accessed 11 February 2007.

89 Responses to On Moderation and Cognitive Warfare: More from Stuart Green

  1. E.G. says:

    Stu,
    Congrats again! It’s a must-be-published œuvre.

    It would be a shocking and perhaps painful experience for universalists to admit that not all humans are driven by the same motivations, or that humans do not all fundamentally think alike.

    But humans do fundamentally think alike. That’s why Cog-war works! What they don’t do alike – especially due to cultural factors – is believing. And thus, different people differentially articulate reasoning and believing.

    Rather than memetically adapting, however, advocates of the accepted discourse retrench themselves in their strongly held belief-system and ignore the contravening evidence presented to them or diminish its significance.

  2. Cynic says:

    The second half of this chapter addresses the Western intelligentsia’s reaction to evidence of the uncomfortable truth: cognitive dissonance and paralysis.

    Stu,
    Is it also possible that amongst this intelligentsia there are those scared of their reasoning? Frightened of giving voice to their own reasoning.
    I know I’m not a poet and stretching things but I would call it cognitive diffidence.
    Apologizing in advance ….

  3. Stu, another good read. I had a very similar reaction as EG did above (#1) to that sentence . .

    It would be a shocking and perhaps painful experience for universalists to admit that not all humans are driven by the same motivations, or that humans do not all fundamentally think alike.

    . . although I’m not sure my interpretation is the same. In my view it’s not that people raised in different cultures think differently. We all follow the emotional forces embedded in our belief hierarchies* to evaluate events in the world. And we all follow those emotional forces to select behavior in response.

    High in the belief hierarchy of many Palestinian Arabs is a belief that Jews are lesser (or sub) humans and that Arabs (Muslims) are the highest form of life. Above that sits a belief that honor (social approval) in life comes from dominating lesser humans and that shame is being dominated by lesser humans. And above that sits a personal identity belief that one must strive in life to always pursue honor even at the cost of one’s life.

    At a similar high level in the minds of many Westerners is the belief that all humans, races, religions, etc. should be considered as equally worthy and treated accordingly. Above that sits a personal identity belief that one must strive in life to hold personal integrity (adherence to personal moral principles) above the approval of society – that the best life is one that is lived according to one’s principles and that those are more important than the approval or admiration of others.

    It is those significantly different belief hierarchies in minds that cause not just differences in behavior – but when belief systems in civilizations are so different at these top levels of the hierarchy (where the strongest behavior-directing emotional forces are found) – war and and conflict between cultures and civilizations are almost inevitable.

    ********************

    But then, I suspect very few of your readers would be as hung up as I am on just how brains produce behavior. I’m sure your readers would understand the larger point in that sentence perfectly well – the naivete of cognitive egocentrism.

    * (I use the term belief hierarchy here to denote that lower level beliefs in minds support and are dependent on those above them. For example, one could not expect to go to paradise as a martyr unless one also believed that Allah created the universe and the laws providing the path to paradise. In this way beliefs at the higher levels of the hierarchy become locked into a web where an attack on one is an attack on all – in effect, an attack on one’s identity.)

  4. Michael B says:

    OT – and you are likely already aware of this here at Augean Stables, but al-Dura material, based on a Karsenty synopsis of a German broadcast documentary. Intriguing, as it seemingly reflects a sound analysis by the documentarians. It also appears – though this is an inference only – that parts of the documentary are based upon France 2′s raw footage, which of course the appellate court required France 2 to release. If so, and it appears the material is all on the up-and-up, it hi-lights the fact that Karsenty’s long and difficult and admirable effort has once again born substantial fruit.

  5. E.G. says:

    I’m satisfied with Merriam-Webster’s definitions.

    Believe:
    intransitive verb
    1 a: to have a firm religious faith b: to accept as true, genuine, or real
    2: to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something
    3: to hold an opinion : think

    transitive verb
    1 a: to consider to be true or honest b: to accept the word or evidence of
    2: to hold as an opinion : suppose

    Belief:
    noun
    1: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing
    2: something believed ; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group
    3: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence

  6. Stu says:

    Ray,

    Now that was very interesting–brilliant. The belief hierarchy. Very interesting indeed.

    All,

    I suppose it comes down to how loosely we use the term “think.” I may have been too liberal with it, but I did not intend to imply that our grey matter varied from one culture to another, rather that we act differently because our memes/beliefs interact differently and produce different results. It is, in essence, exactly as Ray describes.

    That said, does anyone know whether human psychology is indeed the same around the globe, or are our theories particular to the Western mindset? I honestly never thought to ask that particular question before.

    Stu

  7. oao says:

    But humans do fundamentally think alike. That’s why Cog-war works! What they don’t do alike – especially due to cultural factors – is believing.

    not necessarily.

    to me it looks like the arabs/muslims know how the west thinks, and that’s why demopathy works, or why the west bought the pal narrative, etc; but the west does not know or refuses to know how they think, which is why appeasement does not.

    it also worked in a mutual way between USSR and the west because they were similar at the core; that’s not the case with islam and the west.

  8. oao says:

    Is it also possible that amongst this intelligentsia there are those scared of their reasoning? Frightened of giving voice to their own reasoning.

    ABSOLUTELY!!! those who have some idea of what’s happening in the arab/muslim world are simply afraid to consider the consequences, what the west needs to do to protect itself and the likelihood that it will do it and be effective.

  9. oao says:

    In my view it’s not that people raised in different cultures think differently. We all follow the emotional forces embedded in our belief hierarchies* to evaluate events in the world. And we all follow those emotional forces to select behavior in response.

    not sure about this.

    the fact that people have all emotions and beliefs does NOT mean they THINK THE SAME. and there have been many sources quoted and cited on this site which provide ample evidence that they don’t.

    i think we have among participants here those who cannot escape the belief of universalism. they’re more careful, but they can’t get rid of it either.

  10. oao says:

    That said, does anyone know whether human psychology is indeed the same around the globe, or are our theories particular to the Western mindset? I honestly never thought to ask that particular question before.

    64,000 question. the question is what tests would be used to find out. what exactly is “pure” psychology, not affected by culture, religion, etc? and would that “pure” thing underlie behavior always, in certain circumstances,, overriden by culture, etc.

    my guess is that the tests suggested by western psychologists are likely to be western tests and thus fail to give accurate answers.

  11. Stu says:

    It’s a good point, oao, and exactly why I asked the question. Many of the experiments used to test cognitive dissonance theory, for instance, involved the use of mild lies and how they made the subject feel. Given the vastly different cultural approaches to lying we’ve talked about, we might expect that even something like dissonance works differently in different cultures. Perhaps.

  12. In re #9 and #10:

    A problem here is in the use of terms (definitions). When you say . .

    i think we have among participants here those who cannot escape the belief of universalism. they’re more careful, but they can’t get rid of it either.

    You say you are not sure of my premise but the statement which you offer as evidence, to me, seems to support my premise. I think that might be because I am using belief as a psychological object in the behavior selection process. I think you see it more as a philosophical term, perhaps as a token of truth in the minds of properly educated persons applying reason – and otherwise for those who don’t have the necessary skills. (That’s my guess based on the underlying theme in many of your posts.)

    I think it’s important in these discussions to be open to others’ use of terms as well as explain how we are using them to lubricate the communication of meaning as much as possible. To me that’s the important part and it’s not easy.

    A really interesting thing about this blog is that RL has introduced several definitions of terms that have significantly expanded the understanding of this conflict for me and I assume other members here. Stu uses meme and memeplex (which he explained) in his article. Many readers have no real idea what those terms mean but with a little effort we can gain a lot more from what he is trying to communicate. I think this is all good stuff. The agreement and the disagreement. Exploring new ideas will always require some new terms or redefining of old terms to fit the new paradigm.

  13. E.G. says:

    Stu & oao,

    What is lacking from the M-W definitions is the dynamic of belief formation and updating (what/how one relies on to set and eventually change one’s stance – see: credibility). But the kernel is how one conceptually relates to truth and to evidence confirming/contradicting a belief or an opinion.

  14. Stu asks, That said, does anyone know whether human psychology is indeed the same around the globe, or are our theories particular to the Western mindset? I honestly never thought to ask that particular question before.

    I’ve read quite a few papers on this stuff. I am no expert at all but I don’t think I’ve ever run across a paper that suggests that human brains are different at the psychological level of operation – that would be a pretty astounding claim to make. But of course there’s plenty of evidence that the conclusions brains reach and the behavior they produce can be vastly different – showing both significant cultural similarities and a great range within cultures.

    My premise is that those differences are primarily due to (the emotional forces embedded in) the beliefs we populate our brains with. (I’m not here to prove this to anyone. Just to offer a view that might prove useful.)

  15. I should add to #14 that brains do differ in the balance of other psychological forces that are present. These include instincts, for example. Someone could be born with a very strong fear of heights while another may have no instinctive fear of that. We have genetic predispositions and there are a few dozen neurotransmitters, the production machinery of which are provided by genetic factors but in response to environment, mood, brain-state, etc. I just wanted to add that it is far too simplistic to say that all brains are the same at the psychological level. There are several psychological levels to be considered and besides “all” almost never applies when talking about brains. ;)

  16. E.G. says:

    does anyone know whether human psychology is indeed the same around the globe

    Of course it is, that’s why we’re interchangeable.
    Silly answer to a silly question. Sorry.

    It seems we’re all born with the same apparatus (except the 2 extremes of the bell-shaped curve). Afterwards, a lot depends on the input, i.e., the environment. For example, attribution processes operate in essentially the same manner everywhere. What differs are the contents and the magnitude: what is attributed and to whom, and to what extent attribution is central to people’s daily behaviour.

    Another example is “critical thinking”. Compare yourself before and after taking RL’s course. As I’m sure you did. And I bet some change in your relation to truth and evidence has been influenced by this input.

  17. sshender says:

    That said, does anyone know whether human psychology is indeed the same around the globe, or are our theories particular to the Western mindset? I honestly never thought to ask that particular question before

    If we assume that psychology is the combination of hereditary and aquired traits, with the former being subjected to varying selective pressures, I would argue that the Bell Curve’s suggestion that IQ differences are in part genetic and vary across the racial devide, can be aplied to other cognitive manifestations such as psychology. Neuroevolution seems to be accuring a lot fater than thought before, and some have suggested that minute changes in cognitive abilities can evolve within a time span of only a few generations (see “The 10,000 Year Explosion” by G. Cochran). Now, if we assume that before globalisation distinct cultures were usually insulated and very defensive and hostile towards out-group influence there is every reason to believe that enough subtle biological changes could have accumulated to account for psychological differences.

    This, of course, is pure speculation with no difinitive evidence (that I’m aware of) to back it up. Heck, even Dawkinsian Memetics remains highly disputed as a scientific theory. I think that further advances in neuroscience will probably shed a better light on this in the future, when we will be able to deconstruct the full human cognitive experience and present it in purely mechanistic terms.

    Some pickings from Amazon:
    Race, Evolution, and Behavior

    Using evidence from psychology, anthropology, sociology and other scientific disciplines, this book shows that there are at least three biological races (subspecies) of man Orientals (i.e., Mongoloids or Asians), Blacks (i.e., Negroids or Africans), and Whites (i.e., Caucasoids or Europeans). There are recognizable profiles for the three major racial groups on brain size, intelligence, personality and temperament, sexual behavior, and rates of fertility, maturation and longevity. The profiles reveal that, ON AVERAGE, Orientals and their descendants around the world fall at one end of the continuum, Blacks and their descendants around the world fall at the other end of the continuum, Europeans regularly fall in between. This worldwide pattern implies evolutionary and genetic, rather than purely social, political, economic, or cultural causes.

    or check this out:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_psychology

    (plenty of refferences)

  18. E.G. says:

    oao,

    to me it looks like the arabs/muslims know how the west thinks,

    For someone who keeps telling us that the West stopped thinking, this is a bit surprising.
    I’d be inclined to believe that Arab/Moslem maîtres à penser have their interpretation of “how the West thinks” (some inaccurate monolithic stereotype), and their followers drink it at the mosque on on TV.

    Or are you talking about Cog-war intelligence officers?

  19. Stu asked, That said, does anyone know whether human psychology is indeed the same around the globe, or are our theories particular to the Western mindset? I honestly never thought to ask that particular question before.

    I think I missed your meaning the first time. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think you are asking if various theories of mind or schools of psychology are characteristic of different cultures or different areas of the globe. I don’t know but I think “theories of mind” are mostly a recent Western invention based on Freud. But the systematic contemplation and free inquiry into human nature goes all the way back to the Greeks at least – which is where Western civilization has its roots. Most Eastern societies today seem to reject the idea that answers to the puzzles of human nature could be found in materialistic explanations.

  20. E.G. says:

    Ray,

    Yes, a recent trend. Some, but far from all, based on Freud.

  21. EG said, Yes, a recent trend. Some, but far from all, based on Freud.

    Agreed. You said it better.

  22. oao says:

    Many of the experiments used to test cognitive dissonance theory, for instance, involved the use of mild lies and how they made the subject feel. Given the vastly different cultural approaches to lying we’ve talked about, we might expect that even something like dissonance works differently in different cultures. Perhaps.

    projecting from psychology in experiments to that in reality is a very shaky business; does not inspire confidence, even if its value is not zero.

    i dk if separating psychology from culture is feasible and one must be devoid of one’s own culture to have a shot at it, which i’m not sure it’s possible either.

  23. oao says:

    I think that might be because I am using belief as a psychological object in the behavior selection process.

    the problem is that there is more to thinking and HOW people think as distinct from WHAT they think (beliefs fall into the latter category).

    I think it’s important in these discussions to be open to others’ use of terms as well as explain how we are using them to lubricate the communication of meaning as much as possible. To me that’s the important part and it’s not easy.

    agreed. however, this would give this exchange more of an academic flavor, and I try hard to avoid that. it does cause problems of which i am aware, but academizing is too high a price for me to pay to solve them (and i doubt it’ll solve much). I did not leave academia to let it catch me again. (BTW, it’s because I was in academia that i am familiar with all these terminologies — memes, hierarchy of values — which are not new, but i don’t always buy into them).

    For someone who keeps telling us that the West stopped thinking, this is a bit surprising.

    you’re right on the face of it. but when i criticize the west for not thinking i usually mean thinking critically and independently, reasoning based on evidence. the west does think, but not THAT WAY. and the arabs/muslims know it, probably because it’s different and they are taught to hate it, not to mention that they have not developed the capacity for it.

    Or are you talking about Cog-war intelligence officers?

    mostly. it’s clear, for example, that pal imams don’t have a clue, but some hamas politicians and activists do know how to play to it. so do CAIR and their ilk.
    if you follow western pronouncements for a while it’s not that hard to figure out — it’s predictable.

  24. oao says:

    apropos muslim clerics:

    Introducing Queen Esther Coffee
    http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2009/03/introducing-queen-esther-coffee.html

    for all those who wonder why arabs remain in the 7th century.

  25. oao says:

    and here’s another demopath attempt, which failed because we still had some competent people in govt.

    “The Right to Development”
    http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2009/03/right-to-development.html

    who wants to bet that were the idea raised now the alibama admin would not support it?

  26. oao says, agreed. however, this would give this exchange more of an academic flavor, and I try hard to avoid that. it does cause problems of which i am aware, but academizing is too high a price for me to pay to solve them (and i doubt it’ll solve much). I did not leave academia to let it catch me again.

    I’m not trying to academize you. I’m just trying to understand you.

  27. Stu, I’ve read the following a few times now . .

    The cognitive dissonance arises when evidence comes to light that is not consistent with the prevailing memetic paradigms, i.e. that jihadists are waging more than a defensive war and that seemingly moderate groups and the masses following them are not behaving in moderate ways. The western mind is paralyzed because the inconsistencies cannot be accounted for and, more importantly, they are incompatible with the prevailing universalist paradigm. It would be a shocking and perhaps painful experience for universalists to admit that not all humans are driven by the same motivations, or that humans do not all fundamentally think alike. Rather than memetically adapting, however, advocates of the accepted discourse retrench themselves and ignore the contravening evidence presented to them or diminish its significance.

    First, a small thing. I’d use the prevailing beliefs of the anti-israel left or something like that – for the prevailing memetic paradigms. With the former I don’t have to pause to be sure I understand what you mean.

    But, here’s a bigger thing. The sentence itself just doesn’t compute for me. Every day I see Western universalists stating the most absurd inconsistencies and contradictions imaginable. Think Noam for one. Do you think Noam suffers from cognitive dissonance? Does he lie awake at night in anguish wondering if his evidence is wrong or if he should change his core beliefs because several people here pointed out his failure to address the several logical inconsistencies in his argument?

    I really doubt it. The emotional force of his ideological beliefs provide a warm and impervious security blanket protecting him from that. So I have a problem seeing cognitive dissonance as an explanation for the failure of Western elites to deal with this conflict realistically (the paralysis you propose).

    You say, It would be a shocking and perhaps painful experience for universalists to admit that not all humans are driven by the same motivations, or that humans do not all fundamentally think alike.

    Yes, but they are not about to do that – so pain and shock for them is not in the cards. But I agree with the sentiment despite the part about thinking alike. I know how you mean it.

    I might have said,

    It would be a shocking and perhaps painful experience for universalists to admit that not all people are driven by the same motivations in life.

    Either way, most readers will have no problem understanding your meaning. And yes, it would be painful. It would require that they change a fundamental belief near the top of their hierarchy. They would have to become different persons – non-universalists. That would then threaten dozens of other beliefs below it that they hold dear, like the one where Israel is out to murder Arab children and steal the land of innocent Palestinians. That belief only makes emotional sense for universalists.

    My problem with cognitive dissonance is not that people don’t ever change their minds about important stuff. It’s that doing that is a painful world-view changing experience. I don’t think cognitive dissonance alone can make them do it. What makes people question their highest level beliefs is a truly emotional experience – like the one about a conservative being a liberal who was mugged. It has to be an emotional experience stronger than the emotions holding the inconsistent belief (usually a web of inconsistent beliefs) in place. (I consider myself a liberal in many respects but I also know that many liberal beliefs are total BS.)

    IMO logical inconsistency is not a serious problem for any human brain holding reasonably strong beliefs.

  28. oao says:

    I’m not trying to academize you. I’m just trying to understand you.

    i was referring to academizing the exchange, not me.

    i understand what you are saying. i am trying the best i can to say what i mean without getting sucked into constant definition of terms. if you don’t always understand, it’s not a big deal — there is nobody who is always understood.

  29. oao said, i was referring to academizing the exchange, not me.

    I hope that . .

    I’m not trying to academize you. I’m just trying to understand you.

    . . didn’t come off as snarky. I was trying to be funny. You usually do a pretty good job of explaining yourself.

  30. oao says:

    I really doubt it. The emotional force of his ideological beliefs provide a warm and impervious security blanket protecting him from that.

    agreed.

    but that is why i insist that this is due to the collapse of education, by which i mean classic education, not current schooling.

    a major function of education is to teach how to think critically and independently, how to reason, how to rely on empirical evidence, to distinguish between facts and opinions, to know something of the classics, history, philosophy, LOGIC, etc.

    humans have the capacity to develop their capacity to do that, but it must be developed. only then some people, even when driven by emotions, will be able to discern dissonance, but some won’t (without any development there’s little chance they’ll discern it).
    assuming equally good education, then the latter’s capacity is inferior.

    one of the reasons education has collapsed is that many of the uneducated/latter type were made profs.

    now, I dk what noam’s background is, but he either did not receive proper education, or he falls into the latter category, or both. given today’s schooling rather than education.

    Yes, but they are not about to do that – so pain and shock for them is not in the cards. But I agree with the sentiment despite the part about thinking alike. I know how you mean it.

    i suspect there are a few who sense at some level the potential for shock and pain — if they are really invested and wrapped up in their worldview — and will refrain from reaching the point of change to avoid it. in fact, i would not be surprised if quite a lot of the hatred of the west and israel is due precisely for forcing them to face what they don’t want to face about their view.

    It’s that doing that is a painful world-view changing experience.

    usually worldviews drive people into behaviors, social circles, careers, consequences, and the pain comes from having to renege them on top of admitting one’s mental flaws. to do that requires a huge amount of self-confidence and courage to take the consequences. a vast majority of people don’t have that.

    that’s in part because society instills and rewards conformity, not independence and questioning.

  31. oao says:

    one more thing: if one’s capacity to think is not developed, thinking won’t come easy to him and he’ll do anything to avoid it. anything or anybody that will help him not think will be welcome. there is a lot of that in the west now, part. in the US.

    it is also the reason elites instinctively know that education for the masses is not good and whether intentionally or not will either fail to support it, or outright bring it down. hence the collapse.

  32. E.G. says:

    oao,

    Queen Esther coffee: ROFL

    I’d be grateful for an explanation of what you mean by “academizing” (the exchange).

  33. Cynic says:

    deconstruct the full human cognitive experience

    Shudder. Can’t a different term be used instead of deconstruct?
    There is too much Derrida in it and as sure as someone made green apples the “mechanistic terms” will become relative.

  34. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    I’d be grateful for an explanation of what you mean by “academizing” (the exchange)

    turning it into an agenda driven thing where you think the way I tell you to!

  35. E.G. says:

    Beware Cynic,

    It means that if I conform to oao and Ray’s wishes, I can and should use the Oxford dictionary.

  36. Cynic says:

    oao

    “The Right to Development”

    Well I suppose that we know that

    The Right to Development was an attempt by such knavish Third World dictatorships as Cuba, Algeria and Libya to create a new, internationally recognized human right — the right of all nations to full economic development

    which is to say: “the right to dispense with responsibility”.
    In the time honoured fashion of the Palestinians, “we are all victims”!

  37. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    It means that if I conform to oao and Ray’s wishes, I can and should use the Oxford dictionary.

    You can meme and beme all you want but you won’t get to my greener grass if you pull that one.
    And careful that I don’t sic Merriam’s Webster onto you.

  38. oao says:

    overabstraction, overconceptualization, lots of terminology. for lack of a better word, overintellectualization. you know, the way some simple things are sometimes treated in academic papers to obscure the simplicity or triviality of it.

    i do not mean that these are always inappropriate (I used to do it myself), but I just don’t like to deal with them here.

    perhaps i should have used the term overacademization or fake academization. can’t find a better term.

  39. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Is it also possible that amongst this intelligentsia there are those scared of their reasoning? Frightened of giving voice to their own reasoning.
    I know I’m not a poet and stretching things but I would call it cognitive diffidence.

    From my perspective, I’d say that amongst this intelligentsia there are those who have shaped a belief system and would not update it. Whether they refuse because they’re scared that any tiny change might make the whole system fall apart (diffidence), or because holding a dogma is often associated with a rigid attitude. Recall Nick Cohen’s case.

    (updating: taking into account new, relevant, data and adjusting a given belief – the assessment of an event’s truthfulness – so as it fits one’s current state of knowledge/information)

  40. E.G. says:

    oao,

    So in the next paragraphes I shall introduce the notion of academiversion in order to provide a novel explanation to some paradoxical behaviours observed earlier (Nebekh & Schmuck, 1993; 2003). Such an explanation should include (Asterix, 1986; Noddy, 1966) a thorough discussion of (a) the methodologies used to collect the corpus of data under consideration and (b) the different theoretical approaches that have been applied to interpret the findings. Furthermore, I see it as my moral duty to address the question of Schmendrik (2004) failing to take note of the critical approach that both myself (MeMe, 2002) and Ignoramus (2003a, b) advocated, all the more as it was largely approved as well as adopted by the CRTS in 2004.

    Academiversion can be defined in Psychological, Philological, and Sociological terms. The definition I submit here is an interdisciplinary conceptualisation, given the complexity of the notion. It is a retracted and sometimes retroactive version of aversive reactions to the environment or community concerned with the pursuit of research, education, and scholarship as an epistemological statement having a heuristic utility. It can easily be distinguished from the well-known withdrawal syndrom, as it has been witnessed to occur both within the boundaries of institutionalised campii as ex universalis. Yet, bearing in mind French philosopher Dubonnet de la Charcuterie’s parable of the dismissed (1643), one can hardly overestimate the necessity of introducing another, fundamental, element into the basic definition. As Ibn-Gamad perspicaciously pointed out in her well-known essay “Träume auf Rädern und zu diktieren” (2007), authoritative autonomous jargon fuels the pattern of involvement-dispensive symptomatology originally induced by green grass.

  41. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    So in the next paragraphes I shall introduce the notion of academiversion in order to provide a novel explanation

    Shouldn’t it be “academiversion, the novel, an attempt to explain” :-)

    paradoxical behaviours observed earlier (Nebekh & Schmuck, 1993; 2003).
    They came before Gewalt and Moonshine – The Juice Lobby.

  42. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    First the paper, then the book. Afterwards, the film and the TV series.

  43. oao says:

    e.g.,

    re #40: something like that. although that’s more the style of writing; there are content aspects to it too. hard to explain but, as justice marshall said, i know when i see it.

  44. oao says:

    speaking of academia, here’s an example of what i meant when i said that the wrong people got to be academics:

    http://myrightword.blogspot.com/2009/03/two-state-soloution-naw.html

    consider the description of her interests and let me know what exactly is academic about that and what is different between her and a “political activist”?

    when she says “critical thinking” she does not mean what we mean, but just the opposite: being critical of the west.

  45. E.G. says:

    oao,

    On this issue I think we see eye to eye. Trying to figure “Academizing” I was thinking more about the permeability of scientific work to politics, less about using one’s academic position (not necessarily related to one’s domain of expertise) as a source of authority in MSM. But the 2 aspects are present, often intertwined.

    I’ve been doing my best to withhold any reaction to “passion” being evoked here, precisely because it’s a non-academic (in the original sense of academia) term. I’m glad I did, because apparently it appears to have gained an academic status/sense. I guess I’m just old school.

    Using professional or semi-professional jargon in mundane discussion is also an old habit. But using euphemisms and conferring elastic meanings to terms is more recent. I think you’re being too charitable with your interpretation of what “Tricia” and her fellows mean by “critical thinking”: it’s systematically exposing (societal) negative features and, when the feature/act in itself is not clearly enough negative, deploying an array of arguments in order to demonstrate its negativity.

  46. oao says:

    There are several aspects to this — it’s a cluster.

    I’m glad I did, because apparently it appears to have gained an academic status/sense. I guess I’m just old school

    more accurately the academia has lost its academic status and politics was substituted for it.

    when I went thru my graduate degrees in poli sci they still made an effort to distinguish between it and politics. even at that time the fake academics were taking over and they eliminated those things from the curricullum. after all, everything is politics.

    if you ask me, most academics today are politicians who cannot cut it in politics and exploit the academia to gain security and authority to do politics out of univs, with the added advantage that they can indoctrinate gullible young minds.

    we can see the consequences.

    s

  47. Pacific_waters says:

    The west has begun to doubt itself. The arguments and subterfuge of the islamic world would have little purchase without our collusion. Our cultures and civilization developed a sense of “fairness” that has no equivalent in any other culture. That is our strength and it may be our downfall.

  48. Cynic says:

    if you ask me, most academics today are politicians who cannot cut it in politics and exploit the academia to gain security and authority to do politics out of univs, with the added advantage that they can indoctrinate gullible young minds.

    Back in My day :-) it used to be just lawyers and ‘used car’ salesmen, but now I see that the lawyers have graduated to politicians and those so esteemed Professors (not only did those mothers seek Dr.s for their daughters but also to have a Professor aggregated was so …) have joined ranks and also become politicians.
    I thought that in evolution species diverged to form new ones, or fall by the wayside, as genetics altered to suit the environment, whereas in this case it seems a certain convergence takes place through genetic changes induced to changing the environment.

  49. oao says:

    lawyers is a more american phenomenon, due to the primacy of the legalistic mechanism of control.

    academe is a way for those who are no lawyers to obtain some status and authority.

    consider: ayers is a professor!!!!!!!!!!

  50. Stu says:

    Ray,

    “…I don’t think I’ve ever run across a paper that suggests that human brains are different at the psychological level of operation – that would be a pretty astounding claim to make.”

    Without having read the most recent posts, I have to ask, what exactly is “the psychological level of operation”? If we were to liken it to computers, would it be somewhere between the hard drive and the operating system, or the OS and the program?

    Also, let’s consider whether there is a dearth of papers suggesting difference because 1) there is no difference or 2) because that would be a decidedly un-universalist thing to say.

  51. Stu says:

    E.G.

    “Of course it is, that’s why we’re interchangeable.
    Silly answer to a silly question. Sorry.”

    Well, let me just see if I can wipe away the tears long enough to type ;-)

    In all seriousness, I don’t think it’s a silly question at all. And I don’t think we’re all interchangeable. I think there is a great deal of variance at the individual genetic level–I cannot quantify that, however–and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask if different beliefs/experiences/upbringings at the cultural level can have an effect on one’s psychology. Of course, I am not an expert and I certainly do not have the answers here; only questions.

  52. Cynic says:

    Stu,

    “…I don’t think I’ve ever run across a paper that suggests that human brains are different at the psychological level of operation

    Too politically incorrect to write one on Islamists?

  53. Stu said,Without having read the most recent posts, I have to ask, what exactly is “the psychological level of operation”? If we were to liken it to computers, would it be somewhere between the hard drive and the operating system, or the OS and the program?

    You’re right. That could mean anything: psychological level of operation

    Computers are sometimes good metaphors but in my explorations of this topic I focus on the explanations for human behavior that make sense from an evolutionary view – which is right down there in the genes that set down the neural design of brains. So I assume the question means “genetically determined process of behavior selection”. I assume that’s what psychological level of operation means to everyone which of course is not the case. (my cognitive egocentrism on display)

    I’ll clarify my assertion by stating that I don’t believe there is evidence that there are significant differences in brain wiring that would directly affect behavior choice between genetic races of humans. (I would see IQ as an indirect effect.)

    There are of course, differences in the generalized behavior patterns of different cultures and ethnicities – which very often follow racial divisions. I think those are very worth studying and understanding.

    I just don’t think those are caused by racial differences in brain wiring because I don’t think those exist at any significant level. I could be wrong.

    Part of my conclusion is simply based on not having come across any notable scientific literature along those lines. That seems significant because such a serious assertion would be the hot topic on thousands of discussion forums like this and some others I track. Look what happened to Bill Moyers for even implying such a notion recently.

    The other part is that my study of the human brain has led me to appreciate the incredible adaptive advantage (for humans and the ecological niche we have evolved to occupy) of a behavior control mechanism (the human brain) that can constantly be reprogrammed by itself to meet the most unexpected and complex survival problems. The emergence of that tool was made possible by the simultaneous gradual disappearance of almost all hard-wired behavior responses from the genome that eventually became the modern human one. Those instinctive responses disappeared only because another mechanism evolved that made better behavior decisions – that made that brain wiring obsolete.

    There are still a few of those instinctive responses left but they seem to be only for the most life-threatening situations we encounter that require instant response. The video of the crowd at the Atlanta Olympics when the bomb went off is a good example. Everyone immediately crouched and froze for a few seconds before their cognitive brains took over. They were never taught to do that.

    You said, Also, let’s consider whether there is a dearth of papers suggesting difference because 1) there is no difference or 2) because that would be a decidedly un-universalist thing to say.

    Re: 2) – That’s a good question and one that I should be very cautious of in my own thinking. I admit the possibility that I have ignored some evidence that contradicts my conclusion and I welcome you or others to correct me.

  54. Also, re that last paragraph in #54 . .

    In Psychology departments at major universities around the world every quarter there are thousands of psychological experiments performed examining in great detail behavior choice and the behavior choice mechanism in humans.

    The subjects for these experiments are typically undergrad students that span all races and ethnicities. I really believe that if the racial makeup of the subjects had a significant effect on the outcome of these tests it would have been noticed long ago and also that papers reporting the results and conclusions of these many thousands of experiments every year would characteristically have to account for such racial differences in their conclusions.

    I think it virtually impossible for all those Psych professors to have allowed the misinterpretation, distortion or falsification of their experiments in order to maintain some PC notion of universalism.

    You’d also have to assume that all Psyche professors are something like post-modern (in the bad sense) liberals. That’s just not the case.

  55. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Stu, there are a couple of inexactitude in your chapter. (1) Jean-Marie Le Pen is alive, so how can he be the late Le Pen, unless he is not on time ;-) ?

    (2) More seriously, Jean-Pierre Obin is an “inspecteur général de l’éducation nationale”. This means that he is a civil servant of high level in the ministry of education. Originally, an “inspecteur général” is a teacher of some subject, who gets promoted to inspecteur général, most of the time after having taught in some select classes and schools (typically, the “classes préparatoires”, and I’ll explain more if you are interested). The usual job of an “inspecteur général” is to visit classrooms of teachers in their subject and to evaluate their work. They also prepare curricula, and write more general reports such as Obin did.

    The Obin report was somewhat hidden, because it denounced a very dangerous evolution. Some said that there were methodological problems in this report. But I have no source for this criticism, so that I do not know whether it is based on evidence or just libelous.

    Obin never was minister of education, but his report was requested by the ministry of education.

    These are rather minor problems, but you might want to change it appropriately.

  56. Stu says:

    Ray,

    I would not presume to correct when I’m in a field that is virtually unknown to me. When I say “let’s consider” I mean it–I’m implying nothing, rather suggesting a topic.

    So, in that line, I should ask: have those experiments that have “span[ned]” all races and ethnicities” actually sought to account for those differences, or were any potential differences diluted in a pool of subjects who were assumed to be more or less the same?

  57. oao says:

    more on today’s profs and their students:

    http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/

  58. Stu says:

    Michelle,

    Minor problems that detract from one’s credibility nonetheless. Merci beaucoup!

  59. Stu asks . . So, in that line, I should ask: have those experiments that have “span[ned]” all races and ethnicities” actually sought to account for those differences, or were any potential differences diluted in a pool of subjects who were assumed to be more or less the same?

    Now that I have specified that am talking about genetic determinants of behavior or in the behavior selection mechanism – all other factors such as culture being equal – then I assume that’s thedifference you’re asking about. Since you’ve pressed me on this I’m now really curious and want to test my assumptions further. I’ll get back on that.

    But, it seems to me, that the question that would be important for your paper (and for discussions in this forum) is not whether differences in behavior and behavior patterns between cultures are more genetic or more environmental/social. We know that there are significant differences between how Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs view each other in this conflict and how they view conflict generally. We don’t need to know what percentage of that is nature (I’d guess insignificant) and what part nurture in order to understand those differences better and use that understanding to propose ways to achieve a peaceful outcome.

    The only reason I bring up how brains produce behavior is to provide a (possibly useful) conceptual framework for that discussion. My theory attributes behavior choice to a resolution of emotional forces in the brain. I fully accept that some of those forces can come from genetic sources (instinct and predispositions). But I also propose that the emotional forces of acquired beliefs bring the greatest forces to bear on most human behavior decisions – esp. deliberative decisions.

    I suggest looking carefully at the beliefs at the top of the belief hierarchies of Israeli Jews and Palestinian/ME Arabs to best understand / explain this conflict and to discover any possible ways to mitigate it.

  60. Stu, Reading back over this post it now seems hopelessly pedantic which was not my intention at all. This format (blog comments) is very cumbersome for me. My posts always seem too long and never seem to quite say what I intended. I edit them heavily before submitting fearing my meaning will be messed up – and end up messing up my meaning. As difficult as it is to do this however, what an amazing thing that I have the chance to discuss these fascinating issues with some very smart folks including a professor of history and other educated serious folks including PhD’s from Israel and elsewhere. I consider myself very fortunate. I hope no one takes my comments too seriously.

  61. oao says:

    Now that I have specified that am talking about genetic determinants of behavior or in the behavior selection mechanism

    when we have a much better idea what are the genetic and the environmental factors of behavior and to what extent they are mutually affecting their effects on the others, we will be able to answer some of the questions here. until then it’s rather difficult.

  62. E.G. says:

    Stu,

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask if different beliefs/experiences/upbringings at the cultural level can have an effect on one’s psychology.

    It’s very reasonable. It’s just that “one’s/human psychology” is vague.

    My impression was that you were dealing with how variable cultural values and norms regarding truth affect some aspets of human cognition (e.g., belief shaping, confidence, ambiguity preferences) and subsequent behaviour (e.g., seeking evidence, modifying norms).

  63. oao says:

    here’s some evidence about what I was arguing on academia:

    College Of (Social) Change
    http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=321748122360339

  64. Eliyahu says:

    stu, in the paragraph beginning: “The cognitive dissonance arises…”

    I would replace the “i.e.” with: “such as evidence that…”

  65. Eliyahu says:

    * * * * * * *
    Tariq Ramadan is one of the most successful practitioners of Muslim “moderate” taqiyya in Europe, Stu. I think that you ought to mention him by name and give his family background.

    A lot of what Stu writes reminds me of pre-WW2 France and UK. A German named Otto Abetz operated a meeting place for Franco-German reconciliation at Sohlberg in the Black Forest. After the occupation of France, abetz became a powerful figure in the occupation regime, attracting many French intellos to collaborate with him. See link:

    http://www.netanyahu.org/peacmovthena.html

    as to M al-Zahar’s op ed piece in the WAPO, we don’t know who really wrote it. Arafat signed an op ed in the NYT that was actually written by edward abington, ex-US consul in Jerusalem.

    Following from the last paragraph, I again insist that the Brit psy war/ cog war specialists excel and are probably also helping Arab “radicals.”
    * * * * * * * *

  66. Cynic says:

    Ray #61,

    I have the same problem. It is the age.
    That’s why I seem to end up quibbling with E.G. whether the chicken or the egg is more cynical and if the dissonance comes from the transition of the chicken from its side to the other.

  67. Cynic said, I have the same problem. It is the age.

    Yes, in my upper sixties I wonder about that too. Many things that seemed so clear to me 20 or 30 years ago, and especially 40 or 50 years ago, now seem much less so. The question is if that is a failing of age or youth.

  68. oao says:

    as to M al-Zahar’s op ed piece in the WAPO, we don’t know who really wrote it. Arafat signed an op ed in the NYT that was actually written by edward abington, ex-US consul in Jerusalem.

    A Pulitzer for Walter Pincus
    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/pollak/58741

  69. oao says:

    Cynic said, I have the same problem. It is the age.

    welcome to the club, guys.

    The question is if that is a failing of age or youth.

    probably both, but it’s likely youth more than age, for the simple reason that more life experience tends to add wisdom if one is capable to learn from it (which is a capacity quite scarce these days). plus we the elder benefitted from some decent education while it still existed.

  70. Cynic says:

    Ray & oao,

    The age problem is that one is not in the same multi-processing league anymore (eye-sight, hand coordination, short term memory :-) etc.) demanded by much of today’s gadgetry.
    I feel more at ease with a book/article, notepad and pencil.

    I don’t get the “failing of youth” in our context.
    Do you mean our youth failed us in our ability to contend with age?
    Things were different, simpler and intuitive for the most part. Today things seem a mess; no order or fluency in the way things get done.
    But then those were complaints I heard from my parents about my “era” so maybe it is a generation thing.

    for the simple reason that more life experience tends to add wisdom
    Well for sure I’m wiser today than 60 years ago.
    What seems apparent to my “wisdom” today is mistakes that I made at 10 seem to be common amongst 20 and 30 year old youths of today. Obviously they have not learned that much for all the technological advances over the years.
    Then again they seem more at ease with the virtual world they are being indoctrinated into and can handle 4 or 5 open windows at a time but are screwing up the reality that life on earth imposes with pseudo sedatives and palliatives.

  71. Cynic says:

    oao,

    plus we the elder benefitted from some decent education while it still existed.

    Yes, we certainly were influenced to be critical and to analyse, and taught how to think and not what to think but still we suffered indoctrination due to the politicized curricula and only with the internet (not everywhere were there public libraries of the capacity of those found in NY) are we able to freely research some topic to the consternation of the fascists.

  72. oao says:

    but still we suffered indoctrination due to the politicized curricula and only with the internet (not everywhere were there public libraries of the capacity of those found in NY) are we able to freely research some topic to the consternation of the fascists.

    there’s always limitations in the system.

    but i was lucky studying at Northwestern in the early 80′s. the politicization was just starting. there was an attack by young leftists on the older generation. specializing in the scientific and research methods, it was easy for me to detect the courses which were a waste of time and avoid them. what i did take today is unavailable.

  73. oao says:

    What seems apparent to my “wisdom” today is mistakes that I made at 10 seem to be common amongst 20 and 30 year old youths of today. Obviously they have not learned that much for all the technological advances over the years.

    because their parents and schools are already the product of the collapsed education and they got none.

    Then again they seem more at ease with the virtual world they are being indoctrinated into and can handle 4 or 5 open windows at a time but are screwing up the reality that life on earth imposes with pseudo sedatives and palliatives.

    democracy has the seed for its own destruction too.
    elites sense instinctively that they can manipulate and control the public if it is not knowledgeable and able to reason. so they destroy the mechanisms which inculcate that.

  74. E.G. says:

    Elders,

    Intellectual rigour is less a matter of age than of education and probably personal taste. I agree that age and education are correlated and, of course, so are age- experience.
    But with all due respect, I’ll keep questioning matters, with a few other windows open (on my desktop or in my mind). Won’t accept things at their face value – as a lecturer wrote quite some time ago. He (like most of his peers) was a bit annoyed by my questions/remarks at first, but then asked me to be his research assistant and we enjoyed lively conversations.

  75. oao says:

    But with all due respect, I’ll keep questioning matters, with a few other windows open (on my desktop or in my mind). Won’t accept things at their face value – as a lecturer wrote quite some time ago. He (like most of his peers) was a bit annoyed by my questions/remarks at first, but then asked me to be his research assistant and we enjoyed lively conversations.

    that’s exactly what critical thinking means.

    i find it that true science is one of the most difficult endeavors there is. that’s because it requires one to constantly question what he’s doing, while humans are wired to believe in what they are doing for motivation purposes. that’s why there are often violations of the scientific code.

  76. Cynic says:

    But with all due respect, I’ll keep questioning matters, with a few other windows open (on my desktop or in my mind).

    E.G.

    This thread started way back with Ray’s #61 about coping with the present format of commenting where the limitations of age creep in making it hard to form a coherent reply in an acceptably readable manner.
    So far nobody has complained about our presentations but many a time I’ve felt, as has Ray, that I missed making the point as I lacked a choice to preview. And dang it having submitted I think of what I should have included, changed or not written at all.

    Unfortunately ArthurWritus has caught up with me so manipulating the mouse can be a pain at times opening several windows and sizing them to provide a panoply of comments to focus on while, while not cluttering the scene, to maintain my mind on track.
    I think I need to get a dual screen set up to provide space especially for two dictionaries to avoid encroaching on Oxfordian sensibilities:-)

  77. Cynic says:

    E.G.,

    Intellectual rigour is less a matter of age than of education and probably personal taste. I agree that age and education are correlated and, of course, so are age- experience.

    Having got the previous comment out of the way I must insist that unfortunately age does play a part as what matters education if one cannot remember it?
    Not for love nor money can I remember the scintillator, scintillator version of twinkle, twinkle little star … And we thought ourselves so smart spouting it in grade school.
    The degree of rigour depends on the words brought to play in the argument and memory is important in creating the correct nuance through remembering the terminology, definitions and appropriate synonyms.
    Whereas years ago I remembered almost verbatim a chapter days after reading it nowadays I have forgotten something after scrolling through several comments.

  78. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    If you don’t mind a not-as-yet-golden-age Eitses gibbering you: I sometimes write my comment, especially when it’s a longer one, on another “page” (e.g., Word), and also don’t always copy-paste-post it right away.
    I still have a few unposted ones – and am glad to have avoided a few improprieties or some other stupidity.

  79. E.G. says:

    Cynic #78,

    Aye!
    That word on the tip of my tongue! That name that I used to cite at least 3 times per hour for months… Exasperating.

    But intellectual rigour is not only about memory and retrieval. And the ‘puter is less time-consuming than the paper dictionary/thesaurus…

  80. Cynic says:

    E.G.,

    If I wrote my comment somewhere else I’d most probably forget it or accidentally delete it or do something silly with inconsiderate fingers hitting the wrong key; which reminds me of the Goon’s “Chinese NAAFI” where hitting the key of C blew up the piano – see what I mean about age? :-)

  81. Cynic says:

    #80

    Agreed, but memory is the backbone to Intellectual rigour because there is that phrase that sums up the idea soo succinctly and now I cannot remember how to get my thought onto the screen/paper/clay tablet/stone.

  82. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Please excuse me for giggling uncontrollably. It’s about the description, not the phenomenon.

  83. E.G. says:

    Cynic #82,

    Indeed, but the advantage of the present format is that you can put things more loosely, and eventually improve on another post. Age taught me to be less perfectionist. Sometimes.

  84. Cynic says:

    the advantage of the present format is that you can put things more loosely

    but RL is trying to clean up the stables :-(

  85. Cynic says:

    Description, description?
    Which one? About General Cash-my-Cheque?

  86. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    For some reason I “saw” the Che as he’d be today, hitting a key – a piano – the player – looking for the gun (where on earth?!), etc. :-))))

  87. [...] could then conclude the investigation by interviewing people who could testify to the nature of the cognitive war that Jihadis like Hamas, Hizbullah, Hizb-a-tahrir, the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda, and so many [...]

  88. [...] could then conclude the investigation by interviewing people who could testify to the nature of the cognitive war that Jihadis like Hamas, Hizbullah, Hizb-a-tahrir, the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda, and so many [...]

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