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Suicide Bombers Explained

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Suicide Bombers Explained

Postby josebach » Tue Jul 03, 2007 9:38 am

Interesting psychological study (summary) I just read.

New research published in the March issue of Psychological Science may help elucidate the relationship between religious indoctrination and violence, a topic that has gained renewed notoriety in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks. In the article, University of Michigan psychologist Brad Bushman and his colleagues suggest that scriptural violence sanctioned by God can increase aggression, especially in believers.

The authors set out to examine this interaction by conducting experiments with undergraduates at two religiously contrasting universities: Brigham Young University where 99% of students report believing in God and the Bible and Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam where just 50% report believing in God and 27% believe in the bible.

After reporting their religious affiliation and beliefs, the participants read a parable adapted from a relatively obscure passage in the King James Bible describing the brutal torture and murder of a woman, and her husband's subsequent revenge on her attackers. Half of the participants were told that the passage came from the Book of Judges in the Old Testament while the other half were told it was an ancient scroll discovered in an archaeological expedition.

In addition to the scriptural distinction, half of the participants from both the bible and the ancient scroll groups read an adjusted version that included the verse:

"The Lord commanded Israel to take arms against their brothers and chasten them before the LORD."

The participants were then placed in pairs and instructed to compete in a simple reaction task. The winner of the task would be able to "blast" his or her partner with noise up to 105 decibels, about the same volume as a fire alarm. The test measures aggression.

As expected, the Brigham Young students were more aggressive (i.e. louder) with their blasts if they had been told that the passage they had previously read was from the bible rather than a scroll. Likewise, participants were more aggressive if they had read the additional verse that depicts God sanctioning violence.

At the more secular Vrije Universiteit, the results were surprisingly similar. Although Vrije students were less likely to be influenced by the source of the material, they blasted more aggressively when the passage that they read included the sanctioning of the violence by God. This finding held true even for non-believers, though to a lesser extent.

The research sheds light on the possible origins of violent religious fundamentalism and falls in line with theories proposed by scholars of religious terrorism, who hypothesize that exposure to violent scriptures may induce extremists to engage in aggressive actions. "To the extent religious extremists engage in prolonged, selective reading of the scriptures, focusing on violent retribution toward unbelievers instead of the overall message of acceptance and understanding," writes Bushman "one might expect to see increased brutality"


http://www.huliq.com/12387/relationship ... aggression


I've often wondered why some of the more "religious" members of my family take a much more hard-nosed stance on Iraq and show a disturbing lack of compassion for the civilians there. You would think it would be the other way around. Interesting stuff.
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Re: Suicide Bombers Explained

Postby Coppermine » Tue Jul 03, 2007 12:23 pm

I think most of us would rather not touch this topic, especially since it's basically saying religious people are more aggressive than non-religious people. But I don't need a study to know that. Just look at history. Some of the worst atrocities and wars are religiously motivated. It's obviously not any single religion, but certainly more prevalent with the Abrahamic religions, or "the big three" as I call them... even though there are far more Buddhists than Jews I believe, but then the Jews were all but decimated in World War II because, oh, well because they were Jewish and I think you'd be hard pressed to find an aggressive Buddhist (comparably anyway).

After all, what's the fun in believing all faiths are a path to God?
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Re: Suicide Bombers Explained

Postby Absolutely Adequate » Tue Jul 03, 2007 12:41 pm

I don't think that it's that religious people that are more religious. I think that it takes a certain type of certainty that you are right and, therefore, that the other guy is wrong. It just so happens that people are often so excited* by their religion that they are willing to fight about it. You'll see the same behavior regarding sports. That father/son who attacked the umpire were just so certain they were right. The giants/dodgers fan who was killed. Soccer riots. It's the same everywhere. Would the men who killed Matthew Shephard have attacked him if they weren't so sure that what they were doing was right?

No one commits an evil act because they think it's evil; they commit evil acts because they think they are serving good.


*Two weeks speaking Polish and I'm forgetting the words I want to use in English. I don't mean excited above. I just can't find the synonym in my mind right now.
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Re: Suicide Bombers Explained

Postby Amazinz » Tue Jul 03, 2007 1:33 pm

Along the lines of what AA said, I don't believe it has anything thing to do with religion and everything to do with the evil of man, specifically pride, the deadliest sin, if you will. Religion just provides an excellent vessel for it to manifest.
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Re: Suicide Bombers Explained

Postby josebach » Tue Jul 03, 2007 2:02 pm

Amazinz wrote:Along the lines of what AA said, I don't believe it has anything thing to do with religion and everything to do with the evil of man, specifically pride, the deadliest sin, if you will. Religion just provides an excellent vessel for it to manifest.


Not sure I get you. Without religion, there are no 70 virgins in paradise. Without 70 virgins in paradise, there would be no suicide bombers. It's not "evil", it's ethnocentric arrogance combined with blind faith and righteousness. "Evil" is a man made term.
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Re: Suicide Bombers Explained

Postby Amazinz » Tue Jul 03, 2007 2:07 pm

Amazinz wrote:everything to do with the evil of man, specifically pride, the deadliest sin, if you will.


josebach wrote:It's not "evil", it's ethnocentric arrogance combined with blind faith and righteousness. "Evil" is a man made term.


:-?
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Re: Suicide Bombers Explained

Postby The Artful Dodger » Tue Jul 03, 2007 2:09 pm

I think going along with what AA and Amazinz have said, religion is just one vehicle of unleashing fanatical aggression. A hardcore sense of pride and having a deeply rooted belief that what you believe is all right and good goes with it. There is some truth that people are more united by hate than by love.

I had just seen a fascinating BBC documentary on hooliganism at the past year's World Cup and much of the aggression, has to do with looking back at a troubled history, how your family members were impacted by it, and seeking retribution for it. Even those who were probably not covertly racist at the least bit, especially against a group of people they weren't racist against to begin with, all of a sudden acted with such great prejudice against them. All this emergent hatred didn't have to do much with religion, but just a belief that was acted upon with religious fervor. After all, if it's said you followed a certain thing religiously, doesn't that mean you would follow by it so hard you would take it to the grave with you?
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Re: Suicide Bombers Explained

Postby josebach » Tue Jul 03, 2007 2:30 pm

Amazinz wrote:
Amazinz wrote:everything to do with the evil of man, specifically pride, the deadliest sin, if you will.


josebach wrote:It's not "evil", it's ethnocentric arrogance combined with blind faith and righteousness. "Evil" is a man made term.


:-?


All I'm saying is I don't believe man is "evil" by nature.
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Re: Suicide Bombers Explained

Postby Absolutely Adequate » Tue Jul 03, 2007 2:37 pm

josebach wrote:
Amazinz wrote:
Amazinz wrote:everything to do with the evil of man, specifically pride, the deadliest sin, if you will.


josebach wrote:It's not "evil", it's ethnocentric arrogance combined with blind faith and righteousness. "Evil" is a man made term.


:-?


All I'm saying is I don't believe man is "evil" by nature.


You're absolutely right. Aside from sociopaths, no one does evil because they think it's evil. Invariably, they think they are doing the right thing. Hitler thought that by killing all the Jews, the world would be a better place. Stalin thought that 10 million people was a small number to pay if the whole world could fall under Communism. Michael Flatley thought he was being entertaining with that whole "Lord of the Dance" thing.

The quote I was looking for earlier, by the way, was from Mary Wollstonecraft:

"No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks."
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Re: Suicide Bombers Explained

Postby josebach » Tue Jul 03, 2007 2:39 pm

The Artful Dodger wrote:I think going along with what AA and Amazinz have said, religion is just one vehicle of unleashing fanatical aggression. A hardcore sense of pride and having a deeply rooted belief that what you believe is all right and good goes with it. There is some truth that people are more united by hate than by love.

I had just seen a fascinating BBC documentary on hooliganism at the past year's World Cup and much of the aggression, has to do with looking back at a troubled history, how your family members were impacted by it, and seeking retribution for it. Even those who were probably not covertly racist at the least bit, especially against a group of people they weren't racist against to begin with, all of a sudden acted with such great prejudice against them. All this emergent hatred didn't have to do much with religion, but just a belief that was acted upon with religious fervor. After all, if it's said you followed a certain thing religiously, doesn't that mean you would follow by it so hard you would take it to the grave with you?


Yeah, this is essentially the same thing. It's like Yankees hating Boston fans without stopping to think... "hey, I could just as easily have been born in Boston to parents who were Red Sox fans." When you're surrounded by nothing but Yankee fans constantly encouraging your beliefs, it's no wonder they can't break free of the "Red Sox Fans Suck" mindset. In the end, we're all just baseball fans. We're all just human.
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