Saturday, April 03, 2010

Are Occupations The #1 Cause of Terrorism?

This is interesting.

Here's an additional reason to think it's interesting: there is some evidence from cognitive science that people are often bad at determining why they believe things. (As with so much stuff from that sector, the experiments generally show something rather limited, but they're advertised as showing something sweeping and enormous. But there still seems to be something to some of them, at least.) It's fairly common, and fairly natural, to look to the writings of terrorists, and to their own explanations of their motives (fervor for global jihad, or whatever) when we try to explain their beliefs and actions. But the right place to look might be social scientific (God help us) explanations. If there really is an extremely high correlation between terrorism and occupation, then, if we want to minimize terrorism, that's the source to attack. It may very well be that occupations are so dehumanizing that it's the one thing--or one of relatively few things--that can actually anger people so much that they're willing to commit suicide attacks. And it may be that terrorists themselves are not clear about why it is that they're willing to do what they do. (Though occupations are apparently sometimes explicitly cited by terrorists, and sometimes, apparently, falsely.)

Anyway, something to think about.


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