Archive for the 'Psychology' Category

Counterterrorism terminology

The Associated Press reports that the National Counterterrorism Center in the United States has published guidance on using terms when talking about terrorism.

The last one is probably the best piece of advice:

Don’t use “salafi,” “Wahhabist,” “sufi,” “ummah” and other words from Islamic theology unless you are able to discuss their varied meanings. Particularly avoid using “ummah” to mean the Muslim world, as it is a theological term.

(Via Muse.)


Studies in ‘jihadism’

More than six years after 9/11, the study of jihadism is still in its infancy. Why has it taken so long to develop? One reason, of course, is that we started almost from scratch. Another factor is that it takes time for primary sources to emerge. But the most important reason is no doubt that the emotional outrage at al-Qaeda’s violence has prevented us from seeing clearly. Societies touched by terrorism are always the least well placed to understand their enemies. It is only when we see the jihadists not as agents of evil or as religious fanatics, but as humans, that we stand a chance of understanding them.


Bloggers drawing “bizarre, mainly racist, conclusions” from assault on Anglican priest

Earlier this month, an Anglican priest was beaten up quite badly by a group of ‘Asian youths’ in east London. Canon Michael Ainsworth was left with cuts and bruises after an attack by a group of boys in his own churchyard. The police said it was a ‘faith hate’ crime; some of the boys had repeatedly shouted ‘fucking priest’ as they beat him up.

Inevitably, there were complaints about ‘political correctness’: calling the boys ‘Asian’ was obfuscating the fact that Muslim persecution of Christians had reached the shores of Britain. Med Mel took it one step further at her Spectator blog: the “jihadi nature of the attack on of the attack on Canon Ainsworth”, she wrote, “is unmistakeable”.

Except, of course, Med Mel, Damien Thompson and lots of other right-wing commentators and bloggers had forgot to ask the Canon what he thought of the vicious assault. A local paper, the East London Advertiser did, however, interview Canon Ainsworth:

“We must respond calmly, and not jump to conclusions…” Coping with the hysteria from “wild” national press coverage had been “almost worse than being attacked.” He felt helpless as his church was besieged by cameramen and reporters after the story broke last Friday. “They have their own agendas,” said Mr Ainsworth, “as do the bloggers, both professional and amateur, who are using the story for their own ends and drawing bizarre, mainly racist, conclusions.”

Perhaps Med Mel’s fellow Spectator blogger Clive Davis could also send her the link to the interview seeing as though he noted it at his blog? Then again, given her previous efforts in documenting the jihad in Britain, she will probably dismiss the Canon’s interview as an example of self-hating dhimmitude.

I do, however, think such incidents ought to force us to think more closely the intersect between race, class and identity (which is what religion is such cases). If, as Inayat Bunglawala argues, the assault involving Canon Ainsworth was an example of drunken yobs losing control rather than ‘religiously motivated’ what about other similar incidents where someone from a ‘minority’ group is the victim? The problem, I think, is that we are not necessarily motivated do something (good or bad) by a single factor*.

Those interested might be think about (re)visiting some material on this subject.

*Which is probably why doing something fisabilillah is held in such high regards within an Islamic ethical framework.

Over 1,000 suicide bombers have blown themselves up in Iraq

[A] month-long investigation by The Independent, culling four Arabic-language newspapers, official Iraqi statistics, two Beirut news agencies and Western reports, shows that an incredible 1,121 Muslim suicide bombers have blown themselves up in Iraq. This is a very conservative figure and – given the propensity of the authorities (and of journalists) to report only those suicide bombings that kill dozens of people – the true estimate may be double this number. On several days, six – even nine – suicide bombers have exploded themselves in Iraq in a display of almost Wal-Mart availability. If life in Iraq is cheap, death is cheaper.


Die, journalism, die!

When reporters don’t simply ignore information they’re unqualified to understand, or that would jeopardize their “access,” to people whose shiny rumps they like to smooch, they are filling the information channels with useless corporate propaganda, official-source spin and disinformation, and breathless updates on the sexual and pharmaceutical proclivities of vapid entertainers. While “they” try to figure out ways to save journalism–and it can’t be saved–people like you, me and Sepoy should be carving out the norms of a future world. To wit:

I propose journalism be made illegal.


I recommend reading all three part of “The Newest Oldest Story” [I, II, III] by Farangi, author of one of the best blog series I have ever come across (see “Religion in America“, and follow the links).

There are many gems in “The Newest Oldest Story”; I shall leave you to mine them, and then reflect on their magnificence.


My problem with conspiracy theories is not so much identification of the fact that people attempt to conspire in order to produce a desire outcome (you would have to be incredibly naive to think governments and its agencies have not, and do not, ‘conspire’).

My frustration with this approach is that it often ends up replacing political, cultural, historical or social analysis.

Implicit Association Test

Psychologists understand that people may not say what’s on their minds either because they are unwilling or because they are unable to do so. For example, if asked “How much do you smoke?” a smoker who smokes 4 packs a day may purposely report smoking only 2 packs a day because they are embarrassed to admit the correct number. Or, the smoker may simply not answer the question, regarding it as a private matter. (These are examples of being unwilling to report a known answer.) But it is also possible that a smoker who smokes 4 packs a day may report smoking only 2 packs because they honestly believe they only smoke about 2 packs a day. (Unknowingly giving an incorrect answer is sometimes called self-deception; this illustrates being unable to give the desired answer).

The unwilling-unable distinction is like the difference between purposely hiding something from others and unconsciously hiding something from yourself. The Implicit Association Test makes it possible to penetrate both of these types of hiding. The IAT measures implicit attitudes and beliefs that people are either unwilling or unable to report.


Take one of the tests.


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