1 2 3 > 
 
   
 

Is being very afraid of Islamic Terrorism irrational and counterproductive?

 
Teralek
 
Avatar
 
 
Teralek
Total Posts:  17
Joined  27-05-2016
 
 
 
27 May 2016 17:41
 

Ok, This is my first topic on this forum. I would like to talk about some points on Harris ideas about Islamic terrorism that I disagree, mostly for being distorted (not intentionally, I don’t think) or not representing the whole truth. I think Harris fails where most of us do. We get brainwashed by constant bombardment from the media and this bombardment narrows our attention to only certain aspects of a problem which often is much more complicated than face value. Sometimes media bias distorts so much a position from reality that it becomes irrational.

To illustrate this Let’s start form the beginning. Forgive me if I sound pedantic, but this is necessary, given the overlay of cultural dogma. Why are we (in the west) so worried about terrorism and many live in fear of suicide attacks and Muslim neighbors? Many are willing to spend much energy in political rallies and make Islamism the main reason for voting in a party rather than the other… It seems reasonable to say that we are afraid of terrorism because we are afraid to die. Because we have the instinct of self preservation and do not wish to die, we therefore oppose being killed by suicide bombing.

I think it is rational to say that our wish to stay alive should the same independently of what causes death. Our time and attention is limited though and, rationally, we should focus on things we are more likely to die of, and spend appropriate energy and time trying to avoid those. In contrast, It seems unreasonable to live your daily life trying to avoid walking near buildings as potentially one of them can fall over your head, as this is a very rare event. However, this is not what happens with the human species. We have mostly irrational fears because we are incapable (arguably because of millions of years of evolution as a hunter gatherer) to correctly judge modern dangers, specially if we let emotions rule our decisions.

For example, much more people are afraid of flying than of driving, even though is a statistical fact that you are in much more mortal danger when you drive than when you fly. This, I argue, is mostly due to the media. Whenever a flight crashes in the world we are immediately transported to the negative emotions of the crash. We are shown pictures of family members in severe emotional pain. The media is in the business of selling us emotions and this is what we buy as news. A news channel that sells statistics rather than emotional stress cannot sell news. If news channels showed day in and day out buildings falling on top of people in cities, we would be very afraid to be near them, would avoid them and would rally on the streets for political action for building safety.

Even I am not immune to this. I cannot avoid a certain discomfort, or a spike in blood pressure when the plane takes off, but I rationally choose to ignore it and not let this instinctive fear stop me from flying.

Another way to look at this is smoking or drinking alcohol… very deadly activities to which we give very little importance as they seem distant to us. Either because we rationalize a denial about their dangers or we willfully ignore them and focus on terrorism. We are mostly emotional beings not rational or logical, this is why, demonstrably, pictures of cancer patients work so well in cigar packs on smoking prevention.
Take the 9/11 event out of the equation, which was a statistically freak one (Not even the terrorists thought the towers would fell.) and you have a statistically rare event: Being killed by Islamic terrorism is on the same probability tier as being struck by lightning in western countries.

Ok, you can argue that there is a fundamental difference between dying by smoking tobacco and being killed by a terrorist bomb. That being; you can choose to smoke or not but you cannot choose to not to die by a terrorist bomb. Even though I think this position is still irrational and I have the basis to criticize it, I am willing to give you this one for granted.

But take pollution for example: Estimates put deaths by air pollution alone by the tens of thousand every year in Europe. These estimates are probably optimistic in view of the aftermath of VW diesel cars pollution scandal… These deaths are avoidable and it fits the category of you not choosing to die from air pollution. The air you breath in cities was polluted by millions of other people going about their comfortable ways of life, conscious or not about the dangers they cause to others. Not to talk about the dangers of other much more abstract threats like global warming and so on. All of this is much more deadly than Islamic terrorism in the west.

And this is why I believe that this erroneous belief, that we should focus our attention on terrorism as a great danger to our security, is greatly exaggerated. Harris has taken this belief, arguably from the media bombardment and the utter aftershock of 9/11. I argue that his position would be different on his criticism of Israel and of accepting refugees. Not even philosophers are immune to irrational positions when attacked by constant media brainwashing.

Lastly to be fair with Harris, I much more agree with him about the solutions to the problem of Islamic radicalization than I do to the causes. I just thought I would expose my disagreement with him on our immediate reactions to it. It seems to me that showing of fear and hardening of our political positions by creating a divide of civilizations is exactly what radicals want and we are giving them that for free.

[ Edited: 28 May 2016 00:28 by Teralek]
 
Poldano
 
Avatar
 
 
Poldano
Total Posts:  3184
Joined  26-01-2010
 
 
 
27 May 2016 20:21
 

Being very afraid of terrorism is irrational and counterproductive. It’s better to treat it as a current fact of life. One is still more likely to be injured or killed in a traffic accident than from terrorism, at least outside the most affected areas in the Middle East. Very few people seem to be very afraid to drive or ride in vehicles on highways. Situational awareness can be developed to establish a more effective response to terrorist acts by anyone, just as situational awareness can be developed by any driver to improve survival chances in serious traffic accidents. These will never yield anywhere near adequate protection, but can improve the odds as much as possible.


 
 
SkepticX
 
Avatar
 
 
SkepticX
Total Posts:  14775
Joined  24-12-2004
 
 
 
28 May 2016 08:40
 
Poldano - 27 May 2016 08:21 PM

Being very afraid of terrorism is irrational and counterproductive. It’s better to treat it as a current fact of life. One is still more likely to be injured or killed in a traffic accident than from terrorism, at least outside the most affected areas in the Middle East. Very few people seem to be very afraid to drive or ride in vehicles on highways. Situational awareness can be developed to establish a more effective response to terrorist acts by anyone, just as situational awareness can be developed by any driver to improve survival chances in serious traffic accidents. These will never yield anywhere near adequate protection, but can improve the odds as much as possible.


Driving is a good benchmark comparison to terrorism in terms of explaining the risks in perspective (i.e. our risk of harm is a good deal higher for driving), but I tend to think of the lottery much more so. Our chances of being directly victimized by terrorism (particularly in the US) is relatively comparable to our risk of winning the lottery if we participate (and technically there’s no statistically significant difference in our odds if we don’t play). We humans are very bad at fear, both in terms of social behavior and all the more so for personal (tactical) behavior.

So we should be a lot more apprehensive (and thus vigilant) about driving and dealing with people who make us uneasy than we are, and terrorism should hardly even be on our personal radar. In fact whatever we might be able to actually do in an actual terrorist incident would be covered by trusting real fear to alert us when/if we can do anything about it rather than just by broadcasting anxiety all around us.

 
 
Twissel
 
Avatar
 
 
Twissel
Total Posts:  2414
Joined  19-01-2015
 
 
 
28 May 2016 12:12
 

While the direct threat of terrorism is low, it is but a symptom of a much more dangerous problem: the decline of the Westphalia Order: terror groups can almost never be negotiated with, since there is no reliable contact and no means to assure commitment to any ceasefire. Unlike with nation-states, even those as bellicose as North Korea, we can never expect to come to mutual agreements with terror groups.
The frequency of attacks in the West might be low, but currently we have no reason to believe it will ever go away again.

 
 
EN
 
Avatar
 
 
EN
Total Posts:  20290
Joined  11-03-2007
 
 
 
28 May 2016 14:21
 

The ability to distinguish between real and apparent danger is a difficult skill to acquire. We are the children of ancients who survived partly because they took threats seriously (did I see a tiger? better hide!).  That worked well when we were only in contact with our proximate environment.  Now, however, we are exposed to information from all over the world 24/7.  This makes it more likely that we will inflate actual risk to ourselves.  I just saw ISIS on TV.  I’d better hide!  Even though they are 10,000 miles away.  I just read that the transgender population in the US is about 700,000, or about 0.3%.  It’s unlikely I’ll run into one in a public restroom (and even more unlikely that I’ll even know that they are transgender).  But lots of states think that is a significant threat to our young girls, for some reason.  Better pass legislation!!!

I’m aware of terrorism, but local garden variety criminals are more of a threat. If I just keep my eyes open, stay in the right places, and use good judgment, I can avoid most problems.  I’m 63 and have managed to avoid death from lightening, hail storms, tornadoes and Muslims for over 6 decades.  Lot’s of stuff could kill me, but the actual danger is pretty low for any one of those things. 

Well, I’ve written enough.  Time to go lobby for legislation banning Martians from Texas.

 
Dennis Campbell
 
Avatar
 
 
Dennis Campbell
Total Posts:  19789
Joined  20-07-2007
 
 
 
28 May 2016 14:34
 

EN,

Agree above #4.  But at what proximity does one “cock and load?”  Or so vote?  Muddle, muddle. Will decide maybe next week.

 
 
EN
 
Avatar
 
 
EN
Total Posts:  20290
Joined  11-03-2007
 
 
 
28 May 2016 14:56
 
Dennis Campbell - 28 May 2016 02:34 PM

EN,

Agree above #4.  But at what proximity does one “cock and load?”  Or so vote?  Muddle, muddle. Will decide maybe next week.

On firearm use, rely on your instincts.  I’ll wear a bell so I don’t accidentally sneak up on you and scare you.  On voting, I suggest flipping a coin. I can’t remember the last time a President actually had a direct effect on my life that put me in danger.

 
Dennis Campbell
 
Avatar
 
 
Dennis Campbell
Total Posts:  19789
Joined  20-07-2007
 
 
 
28 May 2016 15:03
 
EN - 28 May 2016 02:56 PM
Dennis Campbell - 28 May 2016 02:34 PM

EN,

Agree above #4.  But at what proximity does one “cock and load?”  Or so vote?  Muddle, muddle. Will decide maybe next week.

On firearm use, rely on your instincts.  I’ll wear a bell so I don’t accidentally sneak up on you and scare you.  On voting, I suggest flipping a coin. I can’t remember the last time a President actually had a direct effect on my life that put me in danger.

Too old to be scared.  Am terrified all the time as it is.  Fuck it in a few years will be dead anyway.  Or less.

 
 
EN
 
Avatar
 
 
EN
Total Posts:  20290
Joined  11-03-2007
 
 
 
28 May 2016 15:24
 
Dennis Campbell - 28 May 2016 03:03 PM
EN - 28 May 2016 02:56 PM
Dennis Campbell - 28 May 2016 02:34 PM

EN,

Agree above #4.  But at what proximity does one “cock and load?”  Or so vote?  Muddle, muddle. Will decide maybe next week.

On firearm use, rely on your instincts.  I’ll wear a bell so I don’t accidentally sneak up on you and scare you.  On voting, I suggest flipping a coin. I can’t remember the last time a President actually had a direct effect on my life that put me in danger.

Too old to be scared.  Am terrified all the time as it is.  Fuck it in a few years will be dead anyway.  Or less.

Time’s Winged Chariot has us all its sights.  Enjoy the ride.

 
Teralek
 
Avatar
 
 
Teralek
Total Posts:  17
Joined  27-05-2016
 
 
 
30 May 2016 04:04
 
Twissel - 28 May 2016 12:12 PM

While the direct threat of terrorism is low, it is but a symptom of a much more dangerous problem: the decline of the Westphalia Order: terror groups can almost never be negotiated with, since there is no reliable contact and no means to assure commitment to any ceasefire. Unlike with nation-states, even those as bellicose as North Korea, we can never expect to come to mutual agreements with terror groups.
The frequency of attacks in the West might be low, but currently we have no reason to believe it will ever go away again.

Your choice of words is curious “Westphalia Order”... it gives me the idea that you support very conservative nationalistic ideas. Which I am an ideological opponent. (I could be wrong though). I accept national borders in so much that they serve a practical purpose, which many do. But they should be viewed as a temporary necessity and not a permanent status quo.

I agree you cannot negotiate with terror groups and you should be relentless on your fight against them. But you should also be smart about it and target them precisely, not carpet bomb populations who happen to be there. West foreign policy, specially in the Israel Palestine conflict, has been a source of growing radicalization.

We must fight an ideological war and not a divisive world war which only aggravates the problem. Distance and lack of diplomacy has never benefited world peace. There is a clear growth of bigotry towards all Muslims that frankly worries me much, because this plays perfectly in the hands of terrorist groups who will increase their ranks and increase the risk aggravating the conflict. I am sure most of us do not want this.

What Sam Harris has been doing about fighting this war is commendable. As in promoting people who should have a louder voice in the Muslim world. People like Maajid Nawaz. West foreign policy is clearly promoting radicalism rather than religious reform in Islam. Now where Sam fails in my opinion is in his lack of acknowledgement about bad western policies delaying Islam reform and radicalizing people.

Indeed there is no reason to think the attacks are going to go away anytime soon. But the media cover proportion is out of sync with reality, and this is the whole point of my post. Is very very unlikely we would be affected by terrorism directly but we are willing to give it a lot of attention and political leverage. Many of us seem to be willing to return to fascism and segregation in the light of this media disproportionate coverage and fear mongering of something that barely poses any threat at all. Worrying is my perception that most supporters of fascist parties in Europe are very young people. Could it be because fascism is an alien reality to them masked by propaganda distortions?! This only benefits terrorists as they seek to frighten people into change their ways.

We should focus on more dangerous and challenging things to our safety and comfort.

 
Twissel
 
Avatar
 
 
Twissel
Total Posts:  2414
Joined  19-01-2015
 
 
 
30 May 2016 05:04
 

the rise of global terrorism is directly linked to the decline of the nation state as an ordering principle of society - I am not taking position on whether nation states must or must not be preserved - but their absence creates a vacuum that other forms of organization fill, such as religion, ethnicity, authoritarianism(fascism), even levels of wealth.

Question is: should we continue to bend vast efforts to identify arbitrarily small groups willing to commit terrorism,  or might it not make more sense create ways to find those principles that allow us to form groups (similar to nation states) for which terrorism is not a feasible option?

As Steven Pinker has pointed out: we live in a remarkably peaceful time. This means that we have the luxury to spend a lot of effort on fighting terrorism, even if the actual threat is low compared to large-scale conflicts of the past or current health epidemics.

 
 
Teralek
 
Avatar
 
 
Teralek
Total Posts:  17
Joined  27-05-2016
 
 
 
30 May 2016 06:27
 
Twissel - 30 May 2016 05:04 AM

the rise of global terrorism is directly linked to the decline of the nation state as an ordering principle of society - I am not taking position on whether nation states must or must not be preserved - but their absence creates a vacuum that other forms of organization fill, such as religion, ethnicity, authoritarianism(fascism), even levels of wealth.

Question is: should we continue to bend vast efforts to identify arbitrarily small groups willing to commit terrorism,  or might it not make more sense create ways to find those principles that allow us to form groups (similar to nation states) for which terrorism is not a feasible option?

As Steven Pinker has pointed out: we live in a remarkably peaceful time. This means that we have the luxury to spend a lot of effort on fighting terrorism, even if the actual threat is low compared to large-scale conflicts of the past or current health epidemics.

Correlation is not the same as causation. And I certainly do oppose the idea that the 2 things are causally linked (terrorism and globalism). Indeed we live in a remarkably peaceful time, I agree with Pinker. And most emphatically would say that one reason for this peace is the decline of fanatical nationalism that was directly responsible for the 2 most devastating global wars which were very costly in human terms and shown the cruel nature of out tribalistic and savage tendencies of dehumanizing those who don’t belong to “our” group.

I am much critic of the course that the EU is taking; Its revival of old fashioned nationalism and break down of EU as a family of nations. Europe could benefit immensely from building a federation of states and a strong central government, similar to the US model. Independently of where I was born I chose to call myself European and wish for an European identity.

If WW1 and 2 could teach us anything, one of those could be that the best way to avoid war is to make the “other” more familiar, to integrate them in our group as a big and diverse family.

It could be that the weak state power created these vacuums that other powers are trying to grab. But my approach to it would be giving increasingly power to federations and the UN in a reformed basis.

But I want to stress out that this is actually a non issue compared to other challenges that take immensely more lives or have the potential to do so. So unlike many others when it comes to cast my democratic vote, I do not prioritize something like terrorism which has the same probability to harm me as a lightning bolt from a storm. When it comes to vote I prioritize economic safety, pollution, global warming and the minimization of suffering for everyone, terrorism is not even on the list.

 
icehorse
 
Avatar
 
 
icehorse
Total Posts:  6452
Joined  22-02-2014
 
 
 
30 May 2016 09:46
 

Terrorism is a red herring. I rail against Islam because it undermines secular humanism and modern society in general.

 
 
Hypersoup
 
Avatar
 
 
Hypersoup
Total Posts:  688
Joined  24-01-2013
 
 
 
15 June 2016 03:49
 

I am scared of Islamic terrorism and Im a Muslm. Its perfectly raitonal to be scared and protect yourself IMO. Taqua means piety and the root is to protect preserve and safeguard oneself. This is not mean to be ironic or sarcastic. There is secular taqua too which is part of the bargain, like wearing a rain coat on a stormy day.

27. And (O Muhammad ) recite to them (the Jews) the story of the two sons of Adam [Habil (Abel) and Qabil (Cain)] in truth; when each offered a sacrifice (to Allah), it was accepted from the one but not from the other. The latter said to the former: “I will surely kill you. ” The former said: “Verily, Allah accepts only from those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious - see V.2:2).”

The above verse indicates an aspect of Cains character, he would kill the pious out of resentment and jealousy. Such is not good character, therefore not pious, and why would God accept a tainted gift anyway?

Is there a parallel, the West has much science, wealth, healthcare and technology - i.e. manifestations of taqua (“Abel”) from the empirical perspective.

Thats a partial analysis. God accepts the virtues of science, medicine, and technology I think, is “Cain the terrorist” righteously angered? Is the West trying to take his taqua via “faith in the unseeen” away?

Islamic fundamentalism can be a sacred Abel and a Cain to secularism, and secularism a secular Abel and a Cain to the sacred.

My two cents.

 

 

[ Edited: 15 June 2016 04:15 by Hypersoup]
 
 
SkepticX
 
Avatar
 
 
SkepticX
Total Posts:  14775
Joined  24-12-2004
 
 
 
15 June 2016 04:59
 
Hypersoup - 15 June 2016 03:49 AM

I am scared of Islamic terrorism and Im a Muslm.


Enough said right there, man.

I can’t blame you for elaborating of course, but that should be all anyone needs to understand and appreciate why someone in your shoes can be afraid of terrorism in an entirely rational way.

 
 
Celal
 
Avatar
 
 
Celal
Total Posts:  2876
Joined  07-08-2011
 
 
 
15 June 2016 10:15
 
Hypersoup - 15 June 2016 03:49 AM

I am scared of Islamic terrorism and Im a Muslm. Its perfectly raitonal to be scared and protect yourself IMO. Taqua means piety and the root is to protect preserve and safeguard oneself. This is not mean to be ironic or sarcastic. There is secular taqua too which is part of the bargain, like wearing a rain coat on a stormy day.

27. And (O Muhammad ) recite to them (the Jews) the story of the two sons of Adam [Habil (Abel) and Qabil (Cain)] in truth; when each offered a sacrifice (to Allah), it was accepted from the one but not from the other. The latter said to the former: “I will surely kill you. ” The former said: “Verily, Allah accepts only from those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious - see V.2:2).”

The above verse indicates an aspect of Cains character, he would kill the pious out of resentment and jealousy. Such is not good character, therefore not pious, and why would God accept a tainted gift anyway?

Is there a parallel, the West has much science, wealth, healthcare and technology - i.e. manifestations of taqua (“Abel”) from the empirical perspective.

Thats a partial analysis. God accepts the virtues of science, medicine, and technology I think, is “Cain the terrorist” righteously angered? Is the West trying to take his taqua via “faith in the unseeen” away?

Islamic fundamentalism can be a sacred Abel and a Cain to secularism, and secularism a secular Abel and a Cain to the sacred.

My two cents.

 

 

Hypersoup - Islamic Terrorists merely living out the teachings of Islam. Muslims in the west such as yourself, though consider yourselves peaceful, nurture the evil ideology by appealing to the best in western humanity and keep these lunatics going that you admit to being afraid of.

Muslims living in Muslim countries haven’t much of a choice. They deserve sympathies. Muslims in the West, are hypocrites at best who wish to have it both ways. You are part of the problem by soft peddling Islam on these forum pages.

 
 1 2 3 >