Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Isis, Putin, Hamas and how People Are Rarely as Crazy as You Think

Alright so I had written this blog entry and was all ready to post it when some crazy person decided to murder an unarmed Canadian soldier on ceremonial duty in downtown Ottawa.  As such I felt it would have been in poor taste to post this and just never got around to doing it.  So this is a little old but I believe still a relevant entry and hopefully by posting this part I get around to writing the other two parts.  So without further ado here is my post.

In one of my early Psychology courses I had a professor walk in and, without saying a word, draw a pie chart.  On this chart were only two slices.  One comprised of 99% and the other only 1%.

He then started the class by proclaiming that vast majority of the world is comprised of sane rational people.  As for the 1%.  Well that group is crazy.  It's best to avoid them.

The rest of the lectures were about trying to explain the behavior of the 99%.

The importance of those lectures was that there is a very small subset of the worlds population that reason and logic cannot explain.  There are other disciplines that deal with those people (abnormal psychology comes to mind).


I do find that I hear far too often that so and so, this group, and those other people are crazy.

The purpose of those lectures (as well as much of my early social psychology courses) was to explain that what may seem as far out behavior is in actuality, upon further inspection, quite rational, sane and normal behavior (given the set of circumstances, variables etc).

A very simple example of this.

If you brought somebody from just 10 years ago to a random busy intersection they would probably think the world had gone mad.

That's because 10 years ago a person walking down a street talking to himself would be labeled crazy and probably had a severe mental disorder.

Today, however, this is obviously quite commonplace.  Once you explain to the time traveler the advance in cell phone/microphone technology they would quickly realize the error of their assumption.

Since that is a very simple example there really isn't any negative repercussions of the assumption that the time traveler made.  He may be moderately confused but the person talking on the phone will be none the wiser and unaffected.

Now lets bring in some real life, and incredibly complex, examples.

To begin with I have to preface the whole rest of this blog with i'm a nobody.  What I mean by this is i'm going to delve into some complicated geopolitical and historical issues that i'm in no way an expert on (laughable) or even semi knowledgeable about.

I just hope that, at the very least, my logic and reason is sound based on what information I believe to be true is.

And the overriding message is simple.

(and is therefore not as crazy as you think)

Based on the title of this blog you can probably guess what my next 3 examples will be.  This is going to be crazy hard for me to write so i'm going to start with the easiest one first and work my way up to the hardest.

ISIS and the recent public beheadings

Now by no means am I suggesting that the entire ISIS situation is easy to explain.  In fact trying to dissect the genesis of the current middle east conflicts makes me incredibly dizzy.  The influence of the exhaustive interconnected histories of the vast amount of countries involved, many of which don't even exist today and many others who were clearly influenced by outside countries (most notably England, France and to a lesser extent Russia) is so obviously outside my ability to comprehend that its absurd that i'm even mentioning it.....Man I really wish I knew how to write better that is one insanely long sentence that I'm not sure how to fix.

No what i'm going to get into is the recent beheadings performed by ISIS.

Now remember the title of this blog.  I'm merely trying to make sense of what i've heard/read many people call crazy or insane behavior.  I'm in no way condoning or defending any of this behavior.  I'm merely attempting to point out that what appears crazy may actually have a very logical rational reason behind it.

The beheadings done by ISIS, I argue, are performed for very rational and logical reasons (THIS DOES NOT MEAN GOOD OR ACCEPTABLE REASONS).  Before I explain why, however, i'll start by giving an example of a beheading that was in fact carried out by a crazy person.

I'm sure most people will remember the killing of Tim McLean.  Tim McLean was sleeping next to his assailant while travveling on a greyhound bus.  Suddenly and without warning his killer began stabbing him repeatedly and was locked in the bus by the busdriver after the driver was chased away by the attacker.  The killer then proceded to decapitate the dead passenger and even went so far as to consume some of his body.

There was no provocation and no apparent reason for this tragedy.  This incredibly, and maybe needlessly, greusome account is a very obvious example of insane behavior and the judge overseeing the trial agreed and admitted the killer to a high security mental health facility.

By contrast the beheadings preformed by ISIS were not done suddenly, warnings were given, provocations can be argued to have occurred leading up to them, and ISIS gave reasons for the beheadings (of which i'll actually dispute later).

Furthermore ISIS went to great lengths to film and spread their beheadings using sophisticated filming equipment, editing and numerous forms of social media and other media outlets. Clearly this demonstrates that they had a motive for the beheadings rather then blind rage.

Now i'm actually going to argue against the reason that they gave for the beheadings.  They stated that the beheadings were in response to the West's involvement in Iraq.  I actually doubt this is the true reason they committed these atrocities.

Based on their aformentioned media campaign is seems way more likely that they are using these public beheadings as a recruitment tool to attain more members.

Furthermore, I believe they actually want the West to go after them and their released videos shows them both daring the UK to send troops into the middle east, and mocking President Obama.


Now one may say that, if this were the true motive, then surely they must be insane.  How could you possibly anatagonize the strongest military nations in the world and not be crazy?

Here's what I believe they are attempting:

Post multiple videos of them beheading journalists.
Tell the western nations this is in response to their involvment with Iraq and then mock them.

This has two effects.
First it makes them look like they are standing up to a bully and that will attract more recruits.
Secondly it actually causes the western nations to attack.

This is probably especially easy in the United States as president Obama is constantly, and consistently, being portrayed as a weak president by his rivals.  For him to do nothing would simply be more ammunition to be used against him.

Then when the west does attack, innocent civilians are inevitably going to be killed.
ISIS will then use those deaths as another means to recruit more members.

Like I said this is an easy example.  Anybody who has even remotely considered this issue, i'm sure, have not come to the conclusion that these actions are crazy.

Now before I get into two more examples i'm going to go off on a little tangent.  Very small this time I promise.

This is not a new, profound or particularly deep reflection that i'm coming up with here.
This goes back probably as far as conflict has ever existed and has been documented by the Chinese General Sun Tzu and probably every other friggin general since!

Might be something to think about.

Alright this is already quite long so rather then make this a giant huge blog i'm going to make this a 3 parter.

Next up will be me explaining how Putin and his ongoing shenanigans doesn't make him a wild crazy man.

This picture makes him a wild crazy man :

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