Terrorism and the human brain

The use of terrorism will fail as a tactic because of the way humans think.

  • merrie

    This is a very interesting article FD, and to a certain extent it is proven in the NI experience. It wasn’t until the peace process began that progress (and compromises) were made.

    However, given the intransigence of some parties *before* (as well as during) the Troubles, would the progress have happened without the Troubles?

    (I think I’ll be raising a few hackles here…)

    Incidentally, I cannot open your other discussion “Republicans retrieve ABOD banner” – it just opens to a blank page – but obviously it does work for some people because there are ten comments at the moment.

  • fair_deal

    Works for me, don’t know what is wrong?

  • Merrie

    Tried it in Safari (I usually use this browser) and in Firefox. No luck.

    In Safari it opens to a blank page:

    In Firefox it opens to the same window but the tab title is (GIF image, 1×1 pixels)

    I am using an Apple Mac. Are you using a PC?

    Have also restarted my Mac just in case a local glitch was causing the problem. It isn’t.

  • fair_deal


    I am PC. I am afraid this is well above my limited technical know-how.

  • An interesting article, but why does it only apply to terrorism as opposed to other forms of violence with political ends? I.e. the US may be sincere about its policy goals in the Middle East, but all people who see, say, aerial bombardments think is that the Americans aim to bomb and kill Muslims as an end to itself.

  • The Dubliner

    “Although Bin Laden has complained that Americans have completely misunderstood the reason behind the 9/11 attacks, correspondent inference theory postulates that he’s not going to convince people. Terrorism, and 9/11 in particular, has such a high correspondence that people use the effects of the attacks to infer the terrorists’ motives. In other words, since Bin Laden caused the death of a couple of thousand people in the 9/11 attacks, people assume that must have been his actual goal, and he’s just giving lip service to what he claims are his goals. Even Bin Laden’s actual objectives are ignored as people focus on the deaths, the destruction and the economic impact.” – Bruce Schneier

    He misses the critical point that people only infer intentions from actual outcomes where the actual intention isn’t known to them prior to observing the action that produces the outcome. Otherwise, Correspondent inference theory would dictate that the violent deaths of several hundred thousand people in Iraq was the intention of the military intervention there, since that was the outcome. People don’t assume that about the war in Iraq because Bush and Blair have provided them with a statement of their intentions and the media have propagated it. In the case of Bin Laden, although he has likewise proffered a statement of his actual intention for 9/11, the media have not propagated it, leaving the void to be filled by mechanisms such as Correspondent inference theory. The reason the media haven’t propagated Bin Laden’s intention is to comply with military propaganda and US forgein policy directives, i.e. to not draw the public’s attention to the role of US forgein policy in creating violent opposition to it or the oppressive nature of it, and to allow the public to easily accept that Bin Laden (and suchlike) are motivated by hatred of all that is deemed good (freedom, peace, democracy, ect) and not by other factors.

  • merrie

    >> all people who see, say, aerial bombardments think is that the Americans aim to bomb and kill Muslims as an end to itself<< This is where prior beliefs come in. Some people and countries have great suspicions of the USA. I was really surprised to hear a rather westernised Bulgarian I was working with during the Kosovo crisis saying that the USA simply wanted to increase its power in the Balkans. OTOH most people in the UK look at the disaster in Iraq and note how many Muslims are killing other Muslims and destroying their sacred mosques. What is their aim? To totally destroy/control/terrorise the other? After decades of repression the lid has come off the mutual hatred - well, that's how it seems to some. Iraq may be considered a failed entity as a country and splitting it into Kurd, Shia and Sunni may be the natural outcome. The trouble for the Sunnis is that their share of the land is mostly barren desert and the Kurds and the Shias get all the oil. In the meantime, Turkey is eyeing with suspicion the Iraqi Kurds (and possibly the oil) and is massing troops along the border... Isn't NI peaceful and its problems tiddly compared to some other places?

  • Turgon


    I know this is totally off thread and stuff but did you get your problem fixed. I use Firefox with a PC and have no problems. I need a new computer and am thinking about a Mac but stories like yourds worry me as I have very little IT ability.

  • merrie

    Turgon: I would not worry about this problem. It’s the first time it has occurred and I have been reading Slugger for several years. Also I have had Macs since 1988.

    If you buy an Intel Mac you have the best of both platforms: using software called Parallels you can easily switch to Windows, which I understand runs really fast on a Mac, at the same time you have the MacOS open.

  • Dewi

    Turgon ! – where have you been ? Marching ?

  • Rory

    “Correspondent inference theory would indictate that the violent deaths of several hundred thousand people in Iraq was the intention of the military intervention there, since that was the outcome. People don’t assume that about the war in Iraq because Bush and Blair have provided them with a statement of their intentions and the media have propagated it.”

    Surely, Dubliner, the very code name-name for the invasion, “Shock and Awe” would indicate, not only to the poor citizens of Iraq but also to the world at large that “the violent deaths of several hundred thousand people in Iraq” was precisely the intention of the US and British led coalition responsible for the carnage.

    I was certainly convinced.

  • merrie

    Back to my irrelevant problem with another thread: have got the page open in Explorer on my Mac; there must be some coding problem with the page.

    PO’Neil: >> it is not the Iraqis that are blowing up their holy sites it was British and American Special Forces<< This is an interesting viewpoint. Where are some AP articles on this?

  • Wilde Rover

    “In fact, it does the exact opposite, by demonstrating why terrorism doesn’t work as a tool of persuasion and policy change.”

    So terrorism hasn’t been an effective tool of persuasion, specifically in policy change?

    So what have I been reading about for the past six years?

    The Patriot Act (I) and (II), and other devices that have stripped the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights of their legitimacy.

    The spread of federal control over states’ rights, an increasingly monitored public, the bankrupting of the system of government and its infrastructure by an unending War on Terror.

    This recent Presidential Directive says that in the case of a “catastrophic emergency”


    (“Catastrophic Emergency” means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions;)

    “The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government.”

    Am I getting this right? The next time the terrorists make a serious attack on the US the balance of powers is going to be cast aside and the president will have complete control? Perhaps some of the legal minds on slugger could put my mind at ease. This doesn’t mean that, juxtaposed against the Constitution of the USA, this would make the president a dictator, does it?

    If it does, then one could argue that if Osama bin Laden’s ultimate goal is the destruction of the Republic of the United States of America then he is merely one attack away from achieving that goal.

  • merrie

    P O’Neil: If this is true, then it is most distressing, though I should not be because of my understanding of how the Brits operated in NI.

    I smelled a rat with regard to the bringing down of Stormont – it seemed too stage-managed – and I thought then it would be truly shocking that the Brits could bring down a government and blame someone else for it. I also thought that Roisin, Bernadette McAliskey’s daughter, was held as a hostage on the flimsiest of evidence. In both events, no court trial ensued for lack of evidence.

    In retrospect maybe Bush and Blair are regretting they did not take the then Pope’s advice, and Rowan Williams’s – not to invade Iraq.

  • merrie

    Back to irrelevant problem: from Safari I can get onto that page if I delete the last / and the space around it. Maybe I should have asked FD to retype the address in again so that it will work automatically as have all other Slugger pages.

  • merrie

    P ONeil:

    And I suppose there is a way the government can suspend elections “until the crisis is over” since they did that during WW2, afaik, so we cannot vote in anyone else to overrule these executive orders.

  • Wilde Rover

    P O’Neil

    I did read your posts. I wasn’t aware of some of what you referenced, and I must commend your tracking. Apologies for my obscure sarcasm.

    I was merely placing the information in a consensus news context, and focusing on the fact that the press release from the Whitehouse seemingly announced that the next time large numbers of their citizens are killed they are going to, in effect, abandon their republic.

    But all of this speculation will, doubtless, be overshadowed by whatever large attack comes next.

    And the people will forget.

    Just like they forgot about Donald Rumsfeld telling the world on September 10th, 2001, that the Pentagon was missing $2.6 trillion.

    But I’m sure that was just a coincidence.

  • merrie

    P O’Neil: don’t have TV so cannot see that series. The BBC may have some good programs but they were less than even-handed in reporting the NI troubles.

    Bush will be remembered as one of the worst (if not the worst) presidents of the USA. Many Americans I have spoken to are ashamed of him.

    Blair will be remembered for Iraq and failing to do anything worthwhile except getting the (temporary) NI Assembly going.

    Once the 30 year secrecy is up, Reid (if he is mentioned at all) will be remembered for illicitly bringing down the NI Assembly and running away from the Home Office problems (which, even though a decade has passed, were created by the last Conservative government).

  • Turgon

    Tankyou for advice.

    Sorry for late answer and very off thread. I was marching a little and also rented holiday house with Elenwe and children. There was no internet and I had to play with kids, go to beach and stuff. Also went to excellent traction engine rally in Ballymena!