Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, July 02, 2007

First, do no harm

The recent string of botched terror attacks seem to have been carried about by a group of Muslim physicians working and living in the UK.

One of the things that puzzles western observers is the tendency of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists to be educated people. While we are used to seeing the likes of Timothy McVeigh engaging in political violence, it is surprising for us to see doctors, lawyers and engineers getting involved as is so often the case in the Middle East.

I'm not an expert on the political psychology of terrorists and terrorism but perhaps some of our participants or visitors have something to contribute.


The Law Talking Guy said...

I think it's an interesting point that so many of these terrorists appear to be well-educated. But maybe it's not a new point. In some places, the footsoldiers strap on bombs and walk into marketplaces, but terrorism in Britain or the UK requires leadership, planning, technical knowhow, and cash. Those with educations, particularly western educations, are more likely to possess all of these qualities.

Another related issue, though, is that a little education can sometimes be dangerous. The hallmark of a true liberal education is tolerance: not just tolerance for those with other ideas and backgrounds, but tolerance for questions without clear answers, tolerance for ambiguity in life. Often, this quality lacking from education, both here and abroad.

Also, in most of the world, you choose a profession/specialty in college, so doctors and lawyers, for example, do not get a separate college education first. I suspect this leads to many of these people being autodidacts - self-taught- in areas of religion, philosophy, and politics. They are smart enough to read and understand big books, and think of themselves as smart, but lack the education to put everything in proper context.

I like to say that the only thing more dangerous than a person who has read no books is the person who has read just one.

Anonymous said...

I find these attacks especially bothersome because they are doctors, people who are supposed to save lives, not destroy them.

The way I see it, every group has its psychopaths. Sometimes people can be idiot savants, which touches on LTG's point.

USWest said...

The last post was me!

Dr. Strangelove said...

LTG makes an interesting point about self-taught people, or people with a deep but narrow education. Haven't we all at some point read some philosophy-type book and thought, "wow, that's the truth at last!" and then later realized it just wasn't? And would we ever have got to that later realization without continuing our education?

I think the problem may be that morality is not something at all easily learned in the abstract. Everything's different when it is happening to you or someone you love. In terms of moral education, is there reason to believe a doctor or lawyer or other professional has more than anyone else, in areas outside his practice?

USWest said...

I don't think morality is part of this. I don't think it is about tolerance either. I think it is political for these people. Educated people have resources (as LTG pointed out) and a sense of purpose behind their actions. Furthermore, even very ecucated people can have "causes" and can believe fervantly in things. They aren't thinking about morals, at least not in the sense that I do. For them, their cause is their moral beacon and they are blinded by it. What was the cause of these men? Do they see themselves as freedom fighers or something? Are they extended the jihad? Is it revenge for something?

Witness our current adminstration. They have causes and believe fervantly in things. They also have education, or so we are led to believe. They have chosen to do a lot of damage to a lot of people.

Dr. Strangelove said...

In my view, a failure to think about morals, or being blinded by a moral beacon, is a problem with morality. That is what I meant. Such problems open the door to political or religious fanaticism.