Re: SOC: MSNBC on "Special Terrorists"

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Fri Jun 23 2000 - 23:35:04 MDT

Greg Burch wrote:
>Robert, you're applying a level of rationality to the mentality behind this
>kind of action that just doesn't work.

I agree with your view in general attitude. However, I would caution
against a common tendency to label opponents' views as "irrational."
When we do this, it greatly reduces our ability to engage in a
meme-war or PR-battle.

If we view opposing views as irrational, then we do not try to
respond to those views or even refute them directly. In the
meme-battle-space or PR-arena, this makes us appear to be the
irrational or nonresponsive party.

If we view opposing views as irrational, then we do no try to make
sense of their motives. We then fail to see logical next steps or
obvious actions and reactions by the other side. We become suprised
at events that should have been obvious.

I think that very few viewpoints are purely irrational. They may be
based on false beliefs, but once you determine what those beliefs
are, most people are acting totally rationally within their world
view. For example,the relgious zealot who interprets ancient
scripture as literally the word of God, should be easy to predict.
The imbalanced person who thinks UFO aliens are projecting
mind-control rays through the TV should be easy to predict. We do
not have to avoid rational debate or predictive analysis of these
opponents in the mistaken belief that they are "irrational" and
therefore cannot be analyzed.

I think this characterization of opponents is usually more satisfying
than it is accurate. In being inaccurate, it leads to an
underestimation of their skills, a misunderstanding of their motives,
and a total inability to anticipate their future actions. All three
of these spell doom in any ideas-based conflict.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:14:11 MDT