March 29, 2016

"All we need to do is change our 'frame' for terrorism and start treating it as a medical problem."

"Trump already started that process by suggesting we quarantine the United States from all Muslim immigration – which seems terribly unfair – just to avoid contact with the 1% who might be infected with the radical islamic terror virus. Trump is approaching the problem as if it were a medical emergency. First you quarantine, then you solve...."

Wrote Scott Adams, who's "fairly certain that the idea virus of radical islamic terror can also respond to mental health treatments, once we figure out the best approach."

I think we need some background reading on the way the Soviets used mental health treatments:
The campaign to declare political opponents mentally sick and to commit dissenters to mental hospitals began in the late 1950s and early 1960s. As Vladimir Bukovsky commented on the emergence of the political abuse of psychiatry, Nikita Khrushchev reckoned that it was impossible for people in a socialist society to have an anti-socialist consciousness. Whenever manifestations of dissidence could not be justified as a provocation of world imperialism or a legacy of the past, they were self-evidently the product of mental disease. In a speech published in the Pravda daily newspaper on 24 May 1959, Khrushchev said:
A crime is a deviation from generally recognized standards of behavior frequently caused by mental disorder. Can there be diseases, nervous disorders among certain people in a Communist society? Evidently yes. If that is so, then there will also be offences, which are characteristic of people with abnormal minds. Of those who might start calling for opposition to Communism on this basis, we can say that clearly their mental state is not normal.
The now available evidence supports the conclusion that the system of political abuse of psychiatry was carefully designed by the KGB to rid the USSR of undesirable elements....
It seems to me that we've already gone too far toward thinking of other people's ideas and beliefs as mental illness. And I'm saying that even though I believe much more than most people that our embrace of political, social, and religious beliefs is a deeply emotional process. I don't think you should have much faith in this thing you call reason. Emotional needs must be met. But you need to examine what emotional needs of yours you are indulging when you feel the pull to call other people mentally ill.

48 comments:

Laslo Spatula said...

" But you need to examine what emotional needs of yours you are indulging when you feel the pull to call other people mentally ill."

I believe EVERYONE is mentally ill.

Seriously.

No one perfectly threads the needle.

I am Laslo.

Gahrie said...

And I'm saying that even though I believe much more than most people that our embrace of political, social, and religious beliefs is a deeply emotional process.

That's fine...it is the fact that you think that this is a good thing that is the problem.

I don't think you should have much faith in this thing you call reason.

How can you possibly be a university professor and hold this opinion. It's like a Catholic priest saying that he doesn't think sinning is a problem. A law professor no less.

Emotional needs must be met.

Said the woman.....

Nonapod said...

I don't think you should have much faith in this thing you call reason. Emotional needs must be met.

Reason is one of the few things I have faith in. I have an emotional attachment to reason. I get passionate about being reasonable. I believe one of our great failings as a species is a tendency to base big, important decisions on emotionality over reason.

samanthasmom said...

Ideas, both good ones and bad ones, do spread like an epidemic. While I don't believe we should treat political ideas like we treat a disease, it's obvious a lot of people in academia do. They even run clinics they call "intensive diversity classes" to root out and cure any diversity of thought.

JHapp said...

"1% who might be"?
100% might be, put probably only 30% are.

Bob Ellison said...

The USA criminal justice system is based on knowing what people are thinking, knowing their mental illnesses and motivations.

Don't stand by and say what's terrorism and what's not. We've got a sickness already, and it's in the courts, who try to divine, God-like, what's in the mind of the criminal.

Judge deeds, not minds.

Bobby said...

Scott Adams hasn't come up with anything new here -- more than a decade ago, the University of Calgary's Barry Cooper laid out the case for using Vogelin's pneumopathology (a "disease of the spirit") to better understand terrorist behavior in his book, New Political Religions, or an Analysis of Modern Terrorism (Althouse blog link to Amazon).

I highly recommend reading it.

Rusty said...

I don't think you should have much faith in this thing you call reason.

That's a rather odd statement. Why have an 'Enlightenment" if you don't have reason.
The whole point of (Westernciv.org)is that it is based on reason. Reason is the basis for our laws. What a reasonable person would do. Isn't it, law professor?
Otherwise. What's the point.

Luke Lea said...

A comment I made on Sunday at 3quarks daily:

The problem is not Muslims but Islam itself, a violent political ideology that is incompatible with the principles of Western civilization. If we accept that proposition as true -- and for the sake of argument let us assume that it is -- how are we in the West supposed to respond? Should we insist that Muslims in the West abjure Islam or else return to their country of origin? That is certainly a possibility, and it is not inherently inhumane when you consider that almost all Muslims in the West are Muslims by birth who do not take the tenets of Islam literally.

That being so, it would be good if there were some way to abjure Islam without converting to atheism, Christianity, Judaism, or some other alternative tradition. Historians tell us that there was a form of monotheism in Arabia before Muhammad appeared on the scene, of which he was aware and did not condemn. It was called hanifya, which translates as "the original, pure religion of Abraham." Its core tenets were that there is a God who created heaven and earth; that God is just; and that He judges every human being by a single standard of equity, each according to his deeds in relation to others. For its historical origins see here: https://goo.gl/kO3Wzk

I therefore propose that nominal Muslims in the West who wish to abjure Islam but do not want to give up the idea of God or incur the penalty for apostasy become hanifs.

rhhardin said...

But you need to examine what emotional needs of yours you are indulging when you feel the pull to call other people mentally ill.

That's the second-to-last line of a marital argument.

Big Mike said...

It seems to me that we've already gone too far toward thinking of other people's ideas and beliefs as mental illness.

Um, I'm not sure what else one should call it when the name "Trump" in all caps and the slogan "Trump 2016" is chalked on sidewalks at a (formerly) prestigious university and this causes some students and most administrators at the school to claim that they feel physical pain. If that's not a form of mental illness then how else to describe it?

Wendy McElroy comes to a (formerly) prestigious university to debate Jessica Valenti and a group of students persuades the administration to set up "safe spaces" equipped with "cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies" (coloring books and Play-Doh at a university!?!?!) lest they have to deal with dissenting and conflicting viewpoints. I'm sorry, Madam Professor, but what else to call it if not some form of insanity?

I could go on and on, as well you know. I could point to people who claim write that they hate "haters," who frequently turn out to be nothing more than ordinary people going about their daily business trying to support their families and save a little for retirement.

That this country has gone a long way down the path to insanity should be obvious to any observer.

Sebastian said...

"I don't think you should have much faith in this thing you call reason." Coming from you, that's funny.

@Gahrie: "How can you possibly be a university professor and hold this opinion." Actually, that helps to account for the faithlessness, such as it is. Our hostess has seen enough dressed-up emoting to know better. Of course, when the chips are down, she'll play the rationalist dress-up game like any other law prof: SSM is mandated by the 14th, because reason. Taking the Scott Adams Theory of Everything seriously would turn any law school into Trump U, exposing law as the mere manipulation of emotion. But any rationalist knows that manipulation only works if it's not too blatant.

Paul said...

"I don't think you should have much faith in this thing you call reason."

Well you better stay away from airplanes then.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Get the CDC on it, right after they finish solving gun violence.

Smilin' Jack said...

I don't think you should have much faith in this thing you call reason.

You're crazy.

rhhardin said...

Erik Satie has a piano piece "avant-dernières pensées," second-to-last thoughts.

rhhardin said...

"I don't think you should have much faith in this thing you call reason."

Well you better stay away from airplanes then.


Reason doesn't do well with airplanes. Bernoulli has nothing to do with lift, for example, yet that is the universal explanation for it. The need is emotional for an explanation that's mysterious, to match the flight. It's as if a woman thought of it.

Airplanes fly by throwing air downwards, as any guy should realize.

Bernoulli reverses cause and effect: in a steady-state airflow, air goes faster because it has run down a pressure gradient, not the reverse.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Now now now everyone, let's be calm and have a conversation. People get upset when people they respect downplay reason, but I honestly think everyone ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.

Let's think deeply (or, I guess, maybe feel deeply).

Professor Althouse: you believe people overvalue reason and undervalue emotion. Presumably you yourself correctly value these two things. What part does your different valuation play in the conclusions you've reached/ideas you hold that are contrary to the mainstream/norm (given that the norm is made up of people who overvalue reason). Or, to come at it a different way, if you gave more weight to reason what beliefs or ideas that you now hold do you think you would change your mind about?

Tank said...

Gahrie said...

And I'm saying that even though I believe much more than most people that our embrace of political, social, and religious beliefs is a deeply emotional process.

That's fine...it is the fact that you think that this is a good thing that is the problem.

I don't think you should have much faith in this thing you call reason.

How can you possibly be a university professor and hold this opinion. It's like a Catholic priest saying that he doesn't think sinning is a problem. A law professor no less.

Emotional needs must be met.

Said the woman.....


Respectfully, she did not say it was a good thing, and ... I think you missed her point. You and I (and she?) may want reason to govern, but, largely, it does not.

James Pawlak said...

Physicians deal with cancer by use of radiation "bullets", surgery with cutting tools and selective poisons. The cancer of orthodox and loyal Muslims, exactly following the commands in the Koran can best be dealt with by the use of real bullets, the cutting effect of bomb-and-shell fragments and such chemicals as in fire bombs.

Gahrie said...

Respectfully, she did not say it was a good thing,

If you have been paying attention over the last decade, it is quite clear that Althouse believes in emotion over logic, and perception over meaning.

Tank said...

@Gahrie

There is a difference between seeing that people (even those who say/think they are being "rational") are governed largely by emotions, and favoring that.

rhhardin said...

The strength of reason is better apparent in those who understand it than in those who do not. - Lautreamont

Chuck said...

If Trump came forward and suggested that terrorism is a mental illness, I think he'd immediately get the endorsement(s) of Barbara Boxer, Keith Ellison, Andre Carson, Louis Farrakhan, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Michael Eric Dyson.

Michael McClain said...

I prescribe an appropriate injection of lead into the cranium for each Jihadi.

Peter said...

"Um, I'm not sure what else one should call it when the name "Trump" in all caps and the slogan "Trump 2016" is chalked on sidewalks at a (formerly) prestigious university and this causes some students and most administrators at the school to claim that they feel physical pain. If that's not a form of mental illness then how else to describe it?"

It's a political tactic, which builds on (1) U.S. Dept of Ed. Title IX bullying schools to abandon due process for students accused of misconduct, and (2) that the experience of pain (physical or emotional) is inherently subjective (and shall remain so until/unless someone invents a pain-o-meter that can accurately measure it).

Just as terrorism is a political tactic, a subset of asymmetrical warfare.

Crybullying and terrorism are tactics used to achieve political ends, and thus are not inherently irrational (let alone signs that those who use them are mentally ill).


Confusing mental illness with maladaptive or undesired behaviors is a categorical error (as is confusing sex with gender).

Gahrie said...

There is a difference between seeing that people (even those who say/think they are being "rational") are governed largely by emotions, and favoring that.

I know...I am saying based on what I have read on this site over the last decade I am quite confident that Althouse believes emotional irrationality is a good thing.

It is why I finally decided that the 19th Amendment needed to be repealed.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

But you need to examine what emotional needs of yours you are indulging when you feel the pull to call other people mentally ill.

I agree with the general proposition but that sounds really condescending to me.

I'm going to assume you don't talk to people like that in real life.

virgil xenophon said...

Bobby@9:22am/

Voegelin had taught at LSU and I was privileged to hear him speak as an undergrad circa 1964 when he came back for a guest lecture. What an extraordinary mind! FWIW the Voegelin Institute is located at LSU in Baton Rouge.

virgil xenophon said...

Gahrie@10:09am/

Late to the party, eh? :)

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Peter said...Crybullying and terrorism are tactics used to achieve political ends, and thus are not inherently irrational (let alone signs that those who use them are mentally ill).

Granting that it's a rational tactic (while emphasizing that it's downright crazy that we've built a world where it's a valid tactic/can work) the question remains--do these children actually FEEL pain/trauma, or are they just pretending.

I'd prefer to live in a world where it's pretend (as crappy as that is), but if you look at them and listen to them it sure sounds like they believe themselves to be honestly traumatized.

That makes me FEEL disgust...but I think disgust is the rational response (although that thought is surely entangled w/my feelings...).

HoodlumDoodlum said...

I'll just leave this here: Wiki: Neuroscience of Free Will

Paul said...

"Airplanes fly by throwing air downwards, as any guy should realize."

Sounds reasonable to me.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

To me the really interesting question isn't "do we mostly use reason or mostly use emotion to make decisions/form beliefs" but rather "how does a change in your understanding of yourself and others (w/r/t how reason & emotion are used, proportionally) change your own actions, beliefs, decisions, or approaches to problems?"

Adams says influence doesn't depend much on appeals to reason/rationality. That's a testable hypothesis, although not easily testable maybe (problems of interpreting the results, you see). He's given examples, though, of how that belief changes the approach he recommends if one is interested in persuasion--appeal more to identity, focus less on arguing points of fact and more on creating mental associations in your audience, etc.

My question for the professor is along the same lines--how would you approach a problem different if you thought people relied more on reason? Would any of your own beliefs change?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Just dropping this off: Scientific American: Gut Feelings - The "Second Brain" in our GI Systems

Anglelyne said...

Tank: Respectfully, she did not say it was a good thing, and ... I think you missed her point. You and I (and she?) may want reason to govern, but, largely, it does not.

Thanks, Tank. Whole lotta point missing going on here. The limits and fallacies of "reason" is philosophy 101 territory, separate issue from Althouse's personal record of rationality.

It is a delusion of Enlightenment Man, in his contemporary form, the Technocrat, that his is the last, universalist world-view toward which all humanity really wants to move, and will move, if provided with "education" which saves him from his pathologies of unreason.

The West is like a sick man with a crippled immune system who puts all his effort, not into curing himself of a dangerous bacterial infection, but into trying to neutralize hypothetical viruses infecting the opportunistic bacteria that are killing him. He does this because he has theorized himself into believing that it is really the viruses that are making the bacteria virulent, where they would otherwise be peaceful symbionts.

Gahrie said...

if provided with "education" which saves him from his pathologies of unreason.

Reason does not require education, merely the ability to harness your emotions.

I am not promoting elitism in anyway. I think the attempt by highly educated coastal elites to dominate American politics is a huge problem.

Big Mike said...

@Peter, I got it. One feigns insanity to support one's political beliefs under the assumption that everyone else can be induced to feign insanity too.

Maybe the crybullies should rethink their strategy.

R. Chatt said...

Both Winston Churchill and Pope Benedict XVI have commented on the mental and rational deficiencies in Islamic culture. Nothing new.

There is also the common practice of first cousin marriages which produce higher incidences of mental and physical defects. It is also common in the Islamic world to marry your brother's daughter, which is actually genetically closer than marrying your cousin. A rough estimate shows that close to half of all Muslims in the world are inbred: In Pakistan, 70 percent of all marriages are between first cousins (so-called "consanguinity") and in Turkey the amount is between 25-30 percent. A BBC report discussed Pakistanis in the United Kingdom, 55% of whom marry a first cousin. Given the high rate of such marriages, many children come from repeat generations of first-cousin marriages. The report states that these children are 13 times more likely than the general population to produce children with genetic disorders, and one in ten children of first-cousin marriages in Birmingham either dies in infancy or develops a serious disability. Cousin Marriage in Islam

R. Chatt said...

There may be physiological reasons why some Muslims are more susceptible to extremism.

n.n said...

It is common to establish quarantines with national or class criteria. In this case, the suspected contagion is limited to a universal religion wedded to a left-wing ideology with known class diversity impulses.

Big Mike said...

The thing is, I supported Trump's call for a moratorium on Muslim immigration at the time, and still do. But it's not about xenophobia (despite what Hyde Park's village idiot currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue might think), nor is it about quarantining some sort of mental issue as Adams alleges.

What we discovered about Bakersfield was that a Muslim woman had posted to social media her hatred for Americans and her desire to kill as many of us as she could, and we still let her in!!! If that isn't a broken process then I don't know what is. Let's figure out how to separate Muslims who want to kill random Americans from Muslims who just want to get on with their life in an open society, and then evolve our processes to turn back the former and let in the latter.

If that's too hard for the current administration then I recommend we get a new administration from a different party.

Big Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Big Mike said...

How'd I get the dreaded double post? I only hit "enter" once. Google needs to stop spying on people and have them fix bugs.

Jonathan Graehl said...

Useful tactic but can't be more than a piece of the puzzle. I prefer Adams' earlier foray at painting the jihadis as dupes of the big men staying home and hoarding all the women. Reproductive dead end etc. Trouble is, they're lead to expect they'll be free to rape + enslave foreign women.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Any place taht due process is short-circuited results in things that are no good

Foster care removal from parents

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/pedophile-probed-9-times-abusing-foster-kids-article-1.2579573

"Nuisance abatement" evictions

http://interactive.nydailynews.com/2016/02/nypd-nuisance-abatement-actions-boot-hundreds/

Any mental health committments.

No fly lists

And when government is doing soemthing and the same people would have to say they were wrong they are very loath to admit it.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Theer is the idea that the pronesity to commit crimes should be considered like an epidemic - but I don't think medically, just that statistically and sociologically it operates like that.

John Lynch said...

Here's Scott Adams doing his thing.

1. Scott Adams made an outrageous prediction back in August that Trump is going to win the GOP primary and the Presidency. It doesn't matter if it doesn't happen, because the internet forgets and no one will remember other than his blog regulars, who aren't that numerous or influential. If it does happen, Scott Adams is a prophet, gets on TV, and he gets to expand his audience beyond Dilbert. Remember, Adams has been trying to get beyond Dilbert for a very long time and hasn't managed it yet. But, as he says himself, he learns from his failures.

2. Adams' central argument about Trump, that he is a "Master Persuader," fails on its face. If Trump is really good at persuasion, why are 60% of GOP voters against him, week in and week out? Why so few endorsements from GOP politicians? Hasn't he had years to work on the people who can stop him? If he's such a political talent, why the worst performance of any GOP frontrunner at this point in the campaign in modern history? Everyone supposedly hates Ted Cruz, but he has the endorsements Trump lacks.

Reagan almost won in 1976 and won in 1980 because he really was persuasive. Reagan was divisive, and he did scare people with his rhetoric. However, Reagan had built up a reputation not only in speeches but in government. He'd been a two term governor of California and was a serious player on the national stage for many years. Trump has had 30 years on the national stage. Why didn't he spend some time running NY or NJ? He certainly could have. Why is "the establishment" against Trump? Shouldn't Trump have become the establishment by now? If this is some sort of long range plan by Trump to win the Presidency, he certainly didn't plan very well.

3. What I see isn't a Master Persuader, but someone who opportunistically took advantage of the most divided Republican field for decades, and understood that in a three way race 40% of the votes will win. The way to get to 40 was to appeal to the lowest common denominator. That's a tactical move that might get him to the nomination. Could happen.

4. Scott Adams thinks that by persuasion magic Trump will beat Hillary Clinton. OK.. but he can't convince a majority of GOP voters to support him. Reagan nearly swept away the 1976 GOP convention by force of personality. Trump won't. Somehow that means that he'll be great in the general election. I don't follow.

5. Scott Adams is doing this for himself, not Trump. He's pushing his ideas about persuasion to market himself and to genuinely (I think) educate the public about psychology. He found a no-downside way to promote himself. It costs him no more than the time to write the posts. The fact that Trump came along is something Adams took advantage of, much like Trump took advantage of the broken GOP primary. It's well-timed opportunism, and that is a skill. With some luck, Scott Adams gets to be a political prophet and raise his profile beyond Dilbert, something he's been trying to do for decades.

Good Luck.