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I_Pwn_Crackpots

Ideology and Fanaticism

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I don't know a whole lot about human behavior, so I want to know the psychological basis behind the need to be correct about a given idea.

 

Specifically, what could drive a person so far that they would be willing to die for a given set of beliefs or ideology even if it is complete nonsense? Or even worse, that they would be willing to kill someone else for their beliefs?

 

You see this phenomenon most often with religious cults, even if their set of beliefs specifically preaches tolerance.

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VenomFangX: The Psychology of Fundamentalism

 

 

VenomFangX: The Psychology of Fundamentalism 2

 

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Well, from a biological standpoint, I'd say being willing to kill is a lot less of a big deal than being willing to die, since the survival instinct is obviously our most powerful drive under normal circumstances. Yet even that has precedent, e.g. sacrificing oneself for the sake of offspring, which makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. Being willing to die for something could just be a generalization of that pre-existing urge, i.e. substituting all of humanity for one's own offspring, and possibly some abstract benefit for physical danger.

 

I also think it's important to separate that from religious motivations, since when an "afterlife" is involved the whole equation is completely different. If you actually believe in it, then the survival instinct doesn't interfere with sacrificing your life, and might actually help it along, if, as in Christianity or Islam, you only "survive" in the afterlife if certain conditions are met in life, in which case sacrificing your physical life to meet those conditions is a no-brainer.

 

It should also be separated from being willing to risk one's life, since that's quite different from facing certain death. We're used to mortal risk, since everything we do necessarily involves some measure of it, and in each case we're measuring risk vs. reward, consciously or not. We say that fallen soldiers gave their lives for their country, but in most cases that's not really accurate. They put their lives at risk (sometimes huge risk) for their country, and they didn't beat the odds. That requires a strong motivation, but not the same as certain self-sacrifice.

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I also think it's important to separate that from religious motivations, since when an "afterlife" is involved the whole equation is completely different. If you actually believe in it, then the survival instinct doesn't interfere with sacrificing your life, and might actually help it along, if, as in Christianity or Islam, you only "survive" in the afterlife if certain conditions are met in life, in which case sacrificing your physical life to meet those conditions is a no-brainer.

 

 

I agree with this as well, as dying for an abstract concept does not make much sense from a biological standpoint. And yet, there are extremely well documented cases of people doing just that, especially when religion is involved. It makes me wonder if this could be a form of mental illness or something. But could an abstract concept really affect someone's mental health in such a profound way?

 

@ Blade:

Thanks for the videos. I haven't had any time yet to watch them, but I will when I have the free time.

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VenomFangX is not a good source of information about ANYTHING.

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I don't know a whole lot about human behavior, so I want to know the psychological basis behind the need to be correct about a given idea.

 

Specifically, what could drive a person so far that they would be willing to die for a given set of beliefs or ideology even if it is complete nonsense? Or even worse, that they would be willing to kill someone else for their beliefs?

 

You see this phenomenon most often with religious cults, even if their set of beliefs specifically preaches tolerance.

 

remember that often they don't believe it's nonsense. that is yours/mine interpretation of their beliefs.

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I don't know a whole lot about human behavior, so I want to know the psychological basis behind the need to be correct about a given idea.

 

Specifically, what could drive a person so far that they would be willing to die for a given set of beliefs or ideology even if it is complete nonsense? Or even worse, that they would be willing to kill someone else for their beliefs?

 

You see this phenomenon most often with religious cults, even if their set of beliefs specifically preaches tolerance.

It's because such beliefs are based on emotion, not logic. They are based on the 'feeling' of being right.

 

It is this feeling that people are defending (rather than the belief itself) and as there is no evidence, it can't be defended by logic. A logical criticism on the tenets of the belief will always 'feel' to the believer like an attack on the 'feeling of being right' and so is always personal, even though that is usually not how it is intended. As the feeling is an emotional thing, so is the defence of it. A defence based on emotion is never going to be rational.

 

It's obviously more complex than that. You have other things like the reinforcers of in-group identity (and its downside, the defining of out-groups based on an arbitrary set of beliefs) and so-on. There are many psychological reinforcers of such beliefs (both internal and external), but essentially, it boils down to having to defend ones' 'feeling of being right', without any solid tools (such as evidence) with which to do it. Any defence has therefore to be based on the only things left, emotional argument combined with a ritualised deliberately self-reinforcing sense of certainty wherein any 'attack' on the belief simply reinforces the out-group membership of the attacker, and by extension, reinforces the in-group identity (i.e. it further polarizes the groups) and in a bizzarre way acts as 'proof' that the in-group is right (they have to be, otherwise the heathen out-groupers wouldn't be attacking them).

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