Monday, April 22, 2013

Personal Reflection on Terror Theory- The Mortality Salience - Regards Self or Culture?


"Refuse to be terrorized," says Bruce Schneier. "Terrorism is a crime against the mind. What happened in Boston, horrific as it is, is theatre to make you scared. "..

Ezra Klein  "Why does it (terrorism) hit the fear button more effectively than other threats?" 

Bruce Schneier. “Many reasons. It’s rare and spectacular. It’s random. It comes out of nowhere. It’s immediate. It’s graphic. Compare this to global warming, which is a gazillion times more dangerous. There’s no comparison. This terrifies you, the other is boring.

The Washington Post, Posted by Ezra Klein on April 16, 2013 at 10:41 am

The above excerpt underlies what appears to be an influential perception fear generated by terror is irrational, particularly if this fear translates into fear of the adherents of a dogma from which the terror originates.

The fear is not of the individual who carried out the crime but against the family of the perpetrators and therefore irrational as ‘What did the rest of the family have to do with it.’. Also the fear is perceived as out of proportion to the act itself. When seen relatively to numbers of killed, number of times terrorism occurs, other events such as ‘Global warming’ the fear is deemed irrational. The acts of terror are not seen as connected to anything other than the act itself and fear generated regards the source culture determined a phobia.

Using the same logic we classify terror in exactly the same reactionary framework as a mugging in the street which from the perspective of the mugged, if you do not live in New York, are "Many reasons. It’s rare and spectacular. It’s random. It comes out of nowhere. It’s immediate. It’s graphic. ". Also such descriptions’ of the nature of events could be aligned with numerous other life events which are not life threatening – such as a marriage proposal.

We would not blame either the mugging or the marriage proposal on the family of the perpetrator nor have a heightened sense of fear regards the rest of the family so why does this happen with Terror? And more importantly is the fear irrational and the behaviour undertaken to ameliorate the anxiety?

Terror management theory puts culture, self-esteem, and mortality salience as interlinked determinates of relative levels of terrorism induced fear (anxiety). The theory proposes culture gives meaning to life (self-esteem) and death, reducing fear of death. It claims terror increases our awareness of our own fleeting mortality raises anxiety and triggers negative behaviours which seek to reduce the perceived threat and therefore anxiety.

The problem I have with this theory is the terror is not targeted at the individual but the culture of the individual. Firstly individuals in a culture I perceive know with relative certainty they will not become a terrorist victim.

Secondly terror is a conversion (proselytising) tool, it seeks to undermine Others belief their system is powerful enough to provide security for their everyday lives, and have Other convert to the terrorist dogma which will provide that security. The destruction of Others culture, primary with the destruction of the individual Other secondary. When push comes to shove individuals know, as history shows, they can however unpalatable, switch cultures to minimise the possibility of harm (death) to self.

Thirdly as the relative level of terror induced anxiety increases behaviour appears to place self in increased position of direct conflict both in defence and attack which would tend to reduce selfs security rather than enhance it. As anxiety increases death may therefore tend to become closer for self as they move to greater public behaviours to distance their culture from death. Therefore it may be the survival of culture is paramount rather than self within a cultural variance possibly dependent on the degree the cultures beliefs and practices differ from the other.

I perceive the anxiety levels may be relative to the degree an Other individual seeks to vocalise and otherwise demonstrate their adherence to cultural norms and survival of the culture in the face of perceived attack. Culture the very ocean of ethics-ideas- which motivate us each day to rise from slumber and engage with life. beliefs, customs, the very core of what makes us who we think we are and joins us so intrinsically with each other is being violently attacked.

An anxiety reinforced by grief at the loss of power of culture and confidence in the culture to provide the security required for ‘normal’ living with each terror attack and with it the perception the power of the opposing culture is growing bringing the death of culture closer.

Another potential source of terror induced anxiety may be dependence anxiety. We are all dependent on each Other to maintain our cultural systems. Rather than looking outward to minimise threat the focus is inward. Terror induced dependence anxiety may arise and be relative to the expected variance of behaviour of fellow adherents, individuals, groups and institutions being different than that determined by self as sufficient to effectively defend the culture.

A concern fellow adherents hold fast and not cave into violence may tend to accentuate the fear if feedback does not reflect what self see to be the gravity of the situation – because it brings the possibility of death of culture that much closer.

‘We do not deal with terrorists.’ is a well know refrain to try and reduce cultural anxiety as to caving in. Concessions to adherents of in situ terrorist dogma would tend to create justified anxiety i.e. allowing such adherents their own judicial systems, exemptions from the cultural norms of the dominant culture and particularly funding to enable a culture to flourish from which the terror originates.

Justified anxiety if, in time and space, internal and/or external, the variance of behaviour of the culture continues to consistently inform terror and subjugation of Other, the political elite fail to explain with clarity why the same terror and subjugation, in the face of clear evidence to the contrary, elsewhere will not occur in adherents time and space, or the political elite fail to be effectively seen to address the actual cause of the terror the cultural foundation codex construct of Other.

Such dependence anxiety if significantly high may lead individuals and coalesced similarly minded groups to fill a perceived lack of sufficient will on the political elite’s part to protect self and their culture from inevitable attack. As was seen in Norway dependence anxiety can result in a terror conversion message to be sent inwards with terrible consequences rather than outwards.

Justified anxiety because Other individuals know from bitter experience and history a culture founded on cultural foundation codex which contains an explicit evil construct of Other and condemns them to severest penalty does consistently inform terror against Other within the cultures variance of behavior despite the majority being so called moderate liberals. Humanity sees this time and time again yet each Islamic atrocity is excused as coming from an external unnamed ethical source unconnected to Islamic codex - this is simply given empirical observation Islamic textual support and the statements from the terrorists themselves an absurd position to take.

Other knows with relative certainty the terror will continue against their culture, the fact it does not currently occur in their own back yard is irrelevant because they are rationally aware self-preservation is at the fore of every culture, it appears to take at least 10% of a resident population to undertake an effective insurgency, existing ethical blockers in the dominant culture which undermine the ethics of determining Other as less and able to be terrorised requires the development of effective feedback systems to build to the required threshold. 


But the globalized nature of the cultural war negates the necessity of the 'required' 10 % population, the managerial and supply feedback mechanisms can and do exist on-shore as well as off-shore making terror attacks even more difficult to prevent and enable external feedback mechanisms to be controlled externally to enforce internal adherence.  Other can see this in action and cultures who are integrally involved complaining of unjustified fear as a result have crossed the bounds of rationality not vice versa. So the potential footprint for terror on shore can and would be expected to be minimal so as to minimize the possibility of detection.

The proclamation of a fatwa against Christmas in Sydney Australia was whether the moderate liberals in the community realised a clear example of how this occurs. The point is to even make such a proclamation requires the existence of ethics upon which such a notion is built. Ethics must have been perceived to actually exist already to support such a position. Simply saying it was an 'innocent mistake' regards the statement ignores the fact ethics (bias in this case) as we know are not so easily changed as moving a knife to the right side of the plate. The very same ethics are know utilised around the world to attack Christians and close down their churches even in Indonesia a supposed Democracy.

More importantly an attack because of the global nature of communications and culture means attack on your culture outside your boarders suffices as a terror conversion message to all - your turn will come in time and space.

The globalisation of cultures breaks boarders where an attack by a culture outside a boarder reverberates to inform internal perceptions of the culture, reinforced by actions internal to the society within which the culture exists. Reinforcing or ameliorating perceptions of the cultures potential behavioural variance impacting on the level of terror induced anxiety.

As with any anxiety terror induced anxiety may be cumulative in time, space, recurrence, intensity, type, target population. Combined with the global source of knowledge input as to the personality traits and informed behaviours of culture within a consistent variance, as with a snake one does not have to step on one and be bitten to be rationally afraid of snakes if you know one is in your vicinity. 


Yes as individuals some even a majority may determine themselves as peace loving individuals and not be involved directly in extremist and terrorist acts which are clearly sourced from their culture but why should Other have to put up with the unending and increasing anxiety of being bitten whilst at the same time being accused of having a mental illness phobia for being rationally afraid based on empirical evidence historic and current?It is therefore absurd for resident cultures, particularly if already they have been a source of terror and/or thwarted terror as well as clear replicated evidence as to the informed extremist terrorist nature of fellow adherents from exactly the same cultural foundation codex elsewhere, to demand Other ignore such actions and determine them as peace loving individuals when they are an integral part of the terrorist behavioral construct. 

The recognition adherents of the culture may be receiving military training in overseas conflicts with inevitable return imbued with the potential capacity and motivation to more easily participate in internal terror activities would tend to justifiably increase anxiety if there is no clear strategy on the part of the political elite to deal with this issue. Such adherents will inevitably come back and reinforce the feedback systems internal and external to force adherence.

Development of cores initially discernible but if allowed traction will inevitably meld into an increasing radicalized 'so called' liberal moderate population where increasingly we will hear 'I simply do not accept .. did it .. was an angel.' By then it will be to late. Killings from both sides as we see where such a culture resides will be common place.

'So called' liberal moderate because the radicalization could not occur at all if the ethics against Other were not already in existence within the authorized cultural foundation codex. Humanity knows this but no one or group of sufficient authority is prepared to say so. Why do so many have to die and be subjugated to such a culture of death and schism? Freedom? Liberty? Justice?


Individual behaviour is formed by culture not the other way around.

It is impossible for the individual to pervert the ethics of the culture, for the individual is defined by the culture. One may consider terror a statistical outlier (insane person), once a year, twice maybe but continually each year thousands of incidents?

Also these Islamic terrorists have been found to be psychologically normal. Therefore they have made a 'rational' observation and reflection of Islamic cultural foundation codex.

'Normal' Islamic terrorists have to obtain their behavioral template from an authorised cultural behavioral construct- I repeat have to.

Terror, cultural attacks are necessarily sourced from another culture. Individuals who carry out the terrorist attacks are mere reflections (observed behaviour and conditioning) of a cultural foundation codex, textual or otherwise, which informs its adherents invariably Other are unable to be convinced by reason, less, evil etc, and therefore justifiably destined for grievous harm or severest penalty. Culturally derived words and sentences, behaviours are for a practical purpose to achieve an outcome.

The terrorised are generally well aware of the source and nature of the culturally derived ethics, ideas; motivation driving the violent actions against them and therefore my view is that it should not be at all surprising negative evaluations and stereotyping of adherents of the culture from which the terror is sourced increases. I believe this is a rational response if the culture from which the terror is sourced makes no move to remove the cause of terror the cultural foundation codex, textual or otherwise, which enables the terror to occur consistently from generation to generation.

Terrorist ethics and subsequent behaviour if psychological theory is correct are informed primarily by the culture within which they reside. If consistently over centuries such a culture informs terror against Other, denigrating Other by inferring Others increased levels of anxiety and resultant behaviour in an effort to reduce this anxiety are clear signs of a mental disorder phobia appears to me to be possibly a mental disorder in itself. More importantly such a paradigm enables the actual cause(s) of the terror to be left unaddressed so the terror continues until in time and space either one culture or the other is eliminated.

Terror immediately therefore puts each of us in the cultural trenches and we tend to stay there once the war begins, we are there beside our brothers and sisters in arms. It is a war a war between cultures, a terrorist war of attrition.

So the cause of fear is not a clap of thunder – but what lightning can do to you – given where you are or could have been in space and time. More importantly fear of death which encompasses your culture inclusive of self, family is not triggered by a simple clap of thunder but is at the core of protecting your own at a much deeper level.

In the end they change their cultural foundation codex or you do – how this is resolved should not be through terror and counter-terror but education which seeks to maximize the relative independence of each citizen. The State has to control the education process from birth to grave to rid humanity of cultural foundation codex, textual and behavioural, which determines Other as less, evil and destined for severe penalty.

Otherwise the fear (anxiety) justifiably increases and the war of attrition continues.


Given the global nature of the cultural war and the perceived notions of non-adherence conversion anxiety and/or dependence anxiety may build as a perceived collective anxiety based emotion which builds to the point of terror and then subsides - so the terror attack can occur anywhere. Though if this is true it is small comfort for it does not address the problem. Though it may be the most appropriate political point to finally confront the real enemy cultural foundation codex as the collective anxiety based emotion to trigger a terror response may be at its relative lowest point, enabling a gaining of traction without a politically debilitating terror response.

State apathy or plain ignorance will tend to increase terror from both directions and against the State itself. Cultural relativist ethical nihilism simply does not work. How many times do we have to watch cultural commentators proclaim loudly certain societies are exemplars of religious and secular diversity, harmony and these very same societies subsequently fall into a crumbling violent heap?

Plato observed some years ago, as current psychological research continues to reinforce, change the poetry written in error by the poets of the Gods taught on Mothers knees or the unjustified violence against Other (in this case in particular woman) continues.

The State needs to establish through social, evolutionary, and behavioral psychological research if the Islamic construct of Other as deaf, dumb and blind,evil, and justifiably destined for 'grievous harm' or 'severest penalty' informs the consistent existence of terror in Muslims behavioral variance. And also if the Islamic construct and behavioral training in subjecting woman to mans will influences the degree to which Muslims may exist in the extreme segment of the Muslim behavioral variance and if this influences Muslim terror participation.

If the above are proved to be correct to stop Islamic terror will require the State to intervene and whatever cultural foundation codex which informs such ethics even if it happen to be a 'sacred' text needs to be removed from influencing new generations. For any text which informs terror against Other lacks any credibility as a 'sacred' anything.

The following may be a guide to enable as best we can a questioning mind
-  MindUP Program