Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Global Warming Denier 'Suicide Bomber' Mindset?

Andrew Bolt's readers detest refugees arriving by boats. They detest Muslims. They detest suicide bombers. A brief perusal of his blog will show that those three groups are pretty much identical. But EoR wonders just how dissimilar his core audience is from suicide bombers.

Ariel Merari has spoken to suicide bombers who failed at their mission in order to investigate their motivation and psychology (and, yes, this is a particularly self-selecting group since we can't investigate successful bombers, and the findings may only apply to Palestinians). He found a number of characteristics:

None of the 15 would-be suicide bombers we interviewed suffered from a psychosis, but they had one of two personality types. Two-thirds were dependent-avoidant: such people find it hard to say no to authority figures and are more likely to cooperate to carry out tasks against their own judgement. They are also greatly influenced by public opinion. The rest were impulsive and emotionally unstable. (...) Some of them apparently enter a psychological state known as a dissociation, in which they shut themselves off to disturbing thoughts.

The overwhelming majority of Bolt's commenters are climate change deniers. Far in excess of even increasing public opinion on the subject, and astronomically above the support for such contrarian views amongst climate scientists. There is no acceptance of possible catastrophic outcomes of global warming, or even of less catastrophic but nonetheless significant issues (such as more powerful hurricanes, flooding, decreased rainfall). Views which contradict their own (and which are in the majority) are typecast as conspiracy, whitewash or, ultimately, they are simply ignored because the cognitive dissonance between belief and reality is too difficult to reconcile. Christopher Monckton, as an example, would seem to fall in the "impulsive and emotionally unstable" group, and possibly narcissistic.

The organisers of suicide bombers, on the other hand, are different types:

They are not dependent - they are manipulative. They are much more intelligent than the bombers (...). Some had university education. They were not psychopathic. They were very pragmatic, they believed they were doing it for their nation and that it was the right thing to do. They did not express any moral doubts about it.

Who are the leaders of climate change denial? The Lavoisier Group. Exxon Mobil. Koch Industries. And more. All organisations with a clear commercial agenda (just like the tobacco companies before them).

EoR is not, of course, suggesting that climate change deniers are potential suicide bombers, but the psychological similarities in opposing an unacceptable worldview are fascinating for understanding just why people promote these views, or believe them.


  1. Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

  2. Fear God? I guess this is not the loving God Christians talk about then? So is it Thor?

  3. Heretic! The Flying Spaghetti Monster is Lord-Over-All (may His noodly appendages be praised!). All other 'gods' are false idols.


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