Brain scans show social exclusion creates jihadists

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The Guardian: Brain scans show social exclusion creates jihadists, say researchers

"For years western policymakers have tried to establish what causes individuals to be radicalised. Now a pioneering study has used medical science to gain fresh insight into the process – in the brains of potential jihadists.

University College London (UCL) researchers were part of an international team that used neuroimaging techniques to map how the brains of radicalised individuals respond to being socially marginalised. The findings, they claim, confirm that exclusion is a leading factor in creating violent jihadists.

The research challenges the prevailing belief among western policymakers that other variables, such as poverty, religious conservatism and even psychosis, are dominant drivers of jihadism. “This finally dispels such wrongheaded ideas,” said the study’s co-lead author, Nafees Hamid of UCL. “The first ever neuroimaging study on a radicalised population shows extreme pro-group behaviour seems to intensify after social exclusion.”
"

[...]

"Using ethnographic fieldwork and psychological surveys, researchers identified 535 young Muslim men in and around Barcelona, the Spanish city where in 2017 Isis supporters killed 13 and wounded about 100 people in the Las Ramblas district.

Of those identified, 38 second-generation Moroccan-origin men, who had “expressed a willingness to engage in or facilitate violence associated with jihadist causes”, agreed to have their brains scanned. The results showed a striking effect when they were socially excluded by Spaniards while playing a virtual simulation called Cyberball, a ball toss game with three other players who abruptly stopped throwing them the ball.

Later scans showed that the neurological impact of being excluded meant that when issues were raised that the individual had not previously considered inviolable – such as introducing Islamic teaching in schools or unrestricted construction of mosques – they became far more important and were deemed similar to “sacred” and worth fighting for.

Previous research by the team on Israel-Palestinian, India-Pakistan and Kurds-Isis conflicts found that when values deemed “sacred” are violated hostility becomes intractable. “This latest research has shown how values start to become sacred and indicates that social exclusion makes non-sacred values behave like sacred values, which in turn makes people recalcitrant and prone to violence,” said Hamid.


He called for the study, a multi-university project involving scientific research organisation Artis International and partly funded by the US Department of Defence, to be used to help ensure social exclusion was factored into policies to prevent radicalisation.

The links between extremism, social exclusion and radicalisation corroborate some previous research with one report commissioned by Manchester mayor Andy Burnham after the Arena attack identifying a lack of social integration. “Far from needing to improve economic conditions, combat ideology, or medically treat extremists, focusing on alleviating interpersonal discrimination can keep those with extremist leanings on the non-violent and negotiable side of the fence,” said Hamid.
"


That's definitely an approach worth considering.
 
The Guardian: Brain scans show social exclusion creates jihadists, say researchers

"For years western policymakers have tried to establish what causes individuals to be radicalised. Now a pioneering study has used medical science to gain fresh insight into the process – in the brains of potential jihadists.

University College London (UCL) researchers were part of an international team that used neuroimaging techniques to map how the brains of radicalised individuals respond to being socially marginalised. The findings, they claim, confirm that exclusion is a leading factor in creating violent jihadists.

The research challenges the prevailing belief among western policymakers that other variables, such as poverty, religious conservatism and even psychosis, are dominant drivers of jihadism. “This finally dispels such wrongheaded ideas,” said the study’s co-lead author, Nafees Hamid of UCL. “The first ever neuroimaging study on a radicalised population shows extreme pro-group behaviour seems to intensify after social exclusion.”
"

[...]

"Using ethnographic fieldwork and psychological surveys, researchers identified 535 young Muslim men in and around Barcelona, the Spanish city where in 2017 Isis supporters killed 13 and wounded about 100 people in the Las Ramblas district.

Of those identified, 38 second-generation Moroccan-origin men, who had “expressed a willingness to engage in or facilitate violence associated with jihadist causes”, agreed to have their brains scanned. The results showed a striking effect when they were socially excluded by Spaniards while playing a virtual simulation called Cyberball, a ball toss game with three other players who abruptly stopped throwing them the ball.

Later scans showed that the neurological impact of being excluded meant that when issues were raised that the individual had not previously considered inviolable – such as introducing Islamic teaching in schools or unrestricted construction of mosques – they became far more important and were deemed similar to “sacred” and worth fighting for.

Previous research by the team on Israel-Palestinian, India-Pakistan and Kurds-Isis conflicts found that when values deemed “sacred” are violated hostility becomes intractable. “This latest research has shown how values start to become sacred and indicates that social exclusion makes non-sacred values behave like sacred values, which in turn makes people recalcitrant and prone to violence,” said Hamid.


He called for the study, a multi-university project involving scientific research organisation Artis International and partly funded by the US Department of Defence, to be used to help ensure social exclusion was factored into policies to prevent radicalisation.

The links between extremism, social exclusion and radicalisation corroborate some previous research with one report commissioned by Manchester mayor Andy Burnham after the Arena attack identifying a lack of social integration. “Far from needing to improve economic conditions, combat ideology, or medically treat extremists, focusing on alleviating interpersonal discrimination can keep those with extremist leanings on the non-violent and negotiable side of the fence,” said Hamid.
"


That's definitely an approach worth considering.

Very interesting indeed. Treat them as members of the group, and they will be less antagonistic.

It doesn't always work, of course. I'm reminded of the employee in California who had just been given a huge baby shower.

Still, that's the tack to take, I think.
 
What's stopping them from going to another country where their ways are the rule?
 
What's stopping them from going to another country where their ways are the rule?

Why did your ancestors go to the United States? I know why my parents and I came here: escape from lack of economic opportunity and a class rigid society, so there you go.

Why did the British and German colonists almost exterminate the native inhabitants.

The rules only apply to everyone buy you and the groups of which you approve?
 
Maybe the problem does not lie only in social exclusion...

Quran (9:5) "But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them..."

https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/forced-conversion.aspx
 
Maybe the problem does not lie only in social exclusion...

Quran (9:5) "But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them..."

https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/forced-conversion.aspx

I won't say Islam and particularly the Islamic jurisprudence cannot ble blamed at all, but to be fair that works mostly as a moran and ideological justification than as a trigger. I could easily find several passages from the Bible that are just as violent and sectarian (or even more so, some of them even prescribe killing the entire heathen population that were enemies of the Israelites, including babies), yet you don't see many Christian zealots actively involved in terrorist groups and making "holy war" these days. Those parts of the Bible are simply ignored by most, and "interpreted under restricted contexts", just like moderate and "reformed" ("Quranists") Muslims usually do. Religions are essentially what the believers think they are and how they want to see them. They don't have an "essence" that is totally disassociated from the thinking ways and the social situation of the believers in it. Christianity in 2019 is absolutely not the same "religious/ideological experience" it meant to people in the notoriously fundamentalist Reformation Era (roughly 1520-1660), the textual passages that are prioritized by the faithful are not the same, far less the interpretation given to them.
 
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What's stopping them from going to another country where their ways are the rule?

I'm not sure if you're aware of that, but the vast majority of fundamentalist groups, jihadis and terrorist attacks in the world are to be found in Muslim-majority nations that are already pretty conservative. It's not a Western phenomenon, though some of its tentacles have spread to the West. So it's not like they'd be satisfied "going to another country". Their fundamentalist idealized society does not exist. Some of them even oppose the most radically fundamentalist Islamic state of all, Saudi Arabia, so I'm sure that ignoring the social and individual reasons that make,some people more prone to becoming jihadis, because "they can just be deported" or something like that, will just backfire really bad.
 
The research challenges the prevailing belief among western policymakers that other variables, such as poverty, religious conservatism and even psychosis, are dominant drivers of jihadism. “This finally dispels such wrongheaded ideas,” said the study’s co-lead author, Nafees Hamid of UCL. “The first ever neuroimaging study on a radicalised population shows extreme pro-group behaviour seems to intensify after social exclusion.”"

It's so nice when we see empirical science confirming the knowledgeable but more subjective opinions of some experts on a given matter. Besides those other reasons that have been suggested, social exclusion, personal frustration (feeling like a "loser" in the society that exists aroudn them, prompting some to try to replace it with something else), lack of enough cultural/social integration in one's personal life, a feeling of "not belonging here", all of these have often been speculated as prompters of a shift toward fundamentalist behavior.

That probably also explains why teenagers and young people are so prone to falling prey to jihadist propaganda, since the lack of self-confidence and the need to "fit in" is so much bigger in youngsters than in more mature people.

In my opinion, it's very clear that places with more "assimilationist" (integration + gradual, slow-motion dilution) approaches (not just state policies, sometimes it's just a social consensus enacted spontaneously according to the people's way of life) tend to experience fewer (or at least less serious) issues with radicalized people of minority background, particularly religious ones.
 
I won't say Islam and particularly the Islamic jurisprudence cannot ble blamed at all, but to be fair that works mostly as a moran and ideological justification than as a trigger. I could easily find several passages from the Bible that are just as violent and sectarian (or even more so, some of them even prescribe killing the entire heathen population that were enemies of the Israelites, including babies), yet you don't see many Christian zealots actively involved in terrorist groups and making "holy war" these days. Those parts of the Bible are simply ignored by most, and "interpreted under restricted contexts", just like moderate and "reformed" ("Quranists") Muslims usually do. Religions are essentially what the believers think they are and how they want to see them. They don't have an "essence" that is totally disassociated from the thinking ways and the social situation of the believers in it. Christianity in 2019 is absolutely not the same "religious/ideological experience" it meant to people in the notoriously fundamentalist Reformation Era (roughly 1520-1660), the textual passages that are prioritized by the faithful are not the same, far less the interpretation given to them.

I agree with you entirely. I was not suggesting Christianity was blameless. The Holy Inquisition, the Crusades, etc. , left their own distinct trails of blood. Hindus are not above reproach either, and Jewish fundamentalists provide strong support for the "colonists" who settle, with the assistance of the army, in areas that were supposed to be protected by the Oslo Agreements. My view is that religions have been one of the main vectors of violence all over this planet since the beginnings of time. My own "religion" doesn't extend beyond marveling at the beauties, miracles, perfections of "Creation". I don't need any kind of priest for that.

This said, one of the weak points of Islam is that, owing to its inner divisions, it lacks a centralized authority that could be authoritative in proposing a modernized interpretation on its scriptures, and speak publicly in its name. This leaves room for the most extremist elements (the Iranian ayatollahs, Al Qaida's leaders, etc.) to make their voices heard, and their options are seldom the mild ones you would hope for.

After the killings in France, we expected the leaders of the so-called Islam of France to loudly condemn the attacks. Their silence was deafening.

So I wonder whether social exclusion pushes some Muslims towards fundamentalism, or whether Islam, such as it is currently in western Europe (with its outdated values in terms of allegiance to a secular political authority, the place of women, etc...), is in itself a hindrance to integration.
 
This said, one of the weak points of Islam is that, owing to its inner divisions, it lacks a centralized authority that could be authoritative in proposing a modernized interpretation on its scriptures, and speak publicly in its name. This leaves room for the most extremist elements (the Iranian ayatollahs, Al Qaida's leaders, etc.) to make their voices heard, and their options are seldom the mild ones you would hope for.

I think you are slightly mistaken about this particular point. 90% of all Muslims are Sunni, and the effective influence of the Al-Azhar Imam in the Sunni world is arguably much greater than, for example, the sway held by the Pope over contemporary Catholics. The problems lie somewhere else.
 
I think you are slightly mistaken about this particular point. 90% of all Muslims are Sunni, and the effective influence of the Al-Azhar Imam in the Sunni world is arguably much greater than, for example, the sway held by the Pope over contemporary Catholics. The problems lie somewhere else.

I wish I could agree, but there's only to remember how the Al-Azhar Imam Ahmed El Tayeb and Mohamed Morsi (of the Muslim Brothers) got along during the latter's short-lived presidency in Egypt to realize that even in the same country and city, unity and agreement are far from being achieved, by a long shot.

Even the very radical Salafists are split into three very divergent sub-currents of doctrine that can't seem to agree on a common line of action.

In France, the CFCM (Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman) is composed of elected representatives from six different organizations, which hate each other's guts. It is hard for its president, in such conditions, to speak in everybody's name.
 
So I wonder whether social exclusion pushes some Muslims towards fundamentalism, or whether Islam, such as it is currently in western Europe (with its outdated values in terms of allegiance to a secular political authority, the place of women, etc...), is in itself a hindrance to integration.

I'd say one issue feeds directly on the other, it's like a vicious circle. People with at least some tendency towards fundamentalist behavior (and there's a lot of them in every society) are much more likely to give more time and energy to hear the divisive but emotionally charged preaching of fundamentalist clergymen and "Islamic scholars" than the much more reasonable, but also much less "charismatic" preaching of the moderate Muslim scholars and imams, particularly those of the reformist Quranist movement, who want to get rid of most of the post-Quranic scriptures written after Muhammad's death or at least strip them of their holy and thus indisputable status (as you must know, the vast majority of the most problematic texts of Islam, those which are used to justify and legitimize much of what the fundamentalist groups do, are found in the Sunnah, the ahadith and the Islamic jurisprudence generally written centuries after Muhammad died). A population that, feeling socially excluded and constantly reminded of how "different" they are, is looking for some strong group identity will hardly favor those who are most moderate and low-profile. They want inflamed, hardcore ideologies that fit their resentment and frustration.

Therefore, I think there's a kind of a dialectics going on there: the more they are socially exclued and remain non-integrated, the more they favor fundamentalism, and the more the average local Muslim is a fundamentalist or at least a conservative totally out of touch with the broader society, the more they are unlikely to be welcomed and assimilated by the dominant non-Muslim society around them. It's really complicated. In my opinion a crackdown on fundamentalist-backed mosques and madrasses and incentives to the diffusion of reformed/modernized Islam, coupled with a real effort to integrate Muslims since their early childhood, is necessary, because Islam won't just disappear in the thin air. Therefore, it is the Muslims' mindset and the way Islam is thought and practiced that must change. That vicious circle must be interrupted.
 
I wish I could agree, but there's only to remember how the Al-Azhar Imam Ahmed El Tayeb and Mohamed Morsi (of the Muslim Brothers) got along during the latter's short-lived presidency in Egypt to realize that even in the same country and city, unity and agreement are far from being achieved, by a long shot.

Even the very radical Salafists are split into three very divergent sub-currents of doctrine that can't seem to agree on a common line of action.

In France, the CFCM (Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman) is composed of elected representatives from six different organizations, which hate each other's guts. It is hard for its president, in such conditions, to speak in everybody's name.

What did you think, 1.8 billion people with corpselike obedience to one man? Excepting Shia Muslims and some smaller groups, Muslims are doctrinally quite unified, moreso than other religious groups.

It's quite unrealistic to expect a quarter of the world's population to employ a common line of action. How's that even supposed to work? Most of them can't even communicate due to the various language barriers.
 
In my opinion a crackdown on fundamentalist-backed mosques and madrasses and incentives to the diffusion of reformed/modernized Islam, coupled with a real effort to integrate Muslims since their early childhood, is necessary, because Islam won't just disappear in the thin air. Therefore, it is the Muslims' mindset and the way Islam is thought and practiced that must change. That vicious circle must be interrupted.

Sure... Problem is : up to 50% of the money spent on building mosques in France comes from abroad, mainly Saudi Arabia. And on the occasion of the latest Ramadan, 150 extra imams were flown to France straight from Algeria to officiate during the celebrations. As long as such foreign influences endure, it will be hard to alter the "mindset". It would take some political courage to straighten things up, but French Muslims vote!
 
It's quite unrealistic to expect a quarter of the world's population to employ a common line of action. How's that even supposed to work? Most of them can't even communicate due to the various language barriers.

My point, exactly. Anyone who would dare/attempt to renovate the dogmas and make them compatible enough with western secular democracies to ensure easier integration for migrants, put and end to terrorism, and pacify international relations, would have to be not only tremendously influential and charismatic, but also brave enough to live with the fatwas that would be issued against them.
 
My point, exactly. Anyone who would dare/attempt to renovate the dogmas and make them compatible enough with western secular democracies to ensure easier integration for migrants, put and end to terrorism, and pacify international relations, would have to be not only tremendously influential and charismatic, but also brave enough to live with the fatwas that would be issued against them.

I think the problem with that is that as soon as someone attempted to do such a thing, he'd cease being a Sunni Muslim. We are not talking about rustic dogmas, but doctrines that derive from the Quran and the Hadeeth which are indeed subjected to study and exegesis at the major Islamic universities. The ban against innovation as perhaps the worst sin in Islam, "bid'ah", makes it nearly impossible to adapt doctrine to fit western values when the contradictions are obvious. That makes a top-down reform in Islam about as realistic as expecting the Vatican to campaign for gay marriage or something.
 
I think the problem with that is that as soon as someone attempted to do such a thing, he'd cease being a Sunni Muslim. We are not talking about rustic dogmas, but doctrines that derive from the Quran and the Hadeeth which are indeed subjected to study and exegesis at the major Islamic universities. The injunction against innovation as perhaps the worst sin in Islam, "bid'ah", makes it nearly impossible to adapt doctrine to fit western values when the contradictions are obvious. That makes a top-down reform in Islam about as realistic as expecting the Vatican to campaign for gay marriage or something.

Agreed. But as long as the doctrine remains unamended, tensions will endure in our western countries, and people will die.
 
The Guardian: Brain scans show social exclusion creates jihadists, say researchers

"For years western policymakers have tried to establish what causes individuals to be radicalised. Now a pioneering study has used medical science to gain fresh insight into the process – in the brains of potential jihadists.

University College London (UCL) researchers were part of an international team that used neuroimaging techniques to map how the brains of radicalised individuals respond to being socially marginalised. The findings, they claim, confirm that exclusion is a leading factor in creating violent jihadists.

The research challenges the prevailing belief among western policymakers that other variables, such as poverty, religious conservatism and even psychosis, are dominant drivers of jihadism. “This finally dispels such wrongheaded ideas,” said the study’s co-lead author, Nafees Hamid of UCL. “The first ever neuroimaging study on a radicalised population shows extreme pro-group behaviour seems to intensify after social exclusion.”
"

[...]

"Using ethnographic fieldwork and psychological surveys, researchers identified 535 young Muslim men in and around Barcelona, the Spanish city where in 2017 Isis supporters killed 13 and wounded about 100 people in the Las Ramblas district.

Of those identified, 38 second-generation Moroccan-origin men, who had “expressed a willingness to engage in or facilitate violence associated with jihadist causes”, agreed to have their brains scanned. The results showed a striking effect when they were socially excluded by Spaniards while playing a virtual simulation called Cyberball, a ball toss game with three other players who abruptly stopped throwing them the ball.

Later scans showed that the neurological impact of being excluded meant that when issues were raised that the individual had not previously considered inviolable – such as introducing Islamic teaching in schools or unrestricted construction of mosques – they became far more important and were deemed similar to “sacred” and worth fighting for.

Previous research by the team on Israel-Palestinian, India-Pakistan and Kurds-Isis conflicts found that when values deemed “sacred” are violated hostility becomes intractable. “This latest research has shown how values start to become sacred and indicates that social exclusion makes non-sacred values behave like sacred values, which in turn makes people recalcitrant and prone to violence,” said Hamid.


He called for the study, a multi-university project involving scientific research organisation Artis International and partly funded by the US Department of Defence, to be used to help ensure social exclusion was factored into policies to prevent radicalisation.

The links between extremism, social exclusion and radicalisation corroborate some previous research with one report commissioned by Manchester mayor Andy Burnham after the Arena attack identifying a lack of social integration. “Far from needing to improve economic conditions, combat ideology, or medically treat extremists, focusing on alleviating interpersonal discrimination can keep those with extremist leanings on the non-violent and negotiable side of the fence,” said Hamid.
"


That's definitely an approach worth considering.

This might be the case for a small number. I can think of a few "white" Canadians who converted and became radicalized and were caught trying to to terrible things and wound up getting shot and getting killed. The reasons are much more complex for the non-locals causing problems in the EU though.
 
I agree with you entirely. I was not suggesting Christianity was blameless. The Holy Inquisition, the Crusades, etc. , left their own distinct trails of blood.

Yes they did, as did the expansionist Muslims in Europe, prior to the Crusades.
 
Why did your ancestors go to the United States? I know why my parents and I came here: escape from lack of economic opportunity and a class rigid society, so there you go.

Why did the British and German colonists almost exterminate the native inhabitants.

The rules only apply to everyone buy you and the groups of which you approve?

Germany didn't colonize your country, you know that, although they arrived in droves after the fact. That was actually one of the reasons why the Nazis were so envious of the British Empire, the Nazis wanted to be just like them, but had no colonies.

No need to single out just the British here, as the vast majority of the colonists were regular families like the Italian ones who weren't responsible for murdering any single Native. Everyone living on US, or Canadian soil is taking full advantage of the opportunities offered.
 

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