Thought Contagion in the Dynamics of Mass Conflict by Aaron Lynch

The evolutionary contagion of self-spreading ideas, or thought contagions, is introduced and applied to major topics in conflict dynamics. Beliefs are found to self-propagate by some surprising means, such as inducing evangelism, by manipulating imitation rates, by intimidating adherents of alternative ideas into silence, by refutation resistance, and by deterring dropouts. Even fairly subtle differences in the transmissivity, receptivity, and longevity of ideas may compound into large and intense ideological movements. Examples are found in religious warfare, Nazism, terrorism, US unilateralism, and the ideologies behind the September 11, 2001 event. The effect of thought contagions on the proliferation and possible use of nuclear weapons is also discussed. The paper concludes that thought contagion analysis offers important new insights into the dynamics of mass conflict, as well as potential strategies in reducing mass conflict.”

Retraction: Norberto Hernandez and the World Trade Center Attack

Some time ago I posted the following in a post the Virus list:

“How is an Haitian, fresh from his citizenship class and oath ceremony suddenly guilty and deserving of murder? How about Norberto Hernandez, a Puerto Rican chef who leaped – horribly burned – from the World Trade Centre. Why was he guilty and according to what law was his terrible death justified? ”

Today I was contacted by his daughter who wrote:

“The demeaning gestures that my father jumped was publishized by a money grubbing vandal that had nothing better to do then to write lies. My father’s remains were found in a staircase so I am humbly asking you to fix the gestures on the article. One more thing, I would like to know who authorized my fathers name being published without consulting my mother which is his wife. Please get back to me with that information. My name is Catherine Hernandez. More than a year after the attack, my family and I am still trying to get a rebutal on a comment that had affected not oonly my family but the world. On September 11, 2001 my father Norberto Hernandez and
aunt Claribel Hernandez, were in the World Trade Center and are deceased. The problem is that there was a journalist that had the audasity to come to my father’s funeral and claim that my father was one of the jumpers. This statement is not true! Unfortunately for the journalist, Peter Cheney, my family and I have been able to obtain enough proof to surely and securely say that my father was definitely not a jumper but. If you may please call me back with any information that may have to help us it would be greatly appreciated. My email address is [Removed].”

I was very sad to read these comments. Unfortunately my comments are archived on the Virus list an unlikely to be removable, but I will attempt to have the post removed.

I am deeply sorry if I have aggravated the grief of of the Hernandez family in any way. I can only imagine how horrible it must be to have to try and deal with erroneous information about a deceased loved on.

Research Methods Knowledge Base

“The Research Methods Knowledge Base is a comprehensive web-based textbook that addresses all of the topics in a typical introductory undergraduate or graduate course in social research methods. It covers the entire research process including: formulating research questions; sampling (probability and nonprobability); measurement (surveys, scaling, qualitative, unobtrusive); research design (experimental and quasi-experimental); data analysis; and, writing the research paper. It also addresses the major theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of research including: the idea of validity in research; reliability of measures; and ethics. The Knowledge Base was designed to be different from the many typical commercially-available research methods texts. It uses an informal, conversational style to engage both the newcomer and the more experienced student of research. It is a fully hyperlinked text that can be integrated easily into an existing course structure or used as a sourcebook for the experienced researcher who simply wants to browse”

"Homosexuality is not 'normal.' On

“Homosexuality is not ‘normal.’ On the contrary, it is a challenge to the norm; therein rests its eternally revolutionary character. Note I do not call it a challenge to the idea of the norm. Queer theorists – that wizened crew of flimflamming free-loaders – have tried to take the poststructuralist tack of claiming that there is no norm, since everything is relative and contingent. This is the kind of silly bind that word-obsessed people get into when they are deaf, dumb, and blind to the outside world. Nature exists, whether academics like it or not. And in nature, procreation is the single, relentless rule. That is the norm. Our sexual bodies were designed for reproduction. Penis fits vagina: no fancy linguistic game – playing can change that basic fact. However, my libertarian view, here as in regard to abortion, is that we have not only the right, but the obligation to defy nature’s tyranny. The highest human identity consists precisely in such assertions of freedom again!
st material limitation.” Camille Paglia “Vamps and Tramps”

Anti-cannabis meme taking hold

Cannabis linked to mental illness [The Times]

“CANNABIS increases the risk of schizophrenia or depression, new studies have shown.

A long-term follow-up of a 1960s study of Swedish army recruits shows that, broadly, using cannabis doubles the risk of schizophrenia, and using it 50 times increases the risk about sevenfold. The link persisted after correcting for cigarette smoking, social background and the use of other drugs” MORE

See also: Cannabis under heavy attack [Weblog Post 12/11/2002]