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Diane Benscoter

Author - "Shoes of a Servant", Salient

TEDCRED 100+

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Memetic condoms to prevent extremism

I see extremism as more than a belief system; it is a dangerous cognitive disorder. It creates circular logic and is fueled by a message of "us" verses "them". If extremism is an infectious destructive meme it must be understood and combated with an even more powerful meme.

Extremism cannot be stopped with 10, 000 or 100, 000 troops equipped with the latest weapons of war. It will rise up again, every time, because it is the meme - not the person infected by the meme - that lives on.

Utilizing methods such as fMRI, it should be feasible to demonstrate that certain “memetic infections” can disallow access to the part of the brain where rational thinking takes place.

Let’s assume it could be demonstrated that extremism is linked to a memetic infection which causes dangerous cognitive damage to the brain (even if temporary) and that certain vulnerabilities to this type of memetic infection could be clearly defined.

It would then be possible to create "memetic condoms," if you will, to immunize against such damage.

An effective meme should have fecundity, fidelity and longevity. Armed with solid facts about the cognitive damage and the inherent dangers of extremist memes, educational memes could be built. After being carefully constructed, these preventative memes could be propagated in targeted areas to those most vulnerable, for example, those in war torn places.

If we can understand what happens inside the brain, making it possible for otherwise good people to be able to commit unthinkable acts…we can begin the long road to prevention.

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