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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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  • Mar 15 2011: Look I know that you think(Vigot) it is wrong to impose beliefs onto people, but, in school you MUST learn Algebra, History, Reading, English. We are all pretty much forced to learn these things because you cannot pass if you don't. I think that teaching kids about every religion should also be FORCED. I believe that a seasoned understanding of the many religions and the extremist versions will help prevent exremism.

    We have to start somewhere class room is epitomal. If we are talking about the future then let us enfluence the future, which is our children.

    In America we blow off our religion. Not because of education, but because our lives are so much easier and suffer free compared to other realigiously extreme countries. Because we have glutton lives, we don't have many reason become martyrs. 100 years from now though, I wouldn't be suprised to see that 80% are non religious. (Well I would actually because if I could see I would be 127 years old :).

    Bottom line, people just don't understand enough about how their brain works and Diane makes a great point that we should educate ourselves.
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      Apr 12 2011: Thank you Trey. This is the heart of what I am saying. I would like to be part of an effort to "target educate" specific areas of the population that are most vulnerable to extremism as well as the general population.

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