Vasil Rangelov

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How to stop terrorism?

So... as we've discussed in the conversation
http://www.ted.com/conversations/2517/do_you_feel_any_relief_joy_s.html
Osama Bin Laden is dead. But terrorism is not dead. There's still terrorists out there.

How do we stop terrorism in general, or on the very least, Al-Qaeda?

I've said my primary idea in the linked conversation, that being the focusing of building and defending schools, because that's the only thing that will cut off the supply of people to terrorism - knowledge, and the ability to make decisions on their own. Armed with that, they'd rather die from terrorists than serve them (or better yet, they may con them so as to take them down). Terrorists know this, which in the case of Al-Qaeda is why they attack schools every chance they get.

Besides discussing the plausibility of that idea, I'd also like to see other suggestions for strategies you think governments should do to fight terrorism. That is, what to do where, for how long, why, etc.

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    May 25 2011: By just not attacking on other countries in search of WOMD (weapons of mass destruction) while you have lots of them in your own home More than anyone else
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      May 10 2011: I think you hit the nail on the head Birdia. Although perfect equality may be a Utopian dream, the gross imbalances which currently exist can definitely be reduced for the betterment of humankind. As long as there is extreme concentration of power, that power will be abused. And the only defense will be violent outbursts.
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      May 11 2011: spot on Birdia!
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    May 9 2011: Define Terrorism, Terrorist, and Terror.

    http://video.godlikeproductions.com/video/Economic_Hitmen?id=6dd26c4f7d621adec1d

    What causes terrorism? What started terrorism?

    These are far more powerful questions then specifying on Al Queda, who I would wager strongly on: America knows everything about anyways (ignoring the conspiracy theories we started it) due to the fact we spend a billion plus dollars a day on intelligence .... While these guys do not even produce their own weapons but HAVE TO buy them.

    The word terrorist, created terror itself, not the actual group.

    Scenario: A country is raping your land of it's resources and giving you pennies, you are not industrialized and cannot defend yourself appropriately, you know their news says nothing about the events the army is performing. You and friends decide you need this to be illuminated to the country's public. You attack with whatever you can get your hands on. Now the world knows or you hope the world will know that there are evil deeds being done and to dictate this you have to perform evil. Evil doesn't beat evil but it dictates where the sources of evil come from.

    http://www.guernicamag.com/blog/2652/noam_chomsky_my_reaction_to_os/
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      May 9 2011: Terror - fear of unexpected sudden death.
      Terrorism - organized violent acts which are intended to create terror.
      Terrorist - a person performing terroristic acts.

      What causes terrorism? What started terrorism? - different things for different terroristic groups, I admit. We're focusing primarily on Al-Qaeda and similar religiously motivated vigilantes, though ideas on other kinds of terrorists are welcomed too.

      The reason there are terrorists in those lands are exactly because we're taking and not giving anything back, so terrorism is seen as the only option. Education empowers people, it lets them see alternatives to terrorism, for example non-profit initiatives for their own good. It even creates the possibility of someone deserving the money that is currently going to the corporations, as illustrated by the cartoon, i.e. doing something for their country AND have a living out of it.

      The capitalistic system is far from perfect, but then, if fixing that is the only way to solve terrorism... how do we fix that?
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      May 9 2011: Nicholas: Thanks for the Chomsky link. I was wondering how he would phrase his response.

      Vasil: Any discussion on terrorism must include Chomsky's observations. I recommend this article as an introduction to his thoughts on this matter::

      http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15416.htm

      Quote:

      "... I use the U.S. government's official definition of terrorism from the official U.S. code of laws. If you use that definition, it follows very quickly that the U.S. is the leading terrorist state and a major sponsor of terrorism..."
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      May 9 2011: Hi Nichoals..Vasils premise is that education is the cure for terrorism..thi sis your chnace to shine on the value of critical thinking and here you are asking for definitions. Can you imagine anhone who i struly a critical thinker being dominated by ideology of nay kind. If we were all critical thinkers wouldn't we all be global citizens? oi
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        May 9 2011: My thoughts toward Vasil question were in Tim's terms in which he denoted using Chomsky. What is terrorism is opinionated today not a set in stone definition.

        America is more a terror using nation than any other, also they use propaganda, lack of information, and/or limited information to control the masses. (They being the big guns behind entertainment)

        6 corporations = 95 percent entertainment. What if 2/3 are Republican?
        http://www.good.is/post/see-which-companies-give-money-to-which-political-party/

        The idea of open-ended education freeing this world goes beyond just "terrorism" it goes into connecting the world for the better. Terrorism (in American sense) is a result of lack of concern and care that has been traditionalized into the culture of America. WE envy material, rich society, and/or celebrities. Thus the rich make the decisions while the rest take the left overs.. This is emphasized in the Wal-Mart era. Out sourcing jobs to other nations for pennies instead of paying our citizens dollars. All this due to as Vasil figured out from my scenario, capitalism as an ideology and not just a tool.

        The word terrorism reminds me of how ignorance is a trend in this Nation, this nation being the most powerful with weapons. Scares the s*** out of me.

        Edited: it seems 2/3 of entertainment corporations are actually democratic, interesting!
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          May 9 2011: I agree.with the.many throughout all these TED Conversations that America is herself doing some pretty bad things and that we(americans) use the word terrorist for anyone who gets in our ( american) way. That's a given as far as I am concerned. Perhaps I made assumptions I shouldn't have..I assumed by terrorism,Vasil meant the ideological manipulation of large groups of people for the purpose of commting acts of terrorism. I assumed he was suggesting that education might be an intervention and in my comment above I am suggesting we have to get clear on what kid of education would be effective against that kind of terrorism. I believe critical thinking, which can be taight to anyone of any age is the key to preventing an idelogical manipulation.
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        May 10 2011: "Constitution Analysis" "Political-social philosophy" "Citizen Awareness Studies"

        Good luck getting them installed....
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    May 25 2011: We can stop terrorism by ending oppression, exploitation and domination..nation to nation people to people.

    Terrorism is what people who have no armies and military budgets behind them do to fight opression and exloitation.

    The people of Northern Irelend brought their plight through terrorist acts to the comfy enclaves of London..to the people of England saying we hold you individual people of England reposnible for what is happening to us.

    Terrorism against the US was about US exploitation ..carried out invisibly subtly unseen and unoticed by the Amercan people but in a way that was visible to the people who felt oppressed and exploited.

    Terrorism is individuals without the power of a militray or a military budget acting as individuals to express their rage and frustration.I was frightened to the core that day the world trade center fell..the penatgon hit, planes hijacked andin the air withother destinations..not a foregin army..a handful of inividuals. I will never get over my grief for what happened that day at he world trade center

    .I know this will sound very radical but I ask you to allow a little silence before you react to it.. Terrorism reminds us that the political. economic and militray policies of our own country have brought or lallowed oppression and exploitation of peoples..not nations..individual peoples..families, children..young people who yearn for more who yearn for freedom. terrorism as it has been focused on the US is an expression of that.

    It is worth considering the obvious reality that armies can't fight terrorism.

    We can make America free of terrorism and terrosits attacks by taking charge as citizens of the wolrd through focus on our governmnet and make our own government accountable to human rights and freedoms for all people of the world.
  • May 11 2011: If we stop to think a little, it is sometimes really difficult to specify what a terrorist is.

    But if we centrate on the islamic extremism, that acts with the "Jiyhad" against the occident, I want to comment something very interesting: in the Quran it is not promoted anywhere to do the Jiyhad. In fact, it says something like "If someone speaks against this book and makes jokes about Allah's teachings, you shall not speak any more to that person until he changes the subject." Of course, from that to the Jiyhad there are millions of steps to do.
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      May 11 2011: You're forgetting about this part of 9:36
      http://quran.com/9/36
      "And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous [who fear Him]."

      Maybe (just maybe) I am taking this out of context... but so do radical and fundamentalist Muslims. Everyone takes enough verses as they need to justify their own agenda, and attempts to skip the remaining ones, with this being applicable to all religions.
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    May 11 2011: To understand how to prevent terrorism it might serve us well to understand something of its origin and history.

    Terrorism originated in the First Century AD with the organization, "Zealots of Judea" as a campaign to frustrate Roman occupation forces. A millennium later, a faction of the Shia Islam sect known as the "Assassins" (Nizaris) formed. Due to limited manpower they were unable to engage in open combat so they concentrated on the killing of key Sunni leaders.

    In present form, terrorism could not and did not exist until the rise of the modern nation state, around 1648. The French Revolution (1789-1799) provided us with the first use of the terms "terrorist" and "terrorism", with references to the Reign of Terror initiated by the French Revolutionary Government.

    To expedite matters, we also might reference the rise of nationalistic identities and the damaging of legitimacy of the international order and governments. Both of which became evident following two catastrophic events in the first half of the 20th century (1914-18 & 1939-45).

    Following yet another millennium, the modern form of terrorism began in 1968 with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacking of an El Al airliner en route from Tel Aviv to Rome.

    Now, terrorism is a sub-state application of violence or threatened violence in an effort to weaken or overthrow the incumbents. Interestingly enough, terrorists themselves are either unable or unwilling to take or hold territory, so this is not a primary goal. Notably, international and domestic terrorism has undergone a shift from being ideologically motivated to ethnic-separatist motivated.

    So, it would seem logical to focus on understanding the ethnic-separatist motivators that spark terrorist actions. Although a tempting premise, the deconstruction of the sovereign state is hardly a quick and easy solution. Perhaps even more importantly, what role does religion play as an ethnic-separatist motivator?
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      May 25 2011: E.A. interesting point..terrorism is not a strategy for nationhood or creating new governments..and now that you say it..so obvious and such a fruitful observation..

      Your observation that in history..the deeply aggrieved and intensely frustrated who have beem terrorists "for the cause" have not formed governments or any other community of intent beyomd the terrorism itself. took me to new ground in my own thinking.

      Debra has also emphasize as I have that errorism is an extreme personal act, an act growing ouyt of extreme conditions of oppression..

      It could be worth pausing and really thinking about what you are adding to that .

      .What do you think?

      Is it because terrorism is an extreme personal act that often means there is no vision of hope or change that th e ulitmate scarifice of one's own life is highest and best act possible to be heard?

      Interesting tht even though the terrorists of Al Qaeda are trained, financed, organized, housed. set up undercover to commit directed acts of terrorism.., there were no Al Qaeda demnds of the US following the fall of our beloved towers..was there?

      There is no vision, apparently, off forming a nation of AlQaeda or creating an alliance of nations united in AlQaeda values. I have read Bin Ladens "treatise/declaration of war and his litany of complaints"
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        May 26 2011: Sorry Lindsay, I'm not sure I understand the crux of your question.

        However I do agree it is fairly accurate to state terrorism is rooted in feelings of abject frustration.
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    May 11 2011: The best tool against terrorism and the perspectives that generate it is the internet. Young people raised in fundmentalist ideologies are not stupid but isolated and indoctinated. The light of day and the water of other perspectives will help them question what they are told.
    In a practical equivalent example, people raised in abusive or oppressive environments are victims too and thus simply blaming them or assuming they are the same is nonproductive. Showing them the better alternatives is, I think the solution. The problem is that often what the west offers in not as wholesome or attractive as it could be to be really inviting.
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    May 11 2011: Through Education ..... well established, unbiased education systems. If People's mentality was changed, I think we can have more peaceful & loving environment.t
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    May 10 2011: Terrorism by the disenfranchised (versus terrorism by the ruling elite) needs to be addressed as a form of social unrest.

    If people are rioting in the streets, do you forgive them for breaking store windows and stealing property? No. You enforce laws against these crimes. But at the same time the root causes of the unrest need to be addressed. And the root cause is inevitably inequality.
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      May 10 2011: How do you reach equality then?

      Some form of communism?
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        May 10 2011: Although absolute equality will never be obtained (and is probably not the best goal) many things can be done to reduce the extreme:
        . progressive taxation
        . democracy
        . transparency
        . public education
        . universal health insurance
        . prohibit corporate funding of political campaigns
        . etc.

        At times we move towards greater equality. At times away from it. But I think the long-term trend will be for more equality.
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          May 11 2011: All I heard was "let the USA run the country" :-D

          I mean, transparency is a double edged sword... the more transparent the government is, the more vulnerable it is to terrorists if there are no locks to potentially dangerous information.

          Progressive taxation is a good idea, but it requires a stable government "machine" to work if not excellently, at least on a decent level.

          Democracy is key, but effective democracy is still an utopia, even in western countries.

          Corporate funding of political campaigns... I'm not sure how much of a problem is this in the middle east. The running of the political campaigns itself appears to be more of a problem.

          Universal health insurance is a must, but people need to actually use it. If they don't, it doesn't matter if they have it or not.

          Public education, like democracy, is key, but if terrorists attack schools, only the most thirsty people for knowledge will risk it, as they do currently:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTSgMcK3K60
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        May 11 2011: All valid points Vasil. In a way it is like pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. But when given the opportunity, most societies seem to eventually do so.

        The important thing is that there are not impediments to progress. Power structures which extremely concentrate power tend to do so. These power structures are generally supported by outside players through their military "aid" and economic domination. These are issues the western countries can directly address.
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          May 11 2011: Tim you have either been listening to Bill Gates on how to improve captialism (which is simply Porter's Harvard Review article reworded) or you are far less self interested than I ever thought. I really like and endorse you suggestions above!
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        May 11 2011: How 'bout a link to the Porter article Debra. Thanks.
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          May 11 2011: I'll look and see if I can find a link and get back to you.

          Here's the most recent but the original idea was phenomenally expressed about 4 years ago. I'll look for that too.

          http://hbr.org/2011/01/the-big-idea-creating-shared-value/ar/1?referral=00060

          Porter, M.E. & Kramer, M.R. (2006) "Strategy and Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility", Harvard Business Review, December 2006, pp. 78-92.
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      May 10 2011: Actually, there have been terroristic acts, at least in Europe, even longer than 20 years ago. You can see this in the linked TEDTalk about the economics of terrorism.

      What emerged in the last 20 years or so was the globalization of terrorism, which pretty much runs in parallel with our civilian system. Also in the last 20 years, Al-Queda emerged.

      And yes, we see terrorism running without formal recognition or support... that's sort of where the difference between "terrorism" and "war" is basically. A country that attacks you is at war with you, whereas when a terroristic organization attacks you, that's just "terrorism" and you're at "war" with the organization.

      "A terrorist is made, nurtured, created with a belief that he/she can beat a great power by terrorist acts."
      That's sort of the assumption I make when I suggest education as a cure... it greatly helps to eliminate the belief that one can beat a great power by terrorist acts... it allows people to see things as a zero sum game as opposed to a non zero sum game.

      "If terrorism is to be stopped effectively and conclusively, we need to detach religion from our public decisions, making it completely irrelevant for our social, political, economic and spiritual lives."
      Agree. Secularism is the only option. But the key to that is also education, or so it seems at least. Yes, it's not enough on itself, but it's a minimum requirement.
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        May 11 2011: Terrorism is a new form of warfare. When the British first encountered the Native Americans in battle they were fully unprepared to deal with a group who did not play by the estabished rules of European warfare. Terrorism operates where the people themselves are either entirely oppressed or overmatched or have not found the leader or the cohesiveness to speak with one voice. Someone who believes that s/he uniquely owns the truth and believes it with their entire life force decides to do something that is designed to injure the ruling class on behalf of the group. This is far less productive for many reasons but among them would be 1) the most radical and commited eliminate themselves so their voice is silenced, 2) it is easy for cynical leaders to send the passionate young out to make the statement true leaders make for themselves 3) it horrifies so many people that they effectively guarentee that moderate thinkers cannot align with their cause...So how do we stop it? We listen to people in distress and act on the group's collective need before they get so desperate that they are willing to blow people up.
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          May 25 2011: yes exactly and thnaks for taking it way back..Iagree with you that in moder times terrorism is what opprseed people do in rge and frustration when they have no miliatry no army to fend for their rights and freedoms.
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    May 10 2011: Terrorism is not a modern phenomena, it has been around for centuries and does not go away easily or quickly. To get to a solution you have to achieve a constructive and consistent discussion. Change comes in baby steps. A good example of this is the sectarian terrorism enacted by the IRA and the Protestant para-military. The 'troubles' as they were called had gone on for years and neither side would sit at the same table let alone have a discussion. In the end the vast majority of the population turned their backs on the terrorists and organized peace marches. In the end both sides were beginning to sense that they had both lost the cause and thus a conversation started. The days of terror by these groups are largely over and a power sharing government is in place, this does not mean all problems are solved it just means that democracy and the law has replaced bombs and bullets.

    In the case of Al Queda it is more challenging. What is interesting to see is the unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen. Is this the start of people rising against terrorists? If it is then maybe there will exist an opportunity to begin discussion. Al Queda needs to be allowed to step out the shadows and sit at a UN table and begin the difficult job of defining what they would like to see changed. Before this happens the peoples of the Middle East should be consulted by Al Queda, through referendum, to establish support for the changes. Before both of these things can occur there would need to be a ceasefire agreement from all sides.

    Does the world have the stamina for this?
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      May 10 2011: Al Qaeda is a movement not a government..only governments who have been admitted have a seat at the UN table. Ins't it more likely that the countries that aline politically with the Al Qaeda message will from their own union of nations. There is already United African Nations and a United Araba Nations ( forgive me..these may not be the correct titles) and there is aleday collaboration between them on political strategies. The victory in Egypt is such an alinement..it is an anti- American, anti-Western government that is emerging there. And I also see a shift in these alliances away from terrorist bombs toward political and economic alliances that thet hope will defeat the west and hault its colonialist pursuits not on battlefield with war heads but in global economic markets. That was in fact where Qadhaffi and Hussein were focused.
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    May 9 2011: I think we fight "terrorism," a tactic, by responding to the needs/motivations of the people who would resort to those tactics.

    I think we do that by increasing the opportunities and wellbeing of the people at the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid.

    If you're a young man and your frontal lobes haven't fully matured, and you have nothing to look forward to in your life, and you see no opportunities available to you, and there are institutions devoted to filtering people like you into suicide bombing - if we're their enemy, our ability to combat that threat depends heavily upon the number of those kinds of young men who exist.

    I also think it's possible that public humiliation is a hardwired epigenetic trigger that causes thoughts of violence or suicide- either I die, or the person who humiliated me dies. In some cases, it's less violent, but still sad, like with Tyler Clementi. But from an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense to pay a heavy cost in order to eliminate a persistent potential threat: a humiliator.

    I also think it's probable that as primates, we're extremely territorial, so "occupation" by outsiders probably drives people crazy. If China was occupying the US to take revenge upon a small band of terrorists, I would probably fight to drive them out. If I was outgunned, I'd probably use guerrilla tactics. Most Afghans don't even know why we're in Afghanistan, so can we blame them for wanting the people with guns out of their country?:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40273302/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/t/study-few-afghans-know-about-reason-war/

    And obviously, social alienation doesn't help, so combating that would help, too.

    I like your idea of building schools, because that's one way of increasing opportunities and expanding the minds of young men. But Internet access + cheap licensing + a social safety net that allows young people to develop healthy brains (thereby not going crazy, yaaay) I think would go a lot further.
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      May 11 2011: Side note... from the linked article:
      'It noted there was clear "potential for the Afghan security forces to switch sides" after being trained by NATO forces.'
      Uh oh.... we were training their forces? The hypothesis of them changing sides seems likely... assuming it didn't came bundled with education. And if it did... it's still likely, but for different reasons (power, combined with selfishness).
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    May 9 2011: Rather than build schools, build mosques. Change things from the inside-out using the existing mode of influence and media of power structure.
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      May 9 2011: Or rather... turn...the... existing mosques... into schools? Hmmm... that might actually be a good idea. It would present a very big dillema for terrorists - blow up what they worship for the price of preserving their cause or preserve what they worship at the price of stopping their cause...

      Then again, I suppose a terrorist leader would still convince the terrorists to attack the place because "the infidels have violated the holiness of the place". One would have to be pretty fucked up to blow themselves up into the very thing they die for, but being fucked up is a safe assumption with Al-Qaeda.
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        May 10 2011: you joke but the mosques were actually co-opted for political use by the Muslim Brotherhood for the vote on the referendum in Egypt..the referendum the young revolutiaries opposed..the possibility of blurring it all into one..school, mosque, political insitution is very real and the focus sof that is not as likely to be toward Allah as it is against the US and the west.
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      May 11 2011: Did Meher joked? I didn't... I really do think that if mosques could be used as schools, it would be an excellent idea to do so, especially if military forces protect the mosque because of this (I can already picture the confused faces of people that pass by... like "are Christians protecting Mosques? Ceasing control of Mosques? Why don't they just destroy them? What's going on?").

      The only problem with this is that it requires explicit consent and full cooperation with the country's government and mosque owners, which they may refuse if they believe the taliban will blow up the mosque (which is a reasonable though).
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        May 11 2011: "Did Meher joked?"
        I most certainly did, but I think buried in my playful irony is a nugget of truth. It is worth considering that rather than try to build and institute new arenas of westernized influence, we approach the issue with a little bit of cultural relativity. Its like this, when your trying to teach a 5 year old something about the world, you cannot talk to them using grownup words and perspectives (i know this is patronizing, sorry), you must meet them at their level and explain things from a perspective that they can identify with. It is idealistic to think that a few schools is suddenly going to free the world from religious ideology. We have many schools in America and yet religious faith is a booming cultural vehicle that still breeds terrorists such as those that bombed abortion clinics in the 1990s and targeted doctors and patients for acts of violence. But, if you can influence the system of faith to make its followers more benign and adopt ideologies of peace, love, and coexistence then we may see some real results. Religion is not an inherently bad idea and can act as a transformational institution, just as it has the power to motivate people to sacrifice their lives with ill intent, it also has the power to motivate people to sacrifice themselves for the betterment of humanity. People are sheep, even those most formally educated are limited in their ability to free themselves from the fetters of "common sense" and by this I mean the most pervasive types of thought taken for granted by their shear scope of acceptance. Culture is like a fish bowl, we swim around in it unaware of how polluted the water is, for we have never known the cleanliness of a flowing stream except in our wildest of dreams. To assume that the culture of education is any better than that of religious culture is a grave error that was thrown out during the Enlightenment.
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    May 9 2011: @Lindsay... "I went to a very extreme right wing conservative thing here on the island and treated it as if it were just a regular public meeting..iei just participated with questions and oberstaions framed from a very different point of view until the convenor finally came and whispered in my ear that this was "their meeting"."
    This illustrates the vast difference between what I suggest and what Vasil proposes. At that meeting you were viewed as an outsider. To have your opinions taken seriously you must be recognized by the group as "one of them", only then will your differing view be considered by the group. You must first be considered a part of the group to be able to effectively inject memes into the ideology.
    "isn't the heart of your spoof here exactly what vasil is syaing..that education makes people less vulnerable to be overtaken by cultural, political and religious ideology."
    No, I think Vasil wants to build schools and formal institutions of education. This type of policy is often viewed by "locals" as hostile outsiders attempting to indoctrinate the people. those schools would then become targets for persecution/rejection. Think missionaries coming in and saying, Your way of life is wrong and we are here to enlighten you. This often backfires.
    What I suggest is far more subversive and cunning. Take over the faith from the inside. Infiltrate with covert theologians or something who will do what it takes to be accepted by the group and gain a high level of prestige, respect, and influence, and then turn the ideology on its head with reinterpretation framed and accepted by the authority now endowed on the new religious leader. As far as I can tell, education is just an institutional form of enculturation and indoctrination with all the usual traits. I am now just finishing a class called "critical thinking", but by my standards nothing was taught. sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken. this class was a joke, and so are many of them.
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      May 10 2011: thanks meher..good point..by the way must have had a bad teacher..critical thinking ( lateral thinking in UK) is key to intellectual growth and intuitive freedom. In my school we were taught it ny applying it..doing it..not talking about it.Do you have a planned infiltration you'd like to share with us?
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        May 11 2011: yeah, I've had a lot of bad teachers, which is one of the reasons I am critical of institutional education. In addressing this issue, we must look at it from a culturally relative point of view. even if we did manage to build schools, the only extremists they would attract would be strapped with bombs. Education would provide great opportunity for those who are hungry for it, but they would be seen by the radicals as institutions of western subversion undermining the values of the culture which do not emphasis knowledge but rather belief, specifically the religious type. The great thing about that is the authority figures have a greater amount of influence over the followers which can be used to massively change the ideology (as we are seeing with the apologists). Religious texts are not interpreted rationally but instead in whatever way best supports the interests of the interpreter so if one was to install a figure-head that was respected by the followers of the faith and considered an authority on interpretation then that person could tell the entire Islam community that when Mohammad (peace to him) said rape, steal, pillage, and kill all infidels, what he means is put on a pink tutu and dance around singing marry had a little lamb while staring at the sun five times a day etc. then people will do it with zeal as long as the idea is sold well. We must remember that these are not western minds, they don't share our values and don't want to. If change is what we want, it must be an inside job. In my "spoof" I imagine the CIA recruiting a few charismatic theologians to assume leadership roles in the Islamic community and even trying to implant an Imam or whatever the head of the faith is. A real conspiracy. systems of faith are hijacked all the time by profiteers, take the evangelicals for instance "god wants you to send me money" and people do it.
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      May 26 2011: "Covert Theologians"!!!! Love that May Hare,, you are a delight!!!

      (and of course your overall pointis quite valid..I was not an infiktrator and because of that my views were immediately noticed and expelled.)
  • May 9 2011: By having a world in which there is no such thing as conflict. And since that is currently no an option there is no way.
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      May 9 2011: oh.well that's very helpful..just drop in and say no way? this is TED..we're supposed to think here.
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    May 9 2011: Vasil..I am very glad you have created this opportunity for continuing conversation from our just closing conversation on our personal reactions to Bin Ladens death. All there who spoke to the question "Is this the end of terrorism" agreed that Bin Ladens death did not stop terrorism. I am glad of this conversation which explores the idea that what we teach our children is the real way to end terrorism.
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    May 9 2011: "I've said my primary idea in the linked conversation, that being the focusing of building and defending schools, because that's the only thing that will cut off the supply of people to terrorism"

    Um....the uni-bomber was Harvard educated.
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      May 9 2011: Well... when it comes to psychology, there's always an exception to the rule.

      But what was his motivation anyway?
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        May 9 2011: If you haven't heard of radiolab then I am about to blow your mind, It is right up there with TED.
        they did a story that describes the una-bomber thing in a much funner and more enjoyable way than i could so i will just post a link to the story and you can check it out yourself.

        http://www.radiolab.org/2010/jun/28/be-careful-what-you-plan-for/

        If you just want to hear the bit about the bomber fast forward to minute 4:15. but i recommend listening to the whole show and then to all of their other shows, they do some amazing stuff!
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          May 9 2011: As I was writing my thing about the link between humiliation and terrorism, the part about the Ted Kaczynski came up in the radiolab story. Weird/awesome.

          I like radiolab; it reminds me of This American Life.
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        May 9 2011: Hang on there Vasil, doesn't Meher's comment that the uni bomber was a harvard grad point to the need here to speak more clearly about what we mean by education. reading volataire in french isnt going to deter terrorism. so what kind of education is is it that can be effective in preventing the ideological identity that allows eterrorism to be effective ( and here, as Nicholas says, we have to sart with a definition of what we mean by terrorism. I have assumed that it excludes that for purposes of our converstaion here hat excludes the acts of randiom individuals. I assumed for purposes of this talk you are referring to ideological manipulation of of large groups of people working as a sort of army under direction and supervision to commit acts of terror.
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      May 9 2011: Wow. That radiolab episode was both funny... and... let's say "sad". I almost cried at the tree story... reminded me of the movie FernGully, except the cutting down of the oldest tree on the planet was not exactly intentional there (hence almost).

      Anyway...

      About the kind of education... I'm talking about basic education in basic common sciences, not necessarily "specialized" knowledge like languages or full details of [insert scientific field]. We're talking about math, about them being able to read and write in their own language, knowing their own history, basic biology ("your body has different organs which affect you in different ways") and physics ("water freezes at 0 deg. C, and evaporates at 100 deg. C")... basically anything up to the end of middle school.

      The education system around the world is broken... we discuss it in other TED conversations... but it's better than having no education, and if someone wants to try a radical new idea for teaching, the governments (i.e. US and everyone involved in Afghanistan and/or Pakistan; NATO, basically) should probably assist them. Bottom line is that ANY education is better than no education.

      The training of critical thought should come in parallel with these, though I'm not sure how that is to be done, seeing the success of this is limited in the traditional school format.
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    May 9 2011: Everyone could convert to Islam. wink wink.
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      May 9 2011: And accept sharia law? No thanks :-P .
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        May 9 2011: Even though I posted that as a joke, I actually think it may be a peaceful solution to the problem. Maybe if we all just said "okay, we're with you," we could dilute the system with the billions of added perspectives. Something like pretending or lip service could be used to infiltrate and inundate the culture for effective change washing out what we don't like and high-jacking the religion, changing the meaning of it. If we claim it as our own, we could redefine it until it looses its identity. we could literally steal the faith and reinterpret it until it becomes convoluted so that no one knows what it means anymore. Inject a few scholars or rhetoricians, claim them to be holly people speaking the word of god and have them totally shift the ideology.
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          May 9 2011: love this..thanks Meher actually works in real life. and is a sort of favorite tactic of mine...join the enemy, infliltrate, bring new ideas, dilute their memes, filter their ideology through a sieve of fresh input. actually works..except once I went to a very extreme right wing conservative thing here on the island and treated it as if it were just a regular public meeting..ie just participated with questions and oberstaions framed from a very different point of view until the convenor finally came and whispered in my ear that this was "their meeting".but, isn't the heart of your spoof here exactly what vasil is syaing..that education makes people less vulnerable to be overtaken by cultural, political and religious ideology. Our young friend Nichoals ( who has called for definitions below) is a big believer in the power of critical thinking.I would qualify my supoort for education as a way to end terrorism, to teaching critical thinking to everyone adults and children is a way to end terrorism..which is basically what you are saying in your spoof..is it not Meher?