- Diane Benscoter
- Portland, OR
- United States
Author - "Shoes of a Servant", Salient
Where on the continuum does religion become extremism? Is extremism a cognitive disorder?
As an ex-cult member and an ex-deprogrammer I have experienced and observed extremism up close and personal.
Suicide bombers, Hitler youth, Jonestown victims and other variations on extremism are based on belief systems that cause otherwise good people to cross the line into what I view as a cognitive disorder.
When you look at the most active TED conversation, many are about religion. Religion's role in society at this time is a heated debate throughout the world. My concern is not about if Mormonism or any other doctrine is the "true religion" or even if all forms of religiosity is foolishness. My interest is if and when fully functioning cognition is hampered by certain memes that cause "us" and "them" circular thinking, and when that becomes gravely dangerous.
Most religions claim a corner on the "truth" and create walls between them and non-believers. Under certain circumstances this becomes horrifically dangerous. Wars and atrocities are the result.
So...is there a way to identify, through neuroscience, what happens to decision making processes when someone becomes a victim of an infectious meme? Is there a way to treat this like a mental disorder when along the religious or political continuum a belief system becomes extremist and allows someone to believe that it is "right" , for instance, to lead Jews into concentration camps or strap a bomb to your body and detonate?,