Is man a rational animal?

Do we understand each other’s motives? For instance, look at this picture that appeared in my Facebook a few days ago.
This picture is suggesting that the Iraq war was pushed by people who wanted to make money off it. Think how monstrous this alleged motive is. This man, Cheney, is implied to be willing to get Americans killed so he can get richer.

On the same topic, recently I received an email from a creative scientist, who I normally stand in awe of, but who in his message argued that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld were interested in the U.S. getting access to Iraqi oil fields and that was why the U.S. got bogged down in the Iraq war.

I replied to him as follows

George Bush argued for war saying this:
“Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”
So he didn’t say something like “I want the American public to sacrifice many of their sons in battle, and almost a trillion dollars, to get hold of some oil fields.”

The scientist then countered with an article from CNN which I have put in the notes section.  Nonetheless, I would think that before rushing to judgement, we would examine the reasons given by the accused. In this case, former president George W Bush talks about his rationale for going to war in his book “Decision Points” and his former Vice President (Cheney) gives his own rationale in his recent book “Exceptional”.  We expect a judge in a court of law to hear the defendant’s version, but we don’t listen to it in other situations.

And yet today I heard on the radio a talk-show listener saying that the Iraq war was partly because of Israel.”. The host agreed – he said “Much as I stand by Israel, we have to be more honest about that relationship.”

Why is it that we have such totally different understanding of motives in this one example? And how can we test which one is correct?


Lets take another subject: antisemitism. Geert Wilders, himself a very controversial figure, was interviewed on the Glazov Gang, and he says he has traveled in various Arab countries, as well as living for a while at an Israeli Kibbutz. He says that Israel is surrounded by total hate. He says of his stay with the Egyptians that they were friendly and hospitable people, but when they talked about Israel, there was hatred, “it was very, very nasty.”

I’m persuaded, however a Facebook acquaintance of mine posts that you can’t believe such a person, because he’s so extreme. (Wilders is controversial because he sees Islam as incompatible with freedom, and not just as a religion, but an ideology.)

This is what one Syrian woman says:

When someone wants to describe someone else as ugly, we say he looks like a Jew….We believe that Jews control the world and that in consequence, the whole world, dancing to their tune, wants to get rid of us.

Poles burn Hasid in effigy
Poles burn Hasid in effigy

In Poland, there are demonstrations against Muslim immigrants, and in one an effigy of an orthodox Jew was burnt, possibly because they believe Jews are the hidden force behind the flood of refugees.

To me, these people are not in touch with reality. Whatever they believe about the Jews, they are mistaken.

At least two people who I am friends with identify with president Barack Obama, and believe he is a good person. When he was criticized recently, one of them attributed it to racism.  Others do not agree, to put it mildly. Candidate Ben Carson calls him a psychopath – and Carson is a successful neurosurgeon, not a wild man.

Ben Caron
Ben Carson

A column by John Velisek (USN ret) titled”Obama’s Destruction of America: ends with this: “It is time for our representatives to rein in this narcissistic Marxist Muslim.”

So the motives attributed to Obama are extremely different among different people.

Getting motives right is an important part of understanding our world.

There is a “black lives matter” movement in the U.S. that seems to believe that white police officers are killing blacks due to racism throughout the country. Since this is so urgent, the sight of white students peacefully studying in a college library is irritating to them and so:

Black-clad protesters gathered in front of Dartmouth Hall, forming a crowd roughly one hundred fifty strong. …, the band descended from their high-water mark to march into Baker-Berry Library.

“F*** you, you filthy white f***s!” “F*** you and your comfort!” “F*** you, you racist s***!”

… The flood of demonstrators self-consciously overstepped every boundary, opening the doors of study spaces with students reviewing for exams. Those who tried to close their doors were harassed further. One student abandoned the study room and ran out of the library. The protesters followed her out of the library, shouting obscenities the whole way.
… Another woman was pinned to a wall by protesters who unleashed their insults, shouting “filthy white b****!” in her face.

What on earth is going on here? Are these protesters in touch with reality?  There are some police abuses – one huge one came to light on video just recently (see notes), but what does shoving some Dartmouth co-ed to a wall and yelling at her, do about police abuses?
Or take another group in the news – Islamic State. There again, there is a disagreement about motives. A recent interview of French Muslims shows many blame ISIS on the Jews. Why?

Their reasoning is simple: Muslims don’t kill other people, and especially not fellow Muslims. ISIS kills innocent people – and especially Muslims (in their eyes) – and so the group can’t possibly be Islamic. It’s as simple as 1+1=2.

On the other hand, these people are convinced that Jews do kill innocent people – and Muslims most of all.

And among Westerners too – there is a big disagreement on motives of ISIS – isn’t Islam a religion of peace? Is the rise of ISIS due to lack of “education”? Is it due to poverty and deprivation? Is it a reaction to Western imperialism? Is it a reaction to climate change? Is it a reaction to the lack of a Palestinian state? Is it comprised of a group of criminals finding justification for their impulses in a false interpretation of Islam? Is it as ISIS members say – the true interpretation of Islam? Do young women leave Europe to marry ISIS fighters because they want to be part of the excitement of reincarnating the “Caliphate”? Are they all mad?

We might argue that some of us are more rational than others. Obviously, I tend to think I am rational, and like everyone else, tend to believe my opinions are mostly correct. But if I am correct in many of my opinions, why are so many other members of my species so completely and utterly wrong?

JulienBahloulThe Middle Eastern looking guy on the left, Julien Bahloul, was bullied in school as a kid by a classmate who grew up to become one of the terrorists who caused the bloodbath in Paris. Julien is Jewish, and suffered from a great deal of anti-semitism in that school. So to add insult to injury, Muslims now blame people like Julien for what his bully did.

It is preferable to be a person who strives for truth and who is willing to take some basic steps to test his beliefs.  It is important to avoid wishful thinking and to not always avoid painful conclusions. Since so many people abandon even basic rules of thought in some realms of reality, I would conclude we are not rational animals unless we really want to be.

Sources: (Geert Wilders, the relevant part starting at 9 minutes and 25 seconds).

On Cheney’s motives, after I wrote this blog post I was sent an article from that scientist – its at CNN:
which says this: Of course it’s about oil; we can’t really deny that,” said Gen. John Abizaid, former head of U.S. Central Command and Military Operations in Iraq, in 2007. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan agreed, writing in his memoir, “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Then-Sen. and now Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the same in 2007: “People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are.”
Still, these people are not Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush, who were the actual decision makers   A counter argument is made at: which points out that many Democrats who were anti-oil pushed for the war – which would be crazy if the motive was to capture oil fields. Senators Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Harry Reid were among those who not only enthusiastically called for Saddam’s removal, but also warned of intelligence estimates of Saddam’s WMD arsenals.
Not only that, but the U.S. did  not get the oil – instead “the IEA projects that most of the nation [IRAQ]’s oil will be exported to China and other Asian markets.”  Presumably the U.S. would have stolen the oil fields from Iraq and surrounded them with troops if the idea was just to get oil.  Another article, by Victor Davis Hansen says we have amnesia as to the entire topic:  His article is at:

Note 2:
I mentioned that huge case of police abuse.  This is from the Washington Examiner:
“A lot of lies are told about police brutality. The fabricated narrative about the death of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo., last year, is a case in point. But the case of Laquan McDonald in Chicago shows that not all complaints are false. Some of them are shockingly true. It’s officialdom that has been telling the lies, and that is a whole lot worse.”

Conversely, there are examples of  cops being framed by their “victims” and then a dashcam video shows the cops were telling the truth, not the victims.  The article on that, with videos, is here:

The Ironies of Technological Crime

I’ve heard of many motives for crime, but this is the first time I heard of being a libertarian as a motive. Ross Ulbricht, the libertarian in question, ran the largest online criminal marketplace in the world. Customers could order a hitman, a forged document, or addictive drugs.

Ross Ulbricht
Ross Ulbricht

Ulbricht’s downfall began when he found that one of his employees was embezzling from him. Ulbricht reached out to one of the professional assassins on his site, and asked that the employee be killed.  In addition, he specified, the employee should be tortured before meeting his untimely end. Fortunately the assassin was a law-enforcement plant who sent back a fake photo of the completed hit. Ulbricht sent him a thank-you email, saying “I’m pissed that I had to kill him…but what is done is done…I just can’t believe he was so stupid…I just wish more people had some integrity.”
Talk about  a moral blind spot!
The FBI converged on the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco library and waited. A man in his late twenties with brown wavy hair settled down with his laptop in the quiet of the science fiction section and began typing away…Suddenly the silence was broken when a young woman charged toward the young man screaming, “I’m so sick of you!”. In an instant, she was upon him and grabbed the laptop right off the table. [this was important, because he had entered all the passwords at that point]. Then the other supposed library users rushed him.
Ross Ulbricht had been the kind of kid any parent would be proud of, an Eagle Scout from Austin, Texas, who had a MS in engineering and science. But he had lost his interest in science in favor for libertarianism. He wrote in his LinkedIn profile that he now wished to “use economic theory to abolish the widespread and systemic use of force by institutions and government against mankind.”
The book “Future Crimes” tells this story, and it is worth reading if just for the ingenuity that criminals keep displaying in it. Most of the book is about current crimes, but the possibilities in the future are hair-raising.
We are already in an age where technology outpaces any scenario even a mentally ill paranoid type could dream up.
For instance:
1. That babycam that lets you see what your baby is doing from afar can be taken over by a stranger. Normally you use your cell phone to control the camera, and even talk via a speaker to your child. But one mom heard a man’s voice coming from her babies room. The camera was moving, but she had not been moving it. When the hacker, via the camera, saw the parents arrive in the child’s room, he unleashed a stream of obscenities until the father yanked the camera cord from the wall.
2. Your teakettle could be spying on you, as some displeased Russian custom officials found when they examined some Chinese teakettles. The kettles contained wi-fi cards capable of spreading malware to any open Internet network within two hundred meters and were able to relay secret messages back to China. The Chinese also installed these cards in clothing irons.
3. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, often critical of China, had blocked Chinese cyber attacks in the past, but its luck ran out in late 2011 when it discovered that its Internet enabled thermostat had created a back door to its internal corporate network, and in fact was communicating with an internet address in China.
4. A hacker can be taking videos with your cell phone, and recording what you say as you move around the landscape.
5. If you buy a self-driving car, if and when they become available, you could end up like the horror movie “Christine”, except instead of the car having a vengeful personality, it could be taken over by a hacker, and you could be driven off screaming to a remote location, unable to open the windows or the doors. Though my guess is that the car will have a manual override.
6. Paranoid of the NSA (National Security Agency)? You should be, since individual NSA analysts were using the agency’s vast spying tools to target their boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, and ex-lovers. These analysts read emails and listened to phone calls.
7. If you are a soldier in a secret area in the Mideast, don’t upload a photo of yourself to Facebook. Chances are the photo will have “geolocation” information in it, that will tell your enemy (if he is looking at Facebook), where exactly you are.
8. The laptop you are using right now could be taking pictures of you. I hope you have combed your hair.
9. As far as trusting government competence – in 2011, Israel’s government discovered that its “biometrics” database of its citizens had been stolen including names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and medical records. In the U.S. it was even worse when perhaps 21 million personnel records of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) were stolen. Apart from what you might expect, OPM is the agency that asks your neighbors what they know about you that could be used to blackmail you, before they hire you for sensitive positions.  And they store this information in their database.
10. As far as trusting the competence of private companies – in 2013, the data broker Experian mistakenly sold the personal data of nearly two-thirds of all Americans to an organized crime group in Vietnam. This crime group had posed as a U.S. private investigation firm. The data ended up being put up for sale on dozens of hacker web sites.

One of the scary points made by author Marc Goodman in “Future Crimes” is that an amateur criminal now can get tools developed by ingenious crimeware producers.  Then either on his own, or as part of an actual underground criminal corporation – he can rob vast numbers of people. It makes much more sense for him to do that than to linger in a dark alley hoping prey will come along.

The future bodes ill, if we do not take a much more paranoid attitude toward our vulnerabilities. Various companies are researching ways to make many of our home devices intelligent. This involves linking them to the internet. If this is not done securely, then your home could be set on fire by a hacker, or he could just spy on you. Even worse, when robots come into their own, they could be hacked, and could do damage to you because some hacker on the other side of the world takes charge of them via the internet.

It amazes me, reading this book, how intelligent, creative, hard-working people can form entire criminal underground corporations dedicated to stealing your possessions. These criminal corporations even have customer service and other business practices that we see in the legitimate world.

The book also shows that our technology is like having a wolf by the ears – there are problems holding on to it, and even worse problems letting go.

Future Crimes – Marc Goodman (2015)



How criminals can hold up a distorted mirror and conceal the real world.

Dr. David Gelernter of Yale University made the mistake of writing a book called Mirror Worlds, which suggested that reality will be replaced gradually, piece-by-piece, by a software imitation; we will live inside the imitation. I read in my library, and the Unabomber, a man who mailed bombs to technical people he didn’t like, may have read it (if he did, he probably borrowed it from the library in the nearest town in Montana). The Unabomber, Ted Kaczyinski, then lovingly and meticulously crafted a bomb in his cabin, and mailed it to Professor Gelernter.

The bomb blinded Dr. Gelernter in one eye, tore off part of his right hand, deafened him in one ear and wounded him in the chest.

I should say at this point that the book was a mistake only because it attracted a terrorist, it was a good book, and in fact Steve Jobs of Apple was interested in Gelernter’s ideas.

We have the letter that the Unabomber sent. He says:

Dr. Gelernter:

People with advanced degrees aren’t as smart as they think they are. If you’d had any brains you would have realized that there are a lot of people out there who resent bitterly the way techno-nerds like you are changing the world and you wouldn’t have been dumb enough to open an unexpected package from an unknown source.
… In any case, being informed about computers won’t enable anyone to prevent invasion of privacy (through computers), genetic engineering (to which computers make an important contribution), environmental degradation through excessive economic growth (computers make an important contribution to economic growth) and so forth…
As for the inevitability argument, if the developments you describe are inevitable, they are not inevitable in the way that old age and bad weather are inevitable. They are inevitable only because techno-nerds like you make them inevitable.

Gelernter has not let the bomb derail his life. He is a futurist of sorts, and so is Marc Goodman, a former policeman and the author of “Future Crime” a book which has two chapters on our current mirror world of computer screens. Criminals have found that they can alter what we see on such screens, whether on our laptops or our mobile phones.

Even without reading Goodman’s book, most of us have heard of misdirection by hackers. You think you are accessing your stock broker’s website, when you are accessing a facsimile produced by a criminal. Or you think you are chatting with a handsome young man you made friends with on Facebook when he is really somebody neither handsome or wholesome. I had even heard of a man who was turned down for a job he really wanted, because his “girlfriend” sent an email to the would-be employer, impersonating the applicant, and saying he did not want the job. The applicant only found out when the interviewer sent him another email later, saying he was such a good fit for the job, and he (the interviewer) could not understand his rejection.

Marc Goodman gives more examples.

There was the case of Mark Jakob, a community college student, who created a fake press release. He copied the stationary and style of previous Emulex press releases, spoofed the company’s email-address and forwarded a release saying there was a SEC investigation into Emulex, and that the company’s CEO had resigned in response. The story was picked up by major newswires, and Emulex lost $2.2 billion in market capitalization. The truth came out in a few days, of course, but by that time:

investors in the market lost more than $110 million because a kid at a community college manipulated the trust they had in their screens.

Then there was the case of Elizabeth Thrasher, who was jealous of her ex-husband. He had a new girlfriend, and that girlfriend had a daughter, who Thrasher decided to attack.  Thrasher copied two photos from the teen’s MySpace account and posted them to Craigslist in the ‘Casual Encounters’ section of the site. As part of the impersonation, she also posted contact information for the girl, including her email address and home address, and said that she was looking for sex. So phone calls and photographs, including nude pictures, and requests for sex began to swamp the poor girl’s inbox and phone.

There there is the practice of “swatting”.

Bored hackers have been able to phone police with spoofed phone numbers in order to report nonexistent crimes. The hacker may be in Maine, but because he “used your phone number in Miami, that’s where the cops are heading.
The deadly game begins when criminals spoof your phone number and then dial 911. A woman screams into the phone, “My husband shot my mother and baby, and now he’s holding me hostage…PLEASE come quick…He’s got a shotgun and an AK-47…Hurry…he’s crazy!” A recording of gunshots can be played in the background for good measure….
In the meantime, you’re sitting at home on the couch eating ice cream with your wife and kids, enjoying the latest episode of ‘The Big Bang Theory’. The cops think a woman inside is moments away from being murdered, and [the local SWAT team is gathering outside your house].
The cops have surrounded the house and are yelling for you to put your hands up and come out. Your kids are screaming, and your wife is confused…You don’t want to go out of your house and confront a group of maniacs (even if they are cops) pointing rifles at you. To the police, your refusal to cooperate heightens the tension. Their next stop is to shoot some flash-bang grenades through the windows of your house and see what happens…

Swatting is sometimes done for revenge, and sometimes just for the fun of it.

Your mobile phone is also a potential target.

If your phone is hacked, then when you phone person X, you may be talking to impersonator Y. Conversely, if caller id says the call is coming from person X, it may be coming from impersonator Y.

If are navigating a boat, the global positioning signals that tell you where you are going may be coming from a bad-actor in your crew, who plans to steer your cargo to a waiting den of thieves. As far as we know, this has not happened, but graduate students from the University of Texas managed to send a yacht off course to prove the vulnerability was real. This kind of thing could also lead soldiers into an ambush.

So far, all the examples are temporary – the truth comes out eventually, though people can get hurt before it does.

But what if the truth never comes out? For instance, what if you want to reconcile with someone you knew a long time ago who you had a misunderstanding with, and a jealous friend does not want that to happen? Or conversely, what if you wish to communicate with a person who could tell you unpleasant facts about someone you trust? There would be motives to permanently intercept and derail your efforts, in that case.

Cyber-crime is lucrative, and so criminals who in the old days might have robbed your car are learning techniques in how to deceive ordinary people. And those criminals who simulate reality are creating a false world in order to spy on your credit card, bank account, private life, etc.

Marc Goodman says a few complimentary things about techno-criminals:

“Anything that would motivate a startup employee would motivate a criminal. They want money, they want shares in the business, they want a challenge, they don’t want a 9-5 environment. They want the respect of their peers, and they are engaged in a game of us against them.”

“Cybercriminals are highly innovative and adaptive, they have so many ways of being clever and imaginative because they never take the straight-on approach. They always find the side way to go about something that the good person would never have considered”

The conclusions that I draw include that we should validate the simulated world we get from our digital devices against direct talk with real live human beings.  If we don’t put full trust in our devices, or in the friendly sounding strangers we talk to on the phone, we are not really being paranoid, we are being prudent.   And if we hope for mercy for those who have just gotten hold of our identity or bank account, we are probably not being realistic.

Future Crimes – Marc Goodman (Doubleday – 2015)

The harmful feeling of “entitlement” in criminals and normal people.

Stanton Samenow interviewed criminals for years, and has concluded that they have an entitlement mentality. He says that “the criminal believes that he is entitled to whatever he desires, and he will pursue it ruthlessly.” Samenow sees this as “cognitive distortion”. In this blog post I’ve inserted several type of entitlement-mentality examples, the criminal just being one, to see if a pattern emerges.

“A criminal was told to write a letter to the Leeds family he robbed as part of his rehabilitation. He did write the letter, but the message was (I paraphrase): you deserved to be robbed, you were stupid, weak and vulnerable; I was quick enough to take advantage of that. You are the losers. I am cool.
the reporter who wrote the article about this asks:

Wherever did a boy of 16 get this sense of entitlement from? Who could possibly have inculcated this warped and topsy-turvy view of what is right and what is wrong? Not his former teachers surely? What about the parents? Or is it just something he has picked up from his equally entitled peers on the mean streets of Leeds? I simply have no idea.
It is the same sense of entitlement which encouraged thousands of teenagers all over the country to indulge in wanton destruction and help themselves to spanking new trainers and the latest mobile phones during the August riots which convulsed London and a string of other cities.
It is akin to the sense of entitlement that sees millions of young people happy to sit back and claim a range of state-funded benefits rather than taking some simple job which they deem to be beneath them but which are willingly undertaken by diligent and ambitious foreign workers.

It’s not just poor criminals who feel “entitled”. In “The Perils of Fraud Detection”, published in The Forensic Examiner, Frank Perri exposes misperceptions about white-collar criminals – people who could earn a middle-class living if they wanted to.  Personality traits he warns of include: “blames others for his or her problems, displays a sense of entitlement, exploitative, egocentric, grandiosity, difficulty taking criticism, and feels victimized.” He adds that offenders believe that they are entitled to commit fraud and feel victimized when that entitlement is challenged.”

So as Samenow says, a substantial abnormal section of the population, the criminal element, has a cognitive distortion in this area.

But do non-criminals?

To what extent are the rest of us entitled to remake our environment at the expense of others?

My co-religionists, Hasidic Jews, have complained about female cyclists who cycle in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The religious group complained to the community board that many of the young, female cyclists who rode through the neighborhood were “hotties,” who “ride in shorts and skirts,” both of which are against their dress code.

Islam goes to extremes in this regard.  For instance one Muslim cleric, Sheik al-Hilali, said this:

Addressing 500 worshipers on the topic of adultery, he added: “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it..whose fault is it – the cats or the uncovered meat?
The uncovered meat is the problem.
He went on: “If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab (veil), no problem would have occurred.”

In other words, he is making excuses for sexual assault by saying that it is understandable that it would happen if women do not dress the modest way that they should.

He feels that women have a responsibility to men; the responsibility of walking around in a burqa, or not walking around at all.

Both the Jews and the Muslims want modest behavior from women, but there is a difference. None of these Hasids I mentioned are committing sexual assaults. (I do not know the statistics for Muslims).

Gratitude is related to entitlement:

The head of a UNHCR camp called Syrian refugees “The most difficult refugees I’ve ever seen. …In Italy, …there are….mobile phone charging stations so the destitute refugees can check on their Facebook accounts.

It had to be done because the refugees in Italy were throwing rocks at police while demanding free wi-fi.

This is the tawdry sense of entitlement of the Syrian Muslim refugee that the media champions.

Hussein said: “We have the feeling that the aid workers are heartless.” (He) lives in a trailer that cost $3,000. The air-conditioner runs with electricity he is tapping from the Italian hospital. The water for his tea is from canisters provided by UNICEF. He hasn’t worked, paid or thanked anyone for any of it.

It’s puzzling to me that the refugees feel that they can make demands using force, rather than asking nicely. Perhaps they believe it is undignified to plead for charity, and that demanding it while throwing rocks is dignified.

In the USA, a black woman, Kuuleme T. Stephens, says this about another culture’s entitlement mentality (the ghetto):

…if Black Americans are not going to stop living in the past and blaming other for their problems, we will never move forward as a people. To maintain a belief that you are owed something and entitled to things when you are doing nothing to help yourself is absurd. To stay ignorant as a lifestyle choice and have others (the government) take care of you and tell you what to do is exactly what the slaves did, and some continued to do even after they were freed…Today our Black American community suffers from a different “syndrome” and that is called the Entitlement Mentality, which to me has many attributes of the Slavery Mentality, but adds ignorance, laziness, and arrogance to the picture and is much more dangerous.

The sense of entitlement is related to our sense of what is fair. The idea that you are victimized might, in your mind, excuse your taking something from the victimizers.

A Danish psychologist, Nicolai Sennels, studied Muslim criminals in Denmark. He shows that the religion itself has led to “cognitive distortions” (not his phrase) that in turn hurt its relationships with Westerners.

He says:

“It is clear from a psychological point of view that Westerners feel that their lives are mainly influenced by inner forces – ourselves…
But Muslims have something else. They have strict external rules, traditions and laws for human behavior. They have a God that decides their life’s course. “Inshallah” follows every statement about future plans; if God wants it to happen. They have powerful Muslim clerics who set the directions for their community every Friday. ..If we are raised in a culture where we learn that “…I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul,” as William Ernest Henley wrote in his famous poem Invictus in 1875; we will, in case of personal problems, look at ourselves and ask: “…What did I do wrong?” and “…What can I do to change the situation?” People who have been taught throughout their entire lives that outer rules and traditions are more important than individual freedom and self-reflection, will ask: “Who did this to me?” and “Who has to do something for me?”

Thus, the locus of control is central to the individual’s understanding of freedom and responsibility. Even though our Christian based societies may, in certain situations, give too much emphasis on feelings of guilt; it also strengthens the individual’s sense of being able to take responsibility for, and change one’s own life. In societies shaped under Islamic and Qu’ranic influence there may be fewer feelings of guilt and thus, more freedom to demand the surroundings to adapt to one’s own wishes and desires. This may include demands to wear Islamic costumes which can result in more Muslim demands for Islamization of our Western societies, but it is also a powerful source of victim mentality and leads to endless demands on one’s surroundings. In a very concrete way this cultural tendency, shows itself in therapy, as a lack of remorse. The standard answer from violent Muslims was always: “…It is his own fault that I beat him up. He provoked me.” Such excuses show that people experience their own reactions as caused by external factors and not by their own emotions, motivation and free will. Even though one’s own feelings, when experiencing an insult, can be moderated by one’s own point of view, this kind of self-reflection does not happen to the same degree among Muslims as it does among Westerners.

The difference in mentality is clearly stated by the old Indian proverb:

“You can walk around softly everywhere by putting on a pair of shoes, or you can demand that the whole Earth becomes covered by soft leather.”

Sennels says about the Muslims he encountered:

“Typically, they learn a handful of conspiracy theories “proving” that the West, especially the US and the few million Jews left on this Earth, are the cause of all the problems in the Muslim world.

This reminds me of a recent stampede in Mina, (Saudi Arabia) which killed at least 2000 religious pilgrims. The stampede was eventually blamed by an Iranian official, Ali Younesi, on the Israeli secret service, the Mossad. How does he know?  Maybe if you believe nothing is your fault, then it must be the fault of an evil organization out to destroy you.

Sennels adds:

Danish Psychologist Nicolai Sennels
Danish Psychologist Nicolai Sennels

A Danish saying goes “…Only small dogs bark. Big dogs do not have to.” That saying is deeply rooted in our cultural psychology as a guideline for civilized social behavior. To us, aggressive behavior is a clear sign of weakness. It is a sign of not being in control of oneself and lacking ability to handle a situation.
Jokes, irony and, especially, self-irony [among Muslims] is as good as non-existent. … Instead of being flexible and humorous they become stiff and develop fragile, glass-like, narcissistic personalities.
As far as honor killings or attacks, [Rather than ‘honor’] terms like “family execution,” “childish jealousy,” “control maniac” or “insecure” would be much closer to our cultural understanding of such behavior.

In the examples of entitlement above, we see that a sense of victimization often accompanies it, and we see that culture and religion can push people to “entitlement” habits of thinking that in turn can make them hurt their society. A person with a self-deprecating sense of humor, plus a desire and an ability to put himself into someone else’s viewpoint, is not likely to have this problem. On the other hand, a person who sees life as a zero-sum game – where if you win, it has to be at the expense of someone else, or who has been taught that his group is superior, may victimize others.

Even children brought up with western ideals can become bullies, with a feeling of entitlement: “If your peer group says that pushing and shoving and spitting on people or spreading lies is O.K., even though you may have been taught differently in your home, you lose your moral compass” says one student of bullying.

It may be some of us (criminals) are born with an entitlement mentality, and others obtain one from their culture or religion. It spells trouble.


Bloggers Note:
Sennels (the Danish psychologist) may be wrong when he blames the fatalistic “inshallah” for a lack of responsiblity.  An alternate explanation comes from former Syrian doctor, Wafa Sultan, who says that she did not observe many relationships in Syria  based on mutual respect.  Mostly one person would dominate the other.  This might explain those rock-throwing migrants -they prefer to dominate a situation.  It is true that she does blame the culture on the religion.  She quotes Mohammed’s hadith that “Whosoever obeys me obeys god, and he who obeys my emir obeys me.” The emir is any ruler who follows the faith.   So blind obedience is important, and it translates to any relationship in the society – one person is the boss.

Rights, responsibilities, gratitude, and the Muslims walking into Europe

The desire of our leaders to do good can lead to much harm if, when things go wrong, they start hiding the truth from the rest of us. For when that truth emerges, as eventually it must, they will lose the public trust, the most essential commodity in a democracy.
I was thinking of this while reading about some of the confrontations between Muslim migrants and Europeans. A female Czech doctor in Germany, working in a Munich hospital, says this:

Many migrants have AIDS, syphilis, open TB and many exotic diseases that we, in Europe, do not know how to treat. If they receive a prescription in the pharmacy, they learn they have to pay cash. This leads to unbelievable outbursts, especially when it is about drugs for the children. They abandon the children with pharmacy staff with the words: “So, cure them here yourselves!” So the police are not just guarding the clinics and hospitals, but also large pharmacies.

Even the professor who heads our department told us how sad it makes him to see the cleaning woman, who for 800 Euros cleans every day for years, and then meets young men in the hallways who just wait with their hand outstretched, want everything for free, and when they don’t get it they throw a fit.

In a hospital near the Rhine, migrants attacked the staff with knives after they had handed over an 8-month-old on the brink of death, which they had dragged across half of Europe for three months. The child died in two days, despite having received top care at one of the best pediatric clinics in Germany. The physician had to undergo surgery and two nurses are laid up in the ICU. Nobody has been punished.

The local press is forbidden to write about it, so we know about it through email. What would have happened to a German if he had stabbed a doctor and nurses with a knife? Or if he had flung his own syphilis-infected urine into a nurse’s face and so threatened her with infection? At a minimum he’d go straight to jail and later to court. With these people – so far, nothing has happened.

When I read this, I wonder – where is the gratitude?  Why the sense of entitlement on the part of the migrants? And why the cover-up on the part of the authorities?

A news report in England shows a woman reporter interviewing two British Muslims. One of them saying this: “I want to see every woman in this country covered from head to toe. I want to see hands and foot cut, I want to see adulterers stoned to death…”
The interviewer says to him after he says women should cover up that “in your home, you can do whatever you want.”He replies “But why not in the public, why can’t I tell you to cover up? Wheres MY freedom?”

Again, this Muslim does not have a sense where his rights stop and other people’s rights begin.

Wafa Sultan, a former Syrian doctor, says the following unkind words about the culture she came from:

The concept of responsibility has no place in the customs of Islam. Fourteen centuries later the Muslim nation is at the bottom of the scale of nations, but Muslim men refuse to recognize their responsibility for this regression, which would cause any reasonable person feelings of guilt. People feel guilty only when the assume their responsibilities and acknowledge that they have failed to perform them properly….”

The concept of responsibility is also intertwined with the concept of “rights”. What responsibilities do you have to deal with the problems in your life? What responsibility to others have toward you?  If you see some service as your right, why should you feel grateful when you get it?

You might think that the Czech doctor quoted earlier is giving anecdotal evidence, and maybe she hates Arabs and Africans (she does refer to some of the refugees as “animals”.) But evidence for the problematic character of Moslem immigration is coming from many directions:
Germany’s police union chief Rainer Wendt warns that because of the desire to calm things down politically, “There is a lot of glossing over going on. But this doesn’t represent reality.”
Nor is the problem confined to Germany. David Goldman writes:

[Due to immigration] Sweden now has the highest incidence of reported rape outside of a few African countries, and nearly ten times the rate of its European peers—and all this has happened in the past ten years. Sweden ranks near the top of the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, yet it has become the most dangerous country for women outside of Africa, with an incidence of rape ten times that of its European peers. Sweden’s political leaders not only refuse to take action, but have made it a criminal offense to talk about it.

When you elect a government, you pay the salaries of the members of that government and expect to be told the truth. Hiding it is an abrogation of the rights of the citizen. The German government may be worried that if cases of bad-behavior by immigrants get out, xenophobia and racism will be encouraged. Nonetheless, a government that operates on the assumption that it knows better than the people who elected them, and that facts that might undermine policy must be suppressed, in the end does itself no favor. Truth can be a check on wrongheaded policies; if you are aware that your policies cannot withstand public scrutiny, it is best to change those policies early—in this case before the public in frustration turns to parties that have little use for democracy.

A God Who Hates – Wafa Sultan (St. Martin’s Press – 2009)
https://www. (I put spaces after www to prevent image popup) (a coverup)

Would finding out Grandma was Jewish make you a Nazi? (The case of John Amery)

“The atmosphere was understandably tense in the magnificent drawing-room. The year was 1942, and the horrified Amery family gathered round their wireless at No. 112 Eaton Square, Belgravia.
They were waiting in disbelief to hear their beloved son, John, make a Nazi propaganda broadcast from behind enemy lines.
As the radio crackled to life declaring: “Germany calling, Germany calling!” the presenter announced that John, the son of a British government minister, was about to speak to his countrymen from Berlin.

We can only imagine the shame felt by Leo and Bryddie Amery as they heard their Harrow-educated first-born address “Mr Brown, Mr Jones, you Mrs Smith” with a fascist diatribe, just as the infamous traitor Lord Haw-Haw had done before him.

This is quoted from Ronald Harwood, who wrote a play about it. It’s interesting how his explanation deviates from my instinctive explanation.

Leopold Amery was in Winston Churchill’s Cabinet, he was also very pro-Zionist, but he had hidden from society the fact that his mother was Jewish.
His son, John, was bad from the very beginning, which is what sets off my own instinctive explanation.

Here Harwood lists the path John took:

From an early age, young John was a worry to his parents, however. When he was two, one nanny told them he was “a very hard child”, who suffered terrible tantrums.
At the age of five, his teacher described him as “an extremely abnormal boy, with a fixed attitude of an abnormal type and a tendency to live inside himself”.
He appalled his nannies by drawing obscene images of naked women and leaving them around the house. When John was ten, his father – by this time a Conservative MP – became First Lord of the Admiralty, and the family moved into Admiralty House on Whitehall.
John was sent to Harrow public school where his rebellious nature marked him out. He took to climbing out of his house at night to visit London nightclubs, losing his virginity at 14.
The 1926 Punishment Book at Harrow records that he was sanctioned for “shop stealing and moral breakdown”.
His distraught parents took him in the family Daimler to a psychologist, Dr Maurice Wright, who concluded that John had “no moral sense of right and wrong”.
He was eventually sent to a school for English boys in Switzerland but returned having contracted syphilis, which was to plague him for years. He told his tutor that he had caught it by prostituting himself to men.

John Amery and his prostitute wife Una
John Amery and his prostitute wife Una

[When he reached marriage age], he announced that he was to marry Una Eveline Wing, an actress, and hoped that he would “give his creditors confidence at having married a rich woman”.
In fact, she was known to police as a common prostitute. Being under 21, Amery was unable to marry without parental consent.
Instead, he and Una fled to Europe, hotly pursued by the Press, who were revelling in this society scandal.
The pair settled in Paris, financing an extravagant lifestyle by pawning possessions or cadging money from family friends.
Neville Chamberlain wrote to his sister: “If you had ever set eyes on that little gutter-snipe, you would feel no surprise at anything he might do.”
Amery and Una eventually married in Greece. Six weeks later, his parents received yet more bad news. A warrant had been issued for John’s arrest in Athens over the fraudulent purchase of diamonds using a dud cheque.
…Una reported that he was still earning money as a male prostitute and also liked to indulge in masochistic sex with female prostitutes.

Then his life took a strange direction indeed:

In 1936 he was declared bankrupt, owing nearly £6,000 (£294,000 at today’s prices), and might have settled into life as a petty scoundrel were it not for his increasing fascination with the Nazi cause. He believed that Communism was a plague carried by Jews.
Amery left his wife in London and traveled to Spain, where he fought for the fascists in the Spanish Civil War, gun-running for Franco and in active combat. He told his father that he had seen Communist torture chambers in Barcelona which fuelled his increasing hatred of them.
At some point around this time, John – who was by this time dealing in the black market across Europe – came under the spell of French fascist Jacques Doriot and his newly-formed Parti Populaire Francais.
When war was declared, John was in Spain. He returned to Paris where he had a new prostitute girlfriend, Jeanine Barde, and announced his support for the German invasion of Russia on the basis that Europe was under threat from Communism and Judaism.
…after writing a letter critical of early British bombing raids to a French newspaper, Amery came to the attention of the German High Command. Fatefully, he was invited to Germany by Hitler.
Travelling with his girlfriend, under the names Mr and Mrs Brown, Amery was greeted in Berlin as “a guest of the Reich”.
As the son of a serving British Cabinet minister, he was feted as the Fuhrer’s glittering prize, and arrangements were put in place for him to broadcast to Britain. He was installed in a hotel in some splendour, alongside his pet dog, Sammy…
On November 19, 1942, he made his first broadcast, declaring: “Listeners will wonder what an Englishman is doing on the German radio tonight. I come forward without any bias, but just simply as an Englishman-to say to you: a crime is being committed against civilisation!
“You are being lied to, your patriotism, your love for our England is being exploited by people who for the most part hardly have any right to be English. Between you and peace lies only the Jew and his puppets.”
…Over the following weeks, John made a further nine propaganda speeches. The last was recorded on New Year’s Eve 1942, at which point the Germans sent him back to Paris because they felt he had fulfilled his usefulness.
In Paris – and now with a second wife, yet another prostitute, Michelle Thomas – he began to work on plans for a British legion formed by British prisoners of war who would fight for the Germans against Russia. ….

My instinctive explanation for his trajectory (very different from Harwood’s) is that there was something missing in his brain – something that if we knew what it was, would explain to us not just some, but most of this behavior. Of course all sorts of people became Nazi sympathizers (including Diana Mitford in the U.K., and to some extent Henry Ford in the U.S), but maybe in addition – having certain parts of a normal conscience missing might lead you in that direction. So that would be the direction I would go. But not Harwood.

Here is what he says:

Now, however, I believe I have uncovered a secret that casts a whole new light on his treachery and the disgrace he brought upon his Establishment family.
My play, An English Tragedy, is based on Amery’s extraordinary story of adventure, wartime derring-do and betrayal, and his struggle with his own identity….one startling fact revealed in recently released papers which I believe helps explain Amery’s extraordinary life: the Amery family was Jewish.
Leo’s mother was born in the Jewish quarter of Budapest and came from an intellectual Jewish-Hungarian family. But Leo chose to hide his background, probably because he feared it could jeopardise his ascent through the ranks of the Conservative Party.
Today we tend to forget how savage anti-Semitism was throughout Europe – even in Britain – during the 1930s, and it appears that John Amery, like many at the time, became caught in its grip. He had been raised believing himself to be an upper-class Englishman, complete with private education and a father who was a Cabinet minister.
To discover that he was of Jewish descent struck at the very heart of his personal identity.
Was his adoption of the Nazi cause the ultimate in self-denial; the proof that – at least to himself – he could not possibly be Jewish?
In his radio broadcasts he claimed the German army was preventing “world domination by Jewry”.
Or did the discovery turn his feelings for his father into a passionate loathing for the man who had hidden the truth from him and a desire to get revenge by espousing an openly anti-semitic cause?

So this is quite interesting. Is Harwood correct? And am I (the blogger) so biologically oriented that I miss the human side of John Amery?  My problem with Harwood’s explanation is that some people who find out they have Jewish ancestry, even if they are very anti-semitic, become philo-semitic – I’m thinking of Csanad Szegedi who was one of the founders of the Jobbik party in Hungary.  It’s interesting that in his case too, anti-communism led him to his original radicalism.
Disgusting as John’s life was, he believed in something bigger than himself. Of course his father, mother, and brother believed in something bigger than themselves, that is the cause of the democracies. (In fact his father stood by Winston Churchill in a period when only a few people did.) As for John – did he really believe that National-Socialism was simply an anti-Communist movement, and that all Jews were Communists?  Or maybe there is something about totalitarian absolute ideologies that attract defective people?


Lessons of a life badly lived (part 2)

Suppose there is a compromising movie of you, taken without your knowledge, that is so revealing that people actually go to see it? And suppose you had the opportunity to write a blog post about it?

What would you write in the post? Would you make excuses such as “I was crazy”, or “everybody does it”, or “please feel sorry for me?”.
I’ll try a different approach.

Warning – I quote people below who use four-letter words – but in interest of accuracy I leave the expletives in.

After the movie made its’ appearance I remember two students talking about it (my presence tended to start conversations with the word ‘disgusting‘ prominently featured).
The first student was trying to make my case, and the second said dismissively “fuck him!”. The first student said “Yes, sure — but the ISSUES!”

And the issues are interesting.

Lets get to some other quotes first.
One female student to another at Yale (somewhat sarcastically): “It was terrible what they did to him – terrible, horrible – but he was so DISGUSTING!”
One male student tried to persuade another student to go see the movie. Student number two turned red, and said “I don’t want to SEE his shit!”

There was also a hit and run phenomenon. People would say things if they had a quick getaway.

So for example, I would be cycling around a large and lonely lake, and a van would overtake me, and the driver would lean out and shout “You’re so GAY!!!” and disappear. There were quite a few cases like that. Obviously these people were not interested in a debate, but they felt like expressing themselves.

And why would I want to debate? If the movie showed disgusting behavior, then what was there to argue about anyway? And shouldn’t I have the decency to retire to some place where my silhouette would not block the view of the poor folks who had to suffer through the movie? Which reminds me of another quote. I was staying at an Alaska youth hostel, and a visitor from the East Coast saw me and told a friend “I don’t want to be in the same STATE as him!”

This is what I think was in the movie (I have never been given a copy).
First some background: I had gone to a graduate school in Neuro-pharmacology because I wanted to help cure mental illness. After the experience of both my twin and I with that unpleasant condition, I thought it was a good cause to strive for. There were several young women who were in my small class or worked with me in the lab, and three were interested in romance. One of them (in my subjective view) was prettier than the others. Note that I was going by looks, not by personality, and I was making lots of assumptions about the person, which even in the children’s movie Frozen, the princess advises her sister not to do…

“Frozen’s” two sisters

The romantic interest of this woman set my already precarious brain into the stratosphere. And that led to the movie. So what was in this movie?

I would admire myself in front of my mirror in my dorm room, and I would make silly little speeches that no normal guy would be caught dead making. Now if you are in a forgiving mood, you might say – well, we all understand guys who fall for a pretty girl, even if beauty is not everything, and many of us have made monkeys of ourselves in the romance department, and finally, some of us guys have flexed some muscles in front of a mirror. However, my behavior went to nauseating extremes, and even when it was clear the woman had realized that I was Mr. Wrong, I would still dance around in front of my mirror, in love with my own appearance. It was ludicrous. It was disgusting.

But if you think of it as an experiment – dumping a movie like this into the population and seeing what happened, it was also interesting.

Now I assume the movie was put together and edited by one or more people.  But I have no idea how honest the people who put the footage together were. Maybe they spiced it up a little. Maybe they had an agenda? Who knows?

One very large reaction to the movie was that my behavior was explained by my being Jewish. I understand the logic here, and will let other people debate it, whether they are Jewish or not.

The movie kept simmering. I heard that audiences would throw rice at the screen.  It was seen in other countries, and I would meet foreigners who have conversations like this:
He (to his girlfriend) “What do you think of him?”
She: (making an upward punching fist at me) “oink oink!”
Or I might get a British lad explaining to his girl that (“he (i.e. some friend of his) saw it (i.e. the movie), and it really WAS disgusting”). Then the lad would look at me as if I were a desperate beggar pawing at him.

A young woman who had obviously finished her tennis lesson noticed me and told her pals “After seeing him, now I understand the holocaust!”
All this was so excessive that it was hilarious.
Now remember that I talked about this as an experiment. The twist on the experiment is that I still had this reputation of being handsome, which had morphed into a reputation that I must impress the fair sex. So in the same day, I could run into amused contempt, hostile contempt, affection, and even admiration.

And then, organized crime stepped in. That is a whole other story, but I’ll mention here that I was raped twice, once by a man, once by a woman. Both times I was drugged – the first time I developed all sorts of warts on my rear end – which I’m told are HPV – a virus that is passed by person to person contact, the second time I had taken my daily evening pill, and as it hit, I realized this wasn’t my daily evening pill. It was a mixture – something like Viagra, something else that heated my loins, a few other reproductive chemicals thrown in the batch, and a knock-out drug. When I woke up, there was ample evidence that I had had a female visitor, and I had to take a bath.

This organized crime group proceeded to do a whole lot more, and this raised quite a few more ironies in my mind.
The irony was this.
No matter how spontaneously pornographic or erotic or just plain sickening and silly my dancing around in front of the mirror was, it did not involve anyone else.
And yet, a significant number of people scattered over vast distances thought it was right, just and appropriate to, as that student I mentioned above worded it “see his shit!”. Some of those nice people then became missionaries of this movie, showing it to teenagers, men, women, whites, blacks, gays, non-gays, foreigners, locals, etc. The movie, as one lady told another “would go on for another hundred years.” And that lady actually liked me.

The other point is that most of my life has been quite decent. Apart from the almost three years I mentioned in part 1, and this eruption at grad school, the rest of it was clean enough.

Of course I’m going to whine about double standards, so here goes: In my almost 60 years, we have had we had the development of the “hook-up culture” in our universities – in other words, two oversexed types who are not married to each other and never will be married to each other, having “intimacy”.  Also in my lifetime, we have elected more than one president who has had sex in the White House with women who were not his wife. In addition, we have about 50,000 slaves right now in this country, some of them sex slaves.  I mentioned Yale – the police chief of New Haven (where it is located) was found to have been cavorting with a prostitute.  Also in New Haven, local workers of a big company were visiting prostitutes on their lunch hour, and one time I visited a local park and a child ran toward us who had just seen a arm extending out of mud under the stream in the park. The arm was of a murdered woman.

Its just a barrel of laughs.

Now as far as excuses go, I did not really realize as I was dancing in front of the mirror that I was on a slippery slope. If you read part-one (a separate post in this blog), you will realize that a person like me has no self-respect anyway. I did not see myself as a normal individual. I saw myself as a kind of person outside of the normal world, with no normal requirements. I just felt like dancing, and at the time I did not even think it was erotic – I thought it was just a game. Maybe it was erotic and I didn’t realize it.

There was one odd thing about all that dancing. I did not do it at home, as far as I can remember. It was something that just happened during the week in my dorm room. Also interesting is that I was in a neuro-pharmacology program – a program that teaches about drugs that affect the nervous system. Also interesting is that fourteen years later, I was attacked with drugs by organized crime. These drugs definitely affected the brain. So am I hinting that maybe something foul was already going on at grad-school? I am hinting it, but I don’t really believe it at this point.

The final irony is that now, as a result of this sad saga, I know something about an organized crime outfit that uses drugs on people – sex-urge-enhancing drugs being just one weapon in their arsenal. So here I am trying to defend EVERYONE’s decency in this country. If God exists, he must be roaring with laughter.

So what advice would I give based on all this? I remember two women discussing (I paraphrase) how they had thought I was a star – and how the star collapsed. And one said that the problem was that they had made so many assumptions. And in a way, who could blame them? Who would assume, looking at me, that all this past, which is so unusual as probably to be unique, was hanging around like a skeleton in my closet? And I myself had made all sorts of assumptions about the pretty woman who touched off my performance – and later events proved – not that she was a bad person, but that she did something colossally out of any expectation of mine – something I disapproved of. So the advice is the same as Elsa’s in Frozen – (I paraphrase) “get to know a person before deciding to spend the rest of your life hitched to them”, and this carries over to choosing a president, joining a cause, and trusting anyone.