One interpretation of DAESH is that a bunch of horny young males are pursuing the only options they have in their society to obtain women. DAESH soldiers are encouraged to rape captives. They have an elaborate system for doing just that. Reports from the region say DAESH uses access to rape as a recruitment incentive.
Another interpretation of DAESH is that all the psychos somehow got together, and there are more of them than we thought. Why so many from one region? Somewhere in the comments is a link to articles about inbreeding in those societies, and allegations about how it creates a disproportionate number of young people with depression or physical handicaps. (Needs a source.) One claim is that most suicide bombers were just plain suicidal (outcasts with mental or physical issues) and they found a culturally acceptable way to kill themselves.
Then we have this interpretation in a Rod Dreher article, in which DAESH is seen as a glamorous, world-changing adventure that appeals to the young and purposeless, as all past revolutions have.
And a fourth explanation is that DAESH fighters simply believe their own interpretation of their religion, especially the parts about conquering the rest of the world.
Are all of those interpretations true to some degree? Is one more true than the others?
I can answer that with the Moist Robot filter. Under this way of thinking (which springs from the field of hypnosis) your body experiences your environment and your pitiful little brain tries to explain it. But your brain is not up to the task. It was not designed to understand reality or purpose. It simply evolved in a way that keeps you alive. Nothing more. So what you experience as your sense of reason is actually a series of rationalizations after the fact. Those rationalizations have a “tell” that is obvious only to observers: You appear crazy.
So here’s a unifying hypothesis to explain all the other explanations of ISIS. The Moist Robot filter says that young men with no access to sex will do ANYTHING in their power to fix that situation. Men in prison, for example, become temporarily sexual with each other. Young males without sexual partners will have sex with blow-up dolls, their hands, pillows, fruit, you name it. The only thing young men are incapable of doing is ignoring their sexual impulse. It’s gonna come out.
Pulling it all together, the Moist Robot hypothesis does the best job of explaining all the other hypotheses. By this way of thinking, males become horny and frustrated, with no hope of female contact in their normal lives. So – as all males do in that situation – they become more “flexible” about everything from violence to same sex relations. But our brains do not allow us to believe our bodies are controlling our thoughts. So we create little stories in our heads about why we do what we do. One story is that God says it is okay. Another story is that jihad is a glorious adventure. Another story says the Christians are the real invaders, or Israel is evil. And so on.
The Moist Robot hypothesis says that asking jihadists why they do what they do will always give you the rationalization answer and not the real one, because the people involved come to believe the stories.
To be direct, I’m saying male horniness can cause violent religious belief. It can also cause any other kind of rationalization. All that matters is that the brain concocts a “reason” for the sexual release. To be clear, male horniness can cause ANY kind of rationalization. But in the Middle East, you should not be surprised that religion fills the gaps.
So, is it true that jihadists are young idealists who find value in sacrificing for the cause? Absolutely yes, in a sense. If you ask them, they will tell you exactly that, and mean it. But the underlying cause of those beliefs is repressed male sexual energy. That’s the Moist Robot hypothesis in a nutshell.
By analogy, did you know your body can’t tell the difference between fear and arousal? The book Influence describes a study showing that people in scary situations will believe they are falling in love. The brain simply creates a story to explain the feelings in the body. And the story is wrong.
Did you know that fatigue often feels like hunger to your body? Your body is feeling one thing, but your brain is giving it an entirely false interpretation. You eat instead of sleep.
My point is that humans put rationalizations (misinterpretations) on their physical sensations. In this context, a teen with a hard-on and no socially acceptable outlet will rationalize rape under the mantle of religion. And it won’t even be a hard mental leap. You could take teens from my little suburb, put them in the same situation, and some would almost instantly convert to Islam just for sexual release. But if you ask the teen why he so quickly converted, he would reply in all honesty that the religion itself sounded appealing.
You don’t need to believe anything I said here. I’ll only make one point, and I think it is important:
People don’t know why they do what they do.
By this way of thinking, any explanation offered by a DAESH fighter is a rationalization. The real reasons for their actions are heat, horniness, and no idea how to fix either one without revolution.
As always, the real test of the Moist Robot filter is not how well it fits the data of the past (because any idea can do that) but how well it predicts. My prediction for today is that you will see lots of smart people with lots of smart explanations for why DAESH is so popular. And those explanations will be all over the map.
That’s a tell.
We can also test the Moist Robot hypothesis by observing whether there is a correlation between access to sex and likelihood of being a suicide bomber. Anyone want to take bets?
I see a lot of new traffic coming in other sites on this topic so I should mention that the Moist Robot idea is more developed in my book. The regular readers of this blog have more background on that.