In a culture that allows powerful men to have multiple wives, the leaders have to reduce the number of male competitors so the math works. The best way to do that is to convince young men to go kill themselves in the name of some greater good. As an added incentive to die, the young men are promised a worthy cause, respect, sex slaves, and 72 virgins in heaven.
The reality is that most of the DAESH fighters are working hard to spread the genetic material of the more successful men leading them. They just don’t know it.
If you want to change someone’s mind, you have to go deep. You have to bypass rational thought entirely. You need to find the ego.
Here are some arguments that would be a total waste of time.
1. We think you misinterpreted your religious books.
2. Evil is bad. You really should do less of it.
3. We can help you get a job if you stop killing us.
4. We will kill you if you keep trying to kill us first.
I could go on. The point is that reason isn’t in play. So let’s ignore it.
When you are a young man – and here I speak from experience – you are naturally distrustful of authority. And your sex drive is – by far – your dominant impulse. Combining those two elements, one effective form of persuasion might go like this:
Linguistic Kill Shot: DAESH fighters are genetic dead-enders fighting to spread the genes of their leaders. And they are succeeding.
Why it should work:
– It plays on the natural distrust young people have for the old(er).
– Sex and reproduction are such strong impulses that they overwhelm any other sense of reason. You can’t fight promises of sex unless you offer other promises of sex. There is no substitute in the world of persuasion.
– The statement is unambiguously true. Dead fighters do not spread their genes. Leaders with multiple wives do. There is nothing to argue.
Speaking of Trump, he’s the only one in the game who could pull this off. I know you think I’ve gone too far in my Trump-loving, but this topic is still in the wheelhouse of persuasion, not politics. (I don’t agree with a number of Trump’s policies.)
I remind you that I am not smart enough to know which candidate would be the best president. All the candidates look qualified to me. But objectively speaking, if you want to fix a leak, hire a plumber. And if your biggest problems can only be solved by changing people’s minds, you want to hire a persuader. That much is certain. But we don’t know what the future holds or what skill set would matter most several years from now.
Update: I should have mentioned that the best way to approach this is to test different linguistic kill shots on captive jihadists. Hook a brain scanner to their noggins and see which ideas light up the right areas of the brain.
We only need to reprogram a few captives to know whether a particular method works. Once the best linguistic kill shot is identified from the candidates, you release it to the wild like an idea virus.
Chances this would work: 100%
It won’t reprogram most jihadist, but if you influence 20%, that’s enough to break their momentum and permanently infect them with the idea virus.
To learn more about the advantage of systems versus goals in a moist robot world, see my book that is critically acclaimed by anonymous strangers on Amazon.com. Anonymous strangers are very wise.