Evolution of Terrorism

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Evolution of Terrorism

Postby portia » Sat Jan 17, 2015 9:52 am

There has been a good deal of talk about the evolution of terrorism and how it has become more decentralized. Part of the credit for this is the electronic surveilence--be careful what you wish for-- but it means that the terrorists are becoming more like street criminals.

The difference between a group of people who get together to rob a bank or a store is not great, until you get to the last act. One wants money; the other wants something terrorizing.
The good aspect of that is that they both can be fought to a degree in similar ways. The bad aspect is that if you miss a clue on what the terrorists will do, the result is much worse than a robbed bank or store.

I think it is time I mentioned that a strong weapon for the terrorists is propaganda. They cannot do 1/2 of what they claim is "imminent." The trick is figuring out which half.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Jnyusa » Sat Jan 17, 2015 1:39 pm

Well, I think terrorism has always been decentralized. If you mean more splintered than it was thirty odd years ago - more random groups breaking off and doing their own thing - that might be the case, though I'm not really sure. It could seem to be that way because our brains want to connect random acts of violence to some cause that is already known. It's so hard to explain otherwise.

Like, those boys who bombed the Boston marathon ... the temptation is strong to attach them to some larger Moslem cause, perhaps even creating a Moslem cause to attach them to so that they will be less inexplicable. But I haven't seen any evidence that they stood even at the periphery of any organized thought about the world. They satisfied some instinct for violence within themselves that even their parents don't understand.

As far as fighting terrorism is concerned, I remember vison repeating her view that it should treated as a criminal act and not a military act, which seems to be what you are saying too. I do agree with that. A SWAT team or a SEAL team does seem to me to be more effective than these gross military adventures we keep launching.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Storyteller » Tue Jan 27, 2015 3:36 pm

Jnyusa wrote:Like, those boys who bombed the Boston marathon ... the temptation is strong to attach them to some larger Moslem cause, perhaps even creating a Moslem cause to attach them to so that they will be less inexplicable. But I haven't seen any evidence that they stood even at the periphery of any organized thought about the world. They satisfied some instinct for violence within themselves that even their parents don't understand.

They are not "inexplicable". They stood at the periphery of an organized thought about the world. For every terrorist setting off a bomb, there are hundreds aspiring to do it, tens of thousands wishing they had the guts to do it and be heroes, hundreds of thousands vocally supporting the murder and millions agreeing broadly with the goals for which the terrorists strive. It was true for the leftist murderers of the 19th and 20th century and it is true for the Muslim bombers today.

These are not the true lone wolves, living in the woods dreaming to satisfy a need for violence that even their parents don't understand, This is a revolutionary movement. Ideologues laying down the rules for the world-to-be and designating the enemy who stands in the way, propaganda apparatus to amplify the message, armed and trained gunmen undermining the stability of targeted societies through high-level violence where they can - and young radicals with pliable minds imbibing the poison, wishing to add their names to the list of the revolution's heroes. Not everyone who murders for the cause is carrying out a direct order, but it does not mean that they are committing incomprehensible random violence.

This is not crime fighting, the dynamics are completely different, and the streets that need policing are not just the ones that you control. SWAT teams and SEAL teams only go so far.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Jnyusa » Wed Jan 28, 2015 9:31 pm

Maybe.

The completeness and impermeability of your own world view is also interesting.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Storyteller » Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:25 am

Jnyusa wrote:Maybe.

The completeness and impermeability of your own world view is also interesting.

Don"t call me wrong. Prove me wrong.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Jnyusa » Fri Jan 30, 2015 1:07 pm

I didn't call you wrong. I said your world view was interesting.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Storyteller » Sat Jan 31, 2015 7:51 am

Jnyusa wrote:I didn't call you wrong. I said your world view was interesting.

Because of its "completeness and impermeability", which suggests that I am filtering out... something. You forgot to mention what it was though.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Jnyusa » Sat Jan 31, 2015 12:28 pm

Storyteller wrote: ... which suggests that I am filtering out ... something. You forgot to mention what it was though.


Well, sure ... we all do that, but there's hardly point in expressing one's opinion unless it truly represents what you think.

Your post interested me for a different reason, offering a feature of world views in general, which is that they tend to present coherent stories whose only real virtue is their coherence. Rational appraisal, self-doubt, qualification of statements to allow for bias and unknown quantities, etc. do not get much play in world view narratives. If we deconstruct your narrative into its constituent parts, it is easier to see how unlikely it is to be a good representation of reality in its entirety.

Deconstructed Statements About the Character of Terrorists
1. They are not "inexplicable".
2. They stood at the periphery of an organized thought about the world.
3. For every terrorist setting off a bomb, there are hundreds aspiring to do it,
4. tens of thousands wishing they had the guts to do it and be heroes,
5. hundreds of thousands vocally supporting the murder
6. and millions agreeing broadly with the goals for which the terrorists strive.
7. It was true for the leftist murderers of the 19th and 20th century
8. and it is true for the Muslim bombers today.
9. This is a revolutionary movement.
10. Ideologues
11. laying down the rules for the world-to-be
12. and designating the enemy who stands in the way,
13. propaganda apparatus to amplify the message,
14. armed and trained gunmen undermining the stability of targeted societies through high-level violence where they can -
15. and young radicals with pliable minds imbibing the poison,
16. wishing to add their names to the list of the revolution's heroes.

Allow me to assign probabilities to the truthiness of these statements, according to my own world view.

1. "not inexplicable:" An explanation probably does exist if we dig deep enough but there is also some chance that we will never find it. I give this statement an 80% probability of being literally true.
2. "periphery of organized thought:" Since there is no evidence of this for the bombers in question, I give this a 20% chance of being right.
3. "hundreds aspire to it:" I mistrust numerical estimates, but from videos of terrorist training camps I think we can accept "hundreds" as being accurate. Probability = 100%
4. "tens of thousands wishing:" Surely any estimate of what goes on in other people's head would be pure guesswork. Probability = 50%
5. "hundreds of thousands vocal:" From videos of post 9/11 I would put this number in the thousands, possibly the tens of thousands, but not the hundreds of thousands. Probability = 20%
6. "millions agree:" Again, estimates of what people think in their own homes, particular when we know that they are also exposed to condemnation, would be pure guesswork. Probability = 50%
7. "true for leftist murderers:" I must presume you refer to the Bolsheviks and other communist revolutions that took place during the past era. I have a very different view of those historical developments. I put the probability that all revolutionaries are terrorists - which is your implication - at 1%. And I only give it 1% to prevent it from being 0% - my true opinion - because setting it equal to 0 would cause your entire argument to collapse probabilistically. And I don't think it is entirely without merit.
8. "true for Moslem bombers:" I take this statement to mean that today's bombers are identical to communist revolutionaries of yesterday. 1%, for the same reason give in #7.
9. "revolutionary movement:" Another unmediated equation to revolutionary movements. 1%, for the same reason given in #7 and #8
10. "ideologues:" Ideologue implies a coherent connection to an articulated theory. I would be surprised if half of all terrorists would fulfill this description. 50%
11. "rules for the world:" The truth of this statement rests upon one's definition of "rules." If you had said instead, "laying down the conditions they want for the world to be," I would give it 100%. But I would be surprised if half of all terrorists had as their goal a world in which every living person followed the rules of a particular brand of Islam. In fact, the minute we say 'particular brand of Islam' we know the same rules cannot be true for all terrorists. Let's say 'Islam' in general and give you 50%.
12. "designating the enemy:" But they do not all designate the same enemy, and the enemy is often poorly articulated. Do they all articular AN animosity? - yes, I would say so. Allowing for cases where the enemy is indecipherable and changeable, I will give this 80%.
13. "propaganda apparatus:" This is demonstrably not true in all cases. You are expanding the ability of certain well-organized groups to capture all terrorist activities, and ignoring the selective influence of the media. Probability = 70%
14. "armed and trained gunmen:" Since this just happened - it is in fact the event we are discussing - probability = 100%
15. "radicals with pliable minds:" Not all radicals have pliable minds (as opposed to analytical minds?) Guesswork=50%
16. "wish to add their names:" Another evaluation of the inside of people's heads. 50%

As you know, the probability of the whole being true is the product of its components. Joint Probability = 0.000000028. Let's round up and say that the likelihood of the entire scenario being correct is 3 in 100 million, according to the probabilities I would assign.

But we haven't reached the end.

Missing Premises:
17. "Not everyone who murders for the cause is carrying out a direct order, but it does not mean that they are committing incomprehensible random violence."
It also does not mean that they are not committing random violence. Let's say that in the absence of a direct order we have to look for other explanations. The scenario presented above would not be my first choice of explanations since I gave it a probability of 0.000000028 of being correct in its entirety.

Contradiction of Previous Argument
18. "These are not the true lone wolves, living in the woods dreaming to satisfy a need for violence that even their parents don't understand"
Ignoring the lovely metaphor of the woods, and presuming that you inserted the word "true" to allow for leeway, some of the thousands of people you described in #4 and #16 would fit this description very well - dreaming of violence (a pathology of its own) and ripened for the opportunity to act upon it. Both statements cannot be true: that they are like this and that they are not like this. I gave you 50% before, so that seems to have been a good Bernoulli guesstimate. 50% now.

Statements about Condition
19. "This is not crime fighting, the dynamics are completely different"
I accept that this is your opinion. You don't contrast the tactics of fighting crime with the tactics of fighting terrorism to explain why you think they are different, so I can't address your opinion as if it were a logical statement, nor prove it wrong, nor prove it right.

20. "and the streets that need policing are not just the ones that you control."
This is self-evidently true since the event we are discussing happened in France, while the rest of us in the thread are in the US or in Israel.

21. "SWAT teams and SEAL teams only go so far."
Also self-evidently true. We did not invade Iraq using a SWAT team. But the SEALS did a good job on Osama bin Laden. So they are potentially the most effective option in some cases.

You score much better on Statements of Condition than you do on Statements of Character or ability to construct a valid syllogism and avoid self-contradiction, using the probabilities that I assigned. Not surprising, given that most people argue in much the same way, including myself.

Please don't answer by insisting that I recalculate all my probabilities. They reflect my world view just as your scenario reflects your world view. Your world view is more interesting to read than is my deconstruction of it because your world view is coherent narrative while my deconstruction is analytical and full of numbers. They appeal to different parts of the brain, apparently, where the second one is not much fun at cocktail parties. (But also slightly less likely to accidentally blow up the planet.)

Have I answered your question?
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Storyteller » Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:52 am

Jnyusa wrote:Please don't answer by insisting that I recalculate all my probabilities.

I would much rather ask you to refrain from evading serious discussion. I would even go as far as to describe your above post as the intellectual equivalent of an ink cloud released by a threatened cephalopod.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Jnyusa » Sun Feb 01, 2015 9:36 am

Storyteller wrote:I would much rather ask you to refrain from evading serious discussion.


I'm reading a wonderful book by Daniel Kahnemann, which is why my mind is turning toward probabilities ... and also to the way that answers such as the one you just gave have the paradoxical (though unconscious) intention of keeping the discussion as simplistic as possible so that it will comfort lazy thinkers - mainly, according to Kahnemann, the one who is giving the answer.

"A machine for jumping to conclusions will act as if it believed in the law of small numbers. More generally, it will produce a representation of reality that makes too much sense."
Kahnemann, Thinking Fast and Slow, 2011

The 'law of small numbers' was coined by Kahnemann and Tversky to refer to the belief that the law of large numbers applies to small groups as well, i.e. that the average characteristic of a small sample within the population is a good estimate of that characteristic within the entire population, even though small groups yield extreme and unrepresentative results.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Minardil » Mon Feb 02, 2015 8:58 am

Storyteller wrote:
Jnyusa wrote:Please don't answer by insisting that I recalculate all my probabilities.

I would much rather ask you to refrain from evading serious discussion. I would even go as far as to describe your above post as the intellectual equivalent of an ink cloud released by a threatened cephalopod.


Dude, I'm not sure how much more "serious" a discussion you could ask for.

But setting aside the vigorous fisking you just endured, perhaps you could provide specific examples of anyone here actively supporting a policy of, as you put it, "giving the terrorists what they want". I'd like to see some actual quotes of folks here advocating these so we can, you know, discuss them. Seriously.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby MerriadocBrandybuck » Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:56 pm

Kahnemann blew my mind, and has radically changed study design and interpretation in medicine in particular. Bayesian probabilities, System 1 and 2.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Jnyusa » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:14 am

Oh, that's interesting, Merry!

I'm a little surprised that medicine would be significantly affected, although the psychology of the researcher designing the tests is always an issue, I guess ... how they frame the causation.

One of the most interesting results for economics emerging from sort of collateral research based on Prospect Theory was that people think of money in categories ... this $ I earned, this $ was a gift, this $ was unexpected, and so on, and they spend it differently depending on what category it belongs to. That directly contradicts economic theory. But generally Behavioral Economics has never captured the attention of a large proportion of the researchers. It pleased me a lot that Kahnemann received the Nobel in Economics for his work.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby MerriadocBrandybuck » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:59 am

Dentistry is so far behind it's ridiculous! Take the CBCT which is exploding throughout offices across the country. Interpretation of them is vastly different than 2-D radiographs. Medicine has a 50 year head start on us.

CogSci is pretty cool too.

Sam Harris poses the question to the audience (from memory): "I want you to think of a city in the world. Any city. This is about the freeest choice you're ever gonna make. If we can't find free will there, then we're not going to find it anywhere."

Then, we think about Kahneman, and System I and System II, and we see the parallels between what he is saying, and Sam Harris is saying.

In answer to Sam Harris, are we free to pick a city that we haven't heard of?

No...so those are out...that [severely] constrains and shapes our choice of cities...with CBCT...it constrains and shapes our choice of hypothesis...the interpretations for our findings... We can't pick interpretations we haven't heard of. However, we are first-graders, and we have a bike, and we've ridden to a couple of neighboring cities and we mistakenly think that those are all the cities...confidently think that...because we know how to interpret regular PA radiography...and bring that list of cities to the CBCT interpretation task, mistaking [false] familiarity and cognitive ease and confidence for accuracy and competence...

Further however, where do the available choices come from?
The available choices of cities? Who came up with that list?
Did you really go through the list of perhaps thousands of cities that you know?

Or did System I just start shoving a few cities into System II...and then...you had the illusion of choice?
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Jnyusa » Sat Feb 14, 2015 10:14 am

If free will were the availability of infinite choices it wouldn't be very efficient.

Merry, I like Kahnemann's reference to these illusions as cognitive 'biases' rather than some fundamental problem with our hard-wiring or as a proof against free will ... but then, if we are talking about the approach of Harris and the Brights, there are a couple areas where I think they have misidentified the phenomena they are trying to describe.

When I was first introduced to Kahnemann and Tversky's theories back in the early 1980s (and they'd been around for quite a while by then) my first reaction was that the cognitive bias might be mathematically wrong but it is certainly more adaptive than the probability assessment. It was really interesting for me that this is the position Kahnemann himself takes now. Sounds like you read the book recently, or are reading it right now. I just finished the chapter on the collaboration with Gary Klein and his Primed Decision theory, which I found tremendously entertaining. Did you have thoughts about that defense of intuition?

Regarding your observation about dentistry versus medicine, it's possible that one reason dentistry lags behind medicine in the adoption of newer technologies is that the institutes of the NIH put so much financial and moral support into basic research for medicine, and much less, I suspect, for dentistry.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby portia » Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:07 am

Some of the discussions of the Paris bombers and the Copenhagen shooters are pointing out that they have alternated between "street crime" and "terrorism."
I suspect that some of the "True Believers" would consider street crime below them, but not these people.
If we can catch them and punish them, the street criminals might stay away from terrorism.

Although, frankly, we will never be entirely rid of either.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Storyteller » Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:36 am

portia wrote:Some of the discussions of the Paris bombers and the Copenhagen shooters are pointing out that they have alternated between "street crime" and "terrorism."

Street crime was never beneath the "True Believers". There was always a symbiotic relationship between the two.

Historically, terrorists from 19th century "People's Will" in Russia to ISIS today financed themselves through crime. Stalin, in his early revolutionary years, was an experienced bank robber, and the German RAF began their career the same way.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Jnyusa » Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:43 pm

That's true for guerrilla movements as well ... i.e. even movements subsequently legitimized by their success.

It has to do, I think, with the relative cost of the kind of campaign you've chosen to launch, and the fact that the existing government has the power of taxation to finance its defense ... which might partly explain why governments in power prefer to label as 'terrorist' any group that is opposing them whereas onlookers might be more discriminating with their labels.

If a movement is committed only to peaceful demonstration, rallies in the park, letter-writing, etc., enough money can usually be raised by passing the hat. But if the movement decides that forcibly overthrowing a government is the only option for ending whatever tyranny they oppose (and sometimes this is a correct analysis and a legitimate decision) then they are going to incur much larger expenses that cannot be raised by passing the hat, besides the fact that they will inevitably be declared illegal and be unable to raise money publicly at all. Now the government has a choice of how to counter this kind of movement: first, declare them illegal, traitorous, which every government will do. Then incur the expense of fighting them, which every government can do because government has to power to tax. There is a final choice that exists in the modern world whether to use the police forces or the military. If members of the movement are viewed by the general public as mere criminals, it will be harder to justify use of the military and its relatively greater expense; whereas if the public accepts the terrorist label, it is easier to justify the cost of a military option.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Storyteller » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:47 am

Minardil wrote:Dude, I'm not sure how much more "serious" a discussion you could ask for.

But setting aside the vigorous fisking you just endured, perhaps you could provide specific examples of anyone here actively supporting a policy of, as you put it, "giving the terrorists what they want". I'd like to see some actual quotes of folks here advocating these so we can, you know, discuss them. Seriously.

Vigorous fisking? My, how the standards have fallen around here.

Let me wade into Jnyusa's cloud of ink after all.

Jnyusa wrote:1. "not inexplicable:" An explanation probably does exist if we dig deep enough but there is also some chance that we will never find it. I give this statement an 80% probability of being literally true.

The explanation was provided by the perpetrators themselves, and it is quite sufficient. I suppose if one dismisses it on no particular basis and seeks an alternative explanation that satisfies artificial demands of someone not interested in explaining, we might indeed never find it.

2. "periphery of organized thought:" Since there is no evidence of this for the bombers in question, I give this a 20% chance of being right.

Again, the terrorists themselves (not sure why you keep calling them bombers when in the incidents discussed they were mainly shooters) declared allegiance to a specific ideology, and there is no reason to not take their word on it.

4. "tens of thousands wishing:" Surely any estimate of what goes on in other people's head would be pure guesswork. Probability = 50%

Unless there are polls, of which there are plenty.

5. "hundreds of thousands vocal:" From videos of post 9/11 I would put this number in the thousands, possibly the tens of thousands, but not the hundreds of thousands. Probability = 20%

The choice of "post 9/11 videos" as the sole source of estimating the vocal support for terrorism among Muslims suggests that if it's not on camera, it doesn't exist. Lousy logic to say the least.

Polls taken after the 7/11 bombings in Britain showed that 6% of Britain's Muslim population fully supported them. Given the size of the Muslim population of Britain at the time (around 2.5 million), that's some 150 000 people in Britain alone willing to declare support for terrorism.

6. "millions agree:" Again, estimates of what people think in their own homes, particular when we know that they are also exposed to condemnation, would be pure guesswork. Probability = 50%

Unless, of course, opinion polls and other statistics are widely available and the person evaluating the statement possesses at least elementary Googling skills. Otherwise, it'd be pure guesswork of course.

(A 2010 Pew poll showed support among Muslims for attacks against civilians "in order to defend Islam" ranging from the low of 7% for German Muslims to 46% among Nigerian Muslims. The figure for Indonesia was 10% - that's 24 million people).

7. "true for leftist murderers:" I must presume you refer to the Bolsheviks and other communist revolutions that took place during the past era. I have a very different view of those historical developments. I put the probability that all revolutionaries are terrorists - which is your implication - at 1%. And I only give it 1% to prevent it from being 0% - my true opinion - because setting it equal to 0 would cause your entire argument to collapse probabilistically. And I don't think it is entirely without merit.

Why must you presume such things, when there are so many other examples of leftist terrorists throughout the 19th and 20th century? And where do I imply that all revolutionaries are terrorists? More interestingly, did you set out to evaluate the factuality of my claims or how well they fit your view?

8. "true for Moslem bombers:" I take this statement to mean that today's bombers are identical to communist revolutionaries of yesterday. 1%, for the same reason give in #7.

Dismissed for the same reason given in #7.

9. "revolutionary movement:" Another unmediated equation to revolutionary movements. 1%, for the same reason given in #7 and #8

Likewise dismissed for the same reason given in #7 and #8.

10. "ideologues:" Ideologue implies a coherent connection to an articulated theory. I would be surprised if half of all terrorists would fulfill this description. 50%

You get a C- for reading comprehension, then.

I was, of course, describing the structure of your typical revolutionary movement, in which ideologues are the top layer. Suggesting that half of all terrorists should fit that description for it to be valid is absurd. Numerically, cannon fodder always dominates, that's a given.

11. "rules for the world:" The truth of this statement rests upon one's definition of "rules." If you had said instead, "laying down the conditions they want for the world to be," I would give it 100%. But I would be surprised if half of all terrorists had as their goal a world in which every living person followed the rules of a particular brand of Islam. In fact, the minute we say 'particular brand of Islam' we know the same rules cannot be true for all terrorists. Let's say 'Islam' in general and give you 50%.

You'd be surprised, but public statements by both terrorist organization leaders AND by the cannon fodder's social media pronouncements often and very explicitly say exactly that - they want their brand of Islam to dominate the world. Most recently, ISIS made claims to that end with their declared ambition to eventually conquer "Rome" - Islamic code for the Christian lands - and releasing a rather elaborate instruction booklet explaining how they plan to accomplish it. That terrorist groups from different brands want to conquer the world for their particular brand of Islam doesn't render my claim invalid. They disagree on the particulars, not on the grand goal.

12. "designating the enemy:" But they do not all designate the same enemy, and the enemy is often poorly articulated. Do they all articular AN animosity? - yes, I would say so. Allowing for cases where the enemy is indecipherable and changeable, I will give this 80%.

The choice of enemies varies somewhat, but not too much. The Sunni juhadists designate the Shi'ite ones as enemies and vice versa, but outside of internal divisions within Islam itself, their lists of enemies overlap pretty neatly.

13. "propaganda apparatus:" This is demonstrably not true in all cases. You are expanding the ability of certain well-organized groups to capture all terrorist activities, and ignoring the selective influence of the media. Probability = 70%

So name me a revolutionary movement without a propaganda apparatus.

As for selective influence of the media, I don't see how it invalidates my point in any way. A good chunk of the media effectively furthers terrorist propaganda and attempts to whitewash them; back in 2006 I conclusively demonstrated that whitewashing in The Media Thread back in 2006 (the near-universal insistence of the major media outlets that the so-called "Prisoners' document" of Hamas included recognition of Israel, which the Hamas furuously insisted it wouldn't include, and it did not). It does not in any way mean that revolutionary movements and terrorist groups do not possess a propaganda apparatus of their own.

15. "radicals with pliable minds:" Not all radicals have pliable minds (as opposed to analytical minds?) Guesswork=50%

Since I did not use the word "all" or imply so, your C- in reading comprehension is hereby downgraded to a D-.

17. "Not everyone who murders for the cause is carrying out a direct order, but it does not mean that they are committing incomprehensible random violence."
It also does not mean that they are not committing random violence. Let's say that in the absence of a direct order we have to look for other explanations. The scenario presented above would not be my first choice of explanations since I gave it a probability of 0.000000028 of being correct in its entirety.

An organization issues a call to commit violence against a particular set of targets. An individual with openly declared affinity for the same ideology as the aforementioned organization - moreover, openly declared (on their social media) allegiance to said organization commits violence against targets that fit the profile outlined by said organization. Even if there is no direct order, only someone who is absolutely determined to deny the connection - say, you or Barack Obama's spokesmen - can describe such violence as "random". (#jesuisbunchofrandomfolksinadeli)

18. "These are not the true lone wolves, living in the woods dreaming to satisfy a need for violence that even their parents don't understand"
Ignoring the lovely metaphor of the woods, and presuming that you inserted the word "true" to allow for leeway, some of the thousands of people you described in #4 and #16 would fit this description very well - dreaming of violence (a pathology of its own) and ripened for the opportunity to act upon it. Both statements cannot be true: that they are like this and that they are not like this. I gave you 50% before, so that seems to have been a good Bernoulli guesstimate. 50% now.

For one, violence is not in and of itself a pathology, it's a method of accomplishing a goal. It may not be a socially acceptable method in some societies, but there is no basis for declaring it a pathology without actual psychiatric evaluation of the subjects. If you possess results of such evaluation, please share.

Secondly, you're simply trying to create a convoluted interpretation to obscure the obvious. Someone like the Paris gumen, inspired by clear outside influence and demonstrating coordination of attack with others (there's evidence that both Paris attacks' perpetrators knew each other and had history of cooperating with other terrorists) cannot be described as a "lone wolf" in the sense of acting alone without outside assistance or influence.

Statements about Condition
19. "This is not crime fighting, the dynamics are completely different"
I accept that this is your opinion. You don't contrast the tactics of fighting crime with the tactics of fighting terrorism to explain why you think they are different, so I can't address your opinion as if it were a logical statement, nor prove it wrong, nor prove it right.

My entire post explained the difference, I believe.

20. "and the streets that need policing are not just the ones that you control."
This is self-evidently true since the event we are discussing happened in France, while the rest of us in the thread are in the US or in Israel.

And you gracefully glide past the obvious again. Let me spell out the ever-so-hidden meaning of the above sentence - the streets that need policing are not just the ones of the Western states where terrorism happens. The source of the problem is in hostile territories of the Middle East and North Africa, and genuinely tackling it with police or SWAT action is impossible.

21. "SWAT teams and SEAL teams only go so far."
Also self-evidently true. We did not invade Iraq using a SWAT team. But the SEALS did a good job on Osama bin Laden. So they are potentially the most effective option in some cases.
[/quote]
The SEALS did a good job on Osama bin Laden... long after it could have made any meaningful impact on Al Qaeda in particular or Islamic terrorism in general. Had they taken bin Laden out a couple of months after 9/11, that would at least have some psychological impact as a swift and efficient retaliation. Ten years after the fact - what impact had it made?

More importantly, the kind of SEAL action that was done to kill bin Laden could well constitute a casus belli had it been done in a non-allied country just as an airstrike would have, and perhaps more so since it involved actual foreign invasion. It could not have been done in, say, Iran, or even nominally allied Turkey. So once again, 'police and SEAL team" strategy means you cannot tackle transnational terrorism if the terrorists are smart enough to operate out of "streets you can't control".

Got more ink?
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Minardil » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:44 am

Okay, but what I challenged you to do was provide specific quotes from any of us where we advocate "giving the terrorists exactly what they want", as you have said we do.

Don't see any of those in that cloud of ink you spewed out.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Jnyusa » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:47 pm

Storyteller wrote:Again, the terrorists themselves (not sure why you keep calling them bombers when in the incidents discussed they were mainly shooters)


Storyteller, you routinely misplace the thrust of the conversation in these threads. I responded with my glib probability assessment to your post saying that these terrorist acts can be explained, and "these" terrorist acts in that instance were the BOSTON BOMBERS whom I had cited as representing (most likely) random violence 'that even their parents cannot explain.' (I paraphrase myself).

The thread at large started because of the Paris shootings*, but portia had introduced the idea that these are criminal acts and should be dealt with as such, an idea with which you disagree, as you are entitled to do. From my perspective, the thread evolved into consideration of whether all violent/terrorist acts are the same and should be viewed the same and treated the same, with you arguing that they are and should be treated universally as well-planned events supported by a coherent ideology and coherent propaganda while everyone else seems to view them as not all the same and requiring different strategies. Our opinions differ on this topic - no problem - but please respond to what people are actually saying instead of reconstituting every post to suit yourself.

* ETA: No, wait, this isn't even the thread about the Paris shootings! This is the thread about the evolution of terrorism. There's no reason at all to consider only shooters or even mostly shooters.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Storyteller » Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:17 am

Jnyusa wrote:
Storyteller wrote:Again, the terrorists themselves (not sure why you keep calling them bombers when in the incidents discussed they were mainly shooters)


Storyteller, you routinely misplace the thrust of the conversation in these threads. I responded with my glib probability assessment to your post saying that these terrorist acts can be explained, and "these" terrorist acts in that instance were the BOSTON BOMBERS whom I had cited as representing (most likely) random violence 'that even their parents cannot explain.' (I paraphrase myself).

Pots and kettles, my friend.

But its okay, you get a pass on the bombers / shooters thing, which was not crucial for the validity of your argument or mine. What about the rest?

The thread at large started because of the Paris shootings*, but portia had introduced the idea that these are criminal acts and should be dealt with as such, an idea with which you disagree, as you are entitled to do. From my perspective, the thread evolved into consideration of whether all violent/terrorist acts are the same and should be viewed the same and treated the same, with you arguing that they are and should be treated universally as well-planned events supported by a coherent ideology and coherent propaganda while everyone else seems to view them as not all the same and requiring different strategies. Our opinions differ on this topic - no problem - but please respond to what people are actually saying instead of reconstituting every post to suit yourself.

Let's be clear where our opinions differ though. Are you trying to generalize the discussion to include "all violent/terrorist acts" while I insist that events in which perpetrators share ideological motivation should be seen as a separate problem from events in which the motivations differ? Or are we disagreeing on whether or not the Boston marathon bombers (who described their worldview as "Islam" and cited as their motivation that "America was killing Muslims") and the Charlie Hebdo shooters shared ideological allegiances?
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby portia » Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:17 am

It seems to me that whenever there is an imbalance between the majority power and a minority opinion, the minorities will be likely to justify what they do by the imbalance. So, hitting soft targets, by whatever means is OK, because they don't have the means to stage a stand up fight (of course it usually doesn't occur to them that the reason that they don't have the means to stage a stand up fight is that there are not enough people who agree with them to do so).

The minority opinion does not have to be a coherent ideology. A vague dissatisfaction seems to be enough for some people. "America (or "the West") is killing Muslims" is certainly not a coherent ideology, but seems to be enough. And then of course, there is the generalized dissatisfaction of many teenagers with what ever their elders like, and the desire to do the opposite. They often cannot articulate what they find objectionable, but they are very adamant about it.

The reason I find so little to differentiate between terrorists and street criminals is that they so often have the same motives; the same dissatisfaction and unwillingness to obey any rules. The tendency to go back and forth between street crime and terrorism merely confirms that the two co-exist.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Storyteller » Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:01 am

portia wrote:It seems to me that whenever there is an imbalance between the majority power and a minority opinion, the minorities will be likely to justify what they do by the imbalance. So, hitting soft targets, by whatever means is OK, because they don't have the means to stage a stand up fight (of course it usually doesn't occur to them that the reason that they don't have the means to stage a stand up fight is that there are not enough people who agree with them to do so).

The minority opinion does not have to be a coherent ideology. A vague dissatisfaction seems to be enough for some people. "America (or "the West") is killing Muslims" is certainly not a coherent ideology, but seems to be enough. And then of course, there is the generalized dissatisfaction of many teenagers with what ever their elders like, and the desire to do the opposite. They often cannot articulate what they find objectionable, but they are very adamant about it.

The reason I find so little to differentiate between terrorists and street criminals is that they so often have the same motives; the same dissatisfaction and unwillingness to obey any rules. The tendency to go back and forth between street crime and terrorism merely confirms that the two co-exist.

If you generalize on the level of "dissatisfaction and unwillingness to obey rules", you will never be able to distinguish between human motivations. It's too "inclusive" to be any kind of helpful for analysis; you can squeeze a 10 year old's temper tantrum into the same category as mass murder as it also qualifies as a kind of dissatisfaction and unwillingness to comply with rules. If you want to identify what drives people to violence against civilians, you have to pay close attention to the differences, not just similarities.

Some murders are not like the others, even when the victims are just as dead.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Jnyusa » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:46 pm

Storyteller wrote:... while I insist that events in which perpetrators share ideological motivation should be seen as a separate problem from events in which the motivations differ? ...


I don't disagree at all with this. Nor with this:

Some murders are not like the others, even when the victims are just as dead.


Excuse me for misunderstanding you as I thought you were the one arguing that all these pieces belong in the same bag, just one that is homogeneous in ideology, strategy, and pattern by virtue of its being Moslem.

Or are we disagreeing on whether or not the Boston marathon bombers (who described their worldview as "Islam" and cited as their motivation that "America was killing Muslims") and the Charlie Hebdo shooters shared ideological allegiances?


I believe we do disagree about this, as portia seems to above as well (disagree with you, that is). "America is killing Muslims," is not a coherent ideology in my view, nor enough to group together the Boston Bombers and the Paris shooters. It is, in my view, an extemporaneous rationalization.

Some groups are engaged in concerted, coordinated, ideological terrorism of course and should be countered as such. Hisbollah is not engaging in random acts of violence and then using Islam to explain themselves away. But backlash against ALL Moslems because they share by self-identification with their religion an "allegiance" with Islamic-motivated causes everywhere else is more likely to increase the credibility of terrorism rather than to discredit it. I believe this is what nearly everyone else in the thread has argued, more or less. There are some positions we can take, some reprisals that we can tolerate, some strategies we can adopt that will be counterproductive because we don't discriminate properly; and where terrorism is concerned we don't adopt very effective countermeasures even when a coordinated defense is appropriate.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Billobob » Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:52 pm

Street crime and terrorists are different in three ways:
1) Terrorists often have political motives while street criminals have monetary motives
2)Terrorists are often affiliate themselves with a religion or larger organization street criminals usually do not.
3) Finally Terrorists usually attack targets while street criminals will usually steal from them.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby portia » Sun Nov 15, 2015 9:45 am

Comments related to the Paris attacks.

First, we have to accept that the hidden means of communication are the progeny--at least in part--of Edward Snowden. His publicity is a major motivation of the companies which develop these means of communication. So, if nothing else, we have proof that there is no "unmixed benefit" of anything in this world.

We also have to decide whether we are going to go into the "caliphate" with a scorched earth policy. The Cold War phrase "Bomb them back to the stone Age" comes to mind. There will be others who advocate that. There will also be others who do not. But, there is a problem in that the caliphate is not necessarily tied to a piece of territory. It can be established anywhere. So, a large puddle of glass in Iraq will not be the end of it.

We cannot be the only party involved. The other Arab states, and others states in the region, will have to attend more to their own neighborhood.

As to populations that are already in place in the West, they need to be more realistic. You cannot both shelter people who are radicalized and, also, resent it if the rest of the population views you with suspicion. Not BOTH ways. If they cannot push these radicalized people into the light, they will have to learn to live in the "darkness" with them.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Storyteller » Sun Nov 15, 2015 10:25 pm

portia wrote:Comments related to the Paris attacks.

First, we have to accept that the hidden means of communication are the progeny--at least in part--of Edward Snowden. His publicity is a major motivation of the companies which develop these means of communication. So, if nothing else, we have proof that there is no "unmixed benefit" of anything in this world.

Well, of course there isn't. And it's been part of the Snowden effect to seek to disempower the government without asking who would actually benefit.

We also have to decide whether we are going to go into the "caliphate" with a scorched earth policy. The Cold War phrase "Bomb them back to the stone Age" comes to mind. There will be others who advocate that. There will also be others who do not. But, there is a problem in that the caliphate is not necessarily tied to a piece of territory. It can be established anywhere. So, a large puddle of glass in Iraq will not be the end of it.

Maybe, maybe not. The story of the original Middle Eastern terrorists, the Assassins / Hashshashins / Nizari, comes to mind - they were invincible against those they could infiltrate, but were destroyed with little resistance by invaders from across the continent whose society was too alien to infiltrate.

(Given the way things are developing, we may quite possibly have to wait for Pax Sinica).

We cannot be the only party involved. The other Arab states, and others states in the region, will have to attend more to[u] their own neighborhood

I'm not sure they can, actually. They are currently all embattled and fighting for their own survival.

As to populations that are already in place in the West, they need to be more realistic. You cannot both shelter people who are radicalized and, also, resent it if the rest of the population views you with suspicion. Not BOTH ways. If they cannot push these radicalized people into the light, they will have to learn to live in the "darkness" with them.

There's a catch here, a very deadly one. A modern Western society has no values to offer for which people would be willing to kill and die for - and if you have nothing to die for, you have nothing to live for. If there is an above-personal ideology in Europe right now, it boils down to maintaining status quo at all costs and refusing to react to the ways the world changes. It's not Islamism that's strong, it's the Western societies who are weak. There's a reason that all countries currently on the rise are non-democratic nationalist regimes. There's a reason why the only forces who proved consistently effective against ISIS were the Kurds.

Until there is a native ideology in the West that is vigorous - and therefore attractive - enough to rival the dedication inspired by Islam, you won't win this war no matter what you do. Simple as that.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby portia » Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:20 am

Well, I am astounded that Story thinks there are no values that a Western person would be willing to die for. We have thousands who signed up for the military and other projects who can easily prove him wrong.

But my point is other. Have you see the comparisons between taking a boat full of Jewish refugees and a bunch of Syrians. The rationales are nearly identical, and the statistics are overwhelming. I really am ashamed. Search NY times and Historical interest, or Washington Post with the same.

Time to write my Congress person, again.
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Re: Evolution of Terrorism

Postby Storyteller » Fri Nov 20, 2015 11:09 am

portia wrote:Well, I am astounded that Story thinks there are no values that a Western person would be willing to die for. We have thousands who signed up for the military and other projects who can easily prove him wrong.

Would those be the same people commonly discounted by a typical American Democrat or European... anyone as hawkish, warmongering right wing nationalists representing a regrettable stain on their otherwise progressive society?

And how many people in Europe - as opposed to the USA - sign up for the military for ideological reasons?

But my point is other. Have you see the comparisons between taking a boat full of Jewish refugees and a bunch of Syrians. The rationales are nearly identical, and the statistics are overwhelming. I really am ashamed. Search NY times and Historical interest, or Washington Post with the same.

How are the rationales "nearly identical"? Modern-day refugees, Syrian and otherwise, are not in a situation remotely comparable to that of the 1930-s Jews on any but the broadest, least meaningful level.
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