Physicist and Artificial Intelligence authority Eric Saund suggests “weaponized righteous indignation” drives the extremism we witness worldwide. More specifically, he offers the hypothesis that Trump has weaponized righteous indignation to a plane that rivals ISIS in its ferocity and detachment from reality. Our minds are programmed to respond with outrage, anger, suspension of reason, and forceful action.
Every six year old is aware of right and wrong. It is written in the genes. It is grounded in biology. Not true for a group. Every group creates its own culture and laws. The authority lies with itself.
In New Guinea, Jared Diamond observed some cultures flaunted the sexual mores of 21st century Hollywood, others those of 18th century puritanism. Such two cultures may have existed in adjoining valleys for 50,000 years. Each spoke a language from a different linguistic family. Obviously, even a normal quotient of righteous indignation permitted no contact – “just over that hill!” Like most hunter-gatherer tribes, however, each weaponizied its indignation for other tribes inexhaustibly, sustaining a staggering casualty rate from endless wars.
Every culture believes in the righteousness of its customs and beliefs. Like Americans, each holds its truths to be self-evident, always linked to a Creator. Long ago, Cicero observed that no nation is without religion. Saund has come up with a wonderfully heuristic concept:
THE INDIGNATION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS VULNERABLE TO WEAPONIZATION.
I will cite chapter and verse.
This data comes from the Bible, The Book of Joshua. Its similarity to ISIS is breathtaking.
“And suddenly the walls of Jericho crumbled and the people of Israel poured into the city. They destroyed everything in it – men and women,
young and old; oxen, sheep, donkeys – everything.”
“All the loot and cattle of the ravaged cities were taken by the Israelis for thmselves, but they killed all the people. Joshua did as he had been told: he carefully obeyed all the Lord’s instruction to Moses.”
Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Point your spear toward Ai, for I will give you the city.’ … When the army of Israel had finished slaughtering all the men outside the city, they went back and finished off everyone left inside. So the entire population of Ai, twelve thousand in all, was wiped out that day.”
Twelve thousand in all? Peanuts! How ’bout 12 million? That’s what Europe, weaponizing its righteousness, managed to kill in World War I. The new 20th century was ripe with promise. Thomas Edison took out 1300 patents. Albert Einstein formulated the Special Theory of Relativity. Marie Curie won two Nobel Prizes for her work in radioactivity, with its promise of medical use. Cities were bustling. Commerce was establishing trade routes around the globe. Yet, from the land of Beethoven and Goethe and Shakespeare and…well, you’ve heard that old refrain enough.
Obviously, upping the ante to twelve million slaughtered was no walk in the park. The great nations of civilization had to improve on their weaponry. No problem there – Machine guns. Tanks. Mustard gas. The first plane had flown at Kitty Hawk in 1903 for 212 feet. A mere 15 years later there were aerial dogfights all over Europe. By the time World War II ended, the slaughtered numbered 100 million.
And now, with Trump and Brexit and Syria and nationalistic fever sweeping the planet, President Obama warned yesterday at his press conference with Premier Angela Merkel of Germany,
(to be continued)