Thursday, April 09, 2009
The #1 problem: Statistics and Dot-connection.
Since I started this blog in 2006, out of the 239 essays I have written here, at least a hundred of them have attempted to analyze the complex reasons why the West remains in a state of irrational denial about the dangers of a global revival of classical Islam.
With any complex phenomenon, however, it is sometimes possible to identify the most basic or crucial factor that explains that phenomenon. I have come to the conclusion that the single most important axiom in the PC MC paradigm—by which intellectual and emotional resistance to anti-Islamic arguments is codified and solidified—is the axiom that assumes that the vast majority of Muslims are nice, decent, harmless people, and that the bad apples among them are statistically negligible and do not warrant special measures on our part beyond treating them as more or less common criminals in order to protect our societies from them.
This axiom depends upon statistics: and, unfortunately, the statistics about Muslims do not conclusively support those who worry about the dangers of Islam. Statistics about Muslims do arguably indicate a widespread and metastasizing pathology in Islamic culture that nourishes the terrorism and militant supremacism that are endangering us more and more—but these statistics only tend to do so persuasively to a rational person who, by some miracle, has been able to free his mind, more or less, from PC MC; they do not do so conclusively enough to pierce through the mainstream irrationality inculcated by PC MC. Therefore, by their inconclusive nature, statistics about Muslims tend to lean in the direction of favoring the PC MC axiom described above.
In light of this, our #1 problem in this ongoing War of Ideas phase of the yet undeclared War against Islam may be summed up succinctly:
We cannot, with sufficiently conclusive proof, connect the dots that would tie the demonstrable dangers of an ostensibly tiny minority of Muslims to the broader populations of Muslims worldwide.
Significant gaps persist in and among the many dots of data out there about the problem of Muslims. Again, while a rational person would tend to conclude that the connection of those dots is cogent and prudent, more is needed to convince the majority of Westerners whose minds continue to think according to the PC MC paradigm, which irrationally resists such dot-connection. And also again, the actual data of the ostensible harmlessness of the vast majority of Muslims tends to favor this inclination inculcated by the PC MC paradigm.
An analogy: random shootings in an office building
Basically, what is going on here—if I may briefly indulge a failure to resist delving into the complexity of this phenomenon in an essay devoted to its simplex exposition—may be illustrated by an analogy:
Imagine one large office building owned by a business, in a city of dozens of large office buildings owned by different businesses. Each office building is staffed by approximately 1,000 workers in various positions, from admininstrators on down to janitors and everything in between. Each office building represents a kind of microcosm of society, insofar as all its employers and employees work and live together for hours every day and have a system of getting along sociably as well as productively.
Now imagine that among the dozens of office buildings in this hypothetical city, one of the office buildings over a period of time is showing signs of a problem with individual workers now and then suddenly snapping and shooting fellow employees. Obviously, if this happens even once in any office building, it becomes a problem that everybody agrees deserves to be investigated and remedied so that future occurrences do not happen. When it happens more than once, it is also obvious and elementary that the problem becomes magnified and more urgent. Nobody would argue with this.
The problem of the problem, so to speak, comes in during the phase of escalation of shootings when
a) the shootings are sufficiently numerous to indicate the probability that there is something essentially wrong, something diseased, about the culture of that particular office building,
b) they are not numerous enough to prove conclusively to the majority of people in the city that, in fact, there is something essentially wrong, something diseased on a systemic level, about the culture of that particular office building.
Such a situation navigates that ambiguous area where an imprecise, relative, subjective and fluctuating threshhold is operative: one person’s “so many shootings are happening we must conclude this is a systemic problem with that office building” is another person’s “well, let’s not get carried away here, there haven’t been enough shootings to warrant expanding this to a systemic problem”.
And when no scientific objective criterion exists for establishing what that threshhold should be, and when no such criterion can be agreed upon generally, then we have the “problem of the problem”.
In addition, this problem of the problem becomes magnified when other factors—ideological, sociological and psychological—come into play and interfere with the normal rational process of trying to determine whether a given problem has risen above the threshhold whereby it becomes a systemic problem. Thus, in the case of the office building analogy, imagine further that for some complex cultural reasons the majority of city-dwellers have a tendency to resist any attempts to persuade them that something is essentially, systemically wrong with that office building’s subculture and so they tend to have an irrationally high threshhold for what number of shootings have to occur before they begin to be willing to even consider the question that there could be some systemic problem going on—even persisting with this resistance after the shootings begin to happen outside the office building and have claimed casualties on the streets and in other buildings.
And imagine that this tendency is based upon an irrational favoritism for the employees of that office building, a favoritism that resists any attempts to manage the problem of escalating shootings that would even hint of anything remotely resembling “collateral damage” whereby apparently innocent office employees are inconvenienced in any way by measures taken to protect lives.
Expanding beyond this analogy to our real situation of the favoritism for Muslims in general that remains dominant and mainstream throughout the West, we see that this same process is operative: the violence and expressions of supremacist intolerance among Muslims are, quantitatively speaking, sufficiently numerous and in addition are, qualitatively speaking, sufficiently singular, to persuade rational people of the cogency of at least considering the question of whether there is something systemically problematic about Islam. However, at the same time, those quantitative and qualitative factors enjoy a limbo state of hovering below an invisible threshhold, and this limbo is massively exploited by PC MC and by Muslim apologists.
One thing we can learn from all this is that it is important to realize a fundamental distinction going on here: the PC MC people who ostensibly tend to resist noticing the problem of Islam are not resisting noticing the problem per se. What they are resisting is expanding the diagnosis of the problem to the collective dimension of embracing multitudes of Muslims (if not all Muslims) which will include untold numbers of ostensibly innocent Muslims potentially inconvenienced, at best, by our measures to protect ourselves and, at worst, having their human rights abused, or even hurt or killed.
Therefore, our efforts to persuade these PC MC people would be more effectively served by concentrating on ways by which we can suggest the dot-connection linking the Muslim bad apples to the vast majority of apparently harmless Muslims. Currently, it seems that most people in the still inchoate anti-Islam movement (including many of its unofficial “leaders”) proceed by assuming that the dots are already connected in the minds of their audience to begin with, or at the very least, impatiently breezing over the dot-connection problem and getting straight to the “meat” of the problem without sufficient awareness that this “meat” will have little or no traction among their audience unless the dot-connection problem is dealt with thoroughly beforehand.
There seems to be this curious posture one senses about most in the still inchoate anti-Islam movement, a posture based upon the obtusely impatient rationale that, because the dot-connection should be affirmed by any reasonable person, it therefore already is, and so little effort need be expended in establishing it. Then, when their audience doesn’t seem to “get it”, the anti-Islam person tends to indulge in a sloppy conglomeration of berating his audience with insults, categorizing them with inaccurate labels (such as “liberals”, a label which tends to obfuscate the massive fact of the majority of conservatives who also whitewash Islam), and then veering off into the dubious territory of conspiracy theory to explain why his audience resists what he thinks is conclusive proof, but which is, in fact, only persuasive indication.
And as long as the recipient of our exposition of the problem of Islam does not make the dot-connection in their mind, they will be able to assimilate and digest enormous amounts of data that, to us, seem conclusive to connect the dots, but to them only remain below the threshhold and thus forever substantiate treating the problem of Islam as a problem of a tiny minority of bad apples who need to be dealt with more or less as common criminals.
All of this reflects a lot of time and energy that would be better spent concentrating on the problem of dot-connection.