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Could Religious fundamentalism be some form of infection?

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posted on Jul, 2 2005 @ 02:31 AM
I am struck with an odd thought,

What if religious fundmentalism [maybe any kind of radical ideology] is some form of virus(es) or bacteria?

Keep in mind the fact that various parasite species cause suicidal behaviors in ants, fish and other species that are directly attributable to the survival of the parasite and not the host.

Many people who take on some set of beliefs do so with such an emotional ferver it strikes me as some form of addiction. Like a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

It could be simply some sort of social phenomenon, but the emotional attachment that people who are extremely devoted leads me to believe it might likely have some form of physical manifestation.

Many political and religious devotees act very much like that old movie 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' where infected people are most concerned with infected those who aren't.

Maybe it is some sort of social phenomenon that strives to produce a strict mono-culture. Very similar to a social immune response. Anything that is not seen as being of the mono-culture is either indoctrinated or rejected [usually harshly].

Would a simple neural circuit response that repeatedly stimulated some pleasure center of the brain be sufficient? I have heard of studies of rats that became addicted to pushing a lever that stimulated the pleasure center of the brain.

What do other people think?

I know its a bit of an unconventional stretch.

Could there be other forms of infection similar to a software virus?
A self reinforcing mental pattern that worked to create that mental pattern in others, often violently.

posted on Jul, 2 2005 @ 04:41 PM
Logically, I will speculate that radical ideologies probably is not a biological infection [but it would be interesting to check it out], and say it is probably more like an infectious Engram.

An Emgram is sort of a unit of thought, an idea, a concept. Like the idea of a wheel, or the idea of short, or the idea of long, or the idea of two.

Most infections are about replicating the original entity, a virus creates more [copies of the] virus, bacteria create more of the same bacteria, and computer viruses create copies of themselves in your computer and possibly on disks.

A sociological infection is when an idea [Emgram] is focused [solely?] on replicating itself in a society without regards to actual effects for good or ill that it may have.

If an idea is obviously useful [time/energy saving?] people will readily take it up, without any need of heavy promotion, barring any social/religious restraint from doing so.

I like to think there are good ideas that people simply take up, like the wheel, controlled fire, etc. Since they are not generally taken up as some social contrivance, they are more like intellectual nutrition. They are take up as a physical time/energy/money saving device and are almost Universal in their application. Their basic function makes it easier to or enables satifying of natural desires.

Pure economic ideas, when not treated as political or religious bludgeons, are in this category of good ideas IMO. They are more sophisicated/complex so they are not as clear to people as to how they work and the effects they will have.

Politics can be a functional mechanism for promoting some general vision of improvement for people's lives, or it can be the domain of selfserving moneygrubbers and/or ideologues.

Commericial products run the gamut between being simple minimally expensive improvements to people's lives to expensive, heavily promoted, costly to maintain, status symbols. The more focused a commercial venture is on high [excess?] profit and the less focused it is on improving people's lives the more parasitic it becomes and the less beneficial it is to a society.

Religions can be vehicles to good in all people's live, to improve health and welfare. But far too often become extremely dogmatic, with a ravenous need to have everyone constantly reinforce some non-evidentiary ideas to keep people in some kind of delusional haze.
They take on the princess and the pea aspect that every single thing in society and nature must be forced to adhere to some pre-conceived idea(s). They become hypersensitive to anything that is even slightly outside their constraints. Remember the burning of heretics?

Many religious engrams have the evasive tactic of being able to claim benefit to you after you are dead. Sort of like current string theory, they are totallly unprovable, and in a sense completely safe from being disproved (although looking at a corpse sure makes me doubt them).

The newest radical religious movement in the US has sort of taken up the method of AIDs, and bubonic & pneumonic plague, of directly attacking the [neutral] immune system [government] itself. The government, by all traditional conservatives, is to be preserved as religiously neutral. But this radical religious movement seeks to target government into promoting and thereby reinforcing their religious tenants.

If you can co-opt the the immune system itself, it disables any resistance and makes it an easy place of replication. But just as with Aids or Beubonic plague it devastates and destroys the host.

The opportunists commerical entities may see this reduced immune state as an easy road to advantageous gain for them, but they usually forget the devastating/destructive consquences of this happening to a society. They are, if too greedy, very short sighted.

posted on Jul, 2 2005 @ 09:22 PM
Infection? Yes, it is. Radicalism in all of its forms is an infection of the mind!
(and of society in general, that is...)

Seriously, I think you have a very good idea there, maybe not true, but it is very good still... Maybe some biologist with in-depth knowledge of lab testings could give us more info...

What else can I say than

posted on Jul, 2 2005 @ 10:06 PM
Reminds me of these topics. I don't know if a virus was implied, but it' similar in that religion was said to be a biological trait.

The God Gene: Is God in our Genes?
"God Gene"

posted on Jul, 3 2005 @ 02:28 AM
A very interesting concept. As SpookyVince pointed out, regardless of whether it's true or not, it's still leaves lots of room for thought.

My own opinion is that the signs are pointing against it being a biological infection. Radicalism and fundamentalism have been around for millenia, and have been found across various, unrelated geographic regions. That doesn't necessarily eliminate the possibility, but it does make it a little more difficult, especially in the days before travel was commonplace.

However, if one could determine what "switch" turns extreme beliefs on and off, the implications could possibly be second only to electricity in it's affects on society. Think about that--once that switch is found, you can bet the farm there'd be someone wanting to exploit it. And it could be used for both sides of the fence as well: the "good guys" think someone is bombing too much because of their beliefs, slip some chemicals in their drinking water and you have a moderate. Your army isn't big enough to take on the world? What better way of recruiting soldiers than having your handful of supporters slip the new recruits a mickey. Instant fanatic because they took their eye off their beer for a minute at the bar.

Very interesting...and because it's the first post I've seen in a while that got me thinking without getting anyone riled up one way or another you get my first WATS for July

posted on Jul, 3 2005 @ 03:47 AM
It's not a disease, it's a genetic predisposition, not unlike other forms of retardation.

Evolutionarily speaking, that sort of faulty brain wiring is a sure ticket to extinction, so all we have to do, as a species, is wait out the lifespan of the mutation and get back to our business in a few hundred generations.

Seriously, religious zealotry is dangerous, irrational, and fundamentally incompatible with civilized society.

In any case, it doesn't appear to be an infection so much as a pre-existing condition exacerbated by environmental and social factors.

posted on Jul, 3 2005 @ 04:00 AM
What a biased and ignorant post!

Fact is most religious fundamentalists live healthier lives by avoiding promiscuity, drug & alcohol abuse, and tend to have large, stable and healthy families through which they pass their DNA on to quite successfully to many children.

A better thesis would be if people who indulge in homosexuality, promiscuous sex, drug & alcohol abuse and other vices are infected with some disease that makes them engage in these risky behaviors that are incompatible with living a long life and passing on their genes to many healthy offspring, such that they may pass disease to others through these activities.

Personally I'm not a religious fundamentalist and engage in some risky behaviors myself for pleasure, but I still find your post insulting.

posted on Jul, 3 2005 @ 04:03 AM

Originally posted by djohnsto77
Personally I'm not a religious fundamentalist and engage in some risky behaviors myself for pleasure, but I still find your post insulting.

Count to ten...

Personally, I think the idea of putting a fundamentalist, of any persuasion, into a cage and testing them with clear fluids and electric shocks is a good one.

posted on Jul, 3 2005 @ 06:15 AM

I did include any fanatical adherence to any ideology, be it communism, religion, fascism, racism or any belief system that seems to demand zealotism as opposed to more rational shades of reason.

It strikes me as being a sort of mania.

You can have people who have a similar anti-mania about destroying a system, but usually that kind of dedicated passion comes from long term heavy burdens and oppressions of people under that system.

I imagine it almost like physics. An inertial system that perpetuates and grows by increasing numerical parallelism and velocity/intensity.
Sort of like getting a lot of wheels all running in parallel so the energy/inertia becomes re-inforcing.

By only having an affirmative response to any questions gives the social phenomenon a kind of circular logic. Sort of like a circle, mobius strip, or klein bottle, it always leads back on itself. But that is why it usually fails to deal with the larger reality. If your number set is [0,1,3,4,7] then 1+1 must equal something other than 2.

Favorite circular logic: The Bible is true because the Bible says it is.

My own tendency to paranoia, makes me wonder if it could be the subtle technique of very advanced social manipulators.

If you can get people to act without any foundation in logic/reason then I would think it would be easier to get them to do things they wouldn't do in a rational context.

I personally don't mind so much if you start from some basis of logic and reason and then passionately follow it for some period of time or to some particular goal.

A good term for it might be passionate mono-culture. Only people of a particular stripe are encouraged and everyone else is discouraged [even fatally].

In current times it is most prevalent in religion. In the past and sometimes in the present it occurs in racism, or ethnicism. During the 1950s the ideological split between capitalistic democracies and communist autocracies held the same sort of blind passionate faith for people.

I repeat that it makes me think of a social immune response. Is this something from our past? Where the society that was culturally/racially zenophobic had survival advantages over ones without?

In an odd sort of way it acts as a cleaving device for the mass of humanity. ie. "Either you are with us or against us." Would that have survival advantages? Wars do often accelerate technological advances, or at least the implementation of them. So by dividing the population and pitting it against the other half would that accelerate technological [biological?] advances as they compete with one another?

The brain does have a tendency to be drawn into activation by sharp contrasts, whereas fuzzy indistinct notions/images probably tend to mulify/quiet the brain.

posted on Jul, 3 2005 @ 08:52 AM
Interesting topic, slank.

I think what you are discribing is simple mental lazyness. I just believe that many people find it easier to let someone tell them what to think about Religion rather than take the time to formulate their own thoughts based upon their own experiences and observations.

A very sad result of this is that some people seem incapable of formulating peaceful, positive, and "good" behavior habits without being scared into it by the threat of eternal damnation or other such nonsense.

In one sense, it is like an infection though. If you have immunities built up through having developed a logical and consistant way of looking at reality, then it is much more difficult for you to catch this infection. This is why religion does its best to infect people at a very young age when very few are capable of withstanding it due to lack of immunities.

Take heart, however. This infection need not be fatal, nor is it incurable. Free thought, self-knowledge, self-honesty, and lack of fear can do wonders for those with this disease.

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