Dehumanization: A Key to Understanding Terrorism

smaller khanRolling Stone published an important, well researched and well written article this week titled The Children of ISIS, by Janet Reitman. It takes the reader inside the home and minds of the three teenagers from Chicago who were apprehended at the airport on their way to join ISIS last year. (Link below)

As I read about the young siblings I found myself empathizing with the psychological setting they were in. I understood what caused them to want, so desperately, to leave their parents, who they loved deeply, and to risk their lives for what they believed was the necessary path to serving God.

Read more

The Adolescent Brain

susan-jayne blakemore-adolescent -brain300x178Sarah-Jayne Blakemore is a cognitive neuroscientist who studies the adolescent brain.

In a recent talk she gave at HeadCon 14 she said the following.

If adolescence is a sensitive period for brain development, that is a double-sided coin because although it represents a period of opportunity in which the brain is particularly susceptible to acquiring new information in certain domains, it also might represent a period of vulnerability, in which the brain is particularly vulnerable to certain environmental inputs.”

There is not a great deal of research that has been done in the field of neuroscience on the adolescent brain, however that is changing. Like many areas of neuroscience, technology is allowing a greater opportunity to understand the way in which the human brain processes the input it receives. While it is, of course, different for every person, in some ways, we can understand a great deal from looking at what is similar. I am inspired by the work Professor Blakemore is doing. She is asking important questions about a critical time of life. Read more

The Importance of Story


I was hanging out on the edge today. By this I mean I was listening to conversations (watching videos) on my favorite website, I was drawn to a video of Jonathan Gottschall talking about story. I have always loved stories, and am often deeply affected by them, so I listened with great interest to what Jonathan had to say.

Read more

Seth Godin Defines Memes

Seth-Godin-Discusses-MemesThis talk was given in 2003. It’s called “How to get your ideas to spread”. It’s been seen over 3 million times. It’s what marketing is about. It’s what I lose sleep over. Seth doesn’t mention the word meme. He does talk about obsession, and I am a bit obsessed with memes. I obsess about how a meme can be built that will be successful enough to make a difference in the world? I wonder what the building blocks are for peace memes.

Seth talks about the importance of something being remarkable, worth making a remark about. This was before Facebook and Twitter. He was not talking about retweets or likes. The concept was the same then as it is now, with or without social media. We, as human beings, have to choose where to focus our attention. A successful meme will spread if, and only if, it is worth remarking about. It has to be worth focusing our attention on.

Read more