Stumbling and Mumbling: Hits. Nail. On. Head.
I’ve one reaction to the culture clash between the west and Islam – include me out. This is big think. And big thinking is bad thinking. The first problem is that glib generalization leads us to think that there are clearly defined and demarcated cultures.
Another bias in the clash of cultures is the group attribution error. Among “us”, bad people are exceptions. Among “them”, wrong ‘uns are representative of the general group.
So, to westerners, the soldiers who beat up Iraqis are exceptions. To Muslims, they are typical. To “us”, suicide bombers are representative, whereas to Muslims, they are exceptions*. Few bother to ask: is the percentage of UK and US soldiers who beat up Iraqis statistically significantly different from the proportion of Muslims who are suicide bombers?
This bias is reinforced by another – the salience heuristic. We over-react to salient, available, information, and under-react to obscure information. To westerners, the everyday civilities of friends and neighbours are salient , whilst the brutalities of far-away soldiers are less so. And suicide bombings are salient, whilst the civilities of ordinary Muslims are less so. To Muslims, it’s the other way round.
Read the whole thing. Does that remind of you of… a few hundred people?
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Filed in: Culture,The World