Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Sleep of Reason

On 11/4/2006, I found an article titled "No Nukes is Good Nukes" on Non Compos Mentis claiming to have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The basis for this claim is a Nov 3 article in the New York Times entitled "U.S. Web Archive Is Said to Reveal a Nuclear Primer."

Rather than detailing how Iraq had WMD, the article seems to be about a major snafu on the part of a government agency when it made certain information public on a web site. In particular, the site had details regarding the creation of nuclear weapons. The article goes on to discuss why this information was there in the first place – apparently certain conservative elements of the Republican Party felt this would vindicate their claims of Iraqi WMD.

Never the less, Alex, the person running Non Compos Mentis, seems to think this somehow provides justification for the invasion. He goes on to say:

Now that we've found out Iraq was less than a year from having nuclear weapons, finally, hopefully, the leftist whiners in America will shut the fuck up.

He also makes the claim that Iraq had what amounts to medium range missiles, capable of carrying chemical warheads. Alex does not provide any source for this information, so I'll skip that part.

In reply, Mighty Mouse pointed out

Having research on WMDs is NOT the same thing as actually HAVING them at all. Besides, the point of the article is that the administration once again fucked up by leaking sensitive information to the public on how to build a goddamn nuclear weapon.

The substance of Alex's reply was that the Democrats had said the same thing. In essence he ignores MM's point entirely.

The whole article is full of vitriol and inflammatory rhetoric. It is clear that one of Alex's objectives is to provoke people reading his article. For example, here is the picture from the top of his post:

In a certain context, I find this picture rather funny, but Alex is not trying to be funny here – he seems to truly believe what he is saying. Furthermore, he is not trying to get a laugh out of people; he's trying to start a fight.

I find this sort of behavior very odd. On the one hand, Alex's other posts indicate a mind capable of logical thought. On the other hand, this sort of behavior bespeaks a mind that can be politely described as "fanatic."

When asked about North Korea, Alex had this to say:

And we'll get to Korea eventually. It may take eight years, if there's a brief leftist interregnum, but we'll get another warmonger into office, and he'll push the little red button.


Alex's solution to a situation like North Korea is to start World War 3. This would also kill thousands if not millions of people whose only crime is being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This whole thing was strange enough that I asked, point blank, if this was some sort of joke. I was ignored.

Alex is not even the most extreme case that I have seen. Ann Coulter is one who seems to have waved "bye-bye" to sanity a long time ago, yet there are people buying her books, listening to her speak, etc. Osama bin Laden is another whose whole world outlook is completely broken and yet he has managed to get massive support.

I can understand why otherwise reasonable people would go along with crazy schemes when there is some sort of social pressure. The Milgram shock experiment, Solomon Ash's conformity experiment and Philip Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment all highlight this. But why do people buy into this kind of insanity when there is no social pressure?

Do they do this sort of thing to impress people? Do they just want attention? Do they think they'll become rich or powerful?

Anyone have a perspective on this? I'm fresh out of ideas.

Image sources: Tags: non compos mentis, insanity, fanaticism


Q said...

The mock political poster looks like it might be from the "Photoshop Phriday" section of the Something Awful website (

Anonymous said...

The poster is actually from the Something Awful website Photoshop Phriday section.

Loralee Choate said...

I find the comparison of Ann Coulter to Alex completely weird.

Whatever said...

Loralee made an excellent point in the Non Compos Mentis forum. In the face of that insight, this whole conversation really is a waste of time.

Here's to moving on.

cowardly anonymous said...

But Ann Coulter is hot. No one listens to blonds anyway.

Whatever said...

After reading Loralee's comment on Non Compos Mentis, I have decided to shut down this post/thread/whatever. That is, no more comments are being allowed. Sorry for the inconvenience.