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Evidence that suicide terrorists are suicidal: Challenges and empirical predictions

  • Adam Lankford (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

The Myth of Martyrdom: What Really Drives Suicide Bombers, Rampage Shooters, and Other Self-Destructive Killers proposes that suicide terrorists are psychologically and behaviorally similar to other people who commit suicide, due to a range of individual, social, and situational factors. Some commentators agree, while others are skeptical, given the lack of information about many attackers' lives. However, the book's position is not simply based on individual case studies; it is also supported by other independent assessments, the confirmation of empirical predictions, the paucity of contradictory evidence, and new applications of evolutionary theory. It is undisputed that human beings behave as the author suggests; it is unknown if they behave as the conventional wisdom suggests. Those who argue that suicide terrorists are psychologically normal and altruistically sacrificing their lives for an ideological cause should bear the burden of proof for those claims.

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S. Atran (2003) Genesis of suicide terrorism. Science 299:1534–39. Available at: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/299/5612/1534.full

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
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