Lying in bed late one night unable to sleep, Dalrymple resorts to a normally reliable curative: the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Two papers in particular quickly banish the insomnia,
- one by Jeremy W. Coid, Kamaldeep Bhui, Deirdre MacManus, Constantinos Kallis, Paul Bebbington and Simone Ullrich headed Extremism, religion and psychiatric morbidity in a population-based sample of young men,
- and one by Kamaldeep Bhui, Maria João Silva, Raluca A. Topciu and Edgar Jones on Pathways to sympathies for violent protest and terrorism.
Dalrymple writes that in addition to being quite unilluminating, the articles’ conclusions are
as dull as the annual accounts of a local chess club.
would make Armageddon sound boring.
They are also pusillanimous. We all know, Dalrymple notes,
what kind of terrorism and extremism the authors are thinking of, but the title of neither paper mentions it. We walk permanently on eggshells.
is dealt with in so opaque a fashion that it is difficult not to believe that the authors feared retribution—from the politically correct if not from terrorists themselves. They are like those puppies that, being curious, approach a danger, but then retreat, approach again, and retreat again.
Perhaps the authors wished to prevent readers from drawing the obvious conclusion, that
Enoch Powell had been right all along.
why some people become terrorists, other than for the most obvious reason: that to kill, maim, and destroy, supposedly for a good cause or some allegedly higher purpose, is a delight to a certain kind of person, worth even dying for. In addition, I doubt that there are many more self-important people than terrorists.
is a manifestation of a modern superstition, that human self-understanding has made great strides pari passu with technical advances such as brain scans and a knowledge of neurochemistry. In fact, we have not advanced beyond Pope’s description of Man as ‘the glory, jest and riddle of the world’.