Review: How Do Bad Ideas Spread? by Steven Stein
Have you ever wondered how it is that a lie can travel around the world before the truth can get out of bed and put on its socks? You might get some of the answer from a book called, “The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas are Killing Common Sense” by Gad Saad. As a fellow psychologist I’m surprised I had never come across Gad Saad before – it is certainly a name you would remember. Even more interesting is that he came from Lebanon, lived through a civil war, and is Jewish.
Saad belongs to a group of psychologists known as evolutionary psychologists. It’s a relatively new branch of psychology originating in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s. It’s still a fairly controversial discipline. It’s very empirical, looking at human behavior’s evolution over thousands of years, across cultures around the world, as well as the behaviour of all species of animals. Much of their work has focused on topics such as mating, sex/gender differences, status, and other attributes believed to be heavily biologically based.
You can imagine that these psychologists are not highly thought of by the more social constructivist, environmental, and of course the feminist and modern progressive (or as they would say, regressive) types. Like the COVID pandemic, Gad believes the world is also being infected by scores of bad ideas. He attributes the university campuses as the source of these poisonous, or parasitic ideas. He describes these ideas as “anti-reason, anti-freedom, and anti-personal dignity.” They infect the media, politics, business, and popular culture.
While the book covers a wide variety of bad ideas that get spread and believed by multitudes of people, this review will focus on his discussion of Islam. Gad has a lot to say about Islam, its spread, and its dangers. Of course, he demolishes the whole concept of Islamophobia right from the start. As a Lebanese-born, civil war survivor, Arabic-speaking, “non-white” immigrant, he defies his critics who call him a “bigot” or “white supremist” which he seems to have been labelled by some.
As someone who focusses on data, he points out that there have been more than 35,000 terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims in 70 countries since 9/11. The attackers have come from countries that included people of various races, cultures, religions, socio-economic status, and educational levels. However, the vast majority of these attacks, by a landslide, have been carried out by perpetrators in the name of Islam. Yet progressives consistently find excuses for these acts referring to them as unprovoked, senseless violence, mentally ill, social justice retribution, resistance/freedom fighters, homegrown terrorists, white supremacists, workplace violence, and so on.
Gad tears apart the still common perception of Islam among progressives as the religion of peace that loves gays, feminists, and Jews. Other inconvenient truths include:
Sharia law punishes based on the identity of perpetrator and victim (Jew, Christian, or Muslim; woman or man; as opposed to the crime). It shares the idea of identity politics with progressives.
While Muslims demand full rights as minorities in Western countries, minorities are granted relatively few rights in the 57 Muslim majority countries.
The FBI list of the world’s most dangerous terrorists includes 26 out of 28 who are connected to Islamic groups (Muslims are 25% of world population, but 92.9% of terrorists on the FBI list)
The Quran, Hadith and Sira together, based on an analysis of the texts, are made up of 51% of uncomplimentary content about non-Muslims; 9.3% of these religious writings consist of Jew-Hatred compared to Hitler’s Mein Kampf at 7%.
Only one religion seems to produce converts who carry out terrorist attacks (hint: not Orthodox Judaism or Mormons)
Of 68 terror groups identified in the world, 81% or 55 of them are Islamic. While these Islamic groups vary along ethnic, racial, linguistic, economic, political, and geographical lines, they are united by a common religious ideology.
In cited documentation of victims of terrorism, by the 20 most active terrorist groups in the world, 96.6% of victims were murdered by Islamic groups (19,089 out of 19,752).
Global patterns of Jew-hatred (based on Pew Research) found that people surveyed from Islamic countries reported the most Jew-hatred ranging from 98% (Lebanon) to 60% (Nigeria).
In another study, of the 16 countries where surveys found the most hatred of Jews, all 16 were Islamic countries.
Other studies are presented showing that Islamic countries are the least tolerant of gays and of women’s rights.
Saad recommends that all of us have a duty to speak out when we encounter these parasitic ideas. While he realizes that there are risks for many in our comfortable and liberal Western societies, the risks of not speaking out are much greater. He cites other countries that have started to lose their freedoms as a result of letting these parasitic ideas spread. He gives many examples, including his own, of how to confront this disease whether on social media, university campuses, mainstream media or even in casual conversations.
As the proverbial canary in the coalmine, this book is a warning to us all.