THE EXTREME BRAIN weaves together personal memoir with evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, political economics, and anthropological fieldwork with jihadists, white nationalists, QAnon devotees, and violent extremists of other stripes including climate activists who tried to recruit Nafees to teach them the ways of ISIS.
THE EXTREME BRAIN
by Dr Nafees Hamid
(via Northbank Talent Management)
We’ve all been exposed to extremist, populist, and conspiratorial narratives and yet most of us roll our eyes at it or laugh it off. What causes some small minority of people to take these narratives seriously? What causes an even smaller percentage of that population to actually act on those narratives? Why do some even give their lives based on those ideas? And, most importantly, what can we do to stop people from committing political violence?
Cognitive scientist Nafees Hamid has travelled the world meeting members of ISIS, Hezbollah, NeoNazis, QAnon, and a variety of other violent and divisive movements. He has interviewed, surveyed, conducted psychology experiments with them and is one of the few people to have scanned their brains. The book details Nafees’s experiences going out into the field to find the subjects: from escaping an ISIS recruiter; to realising his research assistant had gradually been radicalised right under his nose; to a former flatmate who turned to QAnon during the pandemic, challenging Nafees to put into practice everything he had learned in order to de-program his friend.
Dr Nafees Hamid is a Cognitive Scientist of extremism, conspiracy theories, and political violence. In his current role at King’s College London, he co-leads a multi-nation research project which explores the role of trauma and mental health on pathways to peace versus violence in fragile and conflict affected states.