Posted 01 May 2012 - 02:30 PM
IMHO the number of conspiracy theories and cults is not actually increasing, it was higher in the 60s and 70s than now. But certainly there is historical precedent for mass fear motivating people to attack each other; xenophobic fear, especially combined with fear of becoming sick or poverty-stricken, has motivated many witch hunts, lynch mobs, nazi atrocities, and crusades/jihads. In human emotional metabolism fear is often converted to anger. But, intense fear and intense anger aren't something an individual human body and brain can maintain for very long. Fear and anger are most sustainable in an individual who has periods of safety and pleasure between confrontations with their nemesis. Individuals who have no such rest period either break under the stress by becoming suicidal, or become desensitized and jaded. Both of these can be observed in people living in poor economic conditions such as ghettos and slums, as well as high-stress environments like universities. However, the human survival instinct is strong, as are the desire to attain prosperity, the desire for revenge, and the moral/religious impulse to not become a villain/sinner/person criticized and condemned by others; in between these drives it's very rare for any human population to destroy itself, no matter how terrible the conditions they are in.
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