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Cognitive Egocentrism

 

Psychologist refer to cognitive egocentrism as the tendency to project one’s own mentality on others. Thus, the act of empathy can often become an act of projecting onto another “what I would feel if I were in their shoes,” rather than an attempt to understand how the person with whom one is empathizing, has reacted to their situation, how they read and interpret events, rather than how we might were we. One of the products of journalistic egocentrism when confronted with behavior alien to one’s own norms, is to imagine that the situation must be sufficiently bad to provoke in oneself the responses one sees, rather than pay attention to different ways of processing and reacting to situations.

Thus Sherry Blair says, “I can understand suicide bombers, if I my existence were as hopeless as theirs, I would be tempted to blow myself up too.” Aside from the moral grotestequery of a woman with as great commitment to humanity as she contemplating blowing up women, old people and little children, she has imagined that they must be in a situation of hopelessness about leading a decent life because that is the only condition under which she herself would be so tempted.

Different cultures respond to different stimuli differently. If one listens rather than projects... cognitive egocentrism, one hears a different – and alien – tale: “The truth is that the resistance, whether in Iraq or in Palestine… defends the nation's honor…Therefore, the issue…martyrdom (i.e. suicide) operations carried out by boys and girls, and also the operations carried out by the Iraqi resistance – these redeem self-confidence and hope, because a nation that does not excel at the industry of death does not deserve life.” Deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mahmoud Al-Sayyid Ahmad Al-Habib, made a similar appearance on Hizbullah's Al- Manar TV, on April 8, 2004.
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