Comment: Doublethink culture

On the night of December 21, 1954, a cult of worshipers gathered together in a room in Chicago.

Having carefully removed all metallic objects from their person, including bra straps and metal zippers, they sat together in a silent huddle. Many of them had quit their jobs and colleges, left their spouses and sold their houses in preparation for that night.

They wouldn’t need any of those where they were going – for indeed, they were awaiting the arrival of a flying saucer that would take their small group of true believers away before the prophesied end of the world the next morning.

As it turned out, the flying saucer never arrived – and the world continues to spin majestically over half a century later.

Having their superstition proven so utterly false, one would reasonably expect that the cult would have disbanded and died out immediately afterward.

But, as chronicled in the famous book ‘When Prophecy Fails’, written by a group of authors who had infiltrated the cult to observe them first hand, the cult actually grew in strength after the failure of their central prophecy.

One of those authors, Stanford psychologist Leon Festinger, famously described this phenomenon as ‘cognitive dissonance’.

According to this theory, when faced with incontrovertible proof against a held belief, people tend to eliminate the dissonance by resorting to either denial or justification.

The cult members, upon realising that their alien saviors failed to show up, promptly decided that the Earth had been given a second chance as a reward for their night-long perseverance. Armed with this new theory, the formerly media-shy cult went on a recruiting drive and the cult expanded more than ever.

Cognitive dissonance would also explain the resurgent practice of ‘Baccha baazi’ in Afghanistan, where powerful warlords and other self-described Muslim men engage in pederasty with ‘bacchas’ or pre-pubescent dancing boys, attired in women’s clothing.

The men candidly admit to the practice on camera, denying that it was sodomy because they were not ‘in love’ with the boys, and providing the justification that they were able to judge the young boys’ looks beforehand, unlike the niqab covered women where it was more of a hit-and-miss.

In the dark alleys of Bangalore and Mysore in India, the hashish and heroin trade is known to be run by old Muslim men with prominent prayer marks on their forehead where it touches stone five times a day,

They too, justify their actions with an assortment of explanations about profits and business.

In these cases, one appears to have an inner moral conflict, as is clearly visible in the confused expression of the pious old Dhivehi woman with a fondness for traditional raaivaru and folk songs, when suddenly confronted with a religious ruling on TV from the leading sheikh of the day that music is forbidden.

The dissonance is then placated by subconsciously finding a convenient explanation that flies in the face of available statistics, just as a smoker finds a justification to smoke, or a motorist finds a justification to not wear helmets or seat belts.

The theory of cognitive dissonance is often used to explain the unintentional hypocrisy of individuals and social groups.

In the Maldives, however, it appears that hypocrisy has given way to something far more unpleasant – namely, self-deception.

The Ministry of Truth

As described in the dystopian society portrayed in George Orwell’s novel 1984, Maldivians seem to have embraced the practice of ‘doublethink’.

The novel describes doublethink as :

“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancel out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it… to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again.”

Perhaps due to remarkable upheavals in their recent history, Maldivians appear to have mastered the art of effortlessly holding two utterly incompatible, conflicting ideas in their head.

The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming.

A casual stroll down the Artificial Beach in Male or the neighboring islands during the night reveals dozens of young girls – proudly wearing the Islamic head scarf – in various stages of embrace, undress or coitus with their partners under the veil of darkness.

There’s the story of the outwardly devout graphics designer who declined an assignment to draw a female figurine, citing religious principles. Notably, the man was later found to be downloading explicit pornography on his office workstation.

During one energetic debate on Facebook, one of the most vocal defenders of the faith was a young man with a colorful vocabulary. In case his demeanor and menacing threats didn’t make his tough gangster credentials clear, he also spelled out, in bright red letters, on his profile image, ‘Blood, Sex and Booze’.

To be precise, the young Maldivian man, who swore by ‘blood, sex and booze’ on a public social network, was the first to step in to defend morality and religion against perceived threats.

These are hardly isolated cases.

There are plenty of Maldivians who proudly embrace the creed that Islam is a ‘religion of peace’ and that those that create conflict are not ‘true Muslims’, but in the same breath, applaud Bin Laden, the Taliban, and other random militants who place bombs in schools, markets and mosques in Pakistan as righteous ‘mujahideen’ whose actions are sanctioned by the religion.

Young girls and boys, often wasted on drugs and given to casual sexual relations, often vocally argue for the imposition of an un-codified ‘Shariah’ law system that, if implemented, could very well see them stoned to death or worse.

The national doublethink is no doubt helped by the country’s dramatic swing from a heady, westernised disco-era to a rigidly conservative religious society almost overnight.

The 2008 Maldivian constitution forbids any law or regulation that contradicts loosely defined ‘tenets of Islam’.

In May 2010, the Maldivian government invited salafi preacher Zakir Naik who, during a heavily promoted lecture televised on prime-time national television, proclaimed to a gathered audience of ten-thousand, that income made from tourism was ‘haraam’.

But as recently as last week, the President of the Republic, Mohamed Nasheed, reiterated that the tourism industry – fueled by alcohol and, as the Mullah prefers to put it, ‘fornication’ – is the mainstay of the country’s economy that must be safeguarded at all costs.

The easily inflammable pseudo-religious groups that assemble on the streets at a moment’s notice to protest against everything from news editors to co-education, gathered in in late 2009 to protest against the restricted sale of alcohol in ‘inhabited’ islands.

Nevertheless, their screeching rhetoric against the sale of alcohol in the capital was in stark contrast to their meek acceptance of the availability of alcohol on the adjacent airport just five minutes away.

It could also be contrasted with their monk-like silence on the widespread child abuse and pedophilia, reports of which have hit local media with alarming frequency throughout the past year.

The same government alternatively claims that tourism is haraam and absolutely vital. The same television channel that plays music throughout the day also airs religious programs that proclaim music is forbidden. The same school that teaches that bank interest is forbidden in Islam also teaches students modern banking, and how to calculate interest.

The effect of this national doublethink on the young Maldivian democracy is a cause for concern.

Citizens who have given up the intellectual tools of reasoning have also inadvertently given up their ability to choose, leaving the country vulnerable to either sliding back into a dictatorship, or morphing into a theocracy.

Confirmation bias

The first comment on a recent Minivan News article about alleged bestiality involving the rape of a goat on a rural island, incredibly enough, appeared to blame the incident on ‘LIBERAL DEMOCRACY’.

This is further evidence that the Maldives is steeped in a strong confirmation bias, where the population disregards evidences that are in plain contradiction to their viewpoints, but jumps at even unverified hearsay supporting their prejudices.

Fifth grade science teachers have reportedly taught their students that the Apollo moon landings were ‘fake’, thereby insulting the achievements of thousands of scientists and engineers, while simultaneously robbing young students of the wonders and amazement of science, leaving them vulnerable to a lifetime of conspiracy theories.

Meanwhile, tiny moon rocks have been on display for years at the National Museum in the Maldives.

Openly biased reporting on the Middle East abound in the local media, as are outlandish conspiracies such as the easily discredited allegations that a team of Israeli doctors were ‘organ stealing Zionists’.

If this keeps up, Maldivians as a nation will be no better than the alien cult worshipers, who bend reality to suit their convenience and bask in an atmosphere of mutual-misinformation.

The vital essence of a successful democracy is the ability of its citizens to make critical judgments.

Once that ability is clouded by confirmation bias, dissonance and doublethink, the end-result closely resembles the confusion and noise that characterises Maldivian society today.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


24 thoughts on “Comment: Doublethink culture”

  1. Well written. Maldivians are mulims by name only. I beleive rare handful of them are true muslims. This society has been like this a along time, but groomed well into a more confused and double standard community under the control of former dictator, who happens to be an islamic graduate from al azhar. Our country should better chose one thing for sure and stick to it, which is either islam or non islam. At the moment they dont knwo which one are ther following. They call themselves muslims but live a life of non muslims. And anyone who tries to correct them, are refered as mullahs, wahabis or extremist. Such ignorance and blindness.

  2. Yameen, you hate Maldivians. Don't you?

    Your depiction of the country is, I am afraid, from a very negative point of view. I am sure this is not what the real country is. I am also sure this is not the true picture of most Maldivians. (Just out of curiosity, do you always take things very negatively? I could not resist asking this.)

    Your logic seems to me, absurd. The Americans (like many others), for example, say that nuclear weapons are a danger to humanity. That such weapons are weapons of mass destruction. But there are several institutions in America where they teach how to make nuclear bombs. Can you please tell me whether it is doublethink?

    When the West just bombs and destroys Arab countries and tell everyone else that they are bringing in democracy by ousting the dictators that ruled these countries, do they expect everyone else to believe that they have no interest in the oil wells of these countries? Aren't they asking everyone else to embrace a state of cognitive dissonance while they rob these countries?

    If people called the Israeli doctors ‘organ stealing Zionists,’ it is not without a reason, Yameen. Do not tell me that you have never heard of Israelis stealing the organs of Palestinians. I am not saying that the doctors who came here are necessarliy organ stealing doctors but, to label them as such was propaganda. Just like George bush used 'axis of evil' as a prpaganda to prepare the world for his attack on Iraq. Propaganda is used by different people to achieve different goals.

    "Meanwhile, tiny moon rocks have been on display for years at the National Museum in the Maldives."

    In case you do not know, you don't have to go to the moon to have a collection of rocks from the moon.

    "The vital essence of a successful democracy is the ability of its citizens to make critical judgments."

    But the 'critical judgement' should also be the correct one. Otherwise, it will lead to total chaos. The "confusion and noise that characterises Maldivian society today" is the result of incorrect judgements taken by critical people. Nothing else.

  3. Robin, are you Maldivian?

    Because I am, i lived in Mal'e for the better part of my youth before i migrated, and let me tell you, that is exactly what the Maldives is like.

    and I could write a long piece here refuting everything YOU'VE written as you've done to Yameen's piece, but frankly I haven't the time. Maybe I will when I do, though. But basically, just know that your criticism of Yameen comes across as narrow-minded, more-than-moderately biased, and unsupported. But no matter, this isn't a battle of who can disprove who (that would go on forever) so I shan't continue.

    Side note though, Yameen. This is really well written, and a brutally honest representation of our dysfunctional little homeland, but I think the fellow who commented 'LIBERAL DEMOCRACY' on the bakari-rape story was probably using sarcasm to make a joke which, IMHO, was hilarious. Regardless, awesome stuff, keep it coming.

  4. Yameen was right on one thing. Maldivians never practiced true Islamic teachings and which is true to many other countries of this region. If we have not properly followed the two principles of Islam these ideology will be found within the community and leads to destruction. Day by day we are falling to the traps of Satan.

  5. We need a good education system. We need well-educated people. We need liberal arts. We need our doctors to be not just good doctors but well-educated doctors. The problem with us is that we are being bombarded with so much new information, new ideas, contrasting ideas, while not being equipped with enough knowledge to really understand all that we hear. We are no different from any other society faced with similar problems. The psychological terms you used aren't exactly in our genes. I

  6. We need to think of ourselves as Maldivians, FIRST and foremost! Religion and everything else (including perhaps democracy) has to come 2nd. We've been "Maldivians" for much longer than we've been muslims (or anything else). How can we change what we've been for so long, overnight? We've now become an oxymoron! Well written piece!!

  7. dear slicky. you are so intellectualistic. very bravistic as well. and so slickier than average. goats were raped for ages. webcam sex videos are so yesterday. well. that was just yesterday. but with the goat sex story attention and now the dollar sex scandal it's all gone and forgotten. people are so preoccupied writing about it in different forms quoting from owls to octopussies. so intelligent. resist. can't

  8. convincing an idiot they r an idiot is not an easy task

    the problem is most maldivains like to live in a fantasy rather than to own up to reality, have u heard of rannamaari?

    sea monster with a taste for virgins or black mail with a whole bunch of lies?

  9. @Yaamyn the author-

    What you say is true; sad and hard to "digest" (national favourite word these days) but very true.

    So the solution is separate religion from state and do away with institutionalized hypocrisy. This is obvious isn't it. The fact that you didn't express this leads me to think you have a slight infection of doublethink too 🙂

  10. 1. reasonably well written
    2. good conclusion
    3. references a variety of sources. well done!

    another first class article. funded by Zionist secular rapists.

  11. Interesting read, well written, and evidence of the extent of double-think culture in the Maldivian mind.

    I find it amazing how many Maldivians have been indoctrined to blame Islam for the situation they are in, and evade all responsibility by themselves. A great many also believe that it was God's Will that determines the President of the country. But they go out and vote.

    I must agree with the author that many of us are good at doublethink. I wouldn't consider having to keep a Muslim name out of compulsion to be doublethink.

  12. If we look about other cultures and other religion I bet we could get more interesting stories from drugs, child abuse or any crime you can think of. While any religious person would preach that all these are forbidden. Furthermore if we take any other country and their religion or any culture or practice or agreement to abide, you would see pretty the same picture. Thus it has nothing to do with religion it has everything to do with us, humans and their selfishness and their actions. The reason for a religion, culture and practice is there for humans to correct themselves and to understand the right and wrong. If we look a closer look to history and other cultures it would be surprising how they resemble what is described in this article so it goes on .... as long as knowledge and human kind exist the stories will go on .....

  13. @Ibrahim Yasir
    "Maldivians are muslims by name only. I believe rare handful of them are true muslims".

    I agree. This is the inevitable result of a constitution which takes away freedom to choose which religion to follow, or not to follow any religion, and which compels a nation's citizens to be Muslim!

    Schizophrenia is a natural consequence.

  14. Human development technically disconnected people from evolving naturally. All religions of the book placed men superior above other aspects of nature, giving them the impression they are in this world to rule over nature. Sadly their interpretation of the "Word of God" is clouded by the limitation of their own worldly experiences and greed. A lot of the traditions and practices were handed down from old civilization but wrongly understood and adopted as religious practices and traditions. Ethnic groups who lived close to Earth and embraced what nature provided and maintained balance were wiped out by colonizing predators and warlords in a brutal way either in the name of religion or development. Human beings have not evolved to a better specie but rather degraded. We need to back to the past to understand where we need to go in the future...

  15. Humans, over the last, I don't know, million years, and to this point, have never learned to behave. So, I guess, maybe, we need to kill the diseased Humans, if we are to protect the good ones. But everyone would object to that. But since we have those lil'devils that do everything as they please, every other person would see them and feel, why cant they themselves do as they please? The problem now is, and the excuse now is, "Even they are doing it, So why can't I?" "Even they don't follow a religion, So why should I?" "Even they don't do any good, So why should I? Everyone would first start comparing themselves with the others and when they find no one doing anything good, then they would complain on that there is no point in doing any good. Aaah, I don't give a rats ass even if no one is doing any good, I will follow as Allah and his prophets have said and do good and treat people good and tell everyone to be good. And to overcome this sickness Mankind is bringing upon themselves.

  16. " The 2008 Maldivian constitution forbids any law or regulation that contradicts loosely defined ‘tenets of Islam’.


    "The 2008 Maldivian constitution forbids any law or regulation that contradicts loosely defined ‘tenets of Islam’."

  17. Yaamyn, Yaamyn, Yaamyn....sigh! Your bias would make you a celebrated writer in some other countries. Or it might propel you to a protected status in the Western strongholds of the US & the UK if we, poor, deluded, Maldivians to threaten you with violence.

    But think, young child, about the purpose of your writings. About the deep-seated revulsion you feel for your country and what informs this disgust. About childhood events that make you reject the faith and citizenship of your birth. All faith is blind and "delusional" but it provides a spiritual aspect to everyday events which is absolutely necessary to a human being, as proven by history.

    Read more, young Yaamyn, and rant less. If Minivan and the ruling party finds that your young, untrained and infuriated mind, serves their purposes then get some money out of it, by all means. But try to understand your country your people. If you are trying to bring about a change, then English is not the medium of instruction you should choose and high-handed platitudes about democracy and increasingly desperate parallels drawn between mainstays of a different culture will not avail results.

    Examine the system of governance in this country and why it requires people to be subject to what you term "propaganda". Think more and rationalize less. The mysteries of this country and its citizenry are not explained by reference to Orwellian pseudo-science.

  18. @The author:

    A well written article. I believe that any critical thinking Maldivian would agree with the views you have expressed.

    Also, I am confused. Robin, why would you refer to the collection as "moon" rocks if they weren't from the moon? Have you analysed and found them to be of earthly origin?

    Maldivians are given the choice of labeling our selves as Muslims or be beaten by a mob. Survival being a natural tendency, what do you think every sane person would choose??

    Give everyone a REAL choice. Separate state and religion!

  19. @ B
    Yes. 🙂

    @ too bad
    I did not say the rocks are not from the moon. I only said you don't have to go to the moon to collect moon rocks. I suggest you Google 'moon rocks' and read the article on Wiki.
    Here are a few lines that I think may be of interest to you.
    "There are currently three sources of Moon rocks on Earth:
    1) those collected by US Apollo missions;
    2) samples returned by the Soviet Union Luna missions; and
    3) rocks that were ejected naturally from the lunar surface by cratering events and subsequently fell to Earth as lunar meteorites. During the six Apollo surface excursions, 2,415 samples weighing 382 kg (842 lb) were collected, the majority by Apollo 15, 16, and 17. The three Luna spacecraft returned with an additional 0.32 kg (0.7 lb) of samples. Since 1980, over 120 lunar meteorites representing about 60 different meteorite fall events (none witnessed) have been collected on Earth, with a total mass of over 48 kg. About one third of these were discovered by US and Japanese teams searching for Antarctic meteorites (e.g., ANSMET), with most of the remainder having been discovered by collectors in the desert regions of northern Africa and Oman."

  20. @Robin:

    It might be negative, but truths will be truths. Only by acknowledging failure can steps to end them can take place.

    Until Maldivians can learn to stop living their false existence and living in doublethink, they'll always be exploited by greedy mullahs, arrogant thugs and corrupt politicians.

  21. "In May 2010, the Maldivian government invited salafi preacher Zakir Naik who, during a heavily promoted lecture televised on prime-time national television, proclaimed to a gathered audience of ten-thousand, that income made from tourism was ‘haraam’."

    Didn't that scuzzbag STAY at a 5-star resort during his time here?.

  22. Alot of people seem to think this article is about American foreign policy or Jews. No this article is about Maldivians. People who inhabited this chain of islands in the Indian Ocean.

    Allow yourself to look at the monster in the mirror. Due to September 11th, the 2004 tsunami and the many waves of Islam the world has experienced since the 7th century, we as a people have been recreated. We had a version of Islam developed during the Gayoom regime that was synchronized with our cultural and traditional practices that were pre Islamic. Today with democracy and freedom of speech our identity has been hijacked by fundamentalists. The handful of radicalists that were represses during the previous regime are now free and endorsed by political parties or form founding members of political parties.

    Arab culture is more prominent here now than 858 years ago when Arab seafarers first came here. The essence of Maldivian culture; our traditions, our culture, our language, our way of life came into being when we were Buddhists. We don't have to dig very deep to realise this.

    For once we can own up to how our culture and identity through globalization has come under siege by systems aiming to be the dominant discourse. We are at a crossroads my people, we can either decide to be Iran in the late 70s or we can be a progressive predominantly Muslim country that allows freedom of religion.

    Not because this is what I think but because this is how it is in the religion itself. Have we become so used to hypocracy that we can't even afford the non believers that?

    "There is NO compulsion in Islam!" Now go eat your words. What is lost in Yameen's well written article is the overwhelmingly simple truth, religion can be used for political means, and in country that claims to be 100% Muslim this a dangerous thing. Political activists disguised as religious scholars who merely want to use religion as a tool from which to assume unimaginable political power and unquestionable legitimacy. This is why secularism is the preferred system elsewhere and not just in the West. Even modern day Iraq (which is considered to be the worlds first democracy in the Mesopotamian era,) has always had secular governments despite having a Muslim majority. Religion as a political authority has led us to an erosion of culture and identity. The institutionalised hypocritical nature by which it has existed has produced a youth completely disenfranchised from it. Yet you would like to deny this and look the way. It's time we were taught real facts about our beginnings rather than folk stories with seamonsters, bad kings, and benovelant Arab travellers. We are the result of all of this and we have only ourselves to blame.

  23. the most weird thing i encountered like this was people who praise evolution in in the scientific manner & reject it in the religious context.


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