Cassandra has moved. Ugo Bardi publishes now on a new site called "The Seneca Effect."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Complex system gone bad: the tragedy of Oslo

It is said that the human brain is the most complex system we know of in the universe. Complex systems, by their nature, are unpredictable and difficult to control. A feedback dominated system can stabilize in unexpected states. The brain of Anders Behring Breivik, the killer of Oslo, is a complex system that has reached a certain state of horrible lucidity. One can get some glimpse of this lucid folly from this document that he wrote under a transparent pseudonym.

Of all the things I read in my life, this is the one that most closely fulfils the definition of "evil". It is not even so much for what Breivik did, but just for what he is, or at least for the way he appears to be from this document. What we get is a glimpse of a state of evilness that one wouldn't think possible. And yet, as I said, the human brain is the most complex thing of the universe and can reach even this state. Try to imagine the solitude of this man the way he describes it. Try to put yourself in this state of personal exaltation; being convinced that it is upon you, and you alone, to save Europe by killing Europe's enemies. And this from a man who calls himself "Christian".

Facing this, I can only cite Paul, in the letter to the Romans (1:30) when he says that "they invent ways of doing evil". The human brain, indeed, can invent new and ingenious ways of doing that. There is no doubt that Anders Breivik has invented an ingenious way of being evil.

(thanks to "Mago" for Paul's citation)


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)