Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Website Post: Comments Are Eerie After Marathon Bombings

As the police search for the suspect in the Boston Marathon, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who fled after the death of his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a police shootout this morning, the world tries to learn more about the two brothers. It seems that only a few years ago, Dzhokhar Tsnarnaev was a student at the University of Cambridge, where he was required to post on a summer reading blog about Malcolm Gladwell’s popular psychology book.  Gladwell’s book details “rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye,” and Tsarnaev’s own processes of rapid cognition are revealed in his blog post, particularly haunting only a few days after his bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Below is the blog post, complete with Tsarnaev’s comments:

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This is the blog for the UMass Dartmouth First Year Summer Reading Project!

On this blog, students, faculty, and staff share ideas and comment on Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell.

Thin-slicing is a term used in psychology and philosophy to describe the ability to find patterns in events based only on “thin slices,” or narrow windows, of experience.

For the past several weeks, we’ve discussed thin-slicing as it pertains to academic life; my colleague Professor Whittingham has also discussed the Amadou Diallou case, when thin-slicing and race collided to result in tragedy.  Today I want to discuss a case that has been going on for the past 18 years, a case where thin-slicing had similar tragic consequences based on nothing more than the way three teenagers dressed and the music they like.

For the past several weeks, we’ve discussed thin-slicing as it pertains to academic life; my colleague Professor Whittingham has also discussed the Amadou Diallou case, when thin-slicing and race collided to result in tragedy.  Today I want to discuss a case that has been going on for the past 18 years, a case where thin-slicing had similar tragic consequences based on nothing more than the way three teenagers dressed and the music they liked.

For the past several weeks, we’ve discussed thin-slicing as it pertains to academic life; my colleague Professor Whittingham has also discussed the Amadou Diallou case, when thin-slicing and race collided to result in tragedy.  Today I want to discuss a case that has been going on for the past 18 years, a case where thin-slicing had similar tragic consequences based on nothing more than the way three teenagers dressed and the music they liked.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
August 31, 2011 at 11:42 pm
In this case it would have been hard to protect or defend these young boys if the whole town exclaimed in happiness at the arrest. Also, to go against the authorities isn’t the easiest thing to do. Don’t get me wrong though, I am appalled at the situation but I think that the town was scared and desperate to blame someone. It’s because of stories like this and such occurrences that make a positive change in this world. I’m pretty sure there won’t be anymore similar tales like this. In any case, if they do, people won’t stand quiet, i hope.

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Tsarnaev’s thoughts ring particularly ironically with the significant Islamophobic “thin-slicing” that have spread through the media since the Boston bombing. But Tsarnaev’s comments also show that the bomber has considered the role of the media, the individual, and the state when it comes to acts of violence. It remains to be seen how these thoughts have changed since 2011.