People don't necessarily think like you: Islamic edition

One of the things that I find really annoying about a lot of political discussions is the notion that everyone thinks like you rather than that people think in different ways. The annoyance I feel seemed well expressed in a discussion between Shadi Hamid and Robert Wright (beginning around 21:15) (highlight mine):

Hamid: For me, and based on my own experiences as an American, I think that having a state that is religiously and ideologically neutral is important. But then, why should my personal inclinations or beliefs be imposed on other people who don't share my starting assumptions. And that's a question I always pose to people when I get in this debate and they say 'We think this is better. Liberalism is better. Secularism is better.' And yes, it may be from our standpoint but you can't force people to be liberal or secular against their will if they don't want to be, right?

Wright: Ya. That's my view. I'm definitely with you there that we should be in many ways wary of assuming that everyone's going to share our values as soon as we explain to them how enlightened we are.

Shadi Hamid also expressed this more elaborately to Razib Khan:

My bigger issue, though, has to do with political scientists’ unwillingness to take religion seriously as a prime mover. In other words, because most political scientists in the academy aren’t particularly religious or haven’t spent much time around religious people, they usually see religion not as a cause, but rather as something caused by other more tangible, material factors, the things we can touch, feel, and of course measure. So if someone joins an Islamist organization like the Muslim Brotherhood, the tendency is to explain it with things like rural-urban migration, underemployment, poverty, being pissed off at America, the list goes on. Sure, all those things matter, but what does political science have to say about “irrational” things like wanting to get into heaven? It’s not everything, but it’s one important factor that has to taken into account. This is something that becomes more obvious when you talk to Islamists about why they do what they do. They don’t say, “hey Shadi, I’m doing this because I want to get into heaven.” It’s more something that you feel and absorb the more you sit down and talk to a Muslim Brotherhood member. It matters to them and it’s something that drives them, especially when they’re deciding to join a sit-in and they’re well aware that the military is about to move in and use live ammunition. It’s not so much that they want to die; it’s more that they are ready to die, and it doesn’t frighten them as much as it might frighten someone else, because they believe there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll be granted paradise especially if they happen to killed while they’re in the middle of an act that they consider to be in the service of God and his message.

Shadi Hamid might be best described as a liberal Muslim, but you can find similar sentiments expressed by so-called "new atheist" Sam Harris:

the people who are devoting their lives to waging jihad really believe what they say they believe, however those ideas got into their heads. The psychological problem that secularists must overcome is the basic doubt that anyone believes in paradise. I’ve actually had anthropologists and other overeducated people look me in the eye and insist that no one believes in martyrdom and that even suicide bombers are merely concerned about politics, economics, and male bonding. Some experts on terrorism sincerely think that no one is ever motivated to act on the basis of religious ideas. I find this astonishing.

Both of the above quotes are most specifically focused on secular views of certain Islamic groups, but it's certainly something that applies much more broadly. (One of my favourite weird studies is still that of investment decisions by members of apocalyptic cults).