Afzal Upal

Afzal Upal

Cognitive scientist
Author, Moderate Fundamentalists

Dr. Muhammad Afzal Upal is a cognitive scientist of religion and world’s foremost expert on the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at.  His account of growing up as the son of an Ahmadiyya missionary in the movement’s headquarters in Rabwah, Pakistan and a cognitive analysis of what makes the movement’s ideas so attractive to some people is about to be published by DeGruyter Press as “Moderate Fundamentalists: Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in the lens of cognitive science of religion.”

He obtained his PhD from University of Alberta in 2000 and has taught at Dalhousie University, University of Toledo, and Occidental College in Los Angeles.  He was chair of the First International Workshop on Cognition and Culture, the 14th Annual Conference of the North American Association for Computational, Social, and Organizational Sciences and the AAAI-06 Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Agent-based Social Simulation. He has published over a hundred peer reviewed articles on cognitive science, concept learning, countering violent extremists, and de-radicalization.

His book Moderate Fundamentalists about the cognitive science of new religious movements is scheduled for release on July 30th.