[extropy-chat] War Is Easy To Explain - Peace is Not

gts gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Thu Mar 15 14:02:07 UTC 2007

On Wed, 14 Mar 2007 21:36:29 -0400, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:

> Seriously, I think that I'm finally getting Gordon's point.  (See for  
> yourself, below.) You are pointing out that all other things being  
> equal, if the countries of South America, to take a concrete example,  
> remain constant in number
> over a period of time, yet undergo population increase, then the  
> likelihood of war may not go up?

Yes, and I might state it more precisely: if the number of South American  
countries and the frequency of wars between them remained constant while  
their populations increased significantly, your war-per-capita statistic  
would give the misleading impression that peace was breaking out all over  
South America. This would be true even if every South American country  
were in constant war with each one of its neighbors! South Americans would  
be cursing hell on earth, but your statistic would be giving the  
impression they had cause to be happy about a significant increase in  

And I'm wondering if this is not the sort of effect you're seeing globally.

> I see what you are saying now, and agree that that is a factor mitigating
> my per-capita claims. But!  Only if you interpret my claim as being about
> "wars per decade" or something like that.

I'm thinking the trend to which you're referring must be something like  
changes in global-wars-per-living-person-per-year, or something like that,  

> I am really talking about on the *chance*,
> or *probability*, of an individual succumbing to organized violence.

Okay, but the long-term historical trend in that statistic tells us as  
much about the human propensity to make babies as it does about the human  
propensity to make (or fall victim to) war. In this thread I don't think  
we're very interested in the human propensity to make babies.

The real question, at least the question on my mind, is whether global  
peace has really been on the increase over all of recorded history after  
adjusting for the huge growth in human population. I'd like to believe it  
is -- and my intuition suggests very strongly that it is -- but I'm afraid  
your statistic is not much help in proving it.


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