[ExI] ep thought experiment

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Sat Jul 11 19:11:27 UTC 2020

Ben Zaiboc <ben at zaiboc.net> wrote:

On 10/07/2020 17:38, Keith Henson wrote:
<> There are lots of examples where people went to war or similar kinds
>> of social disruption when things were looking bleak.  Can you think of
>> a case where a group of people with a bright future outlook went to
>> war?

> The clincher would be if there are cases where impending war was
consistently averted by an upward change in people's economic prospects.

I have often cited the IRA as an example.  Income per capita seems to
be the modern mapping of a stone age resource crisis.  What happened
is that over a couple of generations the Irish women reduced the
number of kids from around 4 to replacement.  With low population
growth, economic growth got ahead of population.  The improved income
per capita made the future look brighter and that seems to have turned
down the population support for the IRA until it more or less went out
of business.

> Just correlating war and economic outlook doesn't establish causation.
The theory makes perfect sense, but it isn't proven.

I agree.  However, there would be serious ethical problems with an
experiment to make the future for a population look bleak to see if
the people went to war.

One of the depressing things about this work is that I can't see it
being applied to the high growth places in the world where it is
needed the most, the Arab-Islamic world.  It might not be impossible
though.  Iran (Islamic but not Arab) reached replacement some years
ago, though because of the former high birth rate, the population will
grow for some time.

Incidentally, for many years I have predicted the Chinese will not
start a war as long as they have economic growth.  In the last couple
of years that growth has been disrupted.  Will they start a war?  Will
growth pick up?  I can propose a model, but there is a lot of

It wasn't simple in the stone age and is much more complicated now.


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