Register to reply

I don't understand war.

by pergradus
Tags: None
Share this thread:
russ_watters
#19
Nov19-11, 07:57 AM
Mentor
P: 22,316
Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
Take heart: you were born in one of the most peaceful centuries between world powers since humanity arose -- probably the most peaceful half-century+ following WWII!
Note: I measure this in perhaps a non-obvious way:

The severity of wars measured across time is more usefully measured by deaths per population than by gross deaths. This faction gives a better indication on the effect of the war on society. As a result, WWII (for the US) while being the 2nd deadliest in total number killed is the 4th deadliest by fraction of the population and a long way from the worst (0.3% vs 2.0% for the Civil War). If you cut up the American timeline into 50 year blocks from 1750 to today (putting the last 11 years in the previous block), the order of severity is:

1850-1900
1750-1800
1900-1950
1800-1850 (almost equal with the previous)
1950-2011

And the last time segment is on the order of 1/20th as deadly as the previous. Data here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_...ualties_of_war

Caveat: The 10 wars on the list were based on total deaths, so there may be some early wars missing that would have tilted the stats toward the earlier wars.

Things don't look quite as good for Europeans in the early part of the 20th century since more European civilians were involved in the wars, but otherwise the trend should hold there as well -- and further back.

I think the question of why things for the US have gotten 95% more peacful since the first half of the 20th century is an important related issue to why people go to war. Something must have changed in why people go to war or in the stakes of war for that to have happened.
mheslep
#20
Nov19-11, 11:16 AM
PF Gold
P: 3,104
Author, zoologist, Matt Ridley:

...chances of being a victim of homicide were about ten times what they are now in Europe in the middle ages.
...Steven Pinker was telling me that the two thousands looks like the decade with the lowest number of war deaths for one hundred and fifty years at least.
http://media.hoover.org/sites/defaul...t-20110101.pdf
WhoWee
#21
Nov19-11, 11:19 AM
P: 1,123
Quote Quote by Drakkith View Post
Really? Name me a major war in the last century where at least one side wasn't under those circumstances or similar.
I can't think of any major conflicts that didn't have outside influences - what is your point?
AlephZero
#22
Nov19-11, 11:20 AM
Engineering
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
Thanks
P: 7,300
Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
Something must have changed in why people go to war or in the stakes of war for that to have happened.
One change has been "mission creep" in the terminology.

Up to WWII, war and the infrastructure to support it was usually called "war". After WWII, it was rebranded as "defence" (or "defense" on your side of the Atlantic). Now, it's being rebranded again as "Homeland Security". Same technology, but "security" sounds much more warm and cuddly and self-evidently necessary than "war".

I wonder when the wheel will turn full circle and "Homeland Security" gets rebranded as something that could translate as "lebensraum" ...
WhoWee
#23
Nov19-11, 11:32 AM
P: 1,123
Quote Quote by AlephZero View Post
One change has been "mission creep" in the terminology.

Up to WWII, war and the infrastructure to support it was usually called "war". After WWII, it was rebranded as "defence" (or "defense" on your side of the Atlantic). Now, it's being rebranded again as "Homeland Security". Same technology, but "security" sounds much more warm and cuddly and self-evidently necessary than "war".

I wonder when the wheel will turn full circle and "Homeland Security" gets rebranded as something that could translate as "lebensraum" ...
Isn't the US pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan - walking away from invested blood and treasure? This does not translate to "lebensraum" or any other word that describes expansion of a nation or empire - does it?
Drakkith
#24
Nov20-11, 05:20 AM
Mentor
Drakkith's Avatar
P: 12,018
Quote Quote by WhoWee View Post
I can't think of any major conflicts that didn't have outside influences - what is your point?
My point is that my statement addresses the OP's topic, IE how people can go to war. Of course there are "outside influences", there always are. I'm not arguing against that in the slightest. If the debate is about going to war on other circumstances than what I presented, that is beyond my argument.
atyy
#25
Nov20-11, 08:50 AM
Sci Advisor
P: 8,802
Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
Note: I measure this in perhaps a non-obvious way:

The severity of wars measured across time is more usefully measured by deaths per population than by gross deaths. This faction gives a better indication on the effect of the war on society. As a result, WWII (for the US) while being the 2nd deadliest in total number killed is the 4th deadliest by fraction of the population and a long way from the worst (0.3% vs 2.0% for the Civil War). If you cut up the American timeline into 50 year blocks from 1750 to today (putting the last 11 years in the previous block), the order of severity is:

1850-1900
1750-1800
1900-1950
1800-1850 (almost equal with the previous)
1950-2011

And the last time segment is on the order of 1/20th as deadly as the previous. Data here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_...ualties_of_war

Caveat: The 10 wars on the list were based on total deaths, so there may be some early wars missing that would have tilted the stats toward the earlier wars.

Things don't look quite as good for Europeans in the early part of the 20th century since more European civilians were involved in the wars, but otherwise the trend should hold there as well -- and further back.

I think the question of why things for the US have gotten 95% more peacful since the first half of the 20th century is an important related issue to why people go to war. Something must have changed in why people go to war or in the stakes of war for that to have happened.
That s interesting. I wonder if the same quantity calculated for all wars and the world population would show the same?
Pythagorean
#26
Nov20-11, 01:47 PM
PF Gold
Pythagorean's Avatar
P: 4,293
Quote Quote by WhoWee View Post
Isn't the US pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan - walking away from invested blood and treasure? This does not translate to "lebensraum" or any other word that describes expansion of a nation or empire - does it?
You make it sound like they're actually removing every single US entity from these places. Every foothold we get around the world is a chance to plant more sensors (officially, as part of the IMS for the CTBT); another set of ears that can help to identify and source-locate aircraft, explosives, and other intelligence-related activity. Intelligence is worth more than "blood and treasure" today.

If you're curious to explore the possibilities, check out the link below; particularly interesting is the infrasound sensor array around the world. Infrasond travels far and characterizes large sources (explosion, aircraft, very well). Higher frequencies get stopped by everything in its path, so you need to be much closer to your source. Up around 250 Hz, you can pretty much characterize a whole camp's activities, but you need to be a lot closer for 250 Hz.
http://www.ctbto.org/map/
Pythagorean
#27
Nov20-11, 01:50 PM
PF Gold
Pythagorean's Avatar
P: 4,293
Quote Quote by atyy View Post
That s interesting. I wonder if the same quantity calculated for all wars and the world population would show the same?
Steve Pinker actually did a TED talk on this, in an attempt to quash the myth perpetuated by some that we are becoming more barbaric and savage in modern day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ramBFRt1Uzk
atyy
#28
Nov20-11, 03:48 PM
Sci Advisor
P: 8,802
Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
Steve Pinker actually did a TED talk on this, in an attempt to quash the myth perpetuated by some that we are becoming more barbaric and savage in modern day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ramBFRt1Uzk
Fascinating. I watched the first 6 minutes, but I'm having lunch at the moment and had to switch it off to prevent myself throwing up!

Since I'm too chicken to watch the rest, although violence is less common now, does he say whether it is now more possible for a rare man-made event like a world war or stock market crash to take out civilization?
Ryan_m_b
#29
Nov20-11, 04:16 PM
Mentor
Ryan_m_b's Avatar
P: 5,492
Quote Quote by atyy View Post
Since I'm too chicken to watch the rest, although violence is less common now, does he say whether it is now more possible for a rare man-made event like a world war or stock market crash to take out civilization?
The fact that we are fast becoming a global economy with so many critical failure nodes would suggest it is. I find it hard to imagine that at any other point throughout history would there have been a time where disasters both man made and natural had such an effect across the globe.
Pythagorean
#30
Nov20-11, 04:43 PM
PF Gold
Pythagorean's Avatar
P: 4,293
@atty: not sure I remember anything about that, but I agree with Ryan. We make the infrastructure we live in nowadays and we don't do it with the fractal redundancy that nature does. So instead, we have what Ryan calls "nodes" in our infrastructure.
Ryan_m_b
#31
Nov20-11, 04:48 PM
Mentor
Ryan_m_b's Avatar
P: 5,492
Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
@atty: not sure I remember anything about that, but I agree with Ryan. We make the infrastructure we live in nowadays and we don't do it with the fractal redundancy that nature does. So instead, we have what Ryan calls "nodes" in our infrastructure.
It is truly quite worrying. A recent example is how the floods in the far east resulted in all the stores around me to cancel all deals on computer products. Apparently because amongst the floods some factories and warehouses that supply a significant fraction of the worlds hard drives were ruined and there may be a supply problem.

Such a network might be highly efficient but it makes us vulnerable, I'd hate to think what would happen if a number of key locations around the world were disrupted because of man-made or natural disasters and large industries started to unravel (the by-the-skin-of-our-teeth food distribution we run in the first world seems very vulnerable). We wouldn't be able to restructure over night or even in a short time.
Pythagorean
#32
Nov20-11, 06:44 PM
PF Gold
Pythagorean's Avatar
P: 4,293
We have a researcher here, David Newman, that looks at the US power grid as a complex system (he worked on the monumental east coast power failure) and that's essentially the problem. Too many nodes in the current power distribution scheme.
Bobbywhy
#33
Nov23-11, 11:49 PM
PF Gold
P: 1,909
Humans are not the only social animals that wage war. Here are two excerpts from the article "Ants & the Art of War" by Mark W. Moffett in Scientific American magazine, December, 2011:

“Scientists have long known that certain kinds of ants (and termites) form tight-knit societies with members numbering in the millions and that these insects engage in complex behaviors. Such practices include traffic management, public health efforts, crop domestication and, perhaps most intriguingly, warfare: the concentrated engagement of group against group in which both sides risk wholesale destruction. Indeed, in these respects and others, we modern humans more closely resemble ants than our closest living relatives, the apes, which live in far smaller societies. Only recently, however, have researchers of ants begun to appreciate just how closely the war strategies of ants mirror our own. It turns out that for ants, as for humans, warfare involves an astonishing array of tactical choices about methods of attack and strategic decisions about when or where to wage war.”

“Viewed from the ant perspective, the human practice of conscripting healthy youngsters might seem senseless. But anthropologists have found some evidence that, at least in a few cultures, successful human warriors tend to have more offspring. A reproductive edge might make combat worth the personal risk for people in their prime – an advantage unattainable by ant workers, which do not reproduce.”
Ryan_m_b
#34
Nov24-11, 03:39 AM
Mentor
Ryan_m_b's Avatar
P: 5,492
Talking about ants makes me think of the Argentinian ant. It's rapidly spreading across Europe because instead of fighting each other they cooperate, making a large supercolony.
LaurieAG
#35
Nov24-11, 05:16 AM
P: 66
If you look at the Instinct chapter in Charles Darwins 'The Origin of Species' you will find nearly 4 pages on ants. It's an interesting perspective with several major differences, he observed soldier ants etc that he theorised were neuters because he argued that there would be too much variation in the community if the soldiers were fertile (which was not the case in any individual ant community where all of each class were physically identical). He also covered ant slavery in another chapter.
mheslep
#36
Nov26-11, 03:16 PM
PF Gold
P: 3,104
Quote Quote by atyy View Post
... or stock market crash to take out civilization?
Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
The fact that we are fast becoming a global economy with so many critical failure nodes would suggest it is. I find it hard to imagine that at any other point throughout history would there have been a time where disasters both man made and natural had such an effect across the globe.
Can you imagine a stock market crash that would "take out civilization"? Really? Does this mean you equate economic depressions with the end of civilization, an actual return to barbarism?


Register to reply

Related Discussions
Help.. i can't really understand... Introductory Physics Homework 4
Something i don't understand Calculus & Beyond Homework 16
I don't understand... Calculus 0
I don't understand something... General Physics 18