# Sean Gourley on the mathematics of war

• Synetos

#### Synetos

This is, on the face of it, somewhat interesting.
The reason for my limited enthusiasm is the following:

Effective opportunities&(motivations and possible perpetrators) for killing a single person must be regarded as many orders of magnitude greater than opportunities for co-ordinated large-scale attacks with sufficient punch.
Slicing the throat of an elderly Buddhist monk is, for example, much easier than hi-jacking an airplane.

Thus, we should expect that there was some exponential relationship between number of attacks and number of people killed, and it is unfathomable for me that a proclaimed physicist seemingly didn't expect some sort of relationship like that.

The analysis retains some interest for having collated and filtered the data, but what it really "means" is still an open question, IMO.

I don't think a power relationship is fruitful, though, and that modelling this in terms of an exponential relationship is better, for the reason given above.

You should note in particular that the mechanism I propose should basically be regarded as the proper random distribution here, irrespective of such phenomena like "organizational structure".

Rather, in order to measure the effect of SUCH variables, you should factor out the effect of this random distribution, and see if you still get some sort of pattern that needs to be understood and explained.

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Just before WWI a very popular book was written showing that modern war would cost both sides more than they could gain by it. Therefore war was "uneconomic" and there would never be another war! Of course, WWI did happen, showing that the impetus to war is neither economic nor rational.

Or that the ones who started it lacked this information :P

Just before WWI a very popular book was written showing that modern war would cost both sides more than they could gain by it. Therefore war was "uneconomic" and there would never be another war! Of course, WWI did happen, showing that the impetus to war is neither economic nor rational.

For many it is not economic or rational, but for some it is. Wars need bullets, bombs, tanks and many other things: someone has to pay for it and someone is financing it.

Just before WWI a very popular book was written showing that modern war would cost both sides more than they could gain by it. Therefore war was "uneconomic" and there would never be another war! Of course, WWI did happen, showing that the impetus to war is neither economic nor rational.
War might be neither economic or rational for a country as a whole, but it can be beneficial for people in positions of power that make the decision to go to war, such as a general getting a larger army and more resources (thus more power and influence and possible financial gain) or a politician gaining more votes (thus more power and influence and possible financial gain) or a leader of industry getting more orders for weapons and other supplies for an army and possibly gaining large subsidies for research and development of new weapons (thus financial gain and possibly more power and influence). Thus the small minority that have the most to gain from war, are usually the ones that are in a position to influence whether a country goes to war or not, even if it is not the the interest of the general public. All it needs is a bit of spin/propaganda/hype to get the general public to happily go along with this deception.