Our efforts to prevent and control war are as misguided as the research methods they are based on

Our efforts to prevent and control war are as misguided as the research methods they are based on

Despite extensive analysis of war-data, regularities in war dynamics were not discovered, at an earlier stage.

Why not; how could this happen: Why were regularities in war dynamics not discovered at an earlier stage?

The reason that all these attempts were in vain, lies in the fundamentally wrong idea that:

  • The nature of the System and social processes can be understood by focusing on “things” instead of process and change;
  • A System can be understood by relating change to time – manmade construction of time, like centuries – instead of to relations between variables that “govern” the System, and
  • Consequently, the application of incorrect research methods (e.g. statistical analysis).

In my research, I focus on certain properties of the System; e.g. war-activity, the production of tensions (entropy), the development of the number of state-structures in the System, and how these properties change with respect to each other.

These properties continuously changed – and are still changing – and in these changes there are regularities, that can only be identified by relating changes in these properties (and respective changes) to each other. The System has its own intrinsic clock, so to speak.

With this method – by relating changes in properties to each other – it is possible to “discover” the “underlying” structure of the System.

The research shows that certain variables remained synchronized in relation to each other and that the System produced four accelerating and very coherent war-cycles, during the period 1480-1945. The lifespan of (accelerating) war-cycles, must be the “unit” of analysis, and not centuries.

The mistake historians and social scientists made, is that they not only focused too much on single events (“things” so to speak) but ignored process and change. The System can only be understood when it is considered as a network of events, and when changes in properties are assessed in relation to each other, and over a longer period of time.

When changes are related to time (e.g. the number of wars during a specific period of time, e.g. a century) it is not possible to identify regularities: Wars do not obey calendars and other human-made ideas of time like centuries. The System has its own intrinsic “time”- tempo and rhythm – of changes of properties.

When war-data is analyzed by using centuries as a reference – as Levy and Pinker did – the natural rhythm of the System (consisting of four accelerating war-cycles, during the period 1480-1945) cannot be identified (revealed).

Consequently, wrong conclusions are drawn: According to Levy there are no regularities in war dynamics; while Pinker furthermore concludes (based on the wrong conclusion that war-activity has decreased) that our “better angles of our nature” have by now taken over.

Although this is a sympathetic idea of Pinker, this is not supported by thorough analysis.

We can only start to tackle the issue of war – and avoid the suffering and destruction it causes – if we understand the nature and workings of the System, and our role in it.

Until now, our efforts to prevent and control war – e.g. through policies – are as misguided as the research methods they are based on.

Above figure (see header) shows that we used the wrong lens (“human” time, including the idea of centuries) to study war-data: As the figure shows, from such a perspective it is impossible to identify the natural rhythm and “clock” of the System and its dynamics.