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(Huffington Post)   Despite what mass media and your gut tells you, historically, the world has never had it this peaceful   ( divider line
    More: Interesting, Global Conflict, Steven Pinker, better angels, IQ tests, hair salon, statistics  
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3654 clicks; posted to Geek » on 31 Jan 2013 at 10:56 AM (5 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2013-02-01 07:20:12 AM  

DirkValentine: I wonder what parts of Europe, after the devastation of WWII, would willingly go full throttle anymore?  I know there are centuries long grudges and shiat like that, but after the 40's, I can't imagine it would get very far no matter who was the "bad guy".

/not a history major

Obviously not:  People said the exact same thing after WWI:  It was "The War To End All Wars".
2013-02-01 09:43:42 AM  

bbfreak: Old article is old unless another nut killed 69 youths last July.

Wow, it took 100 posts to point out that the article is over a year old... that's got to be a Fark record!

Congratulations, bbfreak!
2013-02-01 10:42:29 AM  

J. Frank Parnell: draypresct: What makes you think "in actuality there is more war than ever"?

Things like this, or  this. To say this is an age of peace compared to the past is flat out ridiculous.

Not only were there fewer conflicts in the past, but they simply couldn't mobilize and support as many troops in previous ages, so armies were smaller and conflicts were shorter. Not to mention the scale of destruction was nothing compared to what it is now.

Your first link included "Conflicts range from full-scale shooting wars and uses of military force to displays of force (sending warships and closing borders, for example)." I'm pretty sure that graph is complete BS. The British Empire had warships freely visiting or stationed around the world, yet according to this paper there were only 2/3 pairwise conflicts worldwide each year in the years before 1900. I suggest reading an actual history book -">​ is a good one. "A lot of people are aware that a quarter of the globe was once coloured pink to represent British-held territories, but that's not even half the story."
2013-02-01 11:02:51 AM  

J. Frank Parnell: If total casualties to war/conflict over your average year were much higher in the past than they are now, they wouldn't have to resort to per capita stats to make their claim.

I'll just leave it at that.

When is using per capita numbers "resorting" to anything?  That's the only statistic that matters in a discussion like this.
2013-02-01 11:24:28 AM  

J. Frank Parnell: Nunya_Bizness: Just out of curiosity what year are you referring too here?

Was just making the point that more frequent conflicts with less casualties add up. The 250,000 number wasn't attached to any particular thing.

Might have had one big war (by their standards) every 50 or so years further back in history, but now we have dozens of conflicts per year, and we're much better at killing.

While we are better at killing we are more discriminate.  you only have to go back 200 years and SOP when conquering was 1)kill all the men 2)rape and kill all the women 3)sell all the children in slavery.
2013-02-01 08:54:47 PM  

syberpud: Nurglitch: At least the violence isn't organized as much anymore. It's not like we're in the middle of a world war or anything.

Can I buy violence organizers at Crate & Barrel?

No, but that's what bars and nightclubs are for. The city gives a few liquour licences to a few bars and clubs in the cheap commercial streets and the drunks and perverts and crazies are diverted away from pleasant suburbs and expense shopping or office districts which are as dead as an English village at night.

And it's nothing like the bar brawls of yesteryear. In those days, mugs, bottles and glasses were smashed and used as weapons. Some mugs were pewter and had glass bottoms so you weren't vulnerable to attack when quaffing ale. Knives and coshes and socks full of bits of brick or other easy to discard material were common.

The invention of the disposable plastic beer cup, the safety razor and their economical electrical equivalent, and many other civilized tools of entertainment, aggresson diversion, and control, have made even barroom brawls rather tame and non-fatal.

Crowd control techniques used to involve horses, cannon, guns, swords. Now it is water cannon, rubber bullets, tasers and unbreakable shields, not to mention Kevlar and helmets much better than anything the Middle Ages or the Bronze Age had, with hands-free two-way radios built right in perhaps.

Credit and debit cards have made mugging much less profitable and it is now possible for even poor people to not carry money. Formerly only the rich could do this by not paying their tradesmen and having servants to carry the cash and pay their little bills. Also, there were a lot of people, and still are, who are only too happy to pay the way for rich people and famous people, so everything is comped if you are famous enough. Life is not fair.

I could write a book on how and why violence has declined but I'm lazy so I let somebody else write the books and I just read them. It costs me thirty-forty dollars for a hard cover. Or I could spend a year working on the book. Ha! Guess which one I prefer?

I just give away my book ideas on for $5 a month. It's a lot cheaper than writing even one book a year.

I wouldn't mind making a billion dollars if I could write trash, but sadly, most of my writing will never be that gloriously bad. It's not as easy as it looks to be second or third rate. It's like trying to draw like a small child--you can usually tell a fake from the genuine article.
2013-02-01 09:24:25 PM  
The traditional way to get a wife in relatively recent times in much of the world was to steal one--kidnap a woman who was defenceless or fight her friends and family in a grab and run. Nowadays, wives are so cheap in some places their father will pay a dowry to you to take one off his hands. No need to grab a wife and run unless you are too poor to keep one or pay for a wedding.

Some of the more primitiive peoples of the Amazon or Papua New Guinea were, until very recently, locked in perpetual warfare of a very low grade. Nonetheless, deaths were frequent. The most violent society on Earth, a tribe in the South American rain forest, had a mortality rate of about one in ten for warriors. True, their population is small and their wars are more like panty raids with arrows and stone axes, but that was life before the invention of money. You had to fight for everything.

This level of violence no longer exists in what we call "Civilized Society". Even in prisons, where barter, rape and murder are very common, the murder rate is much lower than among "cannibal tribes".

And at each stage of Civilization from ape-man to global society, law and order, trade and commerce, peaceful negotiation and sublimated violence have decreased the amount of violence. The only countries where you are really unsafe are failed nations where no government, bad or good, exists. Even in the ghettoes of America or the gang-infested ruins of Soviet kleptocracy, the death rates are lower than in the slums of London or Edinborough in the 1830s.

The laws are better enforced since Sir Robert Peel replaced the old style city police with relatively clean-living and incorruptible Bobbies. Even in the US, which in some ways is more like Russia or Brazil than European or even British Commonwealth countries, the trend has been inexorably towards less violence and crime since the late 1970s.

An aging population is part of the explanation. Better surveillance, improved policing, non-fatal weapons and tools of control and pacification, increasing wealth (for some), fewer temptations. If you stop and think, you can think of many reasons why people don't resort to violence as much as they did even in the days of your parents and grand-parents.

I also think the increase in intelligence theory is sound. A lot of studies show that stupid people (literally people of low intelligence) are not as clever when it comes to using their words and stealth and trickery to solve problems. They are more likely to resort to violence.

Malnutrition, pollution, toxins in food, water or the air, disease, congenial retardation and heridity all have been pushed back by science and modern medicine, education, and policing. Where lead once made for violent and somewhat retarded criminal classes, liberalism and socialism have removed lead from fuel, from paint, from the air, from water. Where retards were dumped into the streets to steal and beg and prostitute themselves as children, they are now forced to remain in school until they are old enough to think of better ways of making a living, such as welfare or low wage dead-end jobs and dealing drugs.

There are places where mental retardation is still common, just as there are places where blindess, amputaton and thousands of nasty diseases or causes of premature aging or injury are common, but progress has slowly hunted down and eliminated the worst dangers and policing has gathered up the rest and locked them away until they are middle-aged and unlikely to commit any violen crimes.

Most violen crimes are still committed by men beween 16 and 25. In much of the world these are not as common as they were when the population boom was on, and even in countries where the majority of people are still young, many of them are being educated, fed, and doctored regularly if somewhat on the cheap.

In short, violence is often a disease or a symptom of disease as much as stupidity and laziness and a weak immune system. Violence can be prevented and reduced by the same sort of techniques that you use against any epidemic or any failing of the mind, spirit or body.
2013-02-02 01:08:45 PM  
The past is certainly going to predict the future.  Thus Europe's century of peace after Waterloo led onward to the peace ever since 1913.

/May I suggest reading Nassim Taleb
2013-02-03 04:55:50 AM  
It always makes me a little bit sad when people get all distressed over 'increasing violence'...

We can't say it's only in Europe... Violent Crime and Gun-related fatalities in US are at the lowest they've been since the 60's [FBI].
We can't say that gun violence is getting more focused... like there are fewer overall shootings, but more mass shootings... unless you've forgotten that Tommy-guns and the like existed. Granted, the raw numbers have gotten larger (a 40+ person killing would've been unheard of even a few decades ago), but not impossible, and that could as easily have something to do with increased population density.

On that note, all these numbers HAVE to be per capita. Let's say a population has a 1% chance of some genetically derived mental disorder that causes someone to go unhinged and kill some people... in a population of 100, 1 person might murder 3 or 4 people, probably individually, before getting caught.
Tragic- a 5% loss to the population (counting the murderer).
In a population of 1000, you get 10 murderers, but assuming the same amount of land (This isn't Superman Returns) the population is much more dense... which means a few things: 1) it's harder to hide rising mental instability with so many extra eyes in such a small area, so a few of those 10 get caught before they become a problem; 2) those that don't get caught now have a target-rich environment, leading to higher initial body counts; 3) after a single isolated, high-body count incident, they're more likely to get caught before a second incident as the denser community is more aware of events and responds more quickly.
So you get 10 sociopaths, several of whom (3-4) determine it's more beneficial to blend in and not kill (as they often do IRL), a few of whom (3-4) are noticed and treated/restrained, and the remainder (say, 2 or 3) who go on killing sprees... ending (between them) 20 lives- the largest killing being a whole 12 people... an unbeleivable amount, considering the population used to only be 100...
But truth be told, we've only lost 27 people or so out of 1000... less than 3%. Still tragic, but much less so. Keep scaling up, and it keeps happening.
The bigger the population gets, and denser, the more incidents we should expect- after all, if you double the population, you should get double the violent criminals, right? But the numbers have been roughly static. Per capita crime in the US is plummeting... not as fast as some other places, but still.

As for war... heh.
Does anyone remember carpet bombing? Next time you hear about a rogue drone missile hitting a civilian home and killing a handful of bystanders, try to remember that we used to drop unguided bombs by the thousands on heavily populated areas... both before and after the nuke.
And fewer people (soldiers and civilians both) have died in the last 12 years of active US war (Iraq and Afganistan) than died in a single week of either Vietnam or WWII.

If that doesn't qualify the world as "much safer" or "less dangerous" or "less violent" alone, I don't know what does.
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