War is a fact of human nature. As long as we exist, it exists. That's how the argument goes.
But longtime Scientific American writer John Horgan disagrees. Applying the scientific method to war leads Horgan to a radical conclusion: biologically speaking, we are just as likely to be peaceful as violent. War is not preordained, and furthermore, it should be thought of as a solvable, scientific problemlike curing cancer. But war and cancer differ in at least one crucial way: whereas cancer is a stubborn aspect of nature, war is our creation. It’s our choice whether to unmake it or not.
In this compact, methodical treatise, Horgan examines dozens of examples and counterexamplesdiscussing chimpanzees and bonobos, warring and peaceful indigenous people, the World War I and Vietnam, Margaret Mead and General Shermanas he finds his way to war’s complicated origins. Horgan argues for a far-reaching paradigm shift with profound implications for policy students, ethicists, military men and women, teachers, philosophers, or really, any engaged citizen.
|Edition description:||First Trade Paper Edition|
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About the Author
Director of the Center for Science Writings at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey, John Horgan is a prize-winning journalist who has written for Scientific American , the New York Times , Time , Newsweek , the Washington Post , the Los Angeles Times , the New Republic , Slate , Discover , the London Times , the Times Literary Supplement , New Scientist , and other publications around the world. His previous books include The End of Science , published in 1996.
Table of Contents
Living in Wartime 19
Chapter 1 War is Not Innate 35
Chapter 2 You Can't Blame It All on a Few Bad Apples 63
Chapter 3 Does Resource Scarcity Make Us Fight? (No, Not Necessarily) 85
Chapter 4 Is War a Cultural Contagion? (Yes) 107
Chapter 5 Choosing Peace 133
Chapter 6 The Power of Nonviolence 159
Epilogue: In Defense of Free Will 183
Appendix: A Brief Prehistory of Violence 191
Selected Bibliography 235
Index by Subject 243
About the Author 256