War is an inevitable part of human society – so say political leaders like Barack Obama, philosophers, and even some scientists. Often the inevitability of war is presented as justification for continued war. But does the evidence from our past actually support the theory that war is inescapable?
Two new studies question that conclusion: one involves a survey of thousands of skeletons from hundreds of sites, of humans that existed more than 10,000 years ago – the survey showed little evidence of war. The second study is an examination of nearly 2 dozen “foraging societies” that are assumed to behave in the same way as Paleolithic humans.
That study also resulted in very little evidence of war-like behavior. While thinkers like Jared Diamond, Steven Pinker and Francis Fukuyama have adopted the so-called Deep Roots theory – that war has deep roots in human history – the scientific evidence seems to be more consistent with Margaret Mead’s 1940 theory that “Warfare is Only an Invention – Not a Biological Necessity.”
In fact John Horgan who wrote a book called The End of War, suggests that it is more likely that war is a “self-perpetuating meme.”
GUEST: John Horgan, teaches at Stevens Institute of Technology, author of the 2012 book, The End of War, writes for Scientific American
Read Horgan’s articles here: