What does science have to say about man’s tendency to violence? That is the subject of the latest episode of PBS’s NOVA program. Surprisingly, someone has found a way to quantify episodes of violence throughout history by statistical analysis of writings and make a very convincing case that, despite two world wars, violence is actually on the wane.  Needless to say, however, one of several individuals through technology now has the power to end human life as we know it.  All the more important, I submit, that we strive to consider this knowledge in crafting political checks and balances.

Given the fraught times we live in, I am finding this fascinating. Stephen Pinker, the Harvard psychologist and intellectual, is prominently featured. I commend this program to all my readers who, like myself, continue to puzzle over the meaning of life and human motivations.

About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Democratic.
This entry was posted in Culture, Ethics / Morality, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to VIOLENCE!

  1. I haven’t seen this, but I do like Stephen Pinker so will look for it. Have two of his books. I was troubled to read in our newspaper that several counties in Virginia are declaring themselves 2nd Amendment Sanctuaries , where the local law enforcement will be encouraged not to enforce new laws on gun restrictions. I read about hundreds of people going into local meetings to demand these laws not be enforced. And I think, Guns are killing your children, and you gather here to defend your guns, not your children. (They likely would not see it that way.)


    • Jim Wheeler says:

      The PBS program doesn’t dwell on specific weapons such as guns but, as you might expect from Pinker’s involvement, more on the psychological aspects of violence down through history. I believe PBS productions can be expensive to buy but this one can be accessed online by clicking on the link in the last sentence in the post. Good to hear from you, Helen! Thanks for stopping by.


  2. aFrankAngle says:

    Very interesting, Jim. Even though we hear so much violence on the news, when factoring in population changes, I can see the rate decreasing. Then again, that thought is very simplistic.


    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Simplistic? Yes, I agree Frank. The evidence is very strong that violence has actually decreased per capita in historical times but it’s not clear to me whether biology is a factor. If the structure of civilization were destroyed, as in some sort of calamity such as an asteroid strike or a nuclear or biological war and the advantages of technology be lost, would humanity revert to its former savage behavior? I would like to think that political behavior might not totally revert. Consider: the general population was illiterate for most of the last 5 millennia.

      Liked by 1 person

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