Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Modern Decline of Violence

Wars are less deadly than they’ve been for 12,000 years, writes John Horgan in Slate (Tuesday, August 4) here , and things could even get better.

While “all the horrific wars and genocides of the 20th century accounted for less than 3 percent of all death worldwide, according to one estimate (...) the anthropologist Lawrence Keeley estimates in his influential book War Before Civilization, that violence accounted for as many as 25 percent of all deaths among early societies.” War emerged and rapidly spread as hunter-gatherers adopted a sedentary lifestyle and agriculture, and as populations grew.

Horgan also reports the reasons that Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker suggests as an explanation for the (relatively) peaceful attitude of modern men. The complete article is well worth reading, even at the beach.

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