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Posts Tagged "War"

Anecdotes from the Archive

Antwerp, 1914: New Technology, Civilian Targets

Antwerp bombing

Reported in Scientific American—This Week in World War I: September 19, 1914 The Belgian field army retreated into the fortified city of Antwerp only 16 days after the Germans had invaded. During the German assault on the city, they dropped several bombs from a Zeppelin. Aiming was really nonexistent and the results were useless from [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

First Sea Battle of World War I

HMS Laurel

Reported in Scientific American this Week in World War I: September 12, 1914 The Battle of Heligoland Bight took place in the North Sea on August 28, 1914. Reports of the fight took a couple of weeks to make it into print. The battle was a convincing victory by the British Royal Navy against the [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

This Week in World War I: August 2 – 8, 1914

Searchlights of the German fleet turn night into day. Scientific American, August 15, 1914

The Outbreak of War Reported 100 years ago in Scientific American The invasion of Belgium by the German army, in a bid to outflank French forces, led to Britain declaring war on Germany this week a century ago. The outbreak of a widespread war in 1914 took many people by surprise. That reaction was evident [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

The Army in the air

Before there were B-52s and F-15s, there were balloons. The issue from November 13, 1909, reported on the status of aeronautics in the U.S. military, which at the time was under the control of the Signal Corps, a branch in charge of the transfer of information and intelligence. According to the article, the United States [...]

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Cross-Check

Chimp-Violence Researchers Respond to Criticism on “Cross-Check”

Lethal group aggression among both chimpanzees and humans suggests that "we may have inherited these patterns of behavior from our common ancestor," Wilson et al. state. "As many have noted, however, and as we fully recognize, the existence of bonobos, with their much less violent societies, highlights the need to be cautious in how much we infer along these lines."

Is chimpanzee violence a product of nature or nurture? Genes or environment? Two weeks ago Nature published a report, “Lethal aggression in Pan is better explained by adaptive strategies than human impacts,” in which 30 primatologists came down on the side of nature. The report triggered a wave of lurid mass-media claims that, as one [...]

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Cross-Check

New Report on Chimp Violence Fails to Support Deep-Roots Theory of War

Inter-group killings are rare among chimpanzees and non-existent among bonobos, according to a new report in Nature, thus undercutting the theory that the roots of war extend back to the common ancestor of humans and chimps.

On this blog, in my book The End of War and elsewhere (see Further Reading and Viewing), I have knocked the deep roots theory of war, which holds that war stems from an instinct deeply embedded in the genes of our male ancestors. Proponents of this theory—notably primatologist Richard Wrangham—claim it is supported by observations [...]

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Cross-Check

U.S. Bombs, Which Helped Spawn ISIS, Can’t Crush It

One of the great ironies in debates about war and peace is that hawks--including those now urging attacks on ISIS militants--view themselves as hard-headed "realists" and denigrate doves as soft-headed and delusional. The real delusion is thinking that U.S. military force—which over the last decade has exacerbated the terrible violence wracking the Mideast—can now dispel it.

Once again, U.S. leaders are beating the war drums–or rather, beating them harder, because when in recent memory have the drums fallen silent? Aspiring President Hillary Clinton and Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are all urging President Obama to take stronger military measures against ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has [...]

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Cross-Check

Why Gaddafi’s Death Doesn’t Fill Me With Joy

I was going to let the demise of Muammar Gaddafi pass without comment—after all, what does the murder of this tyrant have to do with science, right? But a bizarre essay in The New York Times on October 26, “Dictators Get the Death They Deserve,” by the historian Simon Windbag—I mean Sebag—Montefiore, has pushed my [...]

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Cross-Check

Drone Assassinations Hurt the U.S. More Than They Help Us

Predator drone firing missile

A lot of my liberal friends are bitterly disappointed with President Barack Obama’s performance in the past three years. They complain that via action and inaction, he is perpetuating many of the policies of his predecessor. In one key area related to military policy, equating Obama to President George W. Bush is unfair—to Bush. Obama [...]

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Cross-Check

Did the U.S. Overreact to the 9/11 Attacks? Undoubtedly

chart comparing annual fatality risks

A decade ago I was wrestling a paragraph in my home office when my wife called out from another room, alarm in her voice. The music station she was listening to had interrupted a song to announce that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. We turned on the television, which had a [...]

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Cross-Check

Sebastian Junger’s documentary film Restrepo deserves an Oscar, but his theory of war is wrong

Sebastian Junger  War

Sebastian Junger knows war firsthand. Best known for his monster best seller The Perfect Storm (made into a hit film), Junger started reporting from war zones in 1993 when he traveled to Bosnia. Since then he has covered conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Afghanistan, which he first visited in 1996. In 2007 and [...]

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Cross-Check

Margaret Mead’s war theory kicks butt of neo-Darwinian and Malthusian models

Why war? Darwinian explanations, such as the popular "demonic males" theory of Harvard anthropologist Richard Wrangham, are clearly insufficient. They can’t explain why war emerged relatively recently in human prehistory—less than 15,000 years ago, according to the archaeological record—or why since then it has erupted only in certain times and places. Many scholars solve this [...]

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Cross-Check

Margaret Mead’s bashers owe her an apology

cover of The Trashing of Margaret Mead

Thirty-two years after her death, the anthropologist Margaret Mead remains a favorite whipping girl for ideologues of all stripes. Did you know that she cooked up the global-warming "hoax"? Some over-the-top global warming deniers say it all started in 1975 when Mead organized a conference to address overpopulation. Most attacks on Mead focus on her [...]

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Cross-Check

Are war crimes caused by bad apples or bad barrels?

When soldiers commit atrocities, we must ask why. The question is being raised once again by reports that a handful of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan carried out premeditated killings—murders—of Afghan civilians. The soldiers allegedly took photographs of themselves posing with corpses and body parts, including fingers and heads. The alleged ringleader is Sergeant Calvin Gibbs. [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Could Deep-Brain Stimulation Fortify Soldiers’ Minds?

U.S. Army Soldiers with the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division stand guard at a market in Al Doura in Baghdad, Iraq, April 5, 2007, providing security for Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Curt Cashour via Flickr)

As many as 20 percent of war veterans return from combat in Afghanistan and Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression, according to a 2008 report from the RAND Corporation. Many experience constant nightmares and flashbacks and many can’t live normal lives. For significant number of veterans, available medications do not seem to [...]

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Observations

Why Lasers Won’t Protect Airliners

A mobile Buk surface-to-air missile launcher, similar to that believed to have been used to shoot down Flight 17. Image courtesy of .:Ajvol:. via Wikimedia Commons.

Questions over the best way to protect civilian aircraft from surface-launched missiles have reemerged in light of the recent Malaysia Airlines tragedy over the Ukraine. On July 17, a medium-range Buk surface-to-air missile fired from the territory controlled by pro-Russia separatists reportedly struck Flight 17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Boeing [...]

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Observations

Ukraine’s Top Scientists Turn to Academic Unity in Call for Peace

Image: Alex Khristov/Wikimedia Commons

The political unrest reverberating throughout the Ukraine has prompted its top scientists to send out a plea for peace. Since the crisis escalated last week, after Russia moved to establish control over the largely Russian speaking Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine, it has fueled fears that the conflict will boil over into military action between [...]

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Observations

Post-Conflict Libya and Iraq Should Now Wage War on Diabetes and Heart Disease

demonstration in libya

In a chaotic Libya or a post-war Iraq, achieving individual safety and the most basic of health care might seem to be the best any government or aid organization could hope for. But areas in transition and those still tending to the societal wounds of war are actually well poised to combat chronic conditions, such [...]

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Observations

What are contemporary warfare’s hidden assaults on public health?

DENVER—Few human undertakings have had such apparent and ceaseless negative impacts on human health and well-being as violent conflict. War might seem such an obvious assault on overall public health that it would hardly bear discussion at a scholarly meeting on that subject. But a slew of researchers are working around the globe to uncover [...]

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Observations

One in 10 veterans returns from combat in Iraq reporting serious mental health issues

iraq war veterans 10 ptsd depression functional

Veterans of war have been known to suffer from high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and traumatic brain injury in addition to any physical wounds. And a new study of thousands of U.S. Army soldiers returning from combat duty in Iraq found up to 31 percent reported symptoms of PTSD or depression as [...]

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