Scientists battle over whether violence has declined over time.
Contrary to a popular idea among researchers, modern states haven’t dulled people’s long-standing taste for killing each other in battle, a controversial study concludes. But living in a heavily populated society may up one’s odds of surviving a war, two anthropologists proposed.
As a population grows, larger numbers of combatants die in wars, but those slain represent a smaller average percentage of the total population, say Dean Falk of Florida State University in Tallahassee and Charles Hildebolt of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. That pattern holds for both small-scale and state societies, the researchers reported in Current Anthropology on October of the previous year.
Increasing absolute numbers of war dead in human societies have resulted from the invention of ever-more-lethal weapons, from stone axes to airborne bombers, the researchers suspect. But Falk and Hildebolt show that states, which centralize political power in a bureaucratic government, are less likely to lose large portions of their populations to war than are small-scale societies, such as hunter-gatherers. That’s a consequence of large populations acting as a buffer against war casualties among noncombatants, not a lesser appetite for violence, the researchers contend. (1)
We believe we are progressing, but there is no data to attest to that. We like to believe we are getting better, but we have only ourselves to testify to that.
People always killed people.
Evil is part of the cosmos from the very beginning.
We cannot discard it from the world.
Only the Maker of that world can.
All we can do is endure.
And give bread to that little sparrow…