Sean Gourley on the mathematics of war

Dandelion Salad

TEDtalksDirector By pulling raw data from the news and plotting it onto a graph, Sean Gourley and his team have come up with a stunning conclusion about the nature of modern war — and perhaps a model for resolving conflicts.


Scientists find ‘law of war’ that predicts attacks – Telegraph (27 Jun 2008)

5 thoughts on “Sean Gourley on the mathematics of war

  1. I have to say I cringed watching this video. Economists can explain what did happen, make models, then apply those models to predict what will happen. But all of those models and predictions are based on presuppositions, in fact all of economics is based on some form of presupposition at its core. In this case they made a mathematical model to show the correlation between frequency of attacks and their severity.

    Now I’m sure that the information they acquired is accurate and the model is abstractly interesting but there was nothing in the presentation that suggested a link between correlation and causation. In fact the last minute of the video pointed directly at a lack of “if-then” relationship.

    To diminish war into a algorithm of action/reaction is entirely missing point and really is reminiscent of Robert McNamara using a statistical based strategy for victory in Vietnam with his metric being being the same (i.e. causalities). You can’t win a war of occupation and the more violence armies use the more radicalized the people being occupied will get. The only real lesson of this video should be don’t start wars at all, not how to manage the brutality with statistics.

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