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The Titus Arch in Rome that celebrates the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD

Mark Buchanan, Bloomberg: Is the World Getting Safer? Maybe Not

Is the world getting more peaceful? Some academics think so. New research, though, suggests they might be getting their math wrong.

Since 1945, armed conflicts between great powers have become much less frequent, and the annual number of fatalities has consistently declined. This has led some people -- among them the noted psychologist Steven Pinker, in his book "The Better Angels of Our Nature" -- to suggest that humanity may, perhaps, be growing out of war and moving into a more peaceful era. It's an idea that military historians find intriguing, and quite plausible.

Unfortunately, it may also be wishful thinking. Getting statistics right is hard, and it's especially hard when dealing with wars, which -- like earthquakes and financial markets -- follow a highly erratic pattern. Long periods of relative stability are punctuated by sudden, catastrophic events, such as World War II, which took the lives of millions. Statistically speaking, the data have "fat tails," meaning that a few observations account for most of the phenomenon being studied. As a result, indicators such as the average number of deaths per year can be misleading -- after any big event, things will always look like they're getting better.

WNU Editor:
I have always been a student of history .... specifically wars and conflicts. I also study trends .... specifically on where wars and conflicts will be next month/year/decade. Is the world getting safer .... my answer would be no. The old nationalist/religious/tribal/sectarian conflicts are coming back with a vengeance .... and coupled this with a debt/financial/economic crisis facing most nations .... something is going to give. My only hope is that when that happens .... it is not a world war but regional and/or internal conflicts.

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