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Pro-War Biases: Why We Are Killing Ourselves

August 21, 2015

The Contrary Perspective

Nile Stanton

In a thought-provoking article by Dominic Johnson, Richard Wrangham, and Stephen Rosen of Harvard, the authors observe that “Human decision-making has been shown to violate rational choice theory in a variety of contexts….” “[S]ome of the most intriguing and important examples concern how people perceive and react to risk.  Most notably, people appear to be consistently risk averse towards potential gains, but risk prone towards potential losses. This has important implications for . . . understanding triggers for war.”

In The Most Dangerous Animal: Human Nature and the Origins of War, David Livingston Smith maintains that “[W]ar’s allure comes from tendencies inscribed in our genes over evolutionary time, and that violent conflict benefited our ancestors, who were victors in the bloody struggle for survival.”  He continues, “This is why the disposition to war lives on in us, and why we periodically yield to it and are drawn…

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