To prevent another world war, researcher suggests changing how we think

To prevent another world war, researcher suggests changing how we think
A new book, titled Empirical Paradox, Complexity Thinking and Generating New Kinds of Knowledge, uses mathematical modeling to address why thinking in terms of either/or outcomes means the inevitability of another world war.

Is another world war inevitable? A U.S. Army researcher studying complex phenomena says yes, unless people stop thinking in terms of either/or outcomes.

Dr. Bruce West, a senior scientist at the Army Research Office, an element of U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory, authored a book that uses mathematical modeling to understand how the people—and the military—must think to gain advantage in today's society.

In a new book, Empirical Paradox, Complexity Thinking and Generating New Kinds of Knowledge, West and his coauthors discuss why thinking in terms of either/or outcomes means the inevitability of another .

The first half of the book discusses these topics for a general audience and also addresses how individuals make decisions under stress.

The second half of the book is more technical, geared toward network science specialists. The authors discuss the used to draw the conclusions made in the first half of the book.

"Adversaries think in such terms, you either get what you want, or you do not," West said. "Can a different way of thinking produce a different outcome? If either/or is the only way of thinking then a person would be either a protagonist or an antagonist, but in reality a person can be both, either, or neither, and often is. Recognizing that opens the door to novel solutions."

The authors suggest that by using both/and thinking a dynamic resolution can be achieved. The Army has initiated this strategy with the introduction of the gray zone, in which an adversary's aggressive acts do not warrant a war response, but neither can they be interpreted as peaceful and benign. Responses to acts in the gray zone, challenge traditional either/or thinking, requiring an appropriate measured and yet unpredictable response. On an individual level, this translates into an understanding that a basically selfish individual can also be a hero, a consequence of the complexity of being human.

West has more than 40 years of experience developing the mathematical models and formal infrastructures to bridge the gaps separating the understanding and control of the complex phenomena within the life, physical and social sciences.

West's work has quantified the information transfer between complex networks, as in the control of physiological systems by the brain, the adaption of an individual to social groups, and the control of crowds by zealots. He has authored more than 300 peer-reviewed journal articles, 35 book chapters and 21 books, garnering more than 20,000 citations resulting in an h-factor of 70.

The book is coauthored by Dr. Paolo Grigolini, a professor in the Department of Physics at the University of North Texas and Korosh Mahmoodi, a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

The books is available on leading bookseller websites.


Explore further

Scientists discover mathematics of brain waves

More information: Empirical Paradox, Complexity Thinking and Generating New Kinds of Knowledge: www.cambridgescholars.com/empi … w-kinds-of-knowledge
Citation: To prevent another world war, researcher suggests changing how we think (2019, July 24) retrieved 19 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-07-world-war.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
18 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

mqr
Jul 24, 2019
It is so funny. Just "simply", change their minds.

The first minds that need change are the ones behind the military complex, the minds that need more and more money- once they "feel" that they got enough money, the idea of selling weapons to individuals and governments will cease. The people behing the war as business have a very serious self esteem problem, known for a long time.

Jul 24, 2019
No, it's about changing one's own actions to convince people who think of themselves as adversaries to think how to get the best outcome. Stopping thinking about "beating someone" to "win" when the outcome will not be a zero-sum "I win/you lose" mentality. Once they have enough bad experiences with this mentality, like when the US "won" in Iraq at enormous cost, they become suspicious of it. There will always be a hard core who won't get it; the idea is to make that hard core as small as possible. Remove their votes.

Jul 24, 2019
People get greedy and ignorant. They ask why we should be good neighbours and globalise when individualism is potentially more profitable and independence seems to offer more freedom.

Ask yourself: why do countries try to globalise after world wars? Why was individualism and isolationism the dominant positions of those countries precipitated war?

Popularism will lead to war. That kills off the popularists and leaves the rationalists behind to pick up the pieces and globalise, so preventing further world war until a generation of people who have forgotten war and think that the world is innately peaceful and that other countries will willingly yield to their country come along and ruin the peace, just as we see in the world today.

Jul 25, 2019
"There will always be a hard core who won't get it; the idea is to make that hard core as small as possible."

Good point! Conversely we should promote win-win scenarios for that they are; another example is the current US administration that think in terms win-lose for *everything* including trade! It is already costing them, I hear from independent economists.

The Army Research Laboratory's choice of press release headline promised more than the book seems to deliver. The right recipe for ending the millennia of wars and meanwhile also world wars is indeed the correction of our prevalent way of thinking. Once we understand, internalize and reflect in our daily mode of thinking, feeling and acting, that harm we do to others does ultimately harm us as well, that the same is true for benevolence and help extended to fellow beings, lasting peace on Earth will finally commence. The question is only if it will take further world wars till ultimately realizing that simple fact, down to the last sinister research lab, that is paid for figuring out newer disgusting ways for domination and imposing of own will onto others, making them unfree.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more