by Fred Phillips
This article summarizes the evidence and arguments for an increasing
prospect of a peaceful world, and for the purported causes of a trend
toward peace. The approach is integrative and multiple-perspective,
drawing on the work of several writers, and introducing original considerations.
Evidence for changes in humans' attitudes toward war and peace is convincing.
Evidence for a long-term reduction in violent deaths per capita appears
strong but may not be predictive; Intertwined problems of climate change,
migration, and pandemics make further armed conflicts almost inevitable.
One hopes to minimize these. A 'tool kit' for doing so is offered.
violence; war; homicide; consciousness; social change
War, violence, and tradition
Though it is small comfort to the many who are caught in today's violent
conflicts, there is evidence that violence has been in secular decline,
worldwide. This essay mines the writings of several thoughtful authors,
finding much agreement among them concerning the reasons for the long-term
trend toward peace and away from violence. These reasons involve newer
forms of social organization, and apparent shifts in human consciousness.
The term 'violent conflicts' finesses the fact that deaths due to 'war,'
defined as extended violence between 'recognized' governments, can be
difficult to distinguish from fatalities resulting from non-state terrorism,
or from brigandage masquerading as liberation movements. At what level
of escalation do intra-country skirmishes become seen as civil wars?
These uncertainties make statistical measurement harder. Likewise, the
relation between a warlike national culture and violent domestic crime
is not well understood. Subject to these cautions, this essay remarks
on all the above mentioned types of lethal violence.
Today's cultures remain influenced by their earliest religious and philosophical
heritages. Much of what we regard as pre-scientific knowledge in the
last two thousand years was closely linked to religion. This essay is
not a religious screed, but it must make reference to formative religious
writings. Though it makes occasional reference to Eastern traditions,
and deals with worldwide statistics on violence, its arguments focus
primarily on Western influences and concerns.
Thus we first consider a "pre-scientific view," built largely
on writer Michael Tusa's intriguing reinterpretation of the Old Testament.
A modern scientific view follows, resting on Steven Pinker's massive
and masterful explanation of why violence has declined over the centuries.
An ensuing section looks at one of the hiccups in this long-term trend,
namely, the Vietnam War years. It mentions the unusual number of individuals
who arose to prominence as peacemakers at about that time.
We then examine the recent (2001-present) uptick in violence, which
followed two decades of a post-Vietnam resumption of the secular trend
toward peace, and place the uptick within the context of that long-term
trend. We consider contrary views from across the social sciences. Finally,
the essay offers a "what we can do about it" action list/toolkit.
Tusa's (2016) fictional
character presents this somewhat Nietzschean interpretation of the Old
Adam and Eve, before
consuming the forbidden fruit, are primitive, one-dimensional characters
no emotion, no consciousness
. stick-man characters a grade school
child could have drawn. Noah was the same way
at all, though he does at least get drunk.
But once we get to Abraham, and then to Jacob, all that changes. Abraham
negotiates with God. Abraham and Jacob display reason, personality,
. And then Moses gets [God] to feel remorse and change
his mind - 'Then the Lord relented [regarding] the disaster he had
threatened.' [Later,] Joseph is a fully developed self-conscious human.
What we are seeing is the pre-scientific biblical
writers struggling to explain the evolution of human self-consciousness
The eating of the apple is also the beginning of human morality, which
cannot exist without self-knowledge. (Emphasis added)
Abraham is the revered book's first character
to exhibit a sense of compassion, as he negotiates with God for the
survival of Sodom. King David was able to judge his own actions. Solomon
displayed a theory of consciousness (Dennett 1993) in the story of the
two women claiming the same child. The later story of Jesus evinces
a newer and still higher level of consciousness.
Pinker (2012) complained that though the institution of Christianity
swept the world, Jesus' message of love and forgiveness did not. We
know, though, that ideas spread according to an epidemic curve, slowly
at first, then more quickly, but with certain factions opposing the
idea's (or epidemic's) spread (Rogers 2003; Phillips 2007). At the time
of the Exodus, for example, evolved consciousness had spread only partially
and was backsliding - modern researchers would call this a hype cycle
- necessitating Moses' intervention, and the resulting Ten Commandments.
What form does the opposition
take - aside from the obvious, like Romans feeding Christians to lions,
and the crucifixion itself? Tusa (2016) cites the anti-intellectualizing
of the Eden story, in which modern preachers "denigrate reason,"
declaiming that those who eat from the tree of knowledge, having become
thralls of an evil talking snake, will be banned from paradise. This
interpretation denies that Eve and Adam became more human by eating
the apple, gaining the ability to plan the future, an ability that stems
from awareness of one's own eventual death.
Opposition continues to this day, as fundamentalists of many stripes
commit violence "in God's name," discourage coreligionists
from acquiring secular knowledge, and deny education to women - blaming
the fairer sex for Eve's "transgression," even as those with
different dispositions consider that it was a pretty good move on Eve's
A scientific view
The scientific argument for the long-term,
historic decline in violence (and concomitant changes in consciousness)
draws on statistical analysis and modern ideas of sociology and psychology.
Yet its conclusions largely parallel the "pre-scientific"
notions presented above.
In the 1830s the poet Tennyson, exposed to the new science of embodied
psychology, wrote of the evolution of consciousness (Tate 2009). Nearly
200 years later, the primary repository of evidence for a scientific
view emerged, in the 800 pages of Steven Pinker's (2012) The Better
Angels of Our Nature. First establishing that the pre-industrial
past was far more violent than we may think (in terms of violent deaths
per capita), Pinker documents dramatic and more or less steady declines
over the past 500 years in the frequency, duration, and lethality of
wars ("lethality" indicating number of deaths, either raw
or as a percent of world population at the time), as well as in murders
The same trend holds for small regional and cross-border conflicts that
do not qualify, in historians' terms, as wars. Indeed though Pinker
tries to analyze war and murder separately, he acknowledges "warlords
[who] dress up their brigandage in the language of political liberation
movements, making it hard to draw a line between casualties in a civil
war and homicides from organized crime."
Pinker attributes the overall decline in violence to a pacification
process, and a civilizing process. The rise of cities caused
people living in closer proximity to improve their getting-along skills
(pacification), and the appearance of kingdoms and centralized authority
helped rulers understand their interest in suppressing internal squabbles
(i.e., in civilizing) in order to redirect martial impulses toward external
A third process, Pinker explains, was the rise of humanitarian sentiment
that led to the cessation of witch-burning and various other atrocities
and, more recently, to the legal abolition of slavery and death penalties.
Humanitarian movements had precedents in ancient Greece, he says, and
in the Renaissance, but showed increased momentum in 17th and 18th century
Europe, and in the 20th, with 1948's Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, and with new NGOs oriented to peace.
Like consciousness, then, societies also evolved. Social custom in early
times led to bloodshed, as Pinker noted: "Human life held no value
in comparison with unthinking obedience to custom and authority."
Later, custom had the opposite effect, as suits, ties, and courtesy
took over as dominant norms. The change in customs was key to what Pinker
calls the civilizing process.
The Vietnam Era
Thus Pinker's portrayal
of the 1960s and '70s as an interval of "decivilization" in
the United States is mistaken. Street crime did increase alarmingly
in those decades. Try as Pinker might to separate war from civilian
homicide, who's to say that an increase in crime at home was not a fair
price to pay for ending institutional violence abroad, the kind reflected
in the phrase "We had to destroy the [Vietnamese] village in order
to save it"?
"Obedience to custom and authority" and austerity had saved
the Allied nations in World War II, but the greatest generation was
stuck in that mode, post-war. Their progeny, the baby boomers, understood
a rich society could afford to let its members tune in, turn on, and
drop out, at least temporarily. What had their parents fought for, if
not for the freedom to lead an enjoyable life while not having to kill
As a draft-age youth, I gave much thought to why the U.S. would wage
a cruel and senseless war in Vietnam. Over drinks with a colleague,
I floated a demographic argument: Too many male baby boomers could not
be absorbed into the civilian workforce, so the government was occupying
them by sending them off to a war. "Ridiculous," my colleague
retorted. Yet according to John Roman of the University of Chicago,
"The recipe for violence in any city in the world is dense clusters
of young men with nothing to do" (Economist 2021). Rather
than diminishing violence during the war years, we simply exported it.
There were of course many
more influences at work at the time. Minorities hoping to forge respected
places for themselves in American society were ipso facto breaking one
of the country's customs. Logic implied that the only way to bring needed
action and attention to their cause was to break still more customs,
sometimes illegally. No need here to detail the other social trends
of those decades; Pinker himself stated that nothing happens for a single
reason. The Woodstock era was not decivilizing. Rather, as Bob Dylan
sang, the times were a-changing, and other artists explicitly proclaimed
a shift in consciousness - the "dawning of the Age of Aquarius."
be the mother of invention," says Pinker. The prominent technologies
involved in reducing violence were those like the Green Revolution,
which eased the Malthusian threat. These were technologies that made
water, energy, food, and communication channels more widely available,
and more cheaply available, so that people felt less need to take them
away from someone else.
And weapons. Whether new and deadlier weapons make peace more likely
or less,is an unanswered question. Yet we may note that atomic weapons,
and the new game theory-based strategies that accompanied them, did
keep the Cold War cold.
Ferguson and Smith (2021) looked at 92 countries and concluded that
per capita gun ownership was not an indicator of homicide and suicide
cross-nationally. (Nor was video game behavior.) Rather, the indicators
were economic factors and income inequality. Their current, cross-sectional
study adds to but does not contradict Pinker's (2012) long-baseline
Pinker did not address
the impact of highly visible peacemakers, perhaps because the etiologies
of leadership and change agency are so difficult to analyze scientifically.
Such leaders, however, have accelerated the trend toward peace.
Mohandas Gandhi's doctrine
of nonviolent protest was instrumental in helping 75 thousand fellow
Indians win their civil rights in South Africa, and later in helping
India end British colonial rule. "Mankind has to get out of violence
only through nonviolence," Gandhi wrote in 1946 (Borman 1986, 170).
This principle of nonviolence gained Gandhi thousands of followers who
revere him as Mahatma ("Great Soul"), inspiring many other
activists to use his method to fight for peace.
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, is one of the world's most admired
peacemakers. In his 80s now, he travels the world to deliver lessons
on non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility
and compassion. He exchanges thoughts with world-renowned scientists,
to find different vocabularies for disseminating the Buddhist ideal
peace of mind, and to reduce the conflict between science and religion.
The 14th Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, remarking
in his laureate address that "Because violence can only breed more
violence and suffering, [Tibetans'] struggle must remain non-violent
and free of hatred. We are trying to end the suffering of our people,
not to inflict suffering upon others."1, 2
Martin Luther King, Jr., inspired by Gandhi, in turn inspired other
peacemakers and other social movements. King introduced the philosophy
of nonviolence into the US civil rights movement, believing that "nonviolence
was an active rejection of the cruelty and tyranny of an opposing class,
not just the avoidance of repercussions." King's words and actions
made possible the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting
Rights Act of 1965.3
King codified the philosophy
of nonviolence in six principles (King 1958).4
U.S. President Barak Obama remarked that King "finally inspired
a nation to transform itself."5
Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is active
nonviolent resistance to evil.
2. Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding. The end
result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation.
3. Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people. Nonviolence
recognizes that evildoers are also victims.
4. Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform. Nonviolence
willingly accepts the consequences to its acts.
5. Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate. Nonviolence resists
violence to the spirit as well as the body. Nonviolence love is
active, not passive. Nonviolence love does not sink to the level
of the hater. Love restores community and resists injustice. Nonviolence
recognizes the fact that all life is interrelated.
6. Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.
The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually
Modern secular and spiritual
Julian Jaynes (1976) claimed that Homer's Odyssey revealed a
world in which the voices in a man's head were presumed to be the gods
sending directions. Characters in the later Iliad, Jaynes continued,
understood internal voices to be their own, talking to themselves. In
other words, according to Jaynes, Homeric times brought about a shift
in human consciousness.
Zen priest Virginia Whitelaw wrote (2020), "Our sense of self,
which has been evolving through our entire life, becomes larger and
more inclusive as we mature. This expansion has been characterized
as moving from egocentric, to ethnocentric, worldcentric and finally
'kosmocentric' (i.e., embracing the entire subjective and objective
Kevin Kelly (2010) felt similarly: "There is a natural progression
of increased connectivity among humans. Groups of people start off simply
sharing ideas, tools, creations, and then progress to cooperation, collaboration,
and finally collectivism. At each step the amount of coordination increases."
Set in Pakistan's mountain regions, Greg Mortenson's 2006 bestseller
Three Cups of Tea put forth that early education, especially
for girls, is key to overcoming poverty and to transforming a society
into one that may effectively oppose terrorist regimes.
When ideas of transformed consciousness come from such disparate sources
- the psychologist Jaynes, the spiritual teacher Whitelaw, technology
guru Kelly, and mountaineer Mortenson - one must suspect there is something
Sadly, there are many indications that the incidence of inter- and intra-national
violence will get worse before it again gets better.
Rosen's (2016) charts show an uptick in the number of lethal intra-country
conflicts in the years following Pinker's (2012) tome. Note that Rosen's
remark predated the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The number of ongoing
conflicts each year has risen. This increase however only relates
to civil conflicts within states. Conflicts related to the expansion
or defence of colonial empires ended with decolonisation. Conflicts
between states have almost ceased to exist. The increase in the number
of wars is predominantly an increase of smaller and smaller conflicts
The year 2020 brought us America's "biggest rise in homicides
including a resurgence of mass shootings. Gun sales soared 64% over
the norm in that year. The Economist (2021) calls gun
sales a "common precursor to violence," though they are also
a common response to violence.
Excluding the Ukraine conflict, wars in the past five years have cost
13% of the world's GDP (Autesserre 2021). NGO and inter-governmental
peacekeeping agencies have been horribly inept, according to Autesserre,
as their personnel deliberately avoid violent neighborhoods and fail
to understand local cultures and economies. She recommends that peacekeepers
spend more time listening to and earning the trust of beleaguered communities.
Her advice, if heeded, might have prevented 2021's massacre in Burkina
Faso, which occurred under the noses of French and UN peacekeeping forces
(Mednick 2021; Though UN Peacekeepers have been involved in highly visible
foul-ups, Walter, Howard, and Fortna (2021) assert this UN function
has been markedly successful overall.)
As trust in the polity declines, public and community participation
(and voting) does also (Boeckmann and Tyler 2002). Without belief and
participation in a social order, inhibitions against crime decrease.
The year since a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd birthed
a movement to reform American policing. Yet this movement is stymied
at the ballot boxes, due to citizens' concerns about rising crime. Witte
and Weigel (2021) offer examples from elections in New York, New Mexico,
and Philadelphia, and write, "With shootings spiking in cities
nationwide during the pandemic, there are growing signs that the thirst
for change is being blunted by fears of runaway crime."
As climate change accelerates and pandemics proliferate, we may expect
violent attempts to capture resources, to settle blame for economic
and public health woes uponforeigners and migrants, and to shore up
a nation's self-image and its imagined 'heritage.' Russia's current
aggression can be attributed to the third of these. (Russia will in
many ways benefit from a warming climate. The emigration of Russia's
anti-war intelligentsia to Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgizstan, etc., however,
will create a vicious cycle as it leaves Russia populated by a greater
proportion of people who are susceptible to internal propaganda.)
This apparent reversal of the long trend toward peace is truly alarming.
It has not been the only temporary reversal in that long march. However,
that does not mean there is nothing we can do about it.
A linguistic consideration
Why do religious fundamentalists ignore their creeds' injunctions to
love one another and hospitably welcome strangers? It is natural to
put these injunctions aside during wartime: Who knows what a stranger's
intentions are? Yet modern word usage serves to confuse when we are
at war and when we are not. Viz., the war on drugs, the war on poverty,
and so on.None of these is a "hot" war, and even the decades-long
east-west Cold War occasioned much hardship but caused relatively few
This would be a point of little interest except that many American religious
fundamentalists consider themselves at 'war' to make the USA a Christian
nation (NPR 2020). This is their rationalization for putting aside Jesus'
teaching. It has led to violence, e.g., the January 6, 2021 assault
on the U.S. Capitol, and may do so again.
Critiques of Pinker's
Though this paper has drawn
on many writers' assessment of prospects for peace, Pinker's (2012)
is the most prominent. A variety of scholars have disapproved of Pinker's
methods, results, and style of argument. This section summarizes and
evaluates their critiques.
HistoriansMicale and Dwyer (2021) collect chapters from more historians,
each picking at holes in Pinker's thesis. These chapters appear to a
reader to be substance-free outrage that Pinker, a psychologist, should
dare to breach the historians' disciplinary silo. They offer contradictory
comments: Pinker shouldn't have used statistics; He was right to use
statistics but used the wrong statistics; He should instead have based
his thesis on history's non-measurable qualities, but should then defend
against his critics using "scientific method" (!); Wars are
now more violent because of more deaths of non-combatants, but "
now have lower casualty rates [due to] highly professionalized
and technologized military."
The contributors to Micale and Dwyer (2021) point out hiccups in the
long-term trend to peace, as if to invalidate the trend that Pinker
put forth. However, Pinker acknowledged deviations, never claiming a
perfect straight-line trend. Editors Micale and Dwyer offer "a
case for how history should be written and researched
. how historians
go about their craft," thus shifting discussion from Pinker's results
to his methods. As the methods of psychologists usually differ from
those of historians, and Pinker's explanations center on changes in
mindset, this criticism is neither here nor there.
These editors are dismissive of technology's contribution to our well-being.
They indulge in ad hominem attacks. They claim "poverty is a form
of violence" unaccounted for in Pinker's scheme - again a facile
tactic - and assert there has been "widespread criticism from other
A Google search does not
support the latter point. On the contrary, psychologist Joulia Smortchkova
(2017) compliments Pinker on addressing "the ambiguities of his
data" and "understanding the meaning of complex evidence from
Robert Epstein (2011), also a psychologist, faults Pinker for indulging
in confirmation bias. (Cirillo and Taleb (2016) differ, asserting Pinker
was fooled by the shape of the violence frequency distribution.) Implying
that the long-term trend may now be breaking down, Epstein sensibly
notes, "We live in a time when all the rules are being rewritten
Economist Ian Goldin (2018) calls Pinker too optimistic, noting he gives
short shrift to recent outsized risks like climate, addiction, and inequality.
He wants Pinker to give more weight to context - though it's difficult
not to over-simplify when addressing thousands of years of history -
and less to the raw numbers. Goldin makes a valid point: "Science
and evidence-based thinking do not necessarily triumph over irrationality
and ideology. Shared social norms and ethics are the framework that
allows reason to prevail." Pinker focused on average changes in
norms and ethics, yet it's true that irrational ideology can bend the
Philosopher John Gray's (2005) prominent arguments, intended to refute
Pinker, are very much beside the point. After accusing Pinker of overgeneralizing,
Gray generalizes that human morals have not improved over the millennia.
While many of us might throw morals out the window to protect our families
in desperate situations, it is possible that more of us than before
would choose a moral path when straits are not so dire. Gray fails to
make the distinction. Gray identifies the wish for peace with liberal
politics and with "scientific government" - both equations
are surely questionable - and notes how liberalism can segue into an
authoritarianism as terrible as those of the political far right. He
doesn't document how often liberalism does so, especially relative to
the steady appearances of new right-wing autocracies in today's world.
Gray's critique then segues into bizarre digressions about, inter alia,
Tibetan prayer wheels.
Gray does correctly raise the matter of agency. In contradistinction
to the prominent peacemakers mentioned earlier in the present paper,
Gray notes the impacts of the charismatic, fanatical individuals who
instigated and perpetuated the Inquisition, the Holocaust,and 9/11.
These critics raise some weak points, some that are off-topic, and a
few that are very much worth considering. As noted earlier, Pinker relies
on statistics, and does give short shrift to agency. Critics also want
him to consider historical context. To do so, however, might have needed
another 700 pages! The trend revealed in Pinker's numbers, even allowing
for some selectivity, is so striking that a kind of "statistical
significance" may be inferred. The cited arguments against long-term
reductions in violent death do not invalidate Pinker's statements about
changes in consciousness and norms.
Pinker is a rationalist. The current reprise of a "know-nothing"
movement in America buttresses Goldin's point that harmful beliefs and
negative emotions have trumped rationality in the past and show signs
of doing so again. Epstein's point that social change has very recently
accelerated (in dangerous directions) doesn't refute that Pinker's long-term
trend may be valid up until now, but might mean that Pinker's
optimism about the future is misplaced. Goldin's reasonable emphasis
on shared social norms is well served by the global impacts of Hollywood,
Bollywood, and K-dramas.
Pinker most frequently looked at violent deaths as a proportion of contemporary
world population. Epstein (2011), noting this may disguise a growing
absolute number of violent deaths, as world population increases, accuses
Pinker of a certain insensitivity. However, Pinker's construct does
reveal much that is encouraging.
This section's analysis may help the reader assess the prospects for
peace and decide on personal actions.
Have confidence in the multi-century trend toward less violent societies.
We need not feel that our efforts are wasted, or that the quest for
peace is a hopeless one. Persons of conscience may advocate for peace,
become peaceful role models, and support peace-oriented organizations,
having confidence that further evolution of human sentiment is possible.
Bass (1969) showed that two forces drive a person's decision to change:
persuasion and imitation. Though Bass put forth proof for this in the
context of product marketing, it is true also for the diffusion of ideas
and ideals. It implies we should be both persuaders advocating for peace,
and peaceful role models worthy of imitation.
Pinker's analysis gives us a frame from which we can infer constructive
actions. See Table 1. Its left-hand column gives a list of motives for
violence that goes beyond the "money, love, or revenge" triad
beloved by detective dramas. Grasping an aggressor's motive is key to
The peacemaker's appeal
to an element of the Table's middle list may moderate an aggressor's
behavior. Finally, actors affiliated with the right-hand list may turn
their (pre-emptive) efforts toward encouraging and disseminating the
"angel" qualities of the middle list.
We don't have to be saints in order to advocate for peace. Gandhi's
and King's sexual habits did not meet universal approval. Mortenson
faces charges of fabulation and embezzlement.6
Yet these persons are remembered more for their messages than for their
misdeeds. Importantly, though this does not excuse them, their misdeeds
were in realms quite separate from the realm of peace and nonviolence.
The peacemakers did not betray their commitment to peace.
A pleasing counterpoint is the 14th Dalai Lama, who has not been touched
Recent years' record numbers
of civil conflicts, school shootings and street murders might shake
readers' faith in the numbers Pinker (2012) assembled, especially now
that these numbers are ten years old. It does seem insensitive to call
these tragic instances of violence "blips" in the secular
trend, but in fact there are always blips in long-term trends.
Prospects for civil unrest are not encouraging. Current war-induced
currency inflation caused The Economist magazine (2022) to calculate
"the relationship between food- and fuel-induced inflation and
political unrest." Their model "reveals that both have historically
been good predictors of mass protests, riots, and political violence."
Therefore, "many countries can expect to see a doubling of unrest
Mueller (2022) believes we are seeing a blip in nation-nation warfare,
that Putin's aggression - and its multifaceted failures - will increase
humans' disinclination to further inter-state violence. "Five months
into the war in Ukraine, it seems more likely that Putin's venture will
reinforce and revitalize the aversion to and disdain for international
war" (Mueller 2022). One hopes that is true.If not, if the Ukraine
war is just a symptom of a climate-change-induced end of civilization,
then it will not matter.
Pinker's 2012 analysis didn't include non-lethal instances of violence
- for example, bullying7, maiming, or pepper-spraying - simply because
it's hard to get good statistics on these. Human trafficking is no longer
overt, but has gone underground. The Inquisition has been superseded
by quiet ecclesiastical sexual assaults. Nonetheless, evidence for an
overall, macro-historical decline in violence is considerable.
It's easier to join a parade when one knows where to find the parade.
The present essay gives readers a vocabulary for recognizing individuals
and organizations that embody the evolution of mind and heart toward
peace, and for joining them. There are of course many NGOs and outfits
like the UN Peacekeeping Forces that have explicit missions to create
peace, and crave wider support.
However, the authors quoted here argue that something more subtle is
going on: An evolution of consciousness. Such a notion may strike readers
as implausibly New Age, and in fact scientists are not yet sure what
consciousness is. Yet the diverse backgrounds of the authors who express
this notion or something close to it, many of them cited here, lend
plausibility to it: We do not see, think or feel in the same ways our
ancestors did. Sociological and organizational changes, and the influence
of pioneering leaders, ensure this. Changes in human consciousness are
an important driver of our long march away from war and violence, and
toward peaceful co-existence. May they continue, and may they continue
quickly, as the Doomsday Clock8 ticks.
7. He did note that we
no longer see those ads in teen magazines that offered muscle-building
and boxing lessons, promising a young customer will not be embarrassed
in front of his girlfriend when a beach bully kicks sand in his face.
The author thanks LanAnh Alice Nguyen for research assistance.
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About the author
Fred Phillips is Visiting Professor at SUNY Stony Brook (College of
Business and Alan Alda Center for Science Communication). He is Editor-in-Chief
Emeritus of the Elsevier journal Technological Forecasting &
Social Change. In 2017 he was awarded the Kondratieff Medal by the
Russian Academy of Sciences. He now heads the TANDO Institute, www.tando.org,