Around the world, day after day, human beings are being killed by other human beings. Most of us are emotionally affected by this observation – and even more so when such killing happens in our immediate physical or mental vicinity, in some kind of “it could have been me (or: my parents, brothers, sisters, partner, children, friends)” situation. Mostly, I’m assuming, because generally noone wants to be killed or experience the killing of a loved one. Also, maybe, because generally noone wants to be reminded of the fact that we all eventually die
“Arma virumque cano”, says Vergil in the first line of his Aeneis. Like him, I want to talk of men and arms today – or: Of mankind and war, of human beings and conflict, and of men of mind and their methods. Concretely: A recent article by Pasquale Cirillo and Nassim Nicholas Taleb, “On the tail risk of violent conflict and its underestimation”, has (re-)ignited a discussion first sparked by Taleb’s earlier criticism towards the hypotheses regarding the decline of violence put forward by Steven Pinker in his book “The Better Angels of our Nature”, first published 2011. Is there – this is the question on the table – less violence today than in the past of mankind as we know it?