Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Society & CultureOther - Society & Culture · 1 decade ago

Is human violence increasing or decreasing?

I would like to see evidence that our species is improving.

If I believe what I see on TV, that prospect seems bleak.

But somehow, I cannot believe the prevailing message of media's mendacity.

Please, anyone... show me that we can bring peace to our pitiful race. Show me some hopeful believable scientific facts to support a reason for peace. Show me how peace is possible, if it is.

There must be MANY others like me, who desperately need a glimmer of hope amidst this profit-driven, politically corrupt, religion-crazed insanity of war.

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  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Human violence is definitely decreasing.

    The best information we have is represented in this illuminating TED talk by Steven Pinker, titled, “A brief History of Violence.” (If the following link I provided does not lead you to the TED talk, please search the title on your favorite search engine.)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ramBFRt1Uzk

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    In the lecture, Mr. Pinker examines the statistics and causes of human violence. He also points out the nature of preemptive violence, deterrent violence and revenge.

    The most promising of reasons for decreasing violence have to do with increased communication, information and knowledge of the “win-win” or “positive sum” theorems in game theory.

    The lecture is fast and dense with information. I found Mr. Pinker’s use of scaling his evidence as a fractal phenomenon most interesting. Many phenomenon in human endeavors are better understood when viewed over long time-scales using the fractal-like emergent patterns.

    The other most important issue in this lecture is about how and why we perceive violence as a persistent and increasing danger, when in fact it is not. Human memory, (front of consciousness) is responsible for keeping track of most recently viewed phenomena. When the media profits from a “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality, irrational fear results. By itself, this conclusion is sufficiently damning of monopolized media’s irrational influence upon modern man’s collective consciousness.

    Violence is bad because people are more valuable alive than dead. The more we understand this, the more our own selfish needs demand non-violent behavior.

    Then there are the facts of evolution:

    Evolution, (survival of the fittest) automatically imparts a survival advantage to those with empathy. As such, empathy has increased. The downside is that our empathy is narrowly focused upon our close family, friends, neighbors and country.

    Over time, this narrow focus has expanded due to better communication. (printing press, telegraph, telephone, radio, TV and now the internet.)

    The key turning-point in decreasing human violence directly correlates to the Age of Enlightenment. It is not surprising that intelligent free communication brings not only wealth and health, but also prosperity and peace.

    This talk frankly discusses some horrifying facts of human violence, including genocide, mass-murder, rape and religious recommendations of those forms of violence.

    Ultimately, this talk’s message is profoundly hopeful though, because it points out the universal logic and survival value of “The Golden Rule.”

    The more we know through art, communication, culture and freedom of speech, the more likely we are to find peace. Please watch the video and return your thoughts.

    Here are my thoughts…

    Peace is not only possible, but is inevitable.

    We can accelerate its coming by intelligent free communication.

    Therefore, anything that inhibits intelligent free communication is antithetical to the great cause of human peace.

    Anything that increases free intelligent communication promotes peace and diminishes suffering through understanding.

    I want everyone to understand these principles so that we find peace and all its benefits sooner, rather than later.

  • Hmm I suppose that depends on just how you define violence. I think it sort of stagnates depending on the desperation of most people. It takes different forms. Sure we don't typically lynch, crucify, burn people, drill holes in their head so much anymore, but we have a more modern, "civilized" way to go about it. Technically violence can just mean unwarranted force, vehemence, etc... I think the trend of today is more to ravage peoples' minds than physical violence. There is "violence" in the acquisition of wealth, possessions, complacency... It's easy to see it in the vast apathy and deception that goes on. I think just as lies are told with words and with silence, violence is committed with swords and lies. And actually, that kind of thing has been going on for thousands of years *coughreligioncough*...just molded around what those in power can get enough people to accept.

    On a primal level, I think people tend to be more violent, as well as many other tasteless characteristics, when their survival is threatened. Today, it's tough to survive in this economical debacle.

    Not to be a pessimist--I think most people are good at heart, but many are ignorant as well. Take away someone's food, their shelter, their security, and people, depending on their character, will descend from the kind and caring being which is born into them. This is kind of how I define the word spirit. I'm far from religious...and I mean far from it hehe, but I like the word--which I think of as a person's character untouched--without the cynicism, bitterness, etc... which are cultivated into people from their surroundings.

    So what do I make of it all, I'm not quite sure...but I think one of the major problems, with violence, deception, profit, etc...is that there are incentives for doing harmful things. A dishonest business gets more profit if it fools people, a king prevents a revolt by killing its own citizens, a president gets elected (and profits) rallying peoples' support through a terrorist ruse and religious propaganda (ahem....) You get the idea...

    People can combat these things, but it is an uphill battle. I'm sure there are plenty, some even reading this answer, who would call me blasphemous, single-minded, and a dozen other things. Whether I am or I am not, it is that sort of attitude which is the problem. I think even the internet does more good than harm to the cause, because it is so vast that even governments cannot silence things. I just wish I saw more of the myth-busting on places of greater influence like Fox News.

    You really do ask a loaded question, but I think the short version is that everyone is selfish to a point... I think one of the most important changes many could make is to channel that into the altruistic sense which I think we have when we're little kids (and hopefully longer). For example, I trick someone into buying something, or I help someone on the side of the road. Both things are selfish in some light. One way I get some pitiful material gain, the other, I feel good about myself. In the latter, I have satisfied some primal source of potential malice without doing harm. That is part of the potential your question is asking for, and part of the reason not to lose hope.

    No one will ever meet a greater adversary than their own potential. All ya have to do is at least face it.

  • 1 decade ago

    It could help to wonder what is the root of violence?

    One is envy: you got something that I want, so I'll take it from you.

    Two is fear: you have might and could attack me, so I will attack you in some way, or attack a 3rd party hoping to gain control of them and make their might join mine.

    Then there is intolerance: my religion says that I have to impose my ways to all of you (actually, most religion are intolerant in this way--and I find rather ironic that the first answerer above immediately felt compelled to quote the bible. Hey mister: reality check: you are proving that your views are driven by an evil fairy tale book, one that has a vengeful god flush the whole planet with a flood, who asked for human sacrifice to test one's belief, who had the Egyptians faced with pagues just to release the Israelites -- instead of magically relocating them like he could)

    Do we have more violence now than before? I think not. In the middle age, killing someone was almost casual. People would be excuted for looking strange, for being sick--and therefore possessed by the devil--some where even "proven" to be witches.

    The difference is that violence is now broacasted on a planetary scale, essentially live. And a lot of violence is mock violence: violent movies, violent video games, etc. Violence is everywhere, but is much more dilluted.

    Still, there is too much violence, even if there is less in proportion to the population now than hundred of years ago. How can we change that?

    I have been thinking a lot about all those jihadists who respond to the call of their "fearless leaders" (who would gladly send other people to their death, but who would not do anything dangerous themselves, in this area, G.W."draft dodger"Bush is not better than Ossama bin Laden) and who act on the promise of rewards in the "after life"... How can we balance the promises of a non-existing god with self-preservation and respect for others? Can we forbid religion?

    In the 1930, the empire of Japan was an expansionist totalitarian regime, invading Korea and Manchuria. In the 1950's, the USSR was trying to impose its system on neigboring countries. Do we see those nations being threatening now? No. Why? Because they are now RICH.

    Russia has oil in abundance and is doing a lot better now. Japan has moved from a feudal society to a high tech style with a lot of value added industrial capability. If you are comfortable, you do not spend as much time scheming to take over someone else's possessions.

    So, here is the possible solution: develop the nations that do not have much right now so that they would have a lot to lose if they start a war. I would like to see Afghanistan being a rich country, with a developped road and transportation network, with modern cities, where everyone can have a standard of life that compares with that of North America, Europe, Japan and Australia. Already India and China are on the fast track to reach that point; you see China and India being agressive with anyone, apart from those posing an immediate and direct threat to them?

    If an Afghan has a good, productive job, has free time to seek out cultural interests, a confortable dwelling, do you think that he would consider risking it all to join the taliban movement?

    So, what is needed is more effort to advanced and develop other societies. Also, to respect their sovereingty. Bush invade Iraq to taker its oil ressources and forged fake weapons of mass destruction reports to gain the support of the public; he basically lied to the American population. And he did this for religious motives as well: Bush is a religious fundamentalist who thinks he can hasten a second coming by directing history along the lines of some prophecies.

    So, if everyone is rich and confortable, would that totally eliminate violence? Unfortunately no. Mankind is made of agressive creatures with a predatory instinct. When we play, we play war. What we can do is hope that violence will be contained in such mock wars, in video games and such.

    And no matter how evenly wealth is distributed, some greedy people will always want to have still more (and do what with it...?)

    To prevent this sort of thing, we need to reach another level, that of universal governmental control by a machine. We need Colossus. Maybe not with access to a nuclear arsenal, but perhaps with enough computational power to be able to convince the most stubborn of religious fanatics with reason.

  • 1 decade ago

    There are tons of good people doing good things everyday all over the world, but that does not make the news.

    As the old saying goes good news does not sell, and if it bleeds it reads.

    Unfortunately all throughout history it is evident that although our knowledge to improve living conditions has made great strides, human nature has not changed.

    What has changed is the efficiency with how we do the same things as previous generations did.

    Hope is found in the truth, and this is found in Jesus Christ.

    His teachings can help us make a better world today, if we choose to put them into practice.

    Only He can bring the peace this world cannot offer us.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Sheila, Bible prophecy is constantly fulfilling itself and the simple answer is "No".

    Things will get much worse before they get better meaning it will take God's war to put an end to all violence and immorality, all wickedness in the world. Sorry, but we are just scratching the surface of the times of tribulation.

    Brace yourself and keep your protective suit of spiritual armor about you.

  • joddie
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    well human violence is increasing daily and at an alarming rate for dat matter

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