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Concept: War

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The nature of inter-group relations among prehistoric hunter-gatherers remains disputed, with arguments in favour and against the existence of warfare before the development of sedentary societies. Here we report on a case of inter-group violence towards a group of hunter-gatherers from Nataruk, west of Lake Turkana, which during the late Pleistocene/early Holocene period extended about 30 km beyond its present-day shore. Ten of the twelve articulated skeletons found at Nataruk show evidence of having died violently at the edge of a lagoon, into which some of the bodies fell. The remains from Nataruk are unique, preserved by the particular conditions of the lagoon with no evidence of deliberate burial. They offer a rare glimpse into the life and death of past foraging people, and evidence that warfare was part of the repertoire of inter-group relations among prehistoric hunter-gatherers.

Concepts: Lake Turkana, Violence against women, Domestic violence, Kenya, War, Life, Holocene, Violence

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The proportions of individuals involved in intergroup coalitional conflict, measured by war group size (W), conflict casualties ©, and overall group conflict deaths (G), have declined with respect to growing populations, implying that states are less violent than small-scale societies. We argue that these trends are better explained by scaling laws shared by both past and contemporary societies regardless of social organization, where group population (P) directly determines W and indirectly determines C and G. W is shown to be a power law function of P with scaling exponent X [demographic conflict investment (DCI)]. C is shown to be a power law function of W with scaling exponent Y [conflict lethality (CL)]. G is shown to be a power law function of P with scaling exponent Z [group conflict mortality (GCM)]. Results show that, while W/P and G/P decrease as expected with increasing P, C/W increases with growing W. Small-scale societies show higher but more variance in DCI and CL than contemporary states. We find no significant differences in DCI or CL between small-scale societies and contemporary states undergoing drafts or conflict, after accounting for variance and scale. We calculate relative measures of DCI and CL applicable to all societies that can be tracked over time for one or multiple actors. In light of the recent global emergence of populist, nationalist, and sectarian violence, our comparison-focused approach to DCI and CL will enable better models and analysis of the landscapes of violence in the 21st century.

Concepts: Expected value, Violence, Binary operation, War, Probability theory, Demography, Sociology, 21st century

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Contemporary accounts of battles are often incomplete or even erroneous because they reflect the-often biased-viewpoints of the authors. Battlefield archaeology faces the task of compiling an historical analysis of a battle and of gathering all the available facts. Besides cultural historical evidence and artefacts, the human remains of those who have fallen in battle also provide invaluable information. In studying mass graves from a military context, the injury types and patterns are significant. They allow us to reconstruct the circumstances surrounding the soldiers' deaths and provide information on the hostilities that occurred on the battlefield. One such mass grave was discovered in 2011 at Lützen, Saxony-Anhalt (Germany). Based on its geographical location and on the results obtained from archaeological examinations carried out in the area, the grave could be dated to the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). Further archaeological research confirmed that the dead had been soldiers from the Battle of Lützen (1632). The mass grave was block-lifted and then comprehensively examined at the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle (Saale). As well as osteological examinations to determine age, sex, height, state of health, i.e. diseases or injuries, imaging methods were also employed and histological and isotopic analyses carried out. The focus of this study was on the injuries sustained by the soldiers both prior to and during the battle. The results revealed that the 47 deceased had been between the ages of 15 and 50 when they died. Numerous healed injuries showed that the men had often been involved in violent encounters. Approximately three in every four soldiers had injuries that could have been fatal. Wounds inflicted by handguns, particularly to the skull, were predominant. The integrative analysis of the archaeological and anthropological data allowed us to conclude that the majority had been killed during a cavalry attack.

Concepts: History, Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, Anthropology, Military, Thirty Years' War, War, Archaeology, Death

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To date, the research community has failed to reach a consensus on the nature and significance of the relationship between climate variability and armed conflict. We argue that progress has been hampered by insufficient attention paid to the context in which droughts and other climatic extremes may increase the risk of violent mobilization. Addressing this shortcoming, this study presents an actor-oriented analysis of the drought-conflict relationship, focusing specifically on politically relevant ethnic groups and their sensitivity to growing-season drought under various political and socioeconomic contexts. To this end, we draw on new conflict event data that cover Asia and Africa, 1989-2014, updated spatial ethnic settlement data, and remote sensing data on agricultural land use. Our procedure allows quantifying, for each ethnic group, drought conditions during the growing season of the locally dominant crop. A comprehensive set of multilevel mixed effects models that account for the groups' livelihood, economic, and political vulnerabilities reveals that a drought under most conditions has little effect on the short-term risk that a group challenges the state by military means. However, for agriculturally dependent groups as well as politically excluded groups in very poor countries, a local drought is found to increase the likelihood of sustained violence. We interpret this as evidence of the reciprocal relationship between drought and conflict, whereby each phenomenon makes a group more vulnerable to the other.

Concepts: War, Climate, Remote sensing, Nation, Violence, Ethnic group, Climate change, China

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Scientists, policymakers, and advocates are increasingly advised to use “the public health approach” to address myriad social issues, from alcoholism and arthritis to vision care and war. However, it is rarely clear what exactly is meant by “the public health approach.” Policymakers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describe the public health approach as a four-step model: Define the problem, identify risk and protective factors, develop and test prevention strategies, and ensure widespread adoption of effective programs.(1) Yet the public health approach is more than this model, for these steps are little more than a scientific approach . . .

Concepts: War, Health, Mathematics, Scientific method, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Epidemiology, Public health, Health care

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Limited resources result in competition among social animals. Nevertheless, social animals also have innate preferences for cooperative behavior. In the present study, 12 dyads of food-deprived rats were tested in four successive trials, and then re-tested as eight triads of food-deprived rats that were unfamiliar to each other. We found that the food-deprived dyads or triads of rats did not compete for the food available to them at regular spatially-marked locations that they had previously learnt. Rather, these rats traveled together to collect the baits. One rat, or two rats in some triads, lead (ran ahead) to collect most of the baits, but “leaders” differed across trials so that, on average, each rat ultimately collected similar amounts of baits. Regardless of which rat collected the baits, the rats traveled together with no substantial difference among them in terms of their total activity. We suggest that rats, which are a social species that has been found to display reciprocity, have evolved to travel and forage together and to share limited resources. Consequently, they displayed a sort of ‘peace economy’ that on average resulted in equal access to the baits across trials. For social animals, this type of dynamics is more relaxed, tolerant, and effective in the management of conflicts. Rather than competing for the limited available food, the food-deprived rats socialized and coexisted peacefully.

Concepts: Social psychology, War, Sociology

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Introduction The number of civilians killed in Iraq following the 2003 invasion has proven difficult to measure and contentious in recent years. The release of the Wikileaks War Logs (WL) has created the potential to conduct a sensitivity analysis of the commonly-cited Iraq Body Count’s (IBC’s) tally, which is based on press, government, and other public sources. Hypothesis The 66,000 deaths reported in the Wikileaks War Logs are mostly the same events as those previously reported in the press and elsewhere as tallied by iraqbodycount.org. METHODS: A systematic random sample of 2500 violent fatal War Log incidents was selected and evaluated to determine whether these incidents were also found in IBC’s press-based listing. Each selected event was ranked on a scale of 0 (no match present) to 3 (almost certainly matched) with regard to the likelihood it was listed in the IBC database. RESULTS: Of the two thousand four hundred and nine War Log records, 488 (23.8%) were found to have likely matches in IBC records. Events that killed more people were far more likely to appear in both datasets, with 94.1% of events in which ≥20 people were killed being likely matches, as compared with 17.4% of singleton killings. Because of this skew towards the recording of large events in both datasets, it is estimated that 2035 (46.3%) of the 4394 deaths reported in the Wikileaks War Logs had been previously reported in IBC. CONCLUSIONS: Passive surveillance systems, widely seen as incomplete, may also be selective in the types of events detected in times of armed conflict. Bombings and other events during which many people are killed, and events in less violent areas, appear to be detected far more often, creating a skewed image of the mortality profile in Iraq. Members of the press and researchers should be hesitant to draw conclusions about the nature or extent of violence from passive surveillance systems of low or unknown sensitivity. Carpenter D , Fuller T , Roberts L . WikiLeaks and Iraq Body Count: the sum of parts may not add up to the whole-a comparison of two tallies of Iraqi civilian deaths. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2013;28(3):1-7 .

Concepts: International humanitarian law, Iraq, Iraq Body Count project, Laws of war, 2003 invasion of Iraq, Violence, War, Iraq War

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In 1990, shotguns and M-16s were adopted into Enga warfare, setting off some 15 years of devastation as youths (~17 to 28) took charge of interclan warfare. In response, people called on elder leaders to adapt customary institutions to restore peace; subsequently, war deaths and the frequency of war declined radically. Data from precolonial warfare, 501 recent wars, and 129 customary court sessions allow us to consider (i) the principles and values behind customary institutions for peace, (ii) their effectiveness, (iii) how they interact with and compare to state institutions of today, and (iv) how such institutions might have shaped our human behavioral repertoire to make life in state societies possible.

Concepts: Papuan languages, Indonesia, Sociology, World War II, 2003 invasion of Iraq, New Guinea, War, Papua New Guinea

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OBJECTIVES: In comparison to other traumatic events, the impact of a childhood during war on resilience later in life has been seldom examined. The aim of this study was therefore to examine the long term outcomes of post-traumatic responses and resilience of a sample of adult Indigenous Quechua women, who were girls or adolescents during the Peruvian armed conflict (1980-1995). METHODS: The study instruments (Harvard Trauma Questionnaire Part I and IV; Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale; Life Stress Questionnaire) were translated to Quechua and cross-culturally validated. A cross sectional survey design was used in 2010 to collect data from a convenience sample of 75 participants (25-45 years old) in Ayacucho, Peru, the region most affected by the conflict. Data was examined using hierarchical regression analyses. RESULTS: Participants reported extreme exposure to violence (e.g., sexual violence, torture, combat, death of family members, and forced displacement) during the armed conflict, but surprisingly, only 5.3% reported a current level of symptoms that may indicate a possible post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Resilience scores and number of years exposed to conflict as a child were not associated with PTSD symptoms; instead only the degree of exposure to violence, and current level of stress contributed to the variance of PTSD-related symptoms. Conversely, resilience and current stress contributed to the variance of trauma symptoms when measured by local idioms of distress. CONCLUSIONS: Findings should be interpreted with caution, due to limitations in the content validity of instruments, risk of inaccurate recall, use of individual explanations of distress (such as PTSD) for collective experiences of violence, use of non-indigenous frameworks to examine Indigenous resilience, and other methodological concerns. The study however highlights the high degree of traumatic exposure of these former war children. While the prevalence of potential PTSD was astonishingly low in this sample, a number of women still suffer from significant distress two decades after the traumatic events. Therefore, post-conflict interventions should renew efforts to foster the resilience of marginalized populations disproportionately targeted by violence and advocate for enhanced protection of women and children in current armed conflicts.

Concepts: Prolonged exposure therapy, Cognitive behavioral therapy, PTSD, Violence, Peru, Rape, War, Psychological trauma

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The present descriptive study analyzes stalking in a sample of 278 Spanish court cases involving partner violence and contrasts the benefits of the new bill article 172ter, which criminalizes stalking, compared with the Organic Law 1/2004 on partner violence. Thirty-seven percent (37%) of the total sample included stalking behaviors, which manifested in intimidatory (60%) and controlling (45%) unwanted verbal communications (62%) and physical approaches (42%) that ended violently in a third of the cases (35%). Cases involving violent stalking, non-violent stalking, and physical violence without stalking were compared. A closer look at violent stalking cases uncovered that intimacy-seeking stalking behavior was concurrent with face-to-face aggression with a sharp object, whereas pursuit/control and invasive behavior were associated with property invasion and damage. Data not only support the contention that stalking should be criminalized regardless of the type of stalking behavior but also indicate that differences in the behavior might warrant different management interventions.

Concepts: War, Aggression, Domestic violence, Violence