So after 5 long years the research is finally out in print. The study titled “Common Ecology Quantifies Human Insurgency” is featured on the cover of this week’s issue of the scientific journal ‘Nature’. It puts forward a scientific model that can help to quantify collective violent activity in humans and makes a connection between human insurgency, global terrorism and ecology. You can download the paper here if you have access to a Nature login. If not, email me and I’ll see what I can do for you.
Our findings show that modern insurgent conflicts share common mathematical patterns in both the sizes and timing of violent events. The discovery of these mathematical patterns allows us to understand the structure and decision making processes that underlie insurgencies like Iraq and Afghanistan. Our model tells us how insurgent groups form, how they grow, how they make decisions and how many groups there are. We can also run different political scenarios on the model to understand the likely effects of different strategic decisions. This can tell us for example the likely effect that sending more troops to Afghanistan would have on the duration of the war.
There is already a considerable amount of buzz out there about this research, with a TV piece featuring my co-author Mike Spagat going out on BBC later tonight. We shall see how it all plays out over the next week.