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War is a fact of human nature. As long as we exist, it exists. That's how the argument goes. But longtime Scientific American writer John Horgan disagrees. Applying the scientific method to war leads Horgan to a radical conclusion: biologically speaking, we are just as likely to be peaceful as violent. War is not preordained, and furthermore, it should be thought of as a solvable, scientific problem—like curing cancer. But war and cancer differ in at least one crucial way: whereas cancer is a stubborn aspect of nature, war is our creation. It's our choice whether to unmake it or not.
In this compact, methodical treatise, Horgan examines dozens of examples and counterexamples-discussing chimpanzees and bonobos, warring and peaceful indigenous people, the World War I and Vietnam, Margaret Mead and General Sherman-as he finds his way to war's complicated origins. Horgan argues for a far-reaching paradigm shift with profound implications for policy students, ethicists, military men and women, teachers, philosophers, or really, any engaged citizen.
Praise for The End of War:
"The best book I've read in a very long time is a new one: The End of War by John Horgan. Its conclusions will be vigorously resisted by many and yet, in a certain light, considered perfectly obvious to some others."
"I'm heartened by this thoughtful, unflappable, closely argued book. The End of War gives us new ways to understand and resist the specious arguments of inevitabilists and professional weaponeers."
"Winsomely and persuasively, John Horgan suggests that the world may be headed toward peace. This book is straightforward, drawing on the best scientific evidence available, examining the writings of the best scholars on both sides of these issues. Horgan believes human destiny is not predetermined. Human choices matter. We are encouraged not because of pious idealistic hopes, but because the best evidence demonstrates that the prospects for peace are eminently realistic."
—Dr. James C. Juhnke
"This is a heartfelt and important book, one that largely succeeds: at least, in making its point. Whether it is comparably successful in its deeper goal—changing peoples’ minds—is another matter, although let’s hope that it is."
—David Barash, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Houghton Mifflin, January 2003.
With Reverend Frank Geer. Edited and with an Introduction by Robert Hutchinson. Brown Trout, 2002. Royalties go to Help the Afghan Children Inc.
Review of The Beginning of Infinity, by David Deutsch, Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2011
Review of The Information by James Gleick, Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2011
Review of "The Moral Landscape" by Sam Harris, Globe and Mail, Oct. 8, 2010.
Review of "What Darwin Got Wrong," by Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 27, 2010
Review of "The Shallows," by Nicholas Carr, Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2010.
Article in Slate, Aug. 4, 2009
Review of "Year Million," Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2008
Neuroscientific critique of the Singularity, IEEE Spectrum Magazine, June 2008.
Article in Discover Magazine, April 2008
Review of biographies of Einstein by Walter Isaacson and Jurgen Neffe, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 4, 2007.
A report on "mystical technologies" for inducing religious experiences, Slate, April 26, 2007.
Q&A with Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project, National Geographic, February 2007.
Article on scientific explanations of religious experiences, Discover, December 2006.
Tenth-anniversay update of The End of Science for Discover, October 2006.
Review of The Jasons: The Secret History of Science's Postwar Elite, by Ann Finkbeiner, New York Times Book Review, April 16, 2006.
Essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education, April 7, 2006.
Essay in the New York Times Book Review, January 1, 2006.
Review of The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney. New York Times Book Review, December 18, 2005
Profile of Jose Delgado, a pioneer of brain implants, Scientific American, October 2005.
An essay inspired by the Centennial of Einstein's revolutionary papers on relativity and quantum mechanics. New York Times, August 12, 2005
Researchers have found evidence for the controversial "grandmother-cell" theory. Discover, June 2005.
An essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education, June 3, 2005
An essay published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, November 26, 2004.
An essay published in the New York Times, December 12, 2004
Cover story for Discover Magazine, October 2004.
A critique of Buddhism, published online by Slate (slate.msn.com) February 12, 2003.
Published in Discover Magazine, February 2003. A profile of the Harvard psychiatrist John Halpern and his five-year study of peyote use by members of the Native American Church.
An essay published in the New York Times, December 31, 2002.
An essay published on the oped page of the New York Times Christmas Day, 2002.
A list of articles written for Scientific American and other publications.
Outtakes from Rational Mysticism
(published here only)
An account of Horgan's efforts to achieve satori in a Zen class.
A profile of the German anthropologist and authority on shamanism Christian Ratsch.
A profile of Diana Alstad and Joel Kramer, authors of The Guru Papers.
A profile of the Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast.
A profile of the British Buddhist Stephen Batchelor.
A profile of the guru Andrew Cohen, founder of What Is Enlightenment?, with digressions on Yogi Bhajan and Amrit Desai.