The End of War

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."
--David Swanson

"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."
—Nicholson Baker

"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

Selected Works

War
McSweeney's Books, paperback edition, 2014.
"Cross-check" (Scientific American blog), August 12, 2014.
Review of Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature," Slate, October 3, 2011
A rebuttal of the deep-roots theory of warfare. Discover, June 2012.
Drones may soon become ubiquitous in U.S. skies.
Brain and Mind
Don't hold your breath for the Singularity. IEEE Spectrum, June 2008.
Article on scientific explanations of religious experiences, Discover, December 2006.
Profile of Jose Delgado, pioneer of brain implants, Scientific American, October 2005.
Investigation of controversial "grandmother-cell" hypothesis. Discover, June 2005.
Investigation of peyote use in Native American Church. Discover, February 2003.
Misc.
Tenth-anniversay update of The End of Science. Discover, October 2006.
Chronicle of Higher Education, April 7, 2006.
New York Times, August 12, 2005
New York Times, December 12, 2004
A list of articles written for Scientific American and other publications.
Rational Mysticism Outtakes
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?
Books