The Decline of Violent Conflicts: What Do the Data Really Say?

The Nobel Foundation, Causes of Peace, Forthcoming

NYU Tandon Research Paper No. 2876315

26 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2016  

Pasquale Cirillo

Delft University of Technology; Delft University of Technology - Delft Institute of Applied Mathematics (DIAM)

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

NYU-Tandon School of Engineering

Date Written: November 27, 2016

Abstract

We propose a methodology to look at violence in particular, and other aspects of quantitative historiography in general, in a way compatible with statistical inference, which needs to accommodate the fat-tailedness of the data and the unreliability of the reports of conflicts. We investigate the theses of “long peace” and drop in violence and find that these are statistically invalid and resulting from flawed and naive methodologies, incompatible with fat tails and non-robust to minor changes in data formatting and methodologies. There is no statistical basis to claim that “times are different” owing to the long inter-arrival times between conflicts; there is no basis to discuss any “trend”, and no scientific basis for narratives about change in risk. We describe naive empiricism under fat tails. We also establish that violence has a “true mean” that is underestimated in the track record. This is a historiographical adaptation of the results in Cirillo and Taleb (2016).

Suggested Citation

Cirillo, Pasquale and Taleb, Nassim Nicholas, The Decline of Violent Conflicts: What Do the Data Really Say? (November 27, 2016). The Nobel Foundation, Causes of Peace, Forthcoming; NYU Tandon Research Paper No. 2876315. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2876315 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2876315

Pasquale Cirillo

Delft University of Technology ( email )

Stevinweg 1
Stevinweg 1
Delft, 2628 CN
Netherlands

Delft University of Technology - Delft Institute of Applied Mathematics (DIAM) ( email )

Mekelweg 4
Delft, Holland 2628
Netherlands

Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Contact Author)

NYU-Tandon School of Engineering ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
2,402
Rank
4,069
Abstract Views
10,406