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Escalation, timing and severity of insurgent and terrorist events: Toward a unified theory of future threats

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  • Neil F. Johnson

Abstract

I present a unified discussion of several recently published results concerning the escalation, timing and severity of violent events in human conflicts and global terrorism, and set them in the wider context of real-world and cyber-based collective violence and illicit activity. I point out how the borders distinguishing between such activities are becoming increasingly blurred in practice -- from insurgency, terrorism, criminal gangs and cyberwars, through to the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings and London riots. I review the robust empirical patterns that have been found, and summarize a minimal mechanistic model which can explain these patterns. I also explain why this mechanistic approach, which is inspired by non-equilibrium statistical physics, fits naturally within the framework of recent ideas within the social science literature concerning analytical sociology. In passing, I flag the fundamental flaws in each of the recent critiques which have surfaced concerning the robustness of these results and the realism of the underlying model mechanisms.

Suggested Citation

  • Neil F. Johnson, 2011. "Escalation, timing and severity of insurgent and terrorist events: Toward a unified theory of future threats," Papers 1109.2076, arXiv.org.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1109.2076
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    File URL: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1109.2076
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