Seemingly random attacks and a shadowy, mysterious enemy are the hallmarks of insurgent wars, such as those being fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many social scientists, as well as the military, hold that, like conventional civil wars, these conflicts can’t be understood without considering local factors such as geography and politics. But a mathematical model published today in Nature (see Nature 462, 911–914; 2009) suggests that insurgencies have a common underlying pattern that may allow the timing of attacks and the number of casualties to be predicted.
A couple of issues to consider:
Say these researchers are “right”, what would we do then with a prediction of insurgency? How would we prevent attacks and under what justification?
Does the data consider all failed or near insurgencies?
Are Nature and the authors beyond the scope of scientific research make an assertion that a model for human insurgency has been found before any real verification?