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Monday, 21 December 2009
Gadzooks! A mathematical model attributes terrorist attacks to

Forget all that stuff about Quranic indoctrination being the driving force behind Jihad attacks like Major Hasan’s mass shooting at Fort Hood that killed 13 and injured 30. Or the June attack in Arkansas in which a Muslim convert killed an Army recruiter at a mall or the mother of all attacks 9/11 that killed 3,000 people in Manhattan, southeastern Pennsylvania and the Pentagon.    

Now, as revealed in a Science Daily report,”Predicting Insurgent attacks with a Mathematical model”,  we have a handy dandy mathematical model developed by Physics boffins at the University of Miami (UM) that predicts terrorism attacks. Note this from the UM investigators:

The unified model of human insurgency establishes a quantitative connection between insurgency, global terrorism and ecology, and this model demonstrates that insurgency behaves "soup-of-groups, with no permanent network or leaders, but with common decision-making processes," says Johnson. This "mathematical law of war" challenges traditional ideas of insurgency based on rigid hierarchies and networks, explains Johnson.

The University of Miami (UM) researchers and their collaborators analyzed the size and timing of 54,679 violent events reported in Afghanistan, Colombia, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Northern Ireland, Peru, Senegal and Sierra Leone. The findings show that there is a generic way in which humans carry out insurgency and terrorism when faced by a large powerful state force, and this is irrespective of background history, motivation, ideology, politics and location, explains Neil Johnson, principal investigator of the study and professor of Physics at the UM College of Arts and Sciences.

"We have found a unified model of modern insurgent wars that shows a fundamental pattern in the apparent chaos of wars," says Johnson. "In practical terms, our analysis can be used to create and explore scenarios, make predictions and assess risks, for present and future wars."

The study finds a common statistical distribution for insurgency attacks that is significantly different to the distribution of attacks in traditional wars. This finding supports the belief that insurgent wars represent "fourth generation warfare" with different dynamics from conventional wars.

"Despite the many different discussions of various wars, different historical features, tribes, geography and cause, we find that the way humans fight modern (present and probably future) wars is the same," he says. "Just like traffic patterns in Tokyo, London and Miami are pretty much the same."

This research looks like statistical justification for the leaderless networks propositions of alleged counterterrorism policy wonks who frequently appear before Congressional committees to explain Islamic terrorism. Who knows this absurd research might even mislead CENTCOM planners desperate to craft a ‘surge’ strategy in Afghanistan. 

A previous statistical analysis cited by Science News  by operations researchers Kress and Szechtman indicated why it may be difficult for CENTCOM  to come up with a winning strategy in defeating the Taliban:

Insurgent groups like the Taliban can only be effectively engaged with timely and accurate military intelligence, and even good intelligence may only succeed in containing the insurgency, not defeating it, according to a new study.

At least that analysis was plausible. But not this UM fantasy model.

But get this, the UM model, according to its authors, offers explanation for the madness of financial panics, traffic patterns in major cities of the world like London, Tokyo and Paris, and may enable doctors to develop battle plans for individuals to conduct personal wars against cancer!  I wonder what kind of Kool-Aid they were drinking to come up with those implications.

Without inspecting  the mountain of data , the statistical methods and tests for determining significantly different results from zero and such I reached into my dog eared copy of Extraordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds  published in 1841 by Scotsman, Charles McKay. He offered the following comments applicable to this ‘research’:

"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."

"Of all the offspring of Time, Error is the most ancient, and is so old and familiar an acquaintance, that Truth, when discovered, comes upon most of us like an intruder, and meets the intruder's welcome."

Posted on 12/21/2009 10:36 PM by Jerry Gordon
22 Dec 2009

They may be right about *how* the jihad is currently being conducted; and that it presents similarities of method with warfare waged by other, non-Muslim groups.  There are, after all, only so many ways of waging war.

But to describe *how* something is being done says nothing at all about *what* it is that is being done, or *why*.

For example - the 'soup of groups' concept - Canon Patrick Sookhdeo beat them to it, some years ago.  In his 'global jihad' he points out that the analogy between the way the loosely overlapping social and organisational networks of Muslim jihad groups come into being and operate, and the way that - in the non-Muslim world - non-Muslim charitable NGOs, both church and non-church, come into being and operate.  Canon Sookhdeo, of course, knows very well that the *goals* aimed at by the two sets of groups are vastly different (in the case of the Muslim groups, Muslim dominance and imposition of sharia; in the case of the Christian religious charities, for example, the performance of the corporal works of mercy, and thus the demonstration of the character of the God who is Love)  and that this is crucial.  He can compare the 'how' - indeed, using the latter example to enable the reader, by means of the familiar, to comprehend the seemingly-bewildering alphabet soup of Muslim jihad organisations - without confusing it with the 'why' and the 'what for'.

Out of the gestalt comprising the churched and the semi-churched of the 'Christian' world together with its texts and their interpretations, new bodies continually form (e.g. The Missionaries of Charity, the Community of Taize, Jackie Pullinger's Society of St Stephen) and old bodies (e.g. the Franciscans) are dusted off and renew themselves, in order to bear witness to a God of love and charity.  Meanwhile - in much the same manner (if one is determined to view it in the abstract) but ordered toward a diametrically different *end*, new bodies arise and old bodies re-form, out of the very different gestalt that is the Ummah informed by *its* foundation texts and their interpretations.

Fired up by the foundation texts of her religion, a Jackie Pullinger sets off for the 'walled city' of Hong Kong to preach the gospel (with considerable success, I may add) among drug addicts and Triad members.

Fired up by the foundation text of *his* religion, a Major Hasan takes out his gun and murders 14 unarmed human beings and wounds many more.

One could argue that both were classic self-recruited  'lone wolves' passionately determined to serve their god to the best of their ability...but that would be abstracting from the essential point, which is that their gods are very different.

To show that jihad today is waged *in a manner* similar to the manner of  insurgencies waged by other, non-Muslim groups, does not prove that the *aims* of the jihadis are identical with the (often limited and local) aims of the non-Muslim groups to whom they are being compared.

The Tamil Tigers did not desire to fight the whole world until everyone was a Hindu and bowed to Tamils as the Best of People; their aims appear to have been restricted within their home island. Even the most fanatical IRA member  does not seem to have dreamed of creating a global Empire of the Irish in which everyone was either Catholic, tributary, or dead.  But George Habash, janissary for jihad, told Oriana Fallaci that the Arab war against Israel was merely the first step in a program by which Arabs, for which read, Muslims, intended to ultimately dominate the entire planet.