In military strategy, it is vital to know what the enemy is up to.  Can evolutionary theory help?  An interdisciplinary team at the University of Miami got their heads together and appealed to an evolutionary notion called the “Red Queen” hypothesis, and claimed it provides a “Pattern in Escalations in Insurgent and Terrorist Activity” that is neutral regarding the good guys and the bad guys.  It resembles, they argue, how pedators and prey evolve in nature.  They offer their model as a way military planners can have the ability “to estimate not only the number of fatalities but how often attacks that result in fatalities will take place.”  They applied their pattern prediction to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. How robust is this notion, and should evolutionary theory take credit for it?

The paper was published in Science July 1.1 Live Science provided a summary of the hypothesis.  The “Red Queen” hypothesis comes from a character in Alice in Wonderland who complained that she had to run as fast as she could just to stay in place.  Like a runner on a treadmill, or like the old Spy vs. Spy cartoons from Mad Magazine, predators and prey co-evolve just to keep up with each other’s new technology. Can these cartoons apply to the real world?  The authors realized that human armies are much more complex, but chose to omit all the factors involving human intellect, choice and planning, and make their theory completely amoral:…

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