Army Social Scientists Calm Afghanistan, Make Enemies at Home

Tanks again to Valdis Krebs for pushing this out to SOCNET.

Army Social Scientists Calm Afghanistan, Make Enemies at Home
Each team is getting a half-dozen laptops, a satellite dish and software for social network analysis, so they can diagram how all of the important players in an area are connected. Digital timelines will mark key cultural and political events. Mapmaking programs will plot out the economic, ethnic and tribal landscape.

I wonder what this history of the US military is in terms of using social scientists.  I remember one of my grad school professors, Steve Nock, talked about how some of the early advance in statistics and social surveys grew out of studies of morale in WWII.  What happened in Viet Nam?  Were their cultural or social scientists there?  Why is the military resistant to this kind of expertise?  Because it may humanize potential enemies?  But don’t effective commanders at the ground level become amateur social scientists anyway?

What are the ethical concerns about using this technology for war making?  I recall the American Psychological Associations’s controversy over the role of psychologists in detainees, interrogation, and torture.  For story, here.  For APA controversy, here.

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2 Comments

Filed under ethics, Military, national security, policy, Social Networks, Torture

2 responses to “Army Social Scientists Calm Afghanistan, Make Enemies at Home

  1. Jordi, did you notice you said “tanks” on the Army-related post? LOL …tHanks for the link.

  2. Haha. Thats too good. I’ll leave it.

    You are very welcome.

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