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Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Temperature, temperament and (the export of) violence

28 July 2016

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When I watch broadcasts of mass violence then I wonder why this always seems to happen in certain specific territories around the world. Temperature and temperament clearly play an important role in mass violence. The words temperature and temperament even share a common ancestor: the Latin word temperare, meaning “to mix in correct proportion” (source).

Even in our vocabulary we find examples of the link between temperature / temperament and aggression / violence: arguments heat up, tempers boil over, and hotheads must be calmed by cooler voices (source). The mere fact that we find these examples in our vocabulary implies that this relationship is rather old. An August 2013 study in Science Magazine confirms this.

NYT, 2013: “researchers are now quantifying the causal relationship between extreme climate and human conflict. Whether their focus is on small-scale interpersonal aggression or large-scale political instability, low-income or high-income societies, the year 10,000 B.C. or the present day, the overall conclusion is the same: episodes of extreme climate make people more violent toward one another.”

This 2013 Science study assembled 60 diverse studies on temperature/violence from archaeology, criminology, economics, geography, history, political science and psychology. In a given population, these studies compared levels of violence during periods of normal climate with levels of violence during periods of extreme climate. The study found that higher temperatures and extreme rainfall led to large increases in conflict (eg, NYT, the Scientist).

This study was part of a special issue of Science Magazine on climate change and its future impact. That’s a pity because this study also explains today’s violence in certain territories and probably even the export of violence into North West Europe (eg, France, Germany) which territory was largely unfamiliar with this type of violence.

Initially, I assumed that orthodox religious views were likely to be part of this correlation. Then I realised that there are territories with different and moderate religious views that also share this link between temperature, temperament and violence (eg, Africa, Asia). Religion in itself is not part of the close correlation between temperature, temperament and violence.

Some scientists claim that the correlation between crime and temperature involves a 3rd component: social interaction (source). To some extent, social interaction seems a rather obvious one as people indeed prefer to stay inside above and below a certain temperature (ie, too hot/cold).

I suppose social interaction has a sub component for immigrants and refugees: social integration within the host country. I think, feel and believe that it’s safe to say that successful social integration decreases the probability of violence. Failed social integration increases the likelihood of violence (eg, depression, disappointment, failure, regret, remorse, retaliation, revenge).

To some extent, the West is the architect of failed social integration by giving too much freedom, too many rights, not enough responsibilities, not enough obligations (eg, fluency in new language) to newcomers. Successful social integration is impossible when newcomers can hardly speak “their” new language. Continued social interaction within the native language group also prevents open mindedness about the host country. Closed mindedness causes hot temperaments and worse.

Kool & the Gang – Too Hot (1980) – artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Oh, it’s too hot (too hot)

Too hot, lady (too hot)

Gotta run for shelter

Gotta run for shade

It’s too hot (too hot)

Too hot, lady (too hot)

Gotta cool this anger

What a mess we made

Note: all bold and italic markings are mine.

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