Department of Political Science
The Ohio State University
Bear F. Braumoeller is a computational social scientist who studies international order, international conflict, computational modeling, and statistical inference. He is the founder and director of the MESO Lab, a social science research lab dedicated to exploring the relationship between international order and international conflict. His most recent book, Only the Dead: The Persistence of War in the Modern Age (Oxford, 2019), evaluates the empirical support for the decline-of-war thesis advocated by scholars like Steven Pinker and argues that patterns of international order are better predictors of trends in warfare than the spread of empathy, morality, and reason. His current research combines theoretical, statistical, and case-study methods to explore the relationship between international order and international conflict. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, holder of the Baronov and Timashev Chair in Data Analytics, and Faculty Co-Lead of the Computational Social Science Community of Practice at the Translational Data Analytics Institute at The Ohio State University, where he serves as Professor in the Department of Political Science.
Department of Political Science
2168 Derby Hall, 154 North Oval Mall
Columbus, OH 43210
Twitter: @Prof_BearB Mastodon: @Prof_BearB@sciences.social
What I Do
I am a computational social scientist. In my case, that means that I use statistics, theoretical modeling, and historical research to explore the causes and consequences of war, develop new social-science models, and understand international order.
Is war going out of style? When do Great Powers compete for influence in the international system, and how does their competition produce war?
How can social science domain knowledge best be captured in statistical, dynamic, strategic, networked, and agent-based theoretical models?
Why are people so extraordinarily cooperative? What drives collective action for the common good? How is order related to war?
Awards and Honors
I am a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2016 I was a visiting fellow at the Norwegian Nobel Institute, where I took part in a Nobel Symposium on the causes of peace. I’ve also been honored to present my research at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
I am fortunate to have a group of brilliant collaborators in the MESO Lab (for Modeling Emergent Social Order), whose work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, and the Department of Political Science at Ohio State.
If you’re looking for something I’ve written, or if you think I might have written something relevant to your work, thank you for your interest! The rest of this page is for you. Hover over the upper-right corner of the table to reveal a search window that you can use to find keywords (like “war” or “model”) or search by tag (Decline-of-War Thesis, Methods, etc.), and click on short titles for more information and PDFs. If you’re browsing to see whether something here might be useful to you, I’d recommend the “Why Read This?” column, below.
|Short Title||Why Read This?||Tags|
Trends in Interstate Conflict (book chapter, 2021)
Read if you want a literature review on the question of whether war is in decline.
Literature ReviewDecline-of-War ThesisHistorical IR
Systemic Trends in War and Peace (book chapter, 2019)
Read if you want a succinct summary of the material in Only the Dead that only focuses on changes in the rate of conflict initiation over time.
Decline-of-War ThesisHistorical IR
Statistics and International Security (Oxford Encyclopedia, 2018)
Read if you’re an international security scholar who’s wondering how to think about the distinction between explanation and prediction and how to combine the two.
Flexible Causal Inference for Political Science (PA, 2018)
Read if you want a simple extension of logit that does causal inference and doesn’t require you to measure of all of the confounders.
Unifying the Study of Asymmetric Hypotheses (PA, 2017)
Read if you want a method to use to test a theory of the form “some amount of X is necessary/sufficient for some amount of Y” or “X creates an upper/lower bound on Y.”
Logics of Systemic Theory (Oxford Encyclopedia, 2017)
Read if you’d like a primer on how to use equation-based, network, agent-based, and rational-choice models for systemic theorizing in international relations.
Literature ReviewSystemic TheoryComplexityMethods
Food Scarcity and State Vulnerability (JPR, 2017)
Read for an argument that the relationship between climate-induced food insecurity and violent unrest is contingent on the institutional and structural vulnerability of the state.
Climate ChangeFood InsecurityViolent ConflictComplexity
Aggregation Bias and the Analysis of Necessary and Sufficient Conditions in fsQCA (SM&R, 2017)
Read for a demonstration that fsQCA can easily produce what look like meaningful relationships from pure noise, thanks to the way in which variables are aggregated.
The Promise of Historical Dynamism for the American Study of IR (IT, 2016)
Read for an argument that conflict scholars who use quantitative methods should really, really care about recent English-school work on the globalization of international society.
Systemic Theories of International Politics (Oxford Encyclopedia, 2016)
Read for a review of various attempts at systemic theories of international relations and their strengths and weaknesses.
Literature ReviewSystemic Theory
Guarding Against False Positives in QCA (PA, 2015)
Read for an argument that false-positive results in QCA and fsQCA are alarmingly common, and for a statistical technique designed to flag them.
The Great Powers and the International System (H-DIPLO roundtable, 2015)
Read for a short summary of the high and low points of The Great Powers and the International System, with the author’s response.
Systemic TheoryHistorical IRIR Theory
Analyzing Interactions (QMMR, 2014)
Read for a comparison of the pros and cons of four ways of analyzing interactions (fsQCA, interaction terms, stochastic frontier models, Boolean logit)
Political Irrelevance, Democracy, and the Limits of Militarized Conflict (JCR, 2011)
Read for an example of how to capture the effects of democracy and political irrelevance on conflict onset in a statistically principled manner.
The Myth of American Isolationism (FPA, 2010)
Read for an argument, and evidence, that isolationism is a poor characterization of American interwar foreign policy.
Understanding System Dynamics (book chapter, 2010)
Read for a discussion of the promise of equation-based models for IR theory and a preview of the systemic theory at the heart of The Great Powers and the International System.
Systemic TheoryHistorical IRIR TheoryComplexity
Rediscovering Complexity and Synthesis (book chapter, 2009)
Read for a short (3pp.) argument that IR theory focuses too much on testing individual theories and not enough on complexity and theoretical synthesis.
Systemic TheoryIR TheoryComplexity
Systemic Politics and the Origins of Great Power Conflict (APSR, 2008)
Read for summary of the systemic theory at the heart of The Great Powers and the International System and for a test of the deterrence vs. spiral model.
Systemic TheoryIR TheoryComplexity
Explaining Variance (PA, 2006)
Read for a discussion of mechanisms that produce changes in the variance, rather than the mean, of the distribution of an outcome.
Hypothesis Testing and Multiplicative Interaction Terms (IO, 2004)
Read if you don’t want to screw up the interpretation of multiplicative interaction terms... even (especially!) if you think you know how to do it correctly.
Promise and Perils of Statistics in IR (book chapter, 2004)
Read for an argument that, while statistics hold great promise for IR, more attention must be paid to the theoretical relevance of statistical tests and to the interpretation of results.
MethodsLiterature ReviewIR Theory
Causal Complexity and the Study of Politics (PA, 2003)
Read for a new partial-observability statistical model, Boolean logit/probit, designed for testing complex theories (e.g., A and (B or C) produce Y).
Methodology of Necessary Conditions (AJPS, 2000)
Read for new statistical methods for testing theories that posit necessary conditions, as well as a discussion of common pitfalls.
Deadly Doves: Liberal Nationalism and the Democratic Peace in the Soviet Successor States (ISQ, 1997)
Read for an argument that the implications of liberalism for peace are context-dependent, and evidence that liberal nationalism in the former Soviet sphere is not especially peaceful.
IR TheoryViolent Conflict