John Horgan


John Horgan, former senior writer at Scientific American, discusses his new book The End of War; why war is a solvable scientific problem, not the inevitable result of resource struggles, religious differences, or biological imperatives; the near-abolition of slavery, another ancient barbaric practice; preventing war by fighting militarism first, and working for social and economic justice second; and the reason why men take up arms, at the behest of chickenhawks, to fight people on the other side of the world.

MP3 here. (24:29)

John Horgan is a science journalist and Director of the Center for Science Writings at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. A former senior writer at Scientific American (1986-1997), he has also written for The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Slate, Discover, The London Times, The Times Literary Supplement, New Scientist, and other publications around the world. He writes regular columns for Scientific American online, the Chronicle of Higher Education and BBC Knowledge Magazine and does video chats for

Horgan’s most recent book is The End of War, published in 2012 by McSweeney’s Books. His other books include Rational Mysticism: Dispatches from the Border Between Science and Spirituality, The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Science in the Twilight of the Scientific Age, and its followup The Undiscovered Mind: How the Human Brain Defies Replication, Medication, and Explanation.

He is the co-author with the Reverend Frank Geer of Where Was God on September 11?, edited by Robert Hutchinson, Brown Trout, 2002. He contributed essays to Within the Stone, a collection of photographs of mineral cross sections by Bill Atkinson, one of the creators of the original MacIntosh computer.

His publications have received international coverage, including front-page reviews and news articles in The New York Times, London Times, Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune. He has been interviewed hundreds of times for print, radio, and television media, including The Lehrer News Hour, Charlie Rose, and National Public Radio’s Science Friday. He has lectured and participated in debates with prominent scientists and journalists before dozens of institutions in North America and Europe, including MIT, Caltech, Princeton, Dartmouth, McGill, the University of Amsterdam, and England’s National Physical Laboratory.

His awards include the 2005 Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowship in Science and Religion; the American Psychiatric Association Certificate of Commendation for Outstanding Reporting on Psychiatric Issues (1997); the Science Journalism Award of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1992 and 1994); and the National Association of Science Writers Science-in-Society Award (1993). His articles have been selected for The Best American Science and Nature Writing in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Horgan was an associate editor at IEEE Spectrum, the journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, from 1983 to 1986. He received a B.A. in English from Columbia University’s School of General Studies in 1982 and an M.S. from Columbia’s School of Journalism in 1983.

12 thoughts on “John Horgan”

  1. Just war is really a seductive excuse for intervention. Note the Joseph Koney Video, capturing bleeding hearts and minds of late.

    1. The Koney video I saw a couple days ago, did not call "war" response … "just" or otherwise. It called for his capture and trial in the Hague. Presumably, his "rebel" conscripts would gladly lay down their arms, absent the threat of their "leader".

      Different film perhaps … or different interpretation?


    John Horgan
    “War is a paradox, war can be used to defeat war, violence can be used to defeat violence. So there is such a thing as a “just” war, even though I would but quotation marks around “just.” There are some wars that are more morally justifiable then others. I think there is such a thing as a humanitarian intervention type of war.”

    “But I think we need to be much more restrictive in how we wage wars like that. For example I don’t think that we should have used military force against Libya, and the reason is that our use of force against Libya led to a greater evil which is legitimizing force once again as a solution to our problems.”

    The ultimate conclusion of war is the extinction of man, so as the world gets closer and closer to the point of expiring in a convulsion, greater and greater will be the motivation to back out of such suicidal trajectory.

    For whether one believes in evolution or creation, destiny has given man the most perfect way possible to repent of force, by the realization that force always begets more and greater force. For evil is to enrich yourself upon the misery of another, and this can only be accomplished if backed up deadly force.


    John Horgan
    “I think there is such a thing as a humanitarian intervention type of war… We need to be much more creative in how we come up with alternatives to the use of force with Libya or with Syria, and now with Iran.”

    Paid actor Obama, now he would argue that our sanctions against Iran are not an act of war, surely he would even go so far as say that our refusing to buy Iran oil and our penalizing others for doing so, that this is a no-force and harmless thing to do. Problem is, hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq starved to death when our sanctions really started to bite. Truth is, everything we as a nation do is void of force and leads to peace, or force that leads to war.

    Sorry, the illusion of a neutral ground in force, where we are harmless in the use of force, surely this is fiction, fantasy and fairytale.

  4. I revisited the video to confirm what I had come away with–an impression that it is propaganda for Africom, par excellence. You could call this kind of propaganda "child-washing". Right now, it's 100 "Advisors" in Uganda to save the children from Koney, who is barely active–and isn't even in Uganda!. In this age, the empire is not going to just say "Let's slice up Africa". They are going to provide an extremely slick PR campaign. Going in to prevent the natives from carving themselves to pieces is today's transmogrification of the mission civilatrice, and that is how America will get us to "support completing the mission" whose real aim is a military footprint and access to resources in Africa.

  5. The golden rule — Is it a fantasy?

    “Do not use force to overcome evil.
    If they strike you on the right cheek
    turn to them the other.”

    Only on an individual basis could the above rule be workable, only for a small minority who wanted to be harmless and a slave of all. Especially for our Empire, what with all the vengeance in those who suffered the blunt of our brutal imperialism and wars of aggression.

    But wars are the great arbitrator of truth, the teachers of last resort, and when the misery of wars can’t possibly get any worse, then could be that people start to think that maybe the golden rule is not such a bad idea.

  6. As a christian i was totally agreeing with his coombiyah gesture. I totally agree with the idea that theists and non-theists should form a respectful coalition on antiwar. Than he had to go and ruin it by spewing the old oxymoron of the humanitarian war. Good on you Scott for setting him straight.

  7. Nice post. many thanks for taking the time to publish this info terribly useful! i have been craving for books of this nature for some way too long. i am simply glad that I found yours. wanting forward for your next post. Thanks

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