What Qaddafi's Death Tells Us About the Will to Power
From 2011-2014, Daniel Honan was the Managing Editor at Big Think. Prior to Big Think, Daniel was Vice President of Production for Plum TV, a niche cable network he helped launch in 2002. The production team he oversaw won over two dozen Emmy awards. Daniel has created numerous shows and documentaries for television, and his film credits include Stealing the Fire, a documentary on the black market for nuclear weapons technology.
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In a previous post, Big Think speculated about what Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi's death would mean -- for the Arab Spring, for the price of oil, for President Barack Obama, etc. These were questions worth asking, after all, since Qaddafi's death has seemed imminent for many months now.
Today, we learned that Qaddafi is finally dead. This news hardly comes as a surprise to us, and is especially unsurprising to Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, a political scientist at New York University and the author of The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics. In that book, de Mesquita argues that leaders will do absolutely anything to stay in power, even if that means they will wind up dead.
According to de Mesquita's research, "those who are in power overwhelmingly seem to want to stay in power" and almost never give up the reigns willingly. In fact, de Mesquita pointed to a study one of his students at NYU conducted that looked into every democratically-elected, national leader in the world since World War II to see how many of them voluntarily left office.
"There were only four who seemed just to leave office because they were tired of being in power," de Mesquita told Big Think. "All the others left office either because they had to, they were term-limited, or they were dying."
In other words, "everybody who aspires to be in power wants to keep it," de Mesquita says. "Now most of us don’t aspire to be in power. Most of us are probably people who are more pleasant than the folks who run companies and corporations and so forth, but then we’re not the ones that we have to be concerned about. We have to be concerned about the people in power."
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.
- Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
- These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
- The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
- Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
- While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
- Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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