Beyond a world at seven billion: The naïveté of large numbers

01 September 2012

Yale Journal of International Affairs

Volume 7, Issue 2 - September 2012


International theorists and commentators nowadays are quite accustomed to, as Charles Tilly put it in a landmark text for political science, “big structures, large processes, huge comparisons.”1 Yet attention to the inherent complexity of these large phenomena is often lacking in this “big picture” mentality. One might call this a naïveté of large numbers that fronts the vast majority of op-eds, articles, and even books published today for an internationalist audience.