Peter Ochs (Religious Studies)
Jonathan Tuebner (Religious Studies
Incidents of religion-related conflict have increased dramatically over the past fifteen years. But, as of this date, no government agency or published social scientific study has identified a reliable field method for diagnosing or predicting specifically religion-related conflict. Over the past six years, the authors of this essay have developed and concluded initial tests on Value Predicate Analysis (VPA): an easily transportable, relatively uncomplicated early warning tool for measuring modest-sized religious groups’ probable behavioral tendencies toward other groups. VPA is measured on a nine-point scale, enabling analysts to diagnose a range of probable group behaviors, including aggressive/defensive postures, relative indifference, curiosity, cooperative engagement, and societal dysfunction/confusion. Here is a summary of the leading features of VPA:
- VPA is a study of aspects of language use that are easily and economically observed and examined by field workers and army units without high degrees of specialized training.
- VPA attends to a single linguistic feature: value judgments displayed in speech or writing. Such judgments offer analysts access to a group’s primary rules of behavior.
- VPA offers performative analyses of degrees of change in the way religious groups tend to define primary value terms. VPA analysts correlate such changes with changes in group behaviors that cannot be detected by conventional semantic analyses.
- VPA’s approach enables computational acceleration, combining computational methods for performative analysis with human control of the subject, scope and feedback. This combination lends field commanders a tool that is highly efficient and adaptable, with testable accuracy.
Work accomplished: The initial conception of VPA was developed during an engagement at the DOS Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (2012-2014). Initial field testing and development of 9 point VPA scale conducted in Pakistan (2014-2015). Further field testing in the USA (2015-2017). Computational algorithms and initial test mining work (2015-2017).