We have created weapons whose consequences, if they are used, are so far beyond human experience that we cannot comprehend them. This raises critical questions in need of further study: How can we rationally weigh the costs vs. the benefits of deciding to use these weapons if we don’t comprehend the costs? If rational decision making is questionable, what are the implications for key elements of nuclear weapons policy: deterrence, disarmament, and nonproliferation?
Talks between the U.S. and North Korea are unlikely to lead to denuclearization. Russia is scaling up its weapons and missile defense programs and the U.S. is likely to do the same. Nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia appear to be seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Social media shortcuts diplomacy and careful decision analysis and spreads false information, adding to the decision-making problems. The threat of nuclear war is unlikely to diminish. Our psychological studies have implications for concrete steps that can be taken to reduce what are unacceptable risks to humanity.
Read more about our current research on preventing nuclear war here.