The Germy Paradox—Filters: Hard and soft skills

Link post

This is Post 2.1 in a se­ries. The pre­vi­ous post is here.

Wel­come to the sec­ond half of our se­ries. I’ve es­tab­lished that de­spite ex­ten­sive his­tor­i­cal weapons pro­grams, biolog­i­cal weapons haven’t re­ally been used in a ma­jor way since WWII. We don’t ever seem to have been a “close call” away from biolog­i­cal war­fare. Why not?

I don’t have a com­plete an­swer. I have some pieces of the an­swer, though. The first piece, and one very good an­swer, is that BW are not as cheap and deadly as com­monly thought, and that sub­stan­tial re­sources and ex­per­tise are needed to suc­cess­fully cre­ate biolog­i­cal weapons. This ar­gu­ment is well-made by So­nia Ben Oua­grham-Gorm­ley in her book Bar­ri­ers to Bioweapons—a com­bi­na­tion be­tween hard tech­ni­cal skills and soft skills like poor man­age­ment. I’ve writ­ten a sum­mary of the book on this blog be­fore.

That post will act as Part 1 of this sec­tion. (Apolo­gies for the brevity here, but there’s no use rein­vent­ing the wheel.)


Ben Oua­grham-Gorm­ley, So­nia. Bar­ri­ers to Bioweapons: The Challenges of Ex­per­tise and Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Weapons Devel­op­ment. Cor­nell Univer­sity Press, 2014.

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