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Monday, August 6, 2012

Asimov's Psycohistory Becomes Real

I feel today's entry is especially important since the nation is dealing with the aftermath of a second mass shooting within three weeks.

Over a half century ago, Issac Asimov wrote the Foundation Trilogy in which Hari Seldon, a psycohistorian, is able to accurately predict future events for thousands of years.

Now, this comes from the weekly journal, Nature. It appears that a group of scientists has developed a mathematical model that predicts cycles of violence. The person heading up this research, Peter Turchin, calls it cliodynamics after Clio, the ancient Greek muse of history. From the article...

"To Peter Turchin, who studies population dynamics at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, the appearance of three peaks of political instability at roughly 50-year intervals is not a coincidence. For the past 15 years, Turchin has been taking the mathematical techniques that once allowed him to track predator–prey cycles in forest ecosystems, and applying them to human history. He has analysed historical records on economic activity, demographic trends and outbursts of violence in the United States, and has come to the conclusion that a new wave of internal strife is already on its way1. The peak should occur in about 2020, he says, and will probably be at least as high as the one in around 1970. “I hope it won't be as bad as 1870,” he adds."

When friends ask me what I think the future will bring, I often begin, "In fifteen years, after the next civil war is over..."

I am sad to say that now my prediction has some scientific grounds.

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