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Mathematician Predicts Wave of Violence In 2020 397

Posted by Soulskill
from the hope-spacex-rocket-rides-are-cheap-by-then dept.
ananyo writes "In a feature that recalls Asimov's Foundation series and 'psychohistory', Nature profiles mathematician Peter Turchin, who says he can see meaningful cycles in history. Worryingly, Turchin predicts a wave of violence in the United States in 2020. Quoting from the piece: '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 analyzed 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 way. 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." We recently discussed similar research into predicting violence in the short term.
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Mathematician Predicts Wave of Violence In 2020

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @12:47PM (#40878161)

    We already know the world ends on December 21, 2012, so why is he speculating about a future that won't even happen?

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @12:49PM (#40878171)

    Obligatory xkcd [xkcd.com].

  • completely idiotic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @12:52PM (#40878185)
    This is the stupidest made up bullshit I've ever heard. At 50 year intervals, the sample size is like 3 or something. That's well within the range of coincidence! Since people going totally apeshit doesn't happen for no reason, I'd say it's more reason based than some natural recurring phenomenon based on time.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @12:59PM (#40878221)

      It just makes me so angry! If they keep up this nonsense for another 8 years, I think it might push me over the top!

    • by musicalmicah (1532521) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:09PM (#40878297)
      Also, where's the peak at 1820? I suppose there was the War of 1812 (lasted until 1815) but he's already excluded war from his chart.
    • Patterns! Patterns everywhere! Ahhhhhhh!

    • "Thinks he sees"? Doesn't that strongly suggest that we're dealing with a lunatic here?

    • by mikael (484)

      Past explanations were due to crop productivity related to long-period oscillations in ocean currents (El Nino / La Nina). [wikipedia.org]

      Major ENSO events were recorded in the years 1790–93, 1828, 1876–78, 1891, 1925–26, 1972–73, 1982–83, 1997–98 and 2009–2010,[50] with 1997-1998 being one of the strongest ever.

      Going by the wiki page, 2020-2025 should also be a El Nino period

    • by sgt_doom (655561)
      Yup, probably 'cause his degrees are in bioscience, not math. . .
    • by Em Adespoton (792954) <slashdotonly.1.adespoton@spamgourmet.com> on Saturday August 04, 2012 @02:06PM (#40878757) Homepage Journal

      I think his "50 year" number is a bit odd, as it's based on absolutely no foundation, other than a few loose correlations.

      Instead, he should model it like you do for animal patterns: generational trends.

      It makes a lot of sense that violence would peak every two generations... which these days, is about every 50 years. If people start having children later, I'd expect that number to get larger... and if people start having children younger, I'd expect it to be shorter.

      Added to that, he tossed out war, but war will have an extremely powerful influence on this pattern -- it probably won't distort it too much in the long-term, but it will definitely affect the surrounding periods of incidence.

    • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @02:31PM (#40878969)

      This is the stupidest made up bullshit I've ever heard.

      And yet you haven't even heard it, because you haven't read the article. Same with the people who ignorantly modded you up. The idea is not that there will be a bump in a graph every 50 years and therefore we are due in 10 more.

      In a nutshell, to me the theory sounds basically like marxism. It is the view that history is driven by a recurring cycle of inequality and revolution:

      In their analysis of long-term social trends, advocates of cliodynamics focus on four main variables: population numbers, social structure, state strength and political instability. Each variable is measured in several ways. Social structure, for example, relies on factors such as health inequality â" measured using proxies including quantitative data on life expectancies â" and wealth inequality, measured by the ratio of the largest fortune to the median wage....

      the researchers found that two trends dominate the data on political instability. The first, which they call the secular cycle, extends over two to three centuries. It starts with a relatively egalitarian society, in which supply and demand for labour roughly balance out. In time, the population grows, labour supply outstrips demand, elites form and the living standards of the poorest fall. At a certain point, the society becomes top-heavy with elites, who start fighting for power. Political instability ensues and leads to collapse, and the cycle begins again.

      Superimposed on that secular trend, the researchers observe a shorter cycle that spans 50 years â" roughly two generations. Turchin calls this the fathers-and-sons cycle: the father responds violently to a perceived social injustice; the son lives with the miserable legacy of the resulting conflict and abstains; the third generation begins again...

      Elites have been known to give power back to the majority, he says, but only under duress, to help restore order after a period of turmoil. âoeI'm not afraid of uprisings,â he says. âoeThat's why we are where we are.â

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      If you only count peaks, yes, you have a sample size of 3. If you have a full predictive model, however, you not only predict peaks but also intermediate variations.
    • by ultranova (717540) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @02:39PM (#40879031)

      Since people going totally apeshit doesn't happen for no reason, I'd say it's more reason based than some natural recurring phenomenon based on time.

      It's called "mortality". Given enough time, the memory of the previous time a bad idea was tried fades, and the new generation does it all over again. How long it takes depends on the depth of the trauma and how fast the nasty effects take hold: for example, the recent rise of Western police states is due to the memory of Nazism finally fading, while it was Reagan who began ignoring the lessons of the Great Depression, yet it took until now for deregulation to finally lead to a new economic collapse.

      Basically, you get a new Great War as soon as those who survived the previous one are too frail to prevent it anymore. Or earlier, if enough charisma and stupidity are involved.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @12:53PM (#40878189)

    It will happen.

    If you're vague enough about your predictions... you won't be wrong often.

    • Not necessarily (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rsilvergun (571051) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:22PM (#40878411)
      People who have options don't get violent. Not in mass anyway (yes, chemical imbalances will result in the occasional horror story like that Batman shooting). That's why Canadians are so well behaved. They feel secure in their well being thanks to an extensive safety net and healthcare system. Systemic violence is an outgrowth of poverty. The single most enlightening moment of my life was when I realized that every war ever fought was over money in one form or another.

      e.g. the American South wasn't fighting to defend slavery, but to defend the right to oppress blacks. Blacks were oppressed not for the economic benefit (immigrants where cheaper and disposable) but because it gave poor white southerns someone to look down on and kept them from asking questions like, how come I barely make it through the winter while that guy sips mint juleps? Don't take my word for it, google Karl Rove and the Southern Strategy.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by fustakrakich (1673220)

        Systemic violence is an outgrowth of poverty...

        No, poverty is the result of systemic violence. You have to steal from people to make them poor.

        • by Surt (22457)

          +1. Eruption of violence is the result of poverty is the result of systemic violence.

        • you don't have to steal from them, you just never let them have anything in the first place. I guess you can call that 'stealing', but it's not stealing in the traditional sense, so it's too difficult an idea for people to understand. This is why R Money and Billy G have billions and 46% of the rest of us don't make enough money to be worth taxing...
          • by Phrogman (80473)

            I think its also important that the poor people in the society are aware that there is no reason that they *must* be that poor except that the system (tax laws, political structure and who has influence etc) is set up by the rich and wealthy and that they are using it to ensure they remain rich and wealthy and that the poor remain barely able to get by.
            This is what I see in North America at the moment, and what the Occupy folks were upset about. The system is unequal, inherently so, and thus while its possi

      • by Em Adespoton (792954) <slashdotonly.1.adespoton@spamgourmet.com> on Saturday August 04, 2012 @02:10PM (#40878783) Homepage Journal

        People who have options don't get violent. Not in mass anyway (yes, chemical imbalances will result in the occasional horror story like that Batman shooting). That's why Canadians are so well behaved. They feel secure in their well being thanks to an extensive safety net and healthcare system. Systemic violence is an outgrowth of poverty. The single most enlightening moment of my life was when I realized that every war ever fought was over money in one form or another.

        e.g. the American South wasn't fighting to defend slavery, but to defend the right to oppress blacks. Blacks were oppressed not for the economic benefit (immigrants where cheaper and disposable) but because it gave poor white southerns someone to look down on and kept them from asking questions like, how come I barely make it through the winter while that guy sips mint juleps? Don't take my word for it, google Karl Rove and the Southern Strategy.

        Um... you do know about things like the Vancouver Riots (mk I and II) right? Canadians might not be as brutally violent as their neighbours to the south, but they tend to be just as physically violent. The difference is that population density in Canada is much lower (except at major sporting events, where, surprise! you end up getting violence).

        A better case study would be somewhere like Singapore that has a high population density, but relatively low societal violence.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anne_Nonymous (313852)

        >> That's why Canadians are so well behaved.

        I take it you don't watch much hockey, eh?

    • by sgt_doom (655561)
      We predict that the United States of America will become balkanized beginning around 2017, rendering his prediction null and void. This will be aggravated by those economically crippling interest rate swaps/derivatives perpetrated on cities and munipalities by the bankster class.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @12:54PM (#40878191)

    Let's see:

    1. "Extrajudicial" killing of US citizens
    2. Use of drones against US citizens
    3. Cameras recording activities
    4. Government snooping into private conversations

    Good damn thing there is a 2nd Amendment.

    • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:58PM (#40878665)

      2. Use of drones against US citizens

      This is fodder for some good discussion right here, and Id like to get something cleared up.

      I understand the importance of jury trial and the dangers of an unchecked government. I understand that the last thing you want is an executive that can freely ignore the judicial branch.

      But if a US citizen in 1942 were to go and fight for the Nazi's, and lets say he became a high-up officer-- would we not be justified in going after his life "extrajudicially"? What if a US citizen went to Mexico and became a higher up in the militarized drug cartels (lets not turn this into a discussion on drug politics)-- would we be justified in assisting in his death if capture were not an easy option? What if in those situations the choice was between his death, and him going free?

      It seems to me there IS some line for when someone takes up arms in a foreign theatre against US forces; I might be wrong here, which is why Im hoping for constructive responses which could demonstrate my error if there is one.

      • by FhnuZoag (875558) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @02:58PM (#40879195)

        I totally agree on this.

        Seriously, though, if we actually look at the underlying problem behind the use-of-drones against US citizens issue, one key point stands out. In my assessment, the reason for these deaths is that it is virtually impossible for an enemy of the US to relinquish his citizenship.

        If you actually look at the people who are killed, none of them consider themselves US citizens. They are people often in the direct service of foreign states or state-like actors, who dedicate themselves to the destruction of the US. They aren't going to vote, pay US taxes, or make use of US services any time soon. They profess no loyalty to the US, nor to its values, nor to its flag or any symbol, and would probably *prefer* to die in combat rather than be captured and go through a trial as a criminal.

        The thing is, under the present system, the only way for someone to end his citizenship, is by appearing, in person, at an US consulate. This is obviously a suicidal move for these people. Therefore, due to the requirements of the system, these people must necessarily remain, on paper, US citizens. What actually needs to be done here is that it should be more simple for people to safely and voluntarily declare themselves enemies of America. Farcical as it sounds, otherwise the present situation will inevitably and pointlessly continue.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        We also carpet bombed cities full of innocent civilians and dropped nukes on whole cities in the middle of the day. At one time, we had laws in this country forbidding white people and black people from using the same facilities. We had a "foreign policy" of extermination regarding Native Americans at another point as well. I suppose that means we should do it again, right? Precedent does not make something justified. That mindset completely flies in the face of any notion of human progress. If that line of

      • Short answer no (Score:5, Insightful)

        by aepervius (535155) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @05:02PM (#40880181)
        Long answer : back in 1942 there was such things as an official war against germany. No matter how your governement , there is no such a things as a recognized war against a *word* (war agaisnt drug, war agaisnt terrorism) just like the made up "illegal fighter". The simple truth is that terrorism is a judicial problem (aka non military) but your governement saw the occasion to use new toy in real theater instead of training zone/firing range.

        So we are speaking of assassination(the correct word in absence of due process) of citizen from your (or other) country.

        *Shrug* . I don't expect that to change any time soon. Your military right now is probably creaming in their pants just as the amount of data they got about their toy used and potential advance.
    • by Unnngh! (731758) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:59PM (#40878667)

      Good damn thing there is a 2nd Amendment

      I'm all for second amendment rights but I really don't think they are going to help with any of these things. If we can't live together as a society without the threat of violence, there is not much hope of maintaining a stable, long-lasting state. It is violence spurred by political unrest and divisiveness that the OP is predicting, go figure.

      • by FhnuZoag (875558)

        I keep saying this, but yes, the second amendment is no protection against tyranny. It merely allows a transition to the rule of the strong, instead of the systemised albeit flawed democracy we presently have. Unless a government is really stupid and alienates *all* of its citizenry (which admittedly, has happened, but seems unlikely to be the case in a place as polarised as the US), civilian held weapons are about as likely to be used to terrorise opponents of the government, as anything else. Recall how N

    • by artor3 (1344997) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @02:15PM (#40878829)

      Fuck you.

      You think you can just start murdering people to fix all your problems. It doesn't work that way. You spill blood, and other people will fight back, and we'll end up in a 3rd world hellhole for a century. You will not live to see a return to peace. None of us will.

      Go visit other countries, if you think things here are bad. See hundreds of millions of people living in shantytowns. See the bribery that is required on a daily basis. See people sentenced to years in prison because they spoke out against Putin or Ahmadinejad or some other despot. See life behind the Great Firewall, or in Brazil where it is illegal to be anonymous.

      Life in the US is unbelievably wonderful compared to damn near everywhere else in the world. And you want to destroy that, because of some fucking security cameras? Well thank God for those cameras! I hope some are pointed squarely at you. As soon as you seek to end a human life, you deserve to be taken away and locked up in a place where the world can forget you.

    • by M. Baranczak (726671) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @02:59PM (#40879203)

      Good damn thing there is a 2nd Amendment.

      The 2nd Amendment has failed to prevent any of the things that you listed. What was your point again?

    • Good thing that there is a second amendment, but remember the pre-emptive police and FEMA tactics during Katrina in New Orleans against honest, gun owning households.

      Knock, knock. Hello we're FEMA/police [1/2 minute of polite conversation] "Do you have guns" as if making sure you're adequately prepared for self defense. Dumb, honest homeowner: "Yes"
      CRAAAASH, armed invasion and personal injury follows. No sh|t.
  • by oakgrove (845019) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:00PM (#40878229)
    And if I flipped ten heads in a row the next one must surely be tails right? Right?
  • by sehryan (412731) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:04PM (#40878263)

    While I agree that the sample size is small, there is certainly reason to think that if the political discourse continues as it is now, in eight years we could be in for that talk to start manifesting itself physically.

    • by Lewis Daggart (539805) <jonbozeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday August 04, 2012 @04:22PM (#40879805) Journal

      While I agree that the sample size is small, there is certainly reason to think that if the political discourse continues as it is now, in eight years we could be in for that talk to start manifesting itself physically.

      You have to be very careful with this kind of reasoning. It is close to saying, "Even though he doesn't have to evidence to back his claim, it fits my world view so I will use it to reinforce my current beliefs." This is the same kind of thinking that spreads conspiracy theories and group think, and it is an extraordinarily easy trap to fall into.

  • Stupid (Score:4, Funny)

    by Paul Slocum (598127) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:07PM (#40878279) Homepage Journal
    Uh duh, the Aztecs already did this, the world is ending in 2012.
    • by Grayhand (2610049)

      Uh duh, the Aztecs already did this, the world is ending in 2012.

      The world better end I'll have my last credit card maxed out in November and I don't know how I'm going to buy Christmas presents! Come on Mesoamericans! I'm unemployed with no retirement or health insurance so I'm counting on you guys. Given how they have been handling things I think Congress has the same end of the world economic plan.

  • I wonder if this cycle follows the wave of economic depressions? It would make sense that people with less to lose who are hit by the recession and see others making more money from it might become restless
  • by dcollins (135727) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:09PM (#40878295) Homepage

    FTA: "For example, it seems that indicators of corruption increase and political cooperation unravels when a period of instability or violence is imminent."

    Why do articles like this act as though "violent acts" were the essential force, and "corruption" some kind of indicator symptom? I submit that the latter is the cause and the former the resulting symptom.

    The article includes this viewpoint, but you have to get all the way to the very last paragraph to see it -- "But perhaps revolution is the best, if not the only, remedy for severe social stresses. Gintis points out that he is old enough to have taken part in the most recent period of turbulence in the United States, which helped to secure civil rights for women and black people. Elites have been known to give power back to the majority, he says, but only under duress, to help restore order after a period of turmoil. “I'm not afraid of uprisings,” he says. “That's why we are where we are.”"

  • Politics and divisions between people are not the cause of war. (Politics is how we operate as a society and it can be good or bad. If politics turns from good to bad and then to war, the cause of war is what caused the change from good to bad politics).

    Similarly, the differences between groups, say Sunni and Shi'ite to let Americans off the hook, does not _cause_ the fighting between them. They live together side by side in other countries and they live together side by side in the same country before an
  • Psychohistory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clintp (5169) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:16PM (#40878361)

    Of course, psychohistory doesn't work if you publish the results -- so all of this is bullshit. This implies that the psychohistorical result is actually not violence in 2020, but something else that they're trying to steer us towards. Maybe this is also why we're not supposed to be aware that psychohistory exists.

    Back to the Prime Radiant, guys.

  • Income inequality. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:29PM (#40878449)

    If the current trend of inequal distribution of wealth continues then yes, we will see increased violence. It's a formula that's a old as civilzation itself. Poverty is and always has been the root cause of most crime, including violent crime. (Some of it is due to crazy. You will always have jealousy, rich people shoplifting for thrills, adultery, etc)

    Whatever your political creed or economic philosophy, you must recognize that gross wealth inequality /always/ leads to bad things. It's a common theme of all civilizations world wide throughout all recorded history. It's the destroyer of nations. It's the murder of kings. It's the ruin of the most mighty military forces. It's the trigger of violent, bloody revolution where the innocent and the guilty both suffer alike.

    Our country used to recognize this function but in the last few decades it's been ignored wholesale. The rich are getting very very rich and have somehow convinced everyone that they "deserve" it while our nation stumbles with infective public programs and crumbling infrastructure. Wealth redistribution used to be a clear, stated goal of our government and now, somehow that idea is taboo and evil.

  • by Gorobei (127755) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:30PM (#40878459)

    Linear time is useless to predict cyclic anything where modern human society is involved. Ten years of innovation today (and its effects on society) is greater than thirty years of innovation two hundred years ago. The scale just isn't linear. Nothing has a significant long term stable frequency.

    If you are a cicada, you have reasonable grounds to disagree. Sadly, you can't talk and aren't real big in the innovation space.

  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:33PM (#40878477) Homepage Journal
    The outbreak of the US Civil War was only 9 years before the cited "1870" and 4 years before the earliest year that TFA could have associated with 1870 since the graph describes the years as "5 year intervals".

    Moreover, it was a unique peak in US history.

    This guy's model needs an overhaul -- either that or its intend use is useless for phenomena that are really interesting.

  • by ancarett (221103) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:42PM (#40878559)
    As a historian with a lot of statistical study under my belt, call me skeptical. I don't see how we're able to make the leap from his observations to cycles at work in wildly variant institutions and cultures. This sounds an awful lot like the wide-eyed promise of cliometrics to revolutionize history starting in the 1950s.

    In the mid-twentieth century, cliometrics (ah, look how much it reads like cliodynamics!) was going to save us all from the loosey-goosey styles of history that just weren't as good as honest-to-gosh social science. (This is why many mid-twentieth century universities placed history in their social science faculties rather than humanities where it was categorized in older university systems.) Certainly, learning how to handle large data sets and tackle questions of change over time with accurate analysis has been good, but stats wasn't the smoking gun to solve historical debates. Look how hard some of the great works of cliometrics crashed and burned when they tried to assert a grand rule of human behaviour: just two examples off of the top of my head, the Tilly's "The Rebellious Century, 1830-1930" which tried to unify the study of European revolutions over a century or Theda Skocpol's "States and Social Revolution: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China" which claimed that you could come up with a universalizing analysis of authoritarian state collapse. Both are interesting and ambitious books but ultimately unconvincing as they attempted to assert a general rule-set for history.

    Now we're told that cliodynamics is going to solve the problem. Again, as the original article notes, most trained historians are skeptical. It's not just that we like futzing around with old documents, it's that we're aware of the weaknesses in ongoing research, holes in observations and the biases in the data. You want to point to huge amounts of populist violence in the U.S. circa 1920 as proof that it was a high in a fifty year cycle? I and other historians can point to stunning outbreaks a decade earlier related to the anarchist movements and a decade later with the unrest regarding the Great Depression. It's not so much cherry-picking counter examples: it's the wrongheaded concept of seeing people as pawns of historical forces. Asimov was fun to read, I'll grant you, but I'd hope that people can see that human agency has an awful lot more to do with historical change than the rules of psychohistory.

    Stop looking for general rules of what's going to come next and consider, instead, clear-sighted analysis of how we've come to where we are and what that tells us about problems we've had and continue to experience.
  • Interesting background which Turchin has: Turchin was born in Obninsk, Russia, in 1957 and in 1963 moved to Moscow. In 1975 he entered the Faculty of Biology of the Moscow State University and studied there until 1977, when his father, the Soviet dissident Valentin Turchin, was exiled from the USSR. He got his B.A. in biology from the New York University (cum laude) in 1980 and Ph.D. in zoology in 1985 from Duke University.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Turchin [wikipedia.org]

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:46PM (#40878585) Homepage
    1888: Jack the Ripper active
    1913: The eve of the First World War
    1938: Hitler annexes Austria
    1963: Kennedy assassinated
    1988: The Lockerbie bombing

    It's 2013 we need to worry about, sheeple!
  • The publication of this article by some way reminds me of the Terminator: the publication of some possible future events make that events happen, or alter them in some way
  • Title gets it wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by Florian Weimer (88405) <fw@deneb.enyo.de> on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:56PM (#40878649) Homepage

    The guy isn't a mathematician, he's an ecologist. And I find it hard to believe that by 2020, social acceptance of domestic violence (say) rises again to mid-20th century levels. The reporter's suggestion that the precise moment in time of the Egyptian revolution was predictable is likely based on a misunderstanding of Turchin's work.

    By the way, the field isn't as new as the article suggests. Steven Pinker's recent book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, collects quite a bit of quantitative research in this area, most of which does not support the existence of stable cycles.

    • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:01PM (#40879217) Journal
      Steven Pinker's statistics very clearly show the violence has gone down steadily over the millennia. By orders of magnitude. Steadily. His range goes from incessant tribal warfare, inter societal plunder and robbery, national wars, global wars, regular crime, ... and extends it to racial discrimination, gender discrimination, acceptance of gays ... etc etc.

      Pinker only briefly touches upon the reduction in violence before recorded history. For that we can look at Nicholas Wade in "Before the Dawn". The gradual thinning of human skull from 200000 years ago to 75000 years ago shows the reduction in violence. (The older skulls were "robust" and the modern skulls were "gracile"). Basically skulls less able to withstand thumping blows from clubs and stones actually survived and thrived.

      So the general arc of violence has been on the downward path. There would be short term fluctuations. But 2020s will not be like 1970s. No way. Steven Levitt first broke the taboo and mentioned the link between legalization of abortion in 1970 and the reduction in violence in 1990s. 2020s will be when the grand children of unwanted babies aborted in 1970s will be missing from the crime age pool. Very unlikely we are going to see any spike in violence in 2020.

      • Sure, you have to ignore the decline in violence (simply looking at absolute numbers would help in a few cases). But there could still be periodic patterns against the general backdrop of decline. However, there is little evidence for that.

        Now all kinds of things could go wrong and lead to rising violence levels in the next years (global financial meltdown followed by a drop in international trade, countries trying to collect on their debts by military force etc., which would eventually have an effect on pe

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @02:13PM (#40878809) Journal
    From the article, here is the opinion of historians who disagree with this guy, probably worth reading:

    Cliodynamics is viewed with deep scepticism by most academic historians, who tend to see history as a complex stew of chance, individual foibles and one-of-a-kind situations that no broad-brush 'science of history' will ever capture.....Most think that phenomena such as political instability should be understood by constructing detailed narratives of what actually happened — always looking for patterns and regularities, but never forgetting that each outbreak emerged from a particular time and place.

  • Cliodynamics seems to be the new, trending name for... Cliology [see the afterward of the hard cover edition of "In the Country of the Blind" by Michael Flynn which originally appeared as a two part article 'Introduction to Psychohistory' in Analog magazine in 1988] and "Cycles Research" founded by economist Edward R. Dewey http://www.cyclesresearchinstitute.org/ [cyclesrese...titute.org] Also a book by Dewey "Cycles, The Mysterious Forces that Trigger Events..." and some of the papers presented in the Journal of World Systems R

  • It would still be a good idea to get guns off the street. There's a number of ways to do that:

    -turn the underground drug market into an above-board, regulated market (with broad social programs to help people off their addictions).
    -take a serious look at just what sort of weapons *are* constitutionally supported.

    It's not likely for such measures to *increase* drug/gun related violence.

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