Friday, June 23, 2023

"Predicting social decline: End Times by Peter Turchin"

Like this reviewer, I too am not sure that Mr. Turchin is on to something. From one of our visits to his brain, July 25, 2020:

"Will the US Really Experience a Violent Upheaval in 2020?"
I don't have enough information to determine if Professor Turchin is correct in his analysis.
I do know that human beings are so good at pattern recognition that we can see patterns that aren't even there.
Here's a twofer, the prediction and the follow-up.

From LiveScience, August 3, 2012:
Time evolution of issues motivating political violence in the United States.
(Image: © Peter Turchin)

And from Spears' Magazine, June 22, 2023:

What seems at first to be an ambitious attempt to apply scientific methods to history turns out to offer little in the way of fresh thinking, says Charlie Baker

In 2010, the zoologist turned complexity scientist Peter Turchin was asked by the scientific journal Nature what the next decade had in store for humanity. While all other correspondents were largely sanguine, Turchin was despondent, stating that the next 10 years would ‘likely be a period of growing instability in the United States and Western Europe’, as a grim soup of maladies would bring the West to the precipice of disaster.

Declining living standards, declining wages, public debt and an ‘elite overproduction’ of university graduates meant turbulence lay ahead, and that this was ‘set to peak in the years around 2020’. As predictions go, it was almost bang on the money.

The forces of disaster, while inconvenient for most of us, have been to Turchin’s gain. In reward for his prescience, the transdisciplinary field he founded, cliodynamics, has entered public discourse, as institutions around the world digitise their archives (‘clio’ as the Greek muse of history). 

Applying mathematical models to explain macrohistorical patterns – treating history like science – it aims to quantify, with exactitude, civil progress (and regress) in the same way that a thermometer records temperature....


On the other hand, Turchin's concept of the overproduction of wannabe elites can be seen almost anywhere you turn.

If interested see:

2022's  "The Problem with The Mass-Production of Elites, Looking into DoorDash's S-1 Filing"

And some of our other links: 

C.S. Lewis On Different Types Of Readers
Although these days we use pseudo-psycho-mumbo-jumbo like "Confirming my priors" and "Validating the reader", this old boy was writing about such things in his SciFi novel 76 years ago:

“Why you fool, it’s the educated reader who CAN be gulled. All our difficulty comes with the others. When did you meet a workman who believes the papers? He takes it for granted that they’re all propaganda and skips the leading articles. He buys his paper for the football results and the little paragraphs about girls falling out of windows and corpses found in Mayfair flats. He is our problem. We have to recondition him. But the educated public, the people who read the high-brow weeklies, don’t need reconditioning. They’re all right already. They’ll believe anything.”

— C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength, 1945

As we saw in yesterday's "Planet of the Grifters" with it's quick look at Turchin's idea that there are too many elites and wannabe elites, there is money to be made from feeding the fantasy of the wannabe. (as the degenerate state of academia shows)

See also: Pity the poor avocado-eating graduates: "University-educated millennials have absorbed elite values but will never enjoy the lifestyle"

And that probably accounts for some of the crabbiness we see from folks who, compared with our billions and billions of forebearers, back into the mists of time, are among the most privileged and advantaged ever to walk the earth.

They also get grumpy when reminded of that fact....

And "The Fragmenting of the New Class Elites, or, Downward Mobility"