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Cliodynamics: History as Science 
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Post Cliodynamics: History as Science
I thought this might be of interest to the Forum. It strikes me as very "Heinleinian." He probably would have liked the part about "verbal theories should be translated into mathematical models, precise predictions derived, and then rigorously tested on empirical material."

Cliodynamics: History as Science
Empires rise and fall, populations and economies boom and bust, world religions spread or wither... What are the mechanisms underlying such dynamical processes in history? Are there 'laws of history'? We do not lack hypotheses to investigate - to take just one instance, more than two hundred explanations have been proposed for why the Roman Empire fell. But we still don't know which of these hypotheses are plausible, and which should be rejected. More importantly, there is no consensus on what general mechanisms explain the collapse of historical empires. What is needed is a systematic application of the scientific method to history: verbal theories should be translated into mathematical models, precise predictions derived, and then rigorously tested on empirical material. In short, history needs to become an analytical, predictive science (see Arise cliodynamics).

Cliodynamics (from Clio, the muse of history, and dynamics, the study of temporally varying processes) is the new transdisciplinary area of research at the intersection of historical macrosociology, economic history/cliometrics, mathematical modeling of long-term social processes, and the construction and analysis of historical databases. Mathematical approaches – modeling historical processes with differential equations or agent-based simulations; sophisticated statistical approaches to data analysis – are a key ingredient in the cliodynamic research program (Why do we need mathematical history?). But ultimately the aim is to discover general principles that explain the functioning and dynamics of actual historical societies.

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Fri Nov 15, 2013 4:32 pm
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Post Re: Cliodynamics: History as Science
Interesting. Is their entire sit on the home page? :-)

It fairly screams psychohistory, more I think than Future History. Determinism in human behavior strikes me as something that would not have been popular with Heinlein.


Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:12 am
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Post Re: Cliodynamics: History as Science
PeterScott wrote:
Interesting. Is their entire sit on the home page? :-)

It fairly screams psychohistory, more I think than Future History. Determinism in human behavior strikes me as something that would not have been popular with Heinlein.

Peter: He doesn't seem to be deterministic by my reading. He's talking about mathematically modeling cycles (see The Double Helix of Inequality and Well-Being). What it made me think of immediately was "The Year of the Jackpot" and "The Crazy Years."

Heinlein seems to have been a "deep cyclist" at heart. In Time for the Stars he even has a sort of neopatriacrchy, with women covering their heads in a society with interstellar travel.

This is in real contrast to "progressive" thought of the last 50 years (or, more broadly, the French Revolutionists and Marx) that we will inevitably "evolve" to ever greater equality and freedom. Heinlein seems to have believed that too, until he became "The Man Who Learned Better."

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"There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk 'his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor' on an outcome dubious. Those who fail the challenge are merely overgrown children, can never be anything else."


Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:54 am
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Post Re: Cliodynamics: History as Science
RobertPearson wrote:
Heinlein seems to have been a "deep cyclist" at heart.

Me too - I think I've mentioned my affection for the Strauss & Howe Generations model here once or twice. Although it is perforce more of a spiral - we're not returning to earlier eras in terms of technology, for instance. In macroeconomic terms I think the jury is still out (although don't say that to a Kondratiev Winter aficionado).
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This is in real contrast to "progressive" thought of the last 50 years (or, more broadly, the French Revolutionists and Marx) that we will inevitably "evolve" to ever greater equality and freedom. Heinlein seems to have believed that too, until he became "The Man Who Learned Better."

And learned that we are doomed to repeat history...


Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:28 pm
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Post Re: Cliodynamics: History as Science
RobertPearson wrote:
I thought this might be of interest to the Forum. It strikes me as very "Heinleinian." He probably would have liked the part about "verbal theories should be translated into mathematical models, precise predictions derived, and then rigorously tested on empirical material."

Cliodynamics: History as Science
Empires rise and fall, populations and economies boom and bust, world religions spread or wither... What are the mechanisms underlying such dynamical processes in history? Are there 'laws of history'? We do not lack hypotheses to investigate - to take just one instance, more than two hundred explanations have been proposed for why the Roman Empire fell. But we still don't know which of these hypotheses are plausible, and which should be rejected. More importantly, there is no consensus on what general mechanisms explain the collapse of historical empires. What is needed is a systematic application of the scientific method to history: verbal theories should be translated into mathematical models, precise predictions derived, and then rigorously tested on empirical material. In short, history needs to become an analytical, predictive science (see Arise cliodynamics).

Cliodynamics (from Clio, the muse of history, and dynamics, the study of temporally varying processes) is the new transdisciplinary area of research at the intersection of historical macrosociology, economic history/cliometrics, mathematical modeling of long-term social processes, and the construction and analysis of historical databases. Mathematical approaches – modeling historical processes with differential equations or agent-based simulations; sophisticated statistical approaches to data analysis – are a key ingredient in the cliodynamic research program (Why do we need mathematical history?). But ultimately the aim is to discover general principles that explain the functioning and dynamics of actual historical societies.


English, Robert. English!


Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:47 pm
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