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History as a giant data set:

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ChristopherBlackwell Post number 25968 Posted: 12th November 2019     Subject: History as a giant data set:
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History as a giant data set: how analysing the past could help save the future [Long, but interesting read]

Calculating the patterns and cycles of the past could lead us to a better understanding of history. Could it also help us prevent a looming crisis? By Laura Spinney
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Turchin set out to determine whether history, like physics, follows certain laws. In 2003, he published a book called Historical Dynamics, in which he discerned secular cycles in France and Russia from their origins to the end of the 18th century. That same year, he founded a new field of academic study, called cliodynamics, which seeks to discover the underlying reasons for these historical patterns, and to model them using mathematics, the way one might model changes to the planet’s climate. Seven years later, he started the field’s first official journal and co-founded a database of historical and archaeological information, which now contains data on more than 450 historical societies. The database can be used to compare societies across large stretches of time and space, as well as to make predictions about coming political instability. In 2017, Turchin founded a working group of historians, semioticians, physicists and others to help anticipate the future of human societies based on historical evidence.
Peter Turchin, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, anthropology and mathematics at the University of

Turchin’s approach to history, which uses software to find patterns in massive amounts of historical data, has only become possible recently, thanks to the growth in cheap computing power and the development of large historical datasets. This “big data” approach is now becoming increasingly popular in historical disciplines. Tim Kohler, an archaeologist at Washington State University, believes we are living through “the glory days” of his field, because scholars can pool their research findings with unprecedented ease and extract real knowledge from them. In the future, Turchin believes, historical theories will be tested against large databases, and the ones that do not fit – many of them long-cherished – will be discarded. Our understanding of the past will converge on something approaching an objective truth.
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But an imminent upheaval in the political order of the US or UK seems increasingly plausible. The Fragile States Index, calculated by the US non-profit The Fund for Peace, reveals a worsening trend toward instability in those two countries, in contrast to steady improvement in much of the rest of the world.
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https://www.theguardian ... e-the-future

Wisdom is what is left after you have done all the dumb stuff
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