Browsing Archives of Author »Peter Turchin«

The War over War, Part II

August 18, 2014

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In the first installment I argued against extreme positions about the prevalence of warfare in the Pleistocene. One problem underlying the controversy over warfare in the early human history is that different people use different definitions of war. So let me be clear and say what definition I use. It comes from the questions and […]

The War over War

August 12, 2014

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I periodically get asked, what do I think about the controversy over Steven Pinker’s Better Angels? Truth is, I did not find anything particularly new in the book. For those of us interested in the role of war in social evolution most of the empirical material he goes over is quite familiar. There is a […]

Paleo Diet and Fire

August 7, 2014

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It’s been a while since my last update on the Paleo diet (perhaps a better name for it is ‘Post-Neolithic diet’). Here are the links to previous blogs on this theme: http://socialevolutionforum.com/2012/08/23/an-update-on-my-so-called-paleo-diet/ http://socialevolutionforum.com/2013/07/20/adventures-in-paleo-eating-bone-marrow/ http://socialevolutionforum.com/2013/05/04/breadfruit/ As long-time readers of my blog remember, I switched to Paleo diet in May of 2012. Within two months I noticed […]

Of Course, War Is Evil!

July 29, 2014

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Thank you, Joe and all people who left comments. It has been an extremely thought-provoking discussion, so I thought it’s worth a separate blog to address the issues that most resonated with me. Let me start by repeating that the title, “War! What is It Good For?” was not mine, but Ian Morris’s. It’s not […]

Murals versus Flags: A Symbolically Dense Landscape, continued

July 21, 2014

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As I said in my previous blog, the Catholic areas in Belfast tend to be symbolically demarcated primarily with murals, while the Protestant ones are festooned with flags. The distinction is not absolute, and you can see the Irish Tricolor (green-white-orange) in two photographs in the previous blog. Still, they are mostly found in the […]

Belfast: A Symbolically Dense Landscape

July 18, 2014

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Two weeks ago, after we were done with various Cliodynamics activities in Dublin, we went on a field trip to study the post-conflict landscape in Belfast. Our guide on this trip was Kevin Feeney. Exploring Belfast is best done with someone who knows which neighborhoods are safe, and which are not. Even though it has […]

Is Social Trust a Cultural Trait?

July 12, 2014

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Yesterday’s blog proposed that the most useful approach to understanding the evolution of large-scale complex societies is to view them through the lens of Cultural Evolution. To make this discussion more concrete, let’s look at a particular cultural trait: social trust (more specifically, ‘generalized trust’). Trust is highly important for explaining the ability of people, […]

Progress, Memes, and Cultural Evolution

July 10, 2014

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As the readers of this blog know, one of the central directions in my research has been understanding the evolution of large-scale, complex societies. Actually, it is the main question motivating this Forum. Now that I am back from my travels, I have shifted gears and started working on my long-neglected popular book that will […]

The Pazyryk Kurgans: a Glimpse into the Amazing World of Central Asia in the Iron Age (I millennium BCE)

July 6, 2014

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I am back from my last travels within the fair island of Ireland. A lot of impressions, ideas, and topics to blog about. Unfortunately, experience shows that while I travel I simply don’t have the leisure to post. As a result, this blog has been sadly neglected. Now that I am back home, however, I […]

A Tour of Sacred Places in Moscow

June 19, 2014

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As I more-or-less expected, my trip to Toulouse, Moscow, and St. Petersburg was too intense (and the internet connection too iffy) for me to be able to blog. Lots of new ideas, impressions, and topics to blog about, however. One of these is a walk I took in Moscow last week, next day after the […]

War! What Is It Good For?

June 2, 2014

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I’ve just returned from California, where I spent last two weeks. I dislike long-distance air travel, and when I do it, I try to hit as many birds with the same stone, so to speak. This means bunching up as many talks and visits as possible. On this trip I started at Stanford, then went […]

‘Devoted Realism': a Commentary on Johnson and Toft

May 4, 2014

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Dominic Johnson and Monica Duffy Toft wrote a very interesting article. I applaud the explicitly evolutionary approach that they bring to Political Science. I also agree with their emphasis on territory, “the only thing that lasts.” Nevertheless, I don’t agree with everything they say in the article. Johnson and Toft employ insights from game theory […]

Employing Hunter-Gatherer Psychology to Reduce Inequality

April 28, 2014

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Yesterday we published a guest blog by Joe Brewer, A World without Poverty. It triggered quite an intense discussion, which is a good thing (this is what this Forum is about). However, and somewhat disappointingly to me, most critique focused on ‘poverty,’ instead of ‘a world without.’ To me, Joe’s blog is really about inequality, […]

Yet Another Sleazy Corporation

April 19, 2014

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Yesterday I wasted several hours, thanks to Oracle Corporation. When I turned my computer on, there was a message from Java bugging me to install a security update. These updates are a pain, and usually I try to ignore them and hope they go away after repeatedly telling them ‘no.’ The reason is that a […]

Russia’s Sacred Landscape, and the Place of Eastern Ukraine within It

April 13, 2014

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The confrontation in eastern Ukraine (or Novorossia, as southern and eastern Ukraine were called during the days of the Russian Empire) between pro-Russia activists and the central government in Kiev has escalated dramatically over the weekend. The hottest point is the Donbass region. The government buildings in its capital Donetsk have been occupied by activists […]

States without Sacred Lands

April 7, 2014

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At one point last week, as I was developing the Aeon article, a process that required multiple ‘back-and-forths’ between me and the editor Ed Lake, Ed asked me whether I could provide an example of a state without Sacred Lands, to illustrate the idea that such states are at a competitive disadvantage in the “ruthless […]

My Article on Aeon: To understand Crimea, we need an evolutionary theory of national honour

April 3, 2014

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When Russia annexed Crimea in March, American policymakers were taken by surprise. They shouldn’t have been, argued the political theorist John J Mearsheimer in a New York Times op-ed. After all: ‘Mr Putin’s behaviour is motivated by the same geopolitical considerations that influence all great powers, including the United States.’ Mearsheimer is one of the […]

Battle of the Ukrainian Oligarchs: the Chocolate King versus the Gas Princess

March 31, 2014

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At the end of my second blog on democracy and oligarchy in Ukraine, I came to a gloomy conclusion that there would be no real effort to curb the power of the oligarchs, and that it will be the common Ukrainians who will have to bear the costs of reforms. All this came to pass […]

Coevolution of Geopolitical Calculus and Sacred Values

March 20, 2014

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In a previous blog, I have already commented on the poor quality of coverage of the Crimean crisis in the Western press. Most news articles about the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula show no understanding of the real motives of Putin or Russia. This is scary. Folks, Russia has the second largest nuclear arsenal […]

Wealth and Democracy in Ukraine II

March 18, 2014

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In my previous blog I came to the conclusion that during its post-Soviet history Ukraine has become a Kevin Philips nightmare. No matter who gets elected there, they are either oligarchs, or oligarch stooges. It appears that the oligarchs not only control the parties that compete against each other during the elections, the Ukrainian billionaires […]

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