Browsing All posts tagged under »cliodynamics«

War! What Is It Good For?

June 2, 2014 by


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 […]

How Elite Overproduction Brings Disorder

November 20, 2013 by


Today published my opinion piece in which I analyze the connection between economic inequality and political instability. It starts: Complex human societies, including our own, are fragile. They are held together by an invisible web of mutual trust and social cooperation. This web can fray easily, resulting in a wave of political instability, internal […]

Math Explains History III. Reactions to our paper

October 2, 2013 by


Although publishing in PNAS is a bit of a pain (there are a lot of pesky formatting and other requirements) and expensive (in particular, we had to pay, so that you all could have free access to our article), the redeeming feature of this journal is that they practically guarantee good press exposure. I am […]

Math Explains History II: Q&A

September 25, 2013 by


The last few days were very hectic. I gave more than ten interviews, about half by phone or Skype and the rest by answering e-mailed question. I prefer the second approach: I am a better writer than speaker. I am glad that there is so much interest in our results in the popular press. And […]

Can Math Explain History?

September 23, 2013 by


One of the greatest puzzles of social science is how human societies evolved from small groups of relatives and friends to the huge, anonymous and complex societies of today. A peace demonstration. Today we live in huge societies of strangers, who nevertheless are capable of coming together for cooperative purposes Ten thousand years ago everybody […]

Sticking My Neck Out

August 31, 2013 by


When 15 years ago I started working within the scientific discipline that eventually became Cliodynamics, my initial plan was to concentrate entirely on past societies. Of course, history doesn’t end in, say, 1800. But there are dangers in pushing a historical analysis all the way to the present day. First, we are too close to […]

Publishing Cliodynamics: the Journal Cooperatively

August 9, 2013 by


I recently published another issue of Cliodynamics – Vol. 4, issue 1. Overall, it’s the sixth issue. Hard to believe. We started the journal three years ago. At that point it was not clear whether it would succeed. I polled a bunch of colleagues, and most were very supportive, so off we went. Many of […]

The Future Cliodynamics of the Great Divergence (AKA the Rise of the West)

June 7, 2013 by


One of the major reasons I enjoy having a blog is the many excellent comments that the readers make on various ideas I float here. Sometimes they make me change my views, sometimes they force me to explain things better, or clarify my own thinking on the subject. All of this happened as a result […]

How to Become a Cliodynamicist

May 1, 2013 by


Every once in a while I get an e-mail from students interested in a career in cliodynamics. What kind of courses does one need to take, and what is the possible career path that could lead to cliodynamics research? Let’s start by acknowledging that there are no departments of cliodynamics – and it is quite […]

How to Overthrow an Empire – and Replace It with Your Own

April 17, 2013 by


Imagine …   You are an heir of a Noble House. Your enemies, who include the emperor and a powerful noble, have assassinated your father and destroyed your House. You have escaped, but you have no loyal retainers, no troops, no allies, and no money. You want revenge! But you also want to rebuild your […]

Scientific Prediction ≠ Prophecy

April 12, 2013 by


Yesterday Wired published an article by Klint Finley, Mathematicians Predict the Future With Data From the Past. Apart from a couple of minor details Klint does a good job explaining the goals and the methods of Cliodynamics. However, he (or his editor; it is almost always editors who come up with titles) couldn’t resist injecting […]

Cutting through the Thicket of Economic Forces (Why Real Wages Stopped Growing II)

April 7, 2013 by


In the previous blog I asked why real wages stopped growing in the 1970s. A host of explanations has been discussed by economists and political commentators (although they tend to focus on the related issues of income and income inequality). David Leonhard, for example, listed 14 possible causes for the income slump during the last […]

Science on Screen: DUNE

March 28, 2013 by


Frank Herbert’s DUNE is probably the most popular science fiction novel ever (over 12 million of copies sold). It has everything – a complex and dynamic main hero, great villains, neat ecology (planetology!), philosophical and religious insights, and (what is particularly fascinating to me) a well-structured social world. I have written before on this topic […]

The Cliodynamics of Cliodynamics

March 3, 2013 by


Marc Parry, the author of the Chronicle article on Cliodynamics, reposted the Google Ngram graphs from my last blog on The Percolator. There are about a dozen replies there. One says, “Interesting article sort of but the comments are even more amusing.” These comments remind me of an encounter I had at a Columbia University […]

The Rise and Fall of Cliometrics, and the Coming Rise of Cliodynamics

February 26, 2013 by


The latest issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education has two related articles, one on Ian Morris and another on cliodynamics. One interesting theme in the second article is the relationship between cliodynamics and cliometrics. Initially ‘cliometrics’ was a faintly derogatory term used by the detractors of the new economic history that arose in the […]

The Double Helix of Inequality and Well-Being

February 8, 2013 by


The on-line magazine Aeon today published an article of mine on why economic inequality tends to wax and wane in very long (‘secular’) cycles, and what consequences it has for the society. One of the central ideas in the article was that general well-being (that is, of the overwhelming majority of population) tends to move […]

Game of Predictions

January 2, 2013 by

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The year of 2012 has been a good one for Social Evolution and Cliodynamics. We had a wonderful meeting in Frankfurt that celebrated the new stature of Cultural Evolution. The Social Evolution Forum has been developing very nicely (in the next blog I will provide more information). And the science of Cliodynamics has been adding […]

Call for Papers: The Fourth International Conference on Cliodynamics, Vladivostok (May 20-22, 2013)

December 11, 2012 by

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The Fourth International Conference on Cliodynamics: Mathematical Modeling of Historical and Socioeconomic Processes will be held  in Vladivostok (Russian Federation) on May 20-22, 2013 (please note the change of dates from the previous announcement). The Conference will be hosted and supported by the Far Eastern Federal University (Vladivostok). (credit: The Conference will focus on […]

Does History Cycle?

December 5, 2012 by


In the Economist’s World in 2013 issue there is an article, The Cycle of History (thanks to John McGonagle for bringing it to my attention). The author, Max Rodenbeck, discusses the recent events of the Arab Spring from the point of view of Ibn Khaldun’s theory. Ibn Khaldun, as many of my readers know, was […]

Collapse of Complex Societies: Did Drought Kill off the Mayans?

November 11, 2012 by


When I wrote my blog about the effect of climate on the rise and demise of complex societies, I had no inkling that there was another paper on this subject in the works. But the latest issue of Science (9.XI.2012) has an article by Douglas Kennett et al., Development and Disintegration of Maya Political Systems […]


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