Tuesday, October 23, 2012
The journal Nature has a fascinating piece on cliodynamics -- computer analyses of patterns in history. What I find fascinating is that they end up with exactly the same analysis as I had on the revolution in Egypt. Each each case, we were looking at bubbles and the causes of bubbles. There is a bubble that resulted in the violence/unrest bubble. The bubble of my analysis seems to be the same as the bubble of Peter Turchin's analysis. One gets boom-bust cycles in complex processes when there is positive feedback. Cheap money is a kind of positive feedback. Third party payers, such as we see in health care with insurance, is another. And artificially low interest rates -- meaning, rates below what the market would create -- created the housing bubble that burst in 2008. There was an education bubble in the 1960's that led to the violence of the 1970's. I believe there is an education bubble now, as evidenced by the increasing prices and blooming number of bureaucrats -- and Turchin predicts revolutionary violence in the U.S. of the same kind around 2020. There are more aspects to cliodynamics than education bubble-created violence, and many more I am sure possible. One has to be careful, though, that one does not mistake the model for reality -- these are not accurate predictions, but pattern predictions. These are, nevertheless, very important.