mretchin wrote:> I'm sure this is a common occurrence for your website, but I read
> the Foundation, and I was struck by the idea of psychohistory.
> Naturally, I looked around the Web to see if I could find anything
> similar to psychohistory. At first, I found game theory, but that
> didn't predict events, it just predicted the outcomes of events.
> The majority of the mathematical models of human interaction I
> found either focused on the outcomes of events, or were not
> specific in the least.
> I finally found Generational Dynamics. The idea of the cycling
> generations seems pretty sound to me, but I have a few questions:
> 1. How far is the predictive power of Generational Dynamics into
> the future? Why? (Hari Seldon claimed to have a knowledge of
> 30,000 years into the future)
Isaac Asimov's Psychohistory was a fascinating concept, and I
certainly enjoyed reading the Foundation series many years ago. But
many of the concepts of what's possible to predict were clarified by
Chaos Theory in the 1960s and 1970s, which showed that, for example,
that it's mathematically impossible to predict the weather more than a
few days in advance. This means that weather forecasts will never
be much better than they are today.
The same is true for elections. You can take polls that measure voter
sentiment, but everyone is aware of many examples of polls that turn
out to be completely wrong. In fact, it's just as impossible to
predict election results as it is to predict the weather.
Asimov was portraying a discipline that could model the universe
with precision, unless something huge (The Mule) derailed the model.
What Chaos Theory has shown is that you can try to model the universe,
but it takes only the tiniest thing (the flapping of a butterfly's
wings) to derail the model.
Generational Dynamics forecasting is actually a refinement and
advancement of Asimove's Psychohistory by applying the lessons
of Chaos Theory. It does this by carefully identifying which
kinds of events can be predicted ("trend events") and which
kinds of events cannot be predicted ("chaotic events").
Generational Dynamics recognizes that it's impossible to predict the
attitudes and behaviors of any individual or small group of
individuals. Each person has free will and can do whatever he wants.
But what CAN be predicted, to some extent, are the attitudes and
behaviors of large masses of people, entire generations of people.
Even though individuals have free will, the attitudes and behaviors of
generations of people, taken as a group, are predictable.
For example, it's been provable for ten years that the world is
entering a major financial crisis for the first time since the 1930s.
Furthermore, it was provable that the crisis would involve a credit
bubble based on the abuse and securitization of debt, and that the
crisis would be triggered by a panic when the bubble burst. Those are
But it's always been impossible to predict the exact scenario. Things
like the Lehman bank collapse could not be predicted in advance. The
meltdown of Greece could not be predicted in advance. These are all
So the Generational Dynamics forecasting methodology uses the
concepts of "long-term" and "short-term" forecasting. Long-term
forecasting involves identifying the trend events, and estimating
a time window in which they might occur. This time window is
typically a number of years.
Then, as time goes on and chaotic events continue to occur on
a daily basis, the "short-term forecasting" technique is to
take the chaotic events and match them up to the trend events,
in order to create a combined forecast of highly probably events
in a short time window. This is what I've been doing on my web
site since 2003.
A lot of this is summarized in the following paper:
** International Business Forecasting Using System Dynamics With Generational Flows
** http://assets1.csc.com/lef/downloads/CS ... namics.pdf
If Isaac Asimov had known all of this, then I believe that he could
have created Psychohistory so that would not be defeated by
For example, the power of The Mule was demonstrated when an election
result did not occur as predicted.
This could have been replaced by a Generational Dynamics negative
prediction. There have been a number of negative predictions over the
years. For example, almost every analyst in the world was predicting
that Lebanon was headed for civil war after the assassination of
former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri in 2005, and those predictions
continued for three or four more years.
However, the Generational Dynamics prediction all along was that a
civil war in Lebanon was impossible, or that if one began, then it
would fizzle quickly. This has turned out to be true, and almost
every analyst in the world has been proven wrong.
Now, Isaac Asimov might have used negative predictions to advance his
story. For example, the Mule might have used his powers to cause a
civil war in a place where it was predicted to be impossible. That
could have achieved the same story objective in a different way.
There actually has been a science-fiction story based on Generational
Dynamics, and it's posted on my web site:** 'Maybe we'll get it right this time' by Tom Mazanec
It's a really good story, and shows some of the things that are
> 2. Here,
> http://www.generationaldynamics.com/cgi ... #lab101819
> you use 9/11 and the War on Terror initiated following the attack
> as examples of Crisis wars. Elsewhere you claim that the war was
> an example of a 58 year panic. What made you change your
I didn't change my mind. The 9/11 attack could well have led to a
crisis war, in a different scenario. Imagine that Osama bin Laden had
been operating out of Xinjiang province rather than Afghanistan, and
the Chinese refused to turn him over. That could have resulted in the
Clash of Civilizations war then.
mretchin wrote:> 3. In my mind, World War II was partially caused by World War I
> because of the Weimar Republic having to pay all these indemnities
> to the victors. This is what I don't understand. Are you
> claiming that these wars with specific causes would have happened
> anyway? Did it have nothing to do with post-war payments and
> severe hyper-inflation at all making Germany vulnerable to Nazi
If you think about your question, you'll realize it doesn't make
sense, at least as stated. You ask whether WW II would have happened
anyway, then you explain why it had to happen anyway. The example
that I usually use is this: WW II and the Holocaust would have
happened anyway, even if Hitler had never been born.
mretchin wrote:> Thanks for answering my questions, I think Generational Dynamics
> is really promising. By the way, why has no one paid the theory
> much attention? The only website with any information on it is
Gen-Xers are running the country, and they hate anything that blames
them for anything, especially something from a loathsome Boomer.
mretchin wrote:> Also, is there a method in Generational Dynamics for predicting
> the winner of wars, if two nations are on the same
Not that I know of. You just have to use standard methods -- compare
the sizes of the two armies, etc. -- to come up with a probabilistic
mretchin wrote:> Can Generational Dynamics predict when there will be a new
> religion, or a new nation formed?
New religious movements are launched during Awakening eras, and become
either established or extinguished during Crisis eras. New nations
are formed during a Recovery era, as a consequence of the preceding
mretchin wrote:> What happens when people immigrate and their timelines are not in
> sync with the nation they are immigrating to?
In a small migration, the migrating population will simply assimilate
into the new country.
In a forced migration of a large population, there will be a "first
turning reset," returning them to a Recovery era, irrespective of
whatever era they were in at the time of the migration.
mretchin wrote:> If a crisis war can be 60-100 years after the last one, roughly 40
> years, then isn't that cherry-picking?
There are many ways to distinguish crisis wars from non-crisis
wars, in terms of the behaviors of the belligerents. Furthermore,
non-crisis wars can occur during Crisis eras -- the Iraq
and Afghanistan wars being examples.