Re: psychohistory

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Tue 27 Jul 2004 - 22:52:00 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Evolutionary psychology rap"

    At 12:49 AM 27/07/04 -0700, Scott wrote:
    >I've been reading Asimov's Foundation series.


    >What's more realistic, the Asimovian psychohistory
    >where history is predicted based on treating mobs of
    >people (billions and billions) statistically) or the
    >psychoanalytic kind of psychohistory that I've posted
    >about not too long ago? Their is an actual field
    >called psychohistory that's not Asimovian. It's
    >actually kinda Freudian, with Freud's Oedipal complex
    >in the Darwinian horde mumbo-jumbo a sort of inaugural

    Last time I looked the "field" was one guy running a tightly moderated mailing list.

    But re Asimovian psychohistory . . . . .

    Results 1 - 9 of about 36 for "Keith Henson" psychohistory.

    >Would memetics have any truck with such a concept as
    >the Seldon brand of psychohistory? If memetics is
    >studying something truly analogous to genetic
    >evolution how are we to predict anything to the degree
    >that Seldon did? How could we predict what the future
    >of genetic evolution will bring, given the stochastic
    >and contingent nature of evolution? I would think the
    >same would hold for cultural evolution or human
    >history, be it memetic or not. There might be room for
    >modest, short-term predictions, but anything more is
    >verging into Nostradamus territory.
    >That ought to wake Keith from his dogmatic slumber :-)

    I don't think you can make detailed predictions in the memetic world. They are too much subject to chaos.

    But you *can* make predictions based on evolutionary psychology. When current conditions activate the primitive "it's time to go to war with the neighbors" switch, some xenophobic meme justifying war will arise. Short ears, long ears, the holy land, state's rights, Nazis, weapons of mass destruction--something will be amplified to fill the slot when people are in a situation that maps into detecting looming privation/incipient starvation and they need a meme to dehumanize the warriors over the hill.

    Keith Henson

    PS. Memetics is only one of several list and news groups I post to. They are all easy to find if you look or you can ask me.

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