The Foundation for real. When I read the Foundation I was intrigued by the idea but thought it utterly impossible. I think cliodynamics will, too, be shown to be a passing fad. In fact, there is historical precedent – written in the article – suggesting it will be so (yes, the irony is writ large here).

Digitizing more documents, I don’t believe, will solve the “problem” of predicting the rise and fall of civilization. The system is just too complex – nothing can solve this “problem”.

Note that if you look at the data on page 2 of the article linked above, you already begin to see part of the problem: there is a missing data point (the missing peak of 1820) and the peak at 1970 is the same level as the background between 1870 and 1920, so is it really a peak at all? Very sloppy. And a very sloppy start, in my opinion, does not bode well for the scientific-ness of the future of cliodynamics. My prediction: cliodynamics will always be scientism. But I do have to give the proponents kudos for this: they at least make testable predictions, the next one of which will happen in about 7 years.

-JD Cross