[Fis] FW: The Age of Discord

Joseph Brenner joe.brenner at bluewin.ch
Fri Nov 22 12:54:46 CET 2019

Dear Pedro and All,


I agree in general with Pedro on the importance of Turchin’s
transdisciplinary approach, but feel that something is missing in his
attempted synthesis in Cliodynamics. I say attempted for two reasons: for
me, he overemphasizes the role of mathematics – historical databases and
such, and the title of his journal is Quantitative History and Cultural
Evolution. This is not to say that mathematical methods do not have a role,
but if the objective is that history become an analytical, predictive
science like others so described, I see the potential loss of its essential
qualitative aspects. The statement that Trump is worse than Nixon is not


The (clio)dynamics of Pedro’s 5 points are also non-analytical and
non-mathematizable. However, he uses two, related terms that I think should
be unpacked: 1) low progress 2) secular oscillation. I see decades-long
trends of re-gress, such that only if the sinusoidal oscillation can also
move backwards is it fair to call it an oscillation.


If it is a fundamental irrationality that is underlying current cultural
evolution –or perhaps better devolution, then the practice of Information
Science and Philosophy must take this into account to be meaningful.


I am not arguing for the sake of arguing, but the repetition of only the
most commonly accepted usages of terms is not going to help.


Thank you and best wishes,








From: Fis [mailto:fis-bounces at listas.unizar.es] On Behalf Of Pedro C.
Sent: vendredi, 22 novembre 2019 12:14
To: 'fis'
Subject: [Fis] The Age of Discord


Dear FIS & IS4SI Colleagues,

"The Age of Discord" was the title of a lecture that the historian and
sociologist Peter Turchin, founder of the Cliodynamics approach, gave
recently in the Netherlands. The slides can be easily obtained in the web
(in his blog). The content was mainly referring to a decades-long trend of
low progress and rise of inequality, and as a consequence growing social
unrest. It would form part of a secular oscillation in history... But I
think there is a new potent factor: the hyperconnectivity we talked weeks

These days we are watching violent demonstrations in numerous countries:
Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua, Iran, Irak, Lebanon... plus
Hongkong, Spain (Barcelona), France (gilets jaunes), and the rising
polarization from Trumpism and Brexit. There is a contagion effect in some
cases. But a common factor is the influence of social networks. In several

--How easy is to organize demonstrations and activist concentrations.

--How easy is to disseminate information that efficiently counteracts
governments' efforts to maintain social order. 

--How easyly anger and hatred are shared among the masses, generating a
collective climate of insults, physical violence, highest irritation.

--How easily outright lies, disinformation, vitriolic attacks are jumping
from screen to screen to the eyeballs of hypnotized watchers.

--The proportion of "negative" to "positive" (say of emotional responses)
has become the highest in the history of communication.

My opinion is that the new media and new modalities of hyperconnection,
still deprived of constraining cultural patterns, are the genuine movers of
this "Age of Discord", without rejecting the other factors implied in
Turchin secular views. This time there is something really new agitating
history and the masses (like printing press, steam engines...). Is there
hope that collective intelligence will domesticate this artificial
information flow soon? Of course, without a loss of individual freedoms.

Best wishes



Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es
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