[Fis] FW: The Age of Discord

Pedro C. Marijuan pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es
Mon Nov 25 14:21:45 CET 2019

Dear List,

Am responding to Joseph and to Diego.

To the former, I agree on the quantitative mirage when trying to 
formalize history. Perhaps the best contents in Turchin's books refer to 
qualitative aspects, for instance the development of "frontier" 
countries he discusses (the cases of Russia, Spain, and US and others). 
The main point on the emergence of those long term trends of 
progression/regression or oscillations is very intriguing and I think we 
cannot substantiate it easily. The organization of an ad hoc discussion 
session would be quite interesting (can someone help on that 
possibility?). The relationship with the historical acceleration an the 
emergence of new of information flows would also be intriguing. As I 
comment below, it can be a fertile new field and a necessity to be 
covered by information philosophy. We badly need to put the most 
relevant aspects in an integrative view.

To Diego, my focus was not only in the Latin American countries. If we 
contemplate recent months/years, we see many other mass explosions 
(Algeria, Tunisia, Thailand, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Ukraine, 
Jordania...) and I had already included other Arab countries, plus 
Spain, France, and other movements: Trumpism, Brexiterism, and also we 
could include Metooism, indignados, and all kinds of offendidisms & 
populisms... Everywhere there are deep causes around for 
mass-mobilization, some are different, some may be common. But it is not 
just the arrival of "conquistadores" scapegoat. By the way, they parted 
away two centuries ago, and some of those countries were not in bad 
shape 50-60 years ago (Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay, Cuba.... The case 
of Argentina is amazing: after WWI she was the fourth richest country of 
the world. Venezuela's case, unfortunately, is more dramatic). 
Coincidentally, in discussions with Islamic-inclined parties, I was 
surprised to find another scapegoat widely argumented: the Crusades. 
Islamic societies failed to make the different modern transitions due to 
the cultural-political crisis brought forth by the crusades (seven-eight 
centuries ago!). Well, to escape from traditional cliches or from 
political preferences I think Acemoglu's views are quite balanced about 
these themes, particularly in his 2012 book, /Why Nations Fail 
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Why_Nations_Fail>/. Our colleague Howard 
Bloom has also written penetrating analyses on the historical evolution 
of Islamic societies versus the Western world.

Summing up, that the new media are one of those deep causes contributing 
to irritated socio-political and cultural climates is an idea that can 
be found in quite a few analyses today. Coincidentally I could read this 
weekend an international analyst with very similar opinions to my own on 
the e-destabilization in the mentioned world regions. Widespread 
mass-additions to e-life are a fact: data on use of screens are 
outrageous. Adults in the US spend on average more that ten hours daily 
watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media. US 
adolescents spend an average of 9 hours daily in front of their cell 
phones screens. In parallel, a growing epidemics of adolescent 
medicalization and prescription of opioids and drug abuse is taking 
shape. That means a brave new style of life and a brave new mode of 
thinking are on the advance...

Best regards

El 22/11/2019 a las 12:54, Joseph Brenner escribió:
> 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 analytical.
> 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 /de/volution, 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,
> Joseph
> //
> //
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *From:*Fis [mailto:fis-bounces at listas.unizar.es] *On Behalf Of *Pedro 
> C. Marijuan
> *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 ago.
> 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 aspects:
> --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
> -- 
> -------------------------------------------------
> Pedro C. Marijuán
> Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
> pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es <mailto:pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es>
> http://sites.google.com/site/pedrocmarijuan/
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Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group

pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es

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