Cliodynamics originates fromClio, the Greek muse of history. Despite a common misconception, the cliodynamics approach is not to argue by analogy with past events. This is an incorrect way of learning lessons from history – the historical record is very rich and varied, so finding historical examples to support almost any argument is easy.
Instead, the adherents of cliodynamics treat historical record just as, say, evolutionary biologists treat the palaeontological record. Theories are constructed and based on general principles and tested empirically with comprehensive databases. In short, we use the standard scientific method that worked so well in physics, biology, and many social sciences.
My colleague Herbert Gintis compares cliodynamics to aviation. You cannot predict when a plane will crash, but you can study the black box data to determine the causes of crash and figure out how to fix them.
You certainly don’t fly an aeroplane that has known problems. Similarly, you don’t put additional stresses on the social system that is already in fragile equilibrium; rather you should try to fix the underlying causes.
Clearly our knowledge about why states collapse and civil wars break out is nowhere near the state of aeroplane design. But recently we’ve made a lot of progress.
reminds me of a bit of Big History…
I do think History follows certain laws, mimetic laws, if you will….
Filing this under the hope that I will soon turn to exploring historical cycles, etc…