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Modern applications of theory-Harry Seldons Psycho-History or Have you read....

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  • Modern applications of theory-Harry Seldons Psycho-History or Have you read....

    Has anybody else here read Isaac Asimovs The Foundation Trilogy/Series? If so, have you ever tried to incorporate the theory of pyscho-history into your analysis of past and current events? Not the numbers, who knows what they may be, just the theory.
    I had the dagger in my hand! And he has the indecency to start dying on his own.

  • #2
    Another author used a similar theory, giving it the name cliology. That was Michael Flynn's "In the Country of the Blind" which I haven't read and don't have.
    Then there's Donald Kingsbury's "Psychohistorical Crisis." This is not part of the Foundation series, but is set in a very similar universe and pays homage to Asimov while at the same time analyzing the concept of psychohistory further. At least that what the reviews and dustcover text say, which is why I bought it, but I haven't read it yet (I'm a compulsive buyer of SF books, especially in discount bookstores, which is where I found this one, so I always have several in the pipeline).

    As to why Flynn "renamed" it Cliology, I think the following says it all:
    Cliology is the mathematical study of history. Is it the prediction of human social events in the large. It does not predict the detailed future of individuals. It predicts the general trends of large groups of people

    Isaac_Asimov applied the term "psychohistory'' to the same discipline in his series of novels beginning with Foundation, but that term has since been coopted by psychoanalysts who apply psychoanalysis to historical individuals.

    It has also been called "mathematical biophysics'' because many of the articles from the excellent & obscure publication, The Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics, dealt with the topic. Most of the articles in that publication dealt with biology rather than history & sociology, so cliology might more properly be considered a part of mathematical biophysics or a discipline which intersects it.

    More obviously descriptive terms might be "mathematical history'' or "mathematical social behaviour''.
    Taken from http://www.lisp-p.org/ovk/

    Italics are mine, if you did a web search for "pyschohistory" you'd find much of those psychological analyses of historical figures and of historical and sociological trends (which that website doesn't mention). What you mention, cruiser, is more in line with that use of the term "psychohistory."

    But to answer your question... I haven't done it, and I only browsed through a few psychohistorical studies sites which I found while searching info on Asimov.
    It was interesting stuff, just not something I had the time to look through in more detail.

    Asimov's Foundation Trilogy was great stuff. The rest of the series was uneven IMO, and the attempt to merge the Robots series with Foundation baffled me. I felt that the introduction of R. Daneel Olivaw in the Foundation Universe was a bit forced.
    But after reading "The Second Foundation Trilogy" (commisioned by Asimov's estate) written by Bear, Brin and Benford I understood better the attempt and realized that Asimov never got to finish the merging himself. That Second Foundation Trilogy ties some loose ends to my satisfaction.
    I still think that merging both Asimov Universes was unnecessary, but in the end it did create some quite good works.
    Such... is the respect paid to science that the most absurd opinions may become current, provided they are expressed in language, the sound of which recalls some well-known scientific phrase
    James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79)

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    • #3
      I actually just got done reading the first Foundation a little while back. It was good reading, and does contain some interesting ideas.

      The idea of psychohistory isn't really all that suprising. The way it was presented, it was mere pattern recognition, just with a mathematical backing and a very very thorough study of the human factors involved.
      Radhil Trebors
      Persona Under Construction

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      • #4
        Coincidentally, I just watched TDoFS last night and in the era 500 years into the future, that scientist guy uses the term "psychohistorical" analysis. Probably an homage to Asimov?
        Recently, there was a reckoning. It occurred on November 4, 2014 across the United States. Voters, recognizing the failures of the current leadership and fearing their unchecked abuses of power, elected another party as the new majority. This is a first step toward preventing more damage and undoing some of the damage already done. Hopefully, this is as much as will be required.

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        • #5
          Since the "Science" of PsychoHistory was Made UP, it would be difficult to apply.

          Asimove didn't actually Present any of the fictional Math because it didn't (and doesn't) exist.

          As far as Why he merged the Foundation and Robot series, if was more the Publisher than Asimov.

          I was at the Baltimore Worldcon when Asimov explained Why he "continued" the Foundation series at all.

          He didn't want to. His Publisher Blackmailed him into doing it.
          They kept demanding MORE Foundation, even though Asimov said he preferred to write NEW material.

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          • #6
            Capt. Montoya said:"and the attempt to merge the Robots series with Foundation baffled me."
            -That makes two of us.
            and
            "Italics are mine, if you did a web search for "pyschohistory" you'd find much of those psychological analyses of historical figures and of historical and sociological trends."
            *rubbing forehead while shaking head*
            -I must be getting old. The cliology link was great. Wow, they're doing the math.

            I quoteth Radhil:"The idea of psychohistory isn't really all that suprising. The way it was presented, it was mere pattern recognition, just with a mathematical backing and a very very thorough study of the human factors involved."
            -Exactly right. For instance:Would psychohistory have predicted that middle eastern orphans, many orphaned during war with Israel, would fall under the influence of religous zealots?

            Or;

            Would psychohistory have predicted that the Soviet Union would collapse and China would become a nation of wage slaves. Not to mention the racial strife in Northern and Southern Africa. Then there are the drug lords of south and central America.


            Bakana said:"Since the "Science" of PsychoHistory was Made UP, it would be difficult to apply."
            -I just thought it would be an interesting idea to try to apply the general theory to todays past and present. We can see where we have been. And we can see where we are now. I just wanted to know if there was anyone else who had thought about it. Beyond it's just being part of a book.

            bakana do you know what your handle means in japanese
            I had the dagger in my hand! And he has the indecency to start dying on his own.

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            • #7
              bakana do you know what your handle means in japanese
              Yes.

              I dated a Japanese woman for several years.

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              • #8
                Tooo Cool...and I thought I was the only one into self-deprecation.
                I had the dagger in my hand! And he has the indecency to start dying on his own.

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                • #9
                  Trust me. If you date a Japanese woman, you won't need to worry about Self Deprecation.
                  She will happily and cheerfully tell you what ALL your faults and flaws are.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bakana
                    Since the "Science" of PsychoHistory was Made UP, it would be difficult to apply.

                    Asimove didn't actually Present any of the fictional Math because it didn't (and doesn't) exist.

                    As far as Why he merged the Foundation and Robot series, if was more the Publisher than Asimov.

                    I was at the Baltimore Worldcon when Asimov explained Why he "continued" the Foundation series at all.

                    He didn't want to. His Publisher Blackmailed him into doing it.
                    They kept demanding MORE Foundation, even though Asimov said he preferred to write NEW material.
                    Yes, Asimov invented the concept of psychohistory for Foundation (I'm not so sure it didn't exist before him though), but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist at all now. As I mentioned, some people are seriously studying the idea of cliology, and some psychologists have done psychoanalysis of history and societies and called it psychohistory.
                    The latter idea can easily be applied...

                    I understand and knew that Asimov wrote the sequels to Foundation pressured by the publisher, that still doesn't explain why merging that storyline with that of the Robot stories. Or are you saying that the concept of uniting both universes came from the publisher?

                    I have the autobiography "I, Asimov" (the good doctor was a punster 'til the end) but haven't read it, now you've made me curious about what Asimov might say on this issue there.
                    Such... is the respect paid to science that the most absurd opinions may become current, provided they are expressed in language, the sound of which recalls some well-known scientific phrase
                    James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79)

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                    • #11
                      I finally read "I. Asimov" but have been forgetting to mention this here:

                      In that book Asimov says that it was his idea to merge the Robots and Foundation series, as he realized that he had the whole universe of Foundation without any kind of robots, which was inconsistent with where technology seems to be headed, so he decided to write material to explain why.
                      I must say that I greatly enjoyed his first effort to make that connection (Robots and Empire), and as I mentioned above The Second Foundation trilogy does a good job of finishing loose ends in connecting those two series.
                      Such... is the respect paid to science that the most absurd opinions may become current, provided they are expressed in language, the sound of which recalls some well-known scientific phrase
                      James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Psychohistory: Not so far fetched

                        Great topic friends!

                        I read the first Foundation book in high school, a long, long time ago and it was one of the major influences for me to get my feet wetter with science fiction of a truly mind opening level (as opposed to the Star Trek I grew up with).

                        Now to add my 2 cents to the topic:

                        I am an Organizational Psychologist and heartily believe that psychohistory is not so far fetched. Organizational Psychology is the study of group behavior in organizational entities (at an applied level that means corporate psychology) which entails utilizing mathematical formulae (statistics) to observe the tendencies of large groups of individuals in order to predict future behavior.

                        The big jump seperating Organizational Psychology from Psychohistory is the technology used for analyses, breadth of subjects, and systems necessary to gather objective data about group behavior over such an extended timeline as is covered by the totality of history.

                        How can you objectively and accuarately measure the behavior of individuals without assessing those individuals directly? Short answer: we can't... yet. All we have is anecdotal evidence about societies of the past, but not any direct self-reporting evidence from individual people, which is what you need for such studies as these.

                        Either you utilize time travel in order to pick the brains of people in past societies or you forget about the past, start measuring behavior now across all of human society and then continue gathering data for many centuries/millenia in order to analyse the behavioral and attitudinal trends and tendencies of humankind over time.

                        That's one hell of a longitudinal study... so if you want to make Psychohistory a reality in time for the events in the Foundation series, you better start now. Don't forget to start an ever-continuing process of finding motivated proteges to carry on your work for future generations!

                        So I say that Psychohistory is a real theory, easily conducted with current statistical and psychological experimental methods, but the problem now is with data collection practicalities.

                        Oh and by the way, I have come to discover in my work that you can't categorize people from different cultures with the exact same constructs or conceptual traits. Culture obviously guides behavior and what is considered, say "Assertiveness" or "Reactionaryism" or "Faithfulness" etc., for one culture is rarely exactly the same concept in another culture. I have a feeling this is true for cultures seperated by many miles as well as many centuries... just a wrench for the psychohistorical machine.


                        thanks for listening....

                        Scott Filgo
                        Last edited by dimension_boy; 12-30-2004, 11:14 AM.

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                        • #13
                          So I say that Psychohistory is a real theory, easily conducted with current statistical and psychological experimental methods, but the problem now is with data collection practicalities.
                          So, how are you going to ensure that Honest data goes in and not Propaganda?

                          Are you going to consider FOX News a Reliable Source ? <Fe>
                          How about CBS, ABC, BBC, Pravda, Etc.?

                          And, what about poor little Tora Bora?
                          What effect do the various research stations in Antarctica have on the world?
                          And, where are you going to get the Data Storage standard that allows you to store all this information for the next 1000 Years?
                          How will you protect it from data corruption, deliberate or accidental, over that time period?

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                          • #14
                            And you may call me "The Mule"...
                            "En wat als tijd de helft van echtheid was, was alles dan dubbelsnel verbaal?"

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                            • #15
                              Oh, while we're arguing the practicalities of PsychoHistory let's not forget the problem of deciding whether a particular data point should receive a Positive or Negative value.

                              Or of deciding Which of the bazilion human variables is Significant.
                              And which variable is the Cause of What Effect.

                              Not to mention the Chains of "for want of a nail"... scenarios...

                              Chicken? Egg? Lizard?

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