Phycho-History Essay, Research Paper
? A solution for a society facing critical times.
? Quite a few net diehards have been suffering from
insomnia – trying to figure out, whether psychohistory
can be applied, as a science, on bushmen in Africa ?
? The answer will follow …
? Another crisis. At times it seems as problems, problems
always face the poor defenceless humans. How nice it would be,
just to push a bottom on a computer and be given the
solution to our problems.
? It was for this purpose Isaac Asimow invented the theory
? Often in the modern welfare state it seems as our lifes
progresses like clockwork. That humans (under certain good
circumstances) actually can control life and society.
? Certainly we know the Sun rises every morning in the
east, and certainly the weather guy on TV can tell us what
kind of weather to expect tomorrow. It seems as the world is
under control ? Or at least predictable.
? But reality is different ! Here the “butterfly-effect” rules.
? Imagine if all citizens of a major metropolis opened all
windows from their cozy apartments out into a cold winternight.
So long weather forecast – immediately the temperature of the
metropolis would rise (without the TV weather man being able
to predict it from his satelite pictures ?).
? And try think about asteroids – even a small one could change the
forecast rather significantly – not to speak about the idea of
the sun rising in the east.
? Nevertheless we believe in the human capacity to calculate,
guide and control.
? Science Fiction author Isaac Asimow has taken this human
belief to its logical conclusion and introduced the concept
psychohistory – how human behaviour can be calculated with the
help of mathematical equations.
? So the following is about psychohistory. Trying to neuroprograme
the reader to believe in it. And why not, smart guys believe
they can balance a state budget a year in advance or predict
the weather 7 days ahead – why not predict society and human behaviour 7 days
? And BTW. please note that this is not a “political”
article, no controversy intended. Psychohistory is supposed
to be objective, if not (even) a science.
? So any political platform statement (of the usual selfcentered
nonsensical nitwit politician kind) is certainly not intended
and will be removed in the next version of this text.
? But when talking about the basic concepts of psychohistory
its difficult not to give reference to current political events
(and perhaps showing bias) – more gifted psychohistorians
will not fall in such traps.
? Isaac Asimow wrote some 470 books covering various aspects of
science, Science Fiction, Shakespeare etc.
? Best known is perhaps his Foundation series of 7 volumes.
? The epic starts starts in 12069 G.E. (Galactic Era). Humanity
is spread all over the Galaxy, but controlled from planete
Trantor (population 40 billion people and quite a few robots).
Head of state is emperor Cleon the first. In reality primeminister
Eto Demerzel (a robot) governs the Galaxy though.
? Apparently everything is fine – but collapse is near – as predicted
by the brilliant psychohistorian Hari Seldon
? Seldon has a plan though. He will use his knowledge of psychohistory
to create a new empire dedicated to art,technology and science.
Things threatened with extinction by the decline of the old
empire (declining due to power struggles, nonsensical regal traditions
? One part of the new Foundation will be dedicated to science,
the other to mental disciplines and mental control – working together
they will be the cornerstones of the Hari Seldon dreamworld. The
? Shortly before his death Asimow admitted, that he got quite a
bit of inspiration from looking at the fall of the Roman empire.
And why limit psychohistory to either a distant past or a
science fiction future – why not use it now ?
? Certainly Asimow escaped being accused of political
interest (or ambition) by calling it science fiction – but not
much point in the secrecy and humbleness anymore – lets bring
psychohistory back to presentday earth.
? Using it to see what is on the decline now, giving the chance for
something new to rise.
? We have only some 2000 years of recorded history to guide
us by and base our theory on. Only obvious conclusions can
be (easily) drawn – such as, that all empires born (sofar)
have died again.
? That governments change from democracy, to aristocracy,
to oligarchy, to tyranny and back to democracy again in an
? Psychohistory – a first parsing.
? A modern (welfare) state is kept running using money.
One way for the state to collect money is piracy (Saddam and
alikes) another is to tax the citizens. The simplest tax
is poll tax. Everybody (every citizen) must pay x money
(dollars ?) to the state. Rich, poor, dumb, clever, young or old ..
it doesn’t matter, everybody? must pay (the same) – those
who doesn’t like it get their head chopped off.
? As this is not “fair” the modern welfare state introduces
“fairness”. Unfortunately fairness brings other problems
(such as to much complexity), which in the end also threathens
the stability of the state.
? Whatever is done, a “Seldon-crisis” is never far away.
? As stated above – psychohistory is about predicting those
“Seldon-crisis” well ahead of presentday rulers and be prepared
to move in and take over (Oh, please remember that the
author is talking science fiction, not reality? – you kind
of forgot didn’t you ?).
? French philosopher Rousseau knew, that the number of
rulers is inversely proportional to the size of the population.
As the population increases democracy gives way to
aristocracy that gives way to …..
? The days of true democracy – where members of parliament
is decided by lottery (which secures all (sub)groups an
equal and fair representation in the long run) – is over.
? The march towards collaps has started – birth, growth,
bloom, maturity and death – the conditions of human life and
society until the introduction of psychohistory.
? With psychohistory all this oldfashioned folly will be a
thing of the past.
? The individual and psychohistory.
? It is tempting to believe, that there is no real
place for the small and insignificant individual in the
grand picture of psychohistory.
? This is both true and very wrong. Certainly psychohistory
is concerned with whole societies and not individuals. Nevertheless
the “butterfly” – effect reminds us, that even the most
insignificant human might be the one, who by some insignificant
action changes human history all together.
? Psychohistory seeks to identify the places where only
a minute push by a single person brings about big changes.
Its then the intention of psychohistorians to control
these “spotlights” of history, thereby controlling history.
? To do so the “patterns” of simularity in macro – and
micro cosmos must be known to the psychohistorians. Indeed
the collection of these historical “pictures” or “patterns”
is the current basis of a learning process which will
eventually lead to psychohistory as a working tool.
? Pattern : Lincolns secretary was called Kennedy and Kennedy had a secretary
called Lincoln. Conclusion ? Any ?
? On the 4′th of july 1826 governor Clinton of New York
couldn’t enjoy his meal – as two of the greatest people of the
union (Thomas Jefferson and John Adams) had just died that very day..
On the birthday of the Union.
?? Perhaps it was also depressing for him to know that
he would never be president Clinton. Or perhaps he was
lost in thoughts on the growth and enormity of
New York city ? Now a staggering 32.000 people . How would
the future be – for him, for the New York City, for the Union.
? An agreement on a common currency had been reached. Perhaps
a sign of stability for the future. And yet many where
worried about the future (as people always are).
? Indeed the good citizens of Rhode Island was very worried –
so worried, that they needed a couple of referendums before
they could vote yes to join the new rising union
(country members again – trading towns for, as the
newspapers reported in 1788).
? Some 200 years later the whole (union) script was reused –
this time in Denmark, where peasants and common workers
couldn’t see the wisdom of following industry into a Union.
Much like their kindred spirits some 200 years ago in Rhode Island.
? Later phases of unions uses a script involving
“freedom fighters” and militia groups trying to break away from
central control. Examples ad libitum.
? What to look for – easy patterns ?
? a) Ruthless rulers of empires have a tendency to come
from the fringe of the empire ? e.g. Napoleon,Corsica –
? b) Democratic elected leaders uncertain on their capacity
to survive in office uses the threat of hopeless
Nixon – Spiro Agnew , Bush – Dan Quayle.
? c) Big Unions face their first showdown Seldon crisis
after app. 70 years.
The Sovietunion 1917 – app. 1990 , the US app.1785 – 1860 .
? d) Did US – president James Monroe (1817-25) see
the force of TV working , when he stated :
“That only ignorant and corrupted people are the willing
instruments for the deprivation of their own rights and
? e) Is it true , that when symbols of empire starts
showing up everywhere – on public buildings, flags and coins –
in order to demonstrate power on weaker souls – then the decline
of the union has allready started.
? Certainly recorded history provides much material for the first attempt
of psychohistory as a “pattern-recognizer”.
Unfortunately much fuzziness is involved in these patterns.
When workers ask for shorter hours, they do not ask for
the ultimate fulfillment of such a demand : Unemployment.
For psychohistory to see the differences between such
closely connected patterns indeed much learning is needed.
? Psychohistory as a tool.
? The work on psychohistory has hardly begun – but with
some effort, soon the heuristics and statistical methods
should be perfected enough to be introduzed, as a tool
for a new empire dedicated to art, science and technology.
? One minor problem remains though.
As Lenin and Robespierre could testify, often the implementation
of paradise turns out as hell. But this is not a
problem for psychohistory. It knows the pitfalls ahead, so
certainly it will know how to guide humanity in order to
reach a system dedicated to the principles stated above.
? Certainly the dream of Asimow is round the corner.
Using the principle of mental guiding
(as crude power for reaching goals – tanks,torture or whips –
has shown itself not to be useful in the long run), an
increased knowledge of the human mind and using psychohistory
itself the Seldon/Asimow dreamworld is very close by.
? Psychohistory as the great doctor of society. Patterns
are recognized and medicine given.
? Practival details left to the technicians.
? A perfect psychohistory will give empires of the future
eternal life – as cryonics will give humans of the
future eternal life.
? Actually only the construction of psychohistory
is missing before the start of the Asimow age.
And perhaps a sneaky feeling that it will never work.
? Simon Laub
? August 1995.
“Metamagical Themas – questing for the essence
of mind and pattern”
? Any suggestions or comments are most welcome.
Idea’s to complement,deepen or broaden the text will
be eagerly received.
? If interest enough is generated a psychohistory
homepage entry and a psychohistory “quarterly”
could perhaps see the light of day ?