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On Historical Dynamics by P. Turchin

Alessandro Maini ()

Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, 2020, vol. 5, issue 1, 1-21

Abstract: Abstract The book Historical Dynamics: Why States Rise and Fall by P. Turchin contains one of the first efforts to apply basic system dynamics (SD) to the analysis of the past human history. The present review paper focuses on the consistency and solidity of the mathematical modelling advanced in the book. It is found that all the models used in the book are based on human-centred drivers only, and lack any connection with the physical world. Moreover, all of the models are flawed, some by omission (i.e. the discussion presented in the book omits relevant trends that can be tested against historical data) and some by structure (i.e. they are mathematically wrong). These findings imply that the mathematical conclusions of the book do not support the interpretation of historical events, and this paper wants to alert the researchers about the pitfalls that must be faced when dealing with the application of SD to human history modelling.

Keywords: Turchin’s theory; System dynamics; Human history modelling; Societal collapse; Complexity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s41247-019-0063-x

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