Data Analysis Reveals War, Not Agriculture, Spawned Modern Societies


Wed, Sep 25th, 2013 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Using Cliodynamics, a field of study that uses data to predict the future as well as to test theories of how the past unfolded, Peter Turchin and a trans-disciplinary team from various universities have attempted to "overturn the long standing belief that large-scale states are the product of agriculture." The result is that war, not agriculture, spawned complex societies.

“You cannot have a large state without bureaucrats, but bureaucrats are expensive. You have to pay them,” he says. “So the big question is how do complex societies evolve when they are so expensive?”

The standard theory, which Turchin calls the “bottom up” theory, is that humans invented agriculture around 10,000 years ago, providing resource surpluses that freed people up for other ventures. But what Turchin and his team have found is that the bottom-up theory is wrong, or at least incomplete. “Competitions between societies, which historically took the form of warfare, drive the evolution of complex societies,” he says.



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