As the readers of this blog know, a big chunk of my research focuses on why complex societies go through cycles of alternating internally peaceful, or integrative, phases and turbulent, or disintegrative periods. In all past state-level societies, for which we have decent data, we fin
There are more problems with the Stratfor article on the geopolitics of Russia, than merely getting many of its facts wrong (see my previous post). Any interpretation of history and, certainly, any forecast of a possible future trajectory must be based on some theory, whether i
Comments on Part I tended to take a rather negative view of the argument advanced by Baumard et al. Thus, Gene Anderson questioned whether Confucianism is even a religion. It was certainly a moralistic teaching, but how important a role did supernatural agents play in it is very much
The last few days were very hectic. I gave more than ten interviews, about half by phone or Skype and the rest by answering e-mailed question. I prefer the second approach: I am a better writer than speaker. I am glad that there is so much interest in our results in the popular press.
Some months ago I posted a blog on the role of geography in history, in which I discussed the Continental Axes argument of Jared Diamond. I found it a highly productive idea – literally so, because it prompted us to collect data to test empirically a particular extension of the argume
Part I here While classical Greece and Rome produced excellent heavy infantry (hoplites), their cavalry was really pathetic. Yes, some of them (usually, the wealthy) rode horses. Among the Romans the upper class was even called ‘knights’ – equites, from equus, the Latin word for horse
The central question of social evolution is how we can understand the rise of complex societies with extensive cooperation among millions (and more) of people. In less technical terms, what are the origins of civilizations and empires? I couldn’t help but think about this question dur