End Times by Peter Turchin review – can we predict the collapse of societies?

Tim Adams The Guardian May 28, 2023 Link


For as long as complex human societies have existed there have been people predicting their imminent collapse. In recent years, the apocalypse business has become far more scientific; animal entrails and planetary portents have given way to big data. Peter Turchin is a pre-eminent digital-age seer or, as he suggests, a collapsologist. He trained in biology, using statistical models to examine networks of relationships between predators and prey. In the 1990s, however, after witnessing first-hand the sudden unravelling of the Soviet Union, from which his father had been a dissident exile, he turned his analytical brain to a different set of questions. Turchin set out to discover statistical patterns in the great flood of historical data that might predict future instabilities in societies. Like all Cassandras worth their infamy, he came to his vocation at a fortunate time.

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