Archive for December 13th, 2012

December 13, 2012

Psychohistory

Foundation

Psychohistory [sahy-koh-his-tuh-ree] is a fictional science in Isaac Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ universe which combines history, sociology, and mathematical statistics to make general predictions about the future behavior of very large groups of people. It was first introduced in the five short stories (1942–1944) which would later be collected as the 1951 novel ‘Foundation.’

Psychohistory depends on the idea that, while one cannot foresee the actions of a particular individual, the laws of statistics as applied to large groups of people could predict the general flow of future events. Asimov used the analogy of a gas: an observer has great difficulty in predicting the motion of a single molecule in a gas, but can predict the mass action of the gas to a high level of accuracy (physicists know this as the Kinetic theory). Asimov applied this concept to the population of his fictional Galactic Empire, which numbered a quintillion.

read more »

December 13, 2012

Psychohistory

Psychohistory [sahy-koh-his-tuh-ree] is the study of the psychological motivations of historical events. It attempts to combine the insights of psychotherapy with the research methodology of the social sciences to understand the emotional origin of the social and political behavior of groups and nations, past and present. Its subject matter is childhood and the family (especially child abuse), and psychological studies of anthropology and ethnology.

Psychohistory derives many of its concepts from areas that are perceived to be ignored by conventional historians as shaping factors of human history, in particular, the effects of childbirth, parenting practice, and child abuse. The historical impact of incest, infanticide and child sacrifice are considered. Psychohistory holds that human societies can change between infanticidal and non-infanticidal practices and has coined the term ‘early infanticidal childrearing’ to describe abuse and neglect observed by many anthropologists.

read more »