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Cliodynamics
August 2, 2012 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Peter Turchin is a Professor of Mathematics, and of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. For the last nine years, he's been taking the mathematical techniques that once allowed him to track predator–prey cycles in forest ecosystems, and using them to model human history -- a pattern identification process he calls Cliodynamics. The goal of cliodynamics (or cliometrics) is to turn history into a predictive, analytic science. By analysing some of the broad social forces that shape transformative events in US society: historical records on economic activity, demographic trends and outbursts of violence, he has come to the conclusion that a new wave of internal strife is already on its way, and should peak around 2020.

From the Nature link:
Cliodynamics is viewed with deep scepticism by most academic historians, who tend to see history as a complex stew of chance, individual foibles and one-of-a-kind situations that no broad-brush 'science of history' will ever capture. “After a century of grand theory, from Marxism and social Darwinism to structuralism and postmodernism, most historians have abandoned the belief in general laws,” said Robert Darnton, a cultural historian at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a column written in 1999.

Most think that phenomena such as political instability should be understood by constructing detailed narratives of what actually happened — always looking for patterns and regularities, but never forgetting that each outbreak emerged from a particular time and place. “We're doing what can be done, as opposed to aspiring after what can't,” says Daniel Szechi, who studies early-modern history at the University of Manchester, UK. “We're just too ignorant” to identify meaningful cycles, he adds.
Related, Boston Globe, from 10/11: How Long Will America Last? 'An impossible question, answered with math.'

Interview with Turchin at Gene Expression: 10 Questions

Turchin's Blog on the Social Evolution Forum

An opinion piece by Turchin on cliometrics was printed in Nature in 2008, entitled Arise 'cliodynamics' (pdf)

A blog post gives a summary and review of "one of the most comprehensive and theoretical books on cliodynamics: Introduction to Social Macrodynamics by Korotayev et al (it’s quite rare, as there’s only a single copy of it in the entire UC library system). The key insight is that world demographic / economic history can be modeled to a high degree of accuracy by just three basic trends: hyperbolic / exponential, cyclical, and stochastic*."
posted by zarq (60 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't think you need a magic crystal ball to predict that rising levels of desperation among the former middle class is going to lead to some upheaval in the not-too-distant future.
posted by mullingitover at 1:27 PM on August 2, 2012 [15 favorites]


Hari Seldon?
posted by kmz at 1:27 PM on August 2, 2012 [32 favorites]


Hari Seldon to the white courtesy phone. Mr. Seldon, you have a call on the white courtesy phone.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:28 PM on August 2, 2012 [29 favorites]


Dammit.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:29 PM on August 2, 2012 [13 favorites]


DID I GET HERE IN TIME TO MAKE THE FIRST ASIMOV JOKE?
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:31 PM on August 2, 2012 [26 favorites]


Left out a link. This is a lecture he gave at Beyond Belief 2008.

Would like to also mention that even though I made it sound like the terms cliodynamics and cliometrics are interchangeable in the post, cliometrics is actually used most frequently with regard to quantitative approaches to history from an econometric perspective, while cliodynamics focuses on mathematical modeling of history.
posted by zarq at 1:33 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


However, my research into Cleodynamics will provide that crystal ball if you call into 1-800-ASK-DATA
posted by Chipmazing at 1:34 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I predicted the Asimov joke ten years before this thread even happened.
posted by briank at 1:34 PM on August 2, 2012 [18 favorites]


Modeling people en masse is probably like modeling the weather. You may be able to show that your model acts a lot like the real system. You might even be able to show that given similar starting positions, the model tracks very closely for a certain while. But because of the Butterfly Effect, the only truly accurate model of the real system might be the real system itself.
posted by localroger at 1:34 PM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's a Miss Cleo joke in here someplace, I just know it.

But, seriously, hasn't this sort of thing been going on since Spengler? And probably before?
posted by jquinby at 1:34 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Modeling people en masse is probably like modeling the weather. You may be able to show that your model acts a lot like the real system. You might even be able to show that given similar starting positions, the model tracks very closely for a certain while. But because of the Butterfly Effect, the only truly accurate model of the real system might be the real system itself.

The Snowflake Effect.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:39 PM on August 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


jquinby: " But, seriously, hasn't this sort of thing been going on since Spengler? And probably before?"

To some extent, yes. Some of the links discuss that. The difference here is we currently have more access to quantifiable data about societal upheavals throughout history and especially in recent times. Plus, we now also have the ability to visualize that data on a grander scale. So there are new theories being raised, and addressed. Those factors are helping define cliodynamics as an emerging field of study.
posted by zarq at 1:39 PM on August 2, 2012


Hari Seldon?
"Somewhere in the fifty years just past is where the historians of the future will place an arbitrary line and say: 'This marks the Fall of the Galactic Empire.'
If this guy starts rounding up graduate students to go off to some remote location in northern Canada under the guise of creating an alternative to Wikipedia, I think we need to worry.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:47 PM on August 2, 2012 [28 favorites]


These guys should have their people talk to their people.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:47 PM on August 2, 2012


and by these guys I mean Cliodynamiticians
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:48 PM on August 2, 2012


For the last five years, I've been predicting a land war in Europe before 2050. This doesn't exactly do much to change my mind.
posted by valkyryn at 1:49 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bah humbug, Asimiov nerds have stolen my thunder again. I should have predicted as much.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:49 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Boston Globe article is annoying, because it doesn't really answer the question it says it answers. It simply says "The American Empire could end TOMORROW!!1ONE!"
posted by happyroach at 1:50 PM on August 2, 2012


I don't trust any of these types of predictive mathematical models unless they actually work on new data for long periods of time. Anyone can cobble together a model that overfits historical data about pretty much anything, the real test of a model is how well it performs on new data that wasn't part of the original data that it was modeled on. It could be that the only reason models predicting when wars happen aren't as thoroughly discredited as ones that predict when stock market crashes happen is that the stock market ones have had plenty of time to fail spectacularly at actually making correct predictions.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:50 PM on August 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


Basically, that graph says 1. There is a war. 2. Domestic unrest follows. I'd say that is a reasonable prediction. There are huge spikes after the Civil War and WWI, a small spike after WWII (which makes sense, as that's when US standard of living really took off, which would damp unrest). Then there is a medium spike after Vietnam, no where near the size of the first two.

Nothing at all from the Korean War or it is lost in the WWII bump.

So, I would put the impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the average US citizen between that of the Korean and Vietnam wars, just about dead center. On the scale of this graph, that's pretty calm.

The periodicity of the spikes looks to me like just a reflection of the fact that there has been a major war in Europe (or involving Europeans and American allies) once a generation since Napoleon, or even since the Seven Years War.
posted by BeeDo at 1:53 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's see... 1870 - 1920 - 1970 ...
What could possibly be the next number...?
posted by sour cream at 1:58 PM on August 2, 2012


I propose that revolution happens when those who are willing to learn from history decide to do something to change their historical arc. It's not hard to guess who wants to do that, and who wants to preserve the status quo.

More to the point, maybe, is to figure out what lights the fire. I'm familiar with what happened in the 60's. But the forces he described here seem to fit the evagelistic right wingers. Their models seem to be the antithesis of the stuff I identified with, back in the day when I felt like I was swept up in the tide. I am loath to cite relevant antithetical models in this thread. Our (naive) models were, let's say, Peace, Love, and Rock and Roll, based on community participation, food co-ops, and experimental pharmacology. Theirs are, well, just plain crazy misreadings of both Testaments of their Bible, political and cultural hubris, and perhaps the dawning realization that their wierd ideas are about to become irrelevant to the modern world.

Stats are just numbers: but somewhere along the line, somebody will actually flip a real coin.

Hari Seldon left out McDonald's. Anyhow, let's not confuse the Good Doctor A's meandering plot with Ike's warning about greed and such. Dr A was looking into his crystal ball. Ike was looking into his country.
posted by mule98J at 2:02 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a biologist, Turchin surely knows that "period three means chaos". In other words, most human activities become unpredictable very quickly. Back in the 1990s there were hot shot investment strategies based on fractal math; they failed even worse than regular market predictions.
posted by CCBC at 2:03 PM on August 2, 2012


...violence can be prevented if society is prepared to learn from history -- if the US government creates more jobs for graduates, say, or acts decisively to reduce inequality.

So, we're basically screwed, then?
posted by gimonca at 2:06 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


we must transform history into an analytical, predictive
science, argues Peter Turchin.


Arise bogodynamics. I don't think transforming history into an even greater pile of BS is going to help us.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:09 PM on August 2, 2012


This approach does sound quite similar to the field of System Dynamics. I think System Dynamics is a fascinating and useful approach to understanding systems, but it does not appear to be very widely applied (in part due to the data intensiveness of model human-physical systems using this approach).
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 2:10 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Must be a Russian thing.
posted by BWA at 2:18 PM on August 2, 2012


But, but, but, what if we encounter a MULE. . .?
posted by Roger_Mexico at 2:34 PM on August 2, 2012


Forecasts have their use.

As has been said, it doesn't take an idiot to see that a sharp increase in income disparity coupled with a broadly dysfunctional electoral system is going to lead to a whole shitload of angry, disenfranchised and unemployed people.

What comes next is either

1) a whole shitload of make-work projects to give people something to do, or
2) bleeding.

I can only hope that Glorious Leaders find infrastructure projects more amusing to relate to each other over champagne than the latest follies from a Romanesque Circus.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:34 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


BeeDo: The unrest after Korea was called The Second Red Scare.
posted by absalom at 2:38 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


It didn't rate a bump on the graph.
posted by BeeDo at 2:41 PM on August 2, 2012


Zarq - Thanks for the video link... his reframing of the question as "What holds empires together' is, for me, a novel question. Looking around at the various fracture lines I can now see how things could rapidly split.

1. A lot of people around here (Chicagoland) don't speak English as a primary language.
2. The red/blue political divide
3. The rich don't think the poor work hard enough, the poor assume the rich stole it.
4. The masses don't trust technology, yet it holds things together.

Yikes... if we make it as a 50 state country through 2020 I'll be amazed.
posted by MikeWarot at 2:44 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


So will leaders of the future say, "Ok boys, given the new data from project Crystal Ball, we need to manufacture a new conflict against the East by 2018...something to pump a little unification into the system so we can stay on top. The forecast calls for a pretty severe unrest front - so we better turn out something with a little heft. Take terror, and add the "clear case" of Pearl Harbor my making this thing carried out by an actual state. I want some candidates for who we can pin it on on my desk by Friday. That'll be all."
posted by victory_laser at 2:51 PM on August 2, 2012


All it would take to keep the US together would be a massive national push to switch away from the carbon economy. Just start putting people to work building new shit and tearing old shit down. Doesn't matter what kind of shit. Build some electric trains. Tear down some coal plants. Build some solar cell plants. Tear down some old buildings. Just start printing money to pay people like FDR did.

Oh, wait, the Chinese, who own trillions of dollars, wouldn't stand for the devaluation.

We're fucked.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:57 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think people misunderstand what he's trying to do. The idea is not to pinpoint future events to the minute, its to recognize patterns of related events and (most importantly) to develop metrics we can actually measure in a timely and practical fashion that allow us to recognize those sequences as they are in the earlier stages so we can attempt to alter them to a different sequence of events.

This is actually pretty fascinating. Developing useful, measurable metrics is really hard stuff and proposing methods to switch from one kind of sequence of events to another is hard.
posted by fshgrl at 2:58 PM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am not about to get involved in the smart remarks and useful ones here but to note this:
civil unrest? well this past week on my blog I had a post that indicated the US Army was beginning to stock pile materials that would be useful in case of "civil disorder."
posted by Postroad at 3:05 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Problem is that for fitting nonlinear models to time series data is that you need far, far more data points than are available from human history to be able to fit anything with much confidence - second problem is that by there is an infinite number of models that will be able to fit anything once you increase the number of variables and calibrate their values until you get what you want - third problem is that the underlying system you're modeling is changing all the time anyway and there's little reason to expect the future to have the same parameter relationships as the past did - fourth problem is that even if (somehow) you come up with a 'correct' model, humans may change their behavior based on this knowledge
posted by moorooka at 3:12 PM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh hurrah, Chicken Little discovered mathematics.
posted by aramaic at 3:16 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anybody got a bitter sterile psychic hanging around? Just, y'know, wondering.
posted by Tomorrowful at 3:44 PM on August 2, 2012


Oh, look: a non social scientist (usually a physicist or a mathematician, in this case a biologist) does social science without having to accumulate any expertise in, well, the relevant social science. You know, because he has a nifty analytical tool and how hard can it be, anyway?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:23 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm oddly reminded of Terence McKenna. I'm not sure why.
posted by Vrai at 4:37 PM on August 2, 2012


Didn't we previously discuss the tendency of engineers, MD's and mathematicians to assume that because they studied some "hard" thing everything else must be the province of simple index fools who are only playing in the cave of ignorance until they arrive to dabble in the field and shine their brilliant mind upon it.

And that is how plumbers, carpenters and electricians make a small fortune on abandoned DIY projects.
posted by humanfont at 4:48 PM on August 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


I thought this sounded familiar but it took me a while to trace a similar idea back to a post on The Archdruid Report about anacyclosis, a concept created by the Greek historian Polybius:
The three rounds of anacyclosis we’ve had in the United States so far have each followed the classic pattern; they’ve begun under the dominance of a single leader whose overwhelming support from the political class and the population as a whole allowed him to shatter the factional stalemate of the previous phase and impose a radically new order on the nation. After his death, power passes to what amounts to an elected junta, and gradually defuses outwards in the usual way, until a popular movement to expand civil rights and political participation overturns the authority of the junta. Out of the expansion of political participation, factions rise to power, and eventually bring the mechanism of government to a standstill; crisis follows, and is resolved by the election of another almost-dictator.

Glance back over American history and it’s hard to miss the pattern, repeating over a period that runs roughly seventy to eighty years. The dictator-figures were George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt, each of whom overturned existing structures in order to consolidate their power, and did so with scant regard for existing law. The juntas were the old Whigs, the Republicans, and the New Deal Democrats, each of them representatives of a single social class; they were overthrown in turn by Jacksonian populism, the Progressive movement, and the complex social convulsions of the Sixties, each of which diffused power across a broader section of the citizenry. The first cycle ended in stalemate over the issue of slavery; the second ended in a comparable stalemate over finding an effective response to the Great Depression; the third—well, that’s where we are right now.
Roughly similar periodicity even. I'm surprised it isn't referenced by Turchin. It seems like some of the same dynamics being viewed from two different perspectives.

On preview, and a second reading of the last link, it seems that is only half of Turchin's hypothesis; the other is a centuries-long pattern of social stratification and upheaval.
posted by sapere aude at 4:59 PM on August 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


PSYCHOHISTORY-... Gaal Dornick, using non-mathematical concepts, has defined history to be that branch of mathematics which deals with the reaction of human conglomerates to fixed social and economic stimuli...
...Implicit in all these definitions is the assumptin that the human conglomerate being dealt with is sufficiently large for valid statistical treatment. The necessary size of such a conglomerate may be determined by Seldon's First Theorem which... A further assumption is that the human conglomerate itself be unaware of psychohistoric analysis in order that its reactions be truly random....
The basis of all valid psychohistory lies in the development of the Seldon Functions which exhibit properties congruent to those of such social and economic forces as...

Encyclopedia Galactica
posted by the thing about it at 5:01 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


...they were overthrown in turn by Jacksonian populism, the Progressive movement, and the complex social convulsions of the Sixties, each of which diffused power across a broader section of the citizenry. The first cycle ended in stalemate over the issue of slavery; the second ended in a comparable stalemate over finding an effective response to the Great Depression; the third—well, that’s where we are right now.

But ... I thought the Internet changed everything?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:04 PM on August 2, 2012


Cliodynamics is viewed with deep scepticism by most academic real historians, with experience and knowledge of both the field, and, you know, history in general.

Getting your name in the paper checklist:

Dramatic pronouncement of impending doom due to hubris of some description? Check.

Prediction confirms to populist sentiment that's been omnipresent since pretty much forever? Check.

Conditions are suitably vague that it could mean just about anything to anyone? Check.

Lead-time far enough in the future that no one will possibly remember to call you on it by time it rolls around, but close enough that a sense of alarmism is still relevent and various contemporaneous events can be used to bolster argument that prediction is coming true? Check.

Reference to "hard" sciences, or "data" that - as they are more "sciencey" than social science - are more irrefutable and also less likely to be understood or legitimately criticised by all but a few qualified boffins, who will do so in terms so measured, qualified and technical they'll never get a run in the paper and if they did no one would pay attention? Check.

Well done.
posted by smoke at 5:20 PM on August 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


"Didn't we previously discuss the tendency of engineers, MD's and mathematicians to assume that because they studied some "hard" thing everything else must be the province of simple index fools who are only playing in the cave of ignorance until they arrive to dabble in the field and shine their brilliant mind upon it. "

Yeah. And the weird thing for me is, is that I'm a big fan of interdisciplinary work and, for example, I've had a more than twenty-year interest in complexity studies, which is not unrelated to what's being discussed. By nature, I'm strongly in favor of finding new approaches to old (and new) problems via the techniques in another discipline. Or taking to other disciplines the techniques one is very adept at within one's own.

But over my adult life, the last thirty years, I've slowly moved from being enthusiastic about this sort of thing to being very skeptical. Because of exactly the kind of thing humanfont mentions, which is rampant. What should happen is the collaborative, interdisciplinary approach where these new views and techniques are integrated. But what often happens is that someone vastly overestimates their competence outside their field and uses a pet technique (everything looks like a nail...) to solve an old problem without much consultation with experts on that problem, or even a minimum acquaintance with the history of the approaches to that problem.

And what you see time and again is that when someone doesn't have any substantial education or professional experience with the whole scope of the problem, they fail to account for all sorts of confounding factors and make elementary errors and are confused about basic issues and, instead, hugely oversimplify and assure everyone that they've managed to do what the entire history of the academic discipline they know nothing about has failed to do. This happens over and over and over again with all the most prominent social sciences — political science, history, linguistics, etc.

You are starting to see biologists doing this for exactly the sorts of reasons this guy has — evolutionary biology and population genetics are developing and using increasingly sophisticated and powerful mathematical tools. And every time a science widely integrates the use of such tools, there are scientists in that science who think, huh, I bet this is useful for all sorts of problem in other sciences, as if no one ever thought of this before in those other sciences.

As I wrote, there's a right way and wrong way to go about this stuff. The right way is in recognizing the limits of one's professional competence and therefore working with others who have that competence. I've written this before, but what continually amazes me is that every working scientist, ironically, is well aware how little competence they have within their own science but outside their own subfield. You'd think they'd understand that this is far more true for entirely other disciplines.

A very sorry side-effect of this crap is that it just increases the tendency toward turf battles and makes it less likely that good, productive interdisciplinary work is done.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:23 PM on August 2, 2012 [16 favorites]


mullingitover: "I don't think you need a magic crystal ball to predict that rising levels of desperation among the former middle class is going to lead to some upheaval in the not-too-distant future."

Wanna bet?
posted by Splunge at 5:25 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


For the last five years, I've been predicting a land war in Europe before 2050. This doesn't exactly do much to change my mind.

Not including all the land wars there recently? Its like predicting breathing.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:52 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


This would make a great TEDx talk.
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:00 PM on August 2, 2012


I'm oddly reminded of Terence McKenna. I'm not sure why.

The crazy. It must be because of the crazy.

Humans can't predict local weather more than several days in advance with more than a moderate degree of accuracy. A belief that the future can be accurately predicted (in any detailed way) by "scientific" methods is indistinguishable from a belief in astrology.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:09 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm oddly reminded of Terence McKenna. I'm not sure why.

This graph by Terence McKenna is called "Timewave Zero". He came up with it after smoking a shit ton of DMT. It's based on the I Ching and predicts a significant global event in 2012. It also looks uncannily like the "cliodynamic" graphs in this post.
posted by vogon_poet at 6:15 PM on August 2, 2012


Say this for Terrance, he always had good shit.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:28 PM on August 2, 2012


But, but, but, what if we encounter a MULE. . .?
OUTFITTING MULE
$50 TO OUTFIT MULE FOR ENERGY
MULE INSTALLED
MULE GOES CRAZY!
posted by zamboni at 9:23 PM on August 2, 2012


he has come to the conclusion that a new wave of internal strife is already on its way, and should peak around 2020.

Right after the projected next sunspot minimum.

Wonder how much of a role that plays in his thinking.

As a population ecologist, he'd almost have to be aware of it, given that famous study asserting that Canadian lynx populations track the sunspot cycle.
posted by jamjam at 11:44 PM on August 2, 2012


Anyone interested in this sort of thing, I'd recommend Michael Flynn's novel In The Country Of The Blind, about some people who manage to build an Analytical Engine from Babbage's design, and what happens when they start to make accurate future predictions. He calls the art/science 'cliology.' I spent the free time of a long, hot NYC summer in the main reading room of the big Library, pulling up the books he referenced in the afterword 'An Introduction to Cliology.'
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:06 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


1) a whole shitload of make-work projects to give people something to do, or
2) bleeding.


Who says it has to be either? Turns out that "war" is a pretty decent "make-work project to give people something to do."

Got too many unemployed young men between the ages of 18 and 25? Start a land war in Asia. Problem solved!
posted by valkyryn at 6:38 AM on August 3, 2012


But, but, but, what if we encounter a MULE. . .?

We did. His term in office ran from 2001 to 2009. That's why all long- and medium-term predictions from before 1990 or so are (mostly) wildly off-base. It's tough to predict what the elbow in the progress curve is going to be, when you suddenly introduce an 8-year period whose scientific prerogative could generously be described as "dump all the money for pure research into the ground, and then set it on fire."
posted by Mayor West at 7:44 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Got too many unemployed young men between the ages of 18 and 25? Start a land war in Asia. Problem solved!

They'd need the draft for that to be effective at clearing the streets, and I'm not sure, lacking a persistent homeland invasion, we could get back to a social milieu where a military draft wouldn't result in just the sort of upheaval they want to avoid.

Though I suppose that encouraging civil unrest by pitting Mom, God and Apple Pie against Librul Hippie Freaks might do the trick. We could fight ourselves. But that's option 2).
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:28 AM on August 3, 2012


posted by valkyryn: "Who says it has to be either? Turns out that "war" is a pretty decent "make-work project to give people something to do."

Got too many unemployed young men between the ages of 18 and 25? Start a land war in Asia. Problem solved!"


Sounds good at first but it has some problems: we kill more of them than they do us, and the residual VA costs for their medical care just screw it all up. I'm talking about the soldiers. Ours, I mean.

I guess we could just ignore them when their tours are up. That seems sort of....never mind.

Better to have them build trails or roads or something. Cheaper in the long run, and you can use the product later. Not too many ways to capitalize on spent shell casings, because the locals pick them up and beat them into shelters, or make mines out of them. On second thought, maybe we could strike a balance by giving weapons to our enemies, then they could....nah, we did that already and it just came back to bite us on the ass.

You can't really draw graphs of this stuff.
posted by mule98J at 10:29 AM on August 3, 2012


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