Author | Editor: Shook, J. (Graduate School of Education University at Buffalo) & Giordano, J. (Departments of Neurology and Biochemistry, Georgetown University Medical Center).
Analytic informatics and vast databases permit modeling of large populations and their economic and political behaviors over decades and centuries. Researchers such as Peter Turchin and Jack Goldstone are demonstrating how such “cliodynamics” can scientifically project large-scale trends into the future. Skepticism about social futurism is well deserved, since specific, risky, and confirmable predictions distinguishes science from pseudo-science. Employing generation theory, William Strauss and Neil Howe predicted that the next world war would occur in or by 2020. In this whitepaper, we recount how cyclical trends in social history theorized by Strauss and Howe align well with the economic and political cycles independently established by cliodynamics. Four archetypal generations (Prophet, Nomad, Hero, Artist) have followed each other in a durable pattern. Every major conflict endured by the United States has occurred when its Prophets (presently, the Boomers) reach elder leadership. Generation theory can also be applied for scenario design and strategic planning, particularly for defense purposes. Predicting actions of small numbers of people is impossible, but understanding the characteristic roles, values, and virtues of today’s generations can synergize, and add value to other bio-psychosocial-cultural analyses of group behaviors.