Scientist who predicted 2020 unrest a decade ago forecasts ’15 more of woe’

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A scientist who predicted social unrest in 2020 has forecasted up to 15 more years of woe.

Author Peter Turchin came to fame after an academic paper he wrote in 2010 predicted how different trends in society would come together in 2020 to trigger worldwide social unrest.

The emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement along with Extinction Rebellion protests and the ongoing conflict over local issues such as Brexit suggest he might have a point.

He’s recently released a new paper looking back at his 2010 predictions.

While his data focused on US trends, Turchin discusses unrest in the UK too.

While in the UK “the pre-2010 dynamics differ from those in the USA, the rise in both riots and demonstrations after 2010 mirrors closely the USA pattern", he writes.

Turchin says he doesn’t feel any personal pride in having predicted what he calls an “unprecedented collapse of social norms”.

He told Vice : “The theory that made this prediction was validated, rather than me.”

He added the outcome is even worse than he anticipated.

Citing the growing menace of mass shootings – which he calls “suicide terrorism” – in the US, he says “I didn't expect that things would get so bad”.

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Turchin’s theory works in roughly 50-year cycles – he tracks one from the 1820s to the American Civil War and another arc peaking in 1920.

There’s another, longer rhythm to history which sometimes coincides with these 50-year patterns.

That’s happening right now – creating what Turchin calls The Second Age of Discord.

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“The 50-year cycle overlays this longer dynamic,” he says in the paper.

“Because the two dynamics coincide in the years around 2020, it is now that our society is the most vulnerable to outbreaks of political violence.”

But, worryingly, he adds that the danger won’t end when the clock ticks over into 2021.

These periods of instability, Turchin says, “typically go on for five, 10, 15 years”.

He continues: ”I expect turbulence to continue beyond 2020.”

The tone for the next five years or so will be set by the outcome of the US Presidential Election in November.

Turchin described Donald Trump 's success in 2016 as evidence “negative trends seem to be accelerating” and there has been an “unprecedented collapse of social norms governing civilised discourse”.

  • Donald Trump
  • Brexit
  • Extinction Rebellion

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