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Can We Predict a Society's Doom? Study Reveals Signs

Sep 02, 2016 03:47 AM EDT
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Neolithic Age in Europe
Neolithic artifacts show advancement of tools being used.
(Photo : Michael Greenhalgh/Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers have created a framework that will predict a society's collapse. This new framework developed by the researchers can help avert future dooms, especially nowadays where we cope up with "major societal shifts."

According to Daily Mail, mankind has seen so many societies that collapsed, and interestingly, they all started out as communities full of life with growing population and sophisticated technological advancement. Until one day, it crashes down into demise.

With this in mind, the researchers studied 2,378 archaeological sites from nine regions of Neolithic Europe. Th researchers from the University of Maryland and University College London attempted to find out if early signs have already exist once an ecosystem starts to reveal a "declining resilience."

Results found out that there is an a "major reorganization" or movement within the ecosystem that may be a sign that it will soon "collapse."

Neolithic Europe traces its time back 9,000 years ago. During this time, there were already communities that have growing population due advancements in technology and agriculture. However, during this period, there were also "periods of devastating societal instability" that were started by the developments in the communities, which were ironically, beneficial to begin with.

After studying the archaeological records of the communities living in Neolithic Europe, the researchers were able to identify early warning signs. Thus, locking the search to these two signals: critical slowing down (CSD) and flickering. These signals will direct them to the system's ability to strongly fight back against factors such as warfare, diseases and crop failure.

According to the journal PNAS, "CSD describes a general increase in the time it takes a system to recover from external shocks such as population loss due to disease, warfare, or crop failure."

''Flickering describes increasing directional bias in a system's response rate to such perturbations, such as a society stuck in a socio-ecological trap where strong reinforcing behaviour and a lack of innovation prevents adaptation," the researchers said.

The investigation led them to determine that the warning signals all ended up aligning with the eventual collapse of the community. Hopefully, this study will help pin point the early warning signs if our society is in doom to help us prepare.

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