Re: "The Fourth Turning" - A Must Read

Robin Hanson (
Fri, 7 Mar 1997 12:48:35 -0800 (PST)

Hal Finney writes:
>[BTW, there is a web page now, The details
>of the cycles I describe below came from here.]
>It's hard to judge the accuracy of the cycles picked out in this book
>and the earlier Generations unless you know history well. What were
>things really like in the 1910's, the 1870's? The authors describe
>events which fit pretty well into the cycles, but who knows whether
>they are being selective? One solution would be to look at what other
>historians say about this work. Does anyone here have information about
>what the authors' peers say?

I did mention the web page above in my original message. In addition
I gave a link to a web page review by someone with history expertize.

This was my biggest concern, and why I didn't endorse it as strongly
back in '95. But I have since talked to Caltech historians who think the
authors are reasonable people, have learned that historians are widely
aware of their work (they just gave a talk at Harvard), and I have
seen that while there have been negative reviews (NYT Book Review
1/26, Publisher's Weekly 1/6), they haven't been of the form I was
concerned about: "The got their facts all wrong."

>... But I don't really perceive there to have been a change
>in the national mood in the middle 1980's, nor for the period up until
>then to have been a continuation of the 1960's. In fact, it's hard for
>me to imagine anyone looking at recent history and outlining the period
>from 1964 to 1984 as having a coherent national mood, distinct from that
>which follows.

I think you're taking the boundaries too seriously. The key idea is
that there are cycles with a roughly 80-90 year period. For example,
about now is the mid third turning, where we should see a min gender
role gap and weakest families, max individualism and diversified
social structure. About 1974 we should have seen max
underprotectiveness of kids, max focus on "inner worlds". (I'm reading
all this off of the chart on p.105) These all fit to me.

>Then, they have to compare the present day with the Great Depression.

Huh? The Depression was a fourth turning, comparable to what we may
soon face, not to now.

Robin D. Hanson