Discover more from What's New Under the Sun
And now for something completely different
Announcing a new living literature review on societal collapse(!)
This short post is to announce the launch of a new living literature review, on a topic almost the opposite of New Things Under the Sun: Existential Crunch, by Florian Jehn!
Existential Crunch is about societal collapse, and what academic research has to say about it. The first post takes a tour of the major schools of thought on this topic: Gibbon, Malthus, Tainter, Turchin and more. As the post says in it's closing:
My main takeaway is that this field still has a long way to go. This is troubling, because in our society today we can see signs that could be interpreted as indications of a nearing collapse. There are voices warning that our global society has become decadent (writers like Ross Douthat), that we are pushing against environmental limits (for example, Extinction Rebellion), that we are having a decreasing return of investment for our energy system (for example, work by David Murphy) and that there has been an overproduction of elites in the last decades (writers like Noah Smith). This means we have warning signs that fit all major viewpoints on collapse. Moreover, new technological capabilities pose novel dangers that require us to extrapolate beyond the domain of historical experience. All this means that understanding how collapse really happens is rather urgent.
If we want innovation and progress to continue (and I certainly do!), understanding how it dies seems, uh, important! Check it out, and sign up for the substack here.
Why am I telling you about this?
Well, one of the reasons I was excited to join Open Philanthropy was for the opportunity to support more living literature reviews, on a diverse array of topics. This is our first such review we’ve supported, but we’re interested in financially supporting more via the newly launched innovation policy program. We’re especially interested in people interested in writing reviews for policy relevant topics. For us, a living literature review is an online collection of short, accessible articles that synthesize academic research, updated as the lit evolves, and written by a single qualified individual (for example, Florian has published related academic work).
If you're interested, go here for more info. And please, if you know of people who you think would be a good fit for this kind of thing, please let them know about this opportunity.