New Nature article: Shared negative experiences promote extreme cooperation

Why do so many groups require their members to endure painful group rituals, ranging from demeaning hazing in fraternities to bloody self-flagellations in some religious traditions (like being nailed to a cross)? And why do people not remove themselves from such groups and the risk of injury. Or for that matter, why would anyone remain […]

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Trust in digital tools is crucial for the success of Big Data research in the Social Sciences and the Humanities

Understanding the Seshat data gathering and curating workflows Readers of this blog series are familiar with both the philosophy of the Seshat project and the tremendous potential of the Seshat Databank. What could be more clear is how we actually put together the databank. Inevitably we had to make some important conceptual and practical choices […]

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Clio meets Seshat: Examining the evolution of large-scale cooperation

As a species, humans have an extraordinary ability to cooperate in large groups. Seshat director Peter Turchin recently shared his theories on the evolution of cooperation in large-scale human groups and its link to both the field of Cliodynamics and Seshat: Global History Databank in a webinar hosted by the Evolution Institute for project donors and collaborators. […]

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Big Gods and Social Complexity: Causativity beyond Social Relativism

On the 18th of April, Prof. Harvey Whitehouse and Dr. Pieter Francois, two out of three of the Seshat: Global History Databank founders, rendezvoused with Dr. Patrick Savage (a postdoctoral researcher working on Seshat) and myself (research assistant) at the prestigious University of Tokyo. However, this meeting was not to gather data or collect information […]

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The first batch of Seshat data

It’s been a long haul. Six years ago we launched the project that we eventually named Seshat: Global History Databank. Three years ago, following a series of workshops that designed the overall structure of the databank, we started collecting data. By January 2015 we had 30,000 records (a “Seshat record” says what the value of […]

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Seshat: Global History Databank publishes first set of historical data

  Seshat: Global History Databank has published its first batch of systematically coded and referenced data, which can be accessed at http://dacura.scss.tcd.ie/seshat/. Seshat, a large, online, open-access store of information about the human past, is a groundbreaking resource that is bringing together the most current and comprehensive body of knowledge about human history available. Previously […]

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The Seshat Team Maps the History of Mounted Warfare

The use of horse-riders in warfare changed the face of global conflict, and continued to impact the evolution of complex societies for thousands of years after its first adaption. A recent paper published in Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History Evolution by Seshat: Global History Databank directors Prof. Peter Turchin and Dr. Thomas Currie, and […]

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Harvey Whitehouse: Studying ritual may help us understand extremism

Why do people engage in self-sacrifice? Why would people adopt such an extreme behavior? Answering these questions has proven to be difficult for policy makers, world leaders, and academic researchers alike. Seshat founding editor and Oxford University scholar Professor Harvey Whitehouse recently offered several critical insights into the psychology of extremism at the IdeasLab session […]

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Experts reflect on their experiences working with Seshat: Global History Databank

In our quest to uncover cross-cultural patterns in a global range of historical cases, it is often impossible to go directly to the source of evidence. At Seshat: Global History Databank we try to do the next best thing- we go to the experts. We value the time and energy that our volunteer expert contributors […]

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Prof Harvey Whitehouse introduces Seshat: Global History Databank at World Economic Forum annual meeting

Seshat founding editor and University of Oxford anthropologist Professor Harvey Whitehouse recently spoke about rituals and Seshat: Global History Databank at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Whitehouse presented his research in a Betazone session in partnership with the Nature Publishing Group in a speech entitled “Why Facts Don’t Unify Us.” The […]

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