Welcome all to the Mystics & Statistics blog. It is a blog intended to specifically look at quantitative historical analysis. While we have a strong interest in history, our interest it not just to record facts and figures, or to study history for history’s sake, but our interest is two-fold: 1) to be able quantify and analyze history so we can establish what we actually know and understand beyond dates and events, and 2) to be able to use that analysis to address present problems. In effect, we want to be able to use history, as opposed to just study it.
In many respects, this has always been the work that The Dupuy Institute and its predecessor organizations have been doing since 1962. But, because of the nature of our customers and the work we have done, it has always been narrowly defined to primarily addressing military and defense issues. While this will probably remain the focus of the blog due to backgrounds of the principal posters, we hope to actually expand this to some extent to be able the address other issues outside of defense. What we are interested in is quantitative historical analysis of any type. We do not think there is another blog that addresses this.
I will not attempt to define what quantitative historical analysis is. This is similar to econometrics, which relies heavily on historical trends to analyze economics. In fact, economics is the most quantified of the social sciences, and it has certainly helped make the discipline the most rigorous and useful of the social sciences. There is a discipline out there called “cliometrics” which is defined by Wikipedia as “systematic application of economic theory, econometric techniques, and other formal or mathematical methods to the study of history (especially, social and economic history). It is a quantitative (as opposed to qualitative or ethnographic) approach to economic history.” Our work is also related to operations research. In fact, the British operational research community recognizes a sub-discipline called “historical analysis.” There is a brief Wikipedia article on “quantitative history,” but they really do not describe what we do, and we have been doing it for decades. So what we are looking at historical work that is similar to economics, econometrics, cliometrics, operations research, historical analysis, quantitative history and quantitative social science.
Hopefully, with this blog we will be able to demonstrate some of the work we have been doing, some of the analysis we would like to pursue, and with the help of the guest bloggers, expand this examination past the parochial interest of the principal posters and perhaps lead this blog into areas of more general applicability and usefulness.
Christopher A. Lawrence
Executive Director and President
The Dupuy Institute
Note: “Mystics & Statistics” is borrowed from a line in the song “Desperados under the Eaves” written by the late Warren Zevon.
“And if California slides into the ocean
Like the mystics and statistics say it will
I predict this motel will be standing
until I pay my bill”